Three Wellness tips I learned in India

On April 7th I flew to Goa, India, to practice Ashtanga yoga with one of my beloved teachers John Scott.  I was also turning 50 this month, and thought what better place to spend your birthday than on the other side of the world practicing yoga in the mother land, right?  It was a gift to myself and one that I had been planning for almost a year.

Things never go as planned though, do they.   I ended up fracturing my big toe in 2 places on my second day there, and instead of suffering from diarrhea like everyone else, I was actually painfully constipated!  Definitely not what I expected.

How do you deal with digestive pain and physical pain all at the same time?

Here’s what I learned from some wise Ayurvedic doctors that I was fortunate enough to meet:

A.  Treat the condition at the source – so in the case of constipation, treat the source —> in other words, treat the colon.  This meant I needed to do oil enemas and lubricate the colon since constipation usually means you’re all dried up and/or dehydrated.   I was told  to use 60 ml of sesame or coconut oil and administer this oil as an enema everyday for a week.

I am providing instructions on how to administer an oil enema.  This is so useful for anyone who suffers from constipation (Vata Dosha aggravated symptoms):
An oil enema is the insertion of a small volume of unctuous substance into the rectum. Oil enemas, otherwise known as sneha basti are commonly used in Ayurvedic therapy as part of a complex cleansing therapy called panchakarma.

An oil enema can provide the following benefits:
lubrication of the rectum and colon
preparation for higher-volume enemas
relief from gas and bloating
softening of hard stools
relief of constipation
reduction of other symptoms due to excess vata dosha
a gentle complement to your cleansing regime
An oil enema is an effective alternative for individuals who are unable to administer high-volume enemas: pregnant women, the elderly, or people with weakness due to illness.

How to Give Yourself an Oil Enema
An oil enema can be a little more messy than a regular enema, but following the advice below will help to reduce the risks of spills and leaks, and help you to get the most benefit from your oil enema.

Buy the Appropriate Equipment
Using the right equipment is very important for giving yourself an oil enema without the mess. First of all, an enema bag is much too large for the volume of oil you will need, and it will take a much longer time to clean it afterwards. But, most importantly, if you use a bag you will not be able to achieve the appropriate pressure for injecting the oil all the way into to colon. You need a syringe to inject oil; since oil is an unctuous substance it will not flow as water does through enema tubing.

There are a 2 types of syringes available:

enema syringeBulb Syringe – Bulb syringes range in volume from 1oz – 26oz (30-780ml). You will need nothing larger than an 8oz size (240ml) for an oil enema. These syringes are easy to find, however, they can get a little messy and may not be the best choice. Because the bulb self inflates when you release pressure from it, if you do not maintain a firm grip on the bulb for the entire time it is in your rectum, you will draw oil from your rectum back into the syringe. This means that you will end up with less oil in the colon than you were hoping for (you can’t squeeze it back in because then you will also inject a fair amount of air). Also, along with the oil, the bacteria and matter from your rectum will be drawn into the syringe. That is not at all sanitary, as these bulbs are difficult to clean inside.

You may not have problems using a smaller sized bulb syringe, but the larger the bulb the more difficult it will be. To make it easier to use, lay in a position where both of your hands can reach the enema syringe, or get assistance from another person.

syringe 100cc
Standard Syringe – A larger sized standard syringe is preferable to a bulb syringe, because with this type of syringe, once the oil is injected into your rectum the syringe will not draw it back in. With a standard syringe you also do not have the same risk of injecting air into the colon as you do with bulb syringes. These are easier than the bulbs to clean and sanitize for reuse. One problem with this type of syringe is that they are not designed specifically for enemas; the tip may be rough and is usually not long enough. A work around I have found for this is to just attach the tip from a bulb syringe onto the end of this syringe. A ideal syringe (with an appropriate tip) can be found in panchakarma supply stores in India, but I have yet to find an online source.

Another draw back is that this standard syringe is more difficult to find in a variety of sizes. Sizes ranging from 30- 100ml/cc are common, but you may have difficulty finding this syringe with a larger volume than 100ml. If you want to inject more than 100ml of oil you can either refill the syringe once emptied, or fill more than one syringe and keep it in close reach.

Preparation for Oil Enema
Unlike the larger volume enemas, there is no preparation required for oil enema; however, oil enema should be done at least 1 hour after a meal. Morning or evening is the best time for oil enemas.

Of course you still want to have the basics covered:

make sure the room is warm, because you will probably want to be naked from the waist down
choose a comfortable spot; you will remain there for 30minutes after injection
place some old towels where you be laying to catch any spills or leaks
How much oil should you use?
60-90ml of oil is enough in most cases.

What kind of oil should you use?
You can use any natural oils. Sesame, almond, and castor oil are commonly used. Castor oil is best if you are suffering from severe constipation because it has laxative properties. Use sesame oil if you are the type of person who is prone to becoming cold and use almond oil if you are more prone to becoming hot.

Warm the oil

Heat the oil until lukewarm. The best way to heat the oil is by keeping it in another container which is filled with warm water. You can also heat it over a low temperature on the stove. You will want it fairly warm, to increase it’s absorption in the colon, but make sure you do not heat the temperature above 104 degrees F (40 degrees C); if the oil is too hot it may scald the delicate lining of the rectum; test it with your finger first.

Fill your syringe and make sure everything that you need is in place. You do not want to wait too long before you inject because the oil will cool rather quickly.

Insert and Inject
Before you begin , squeeze the syringe until a small amount of oil comes out; this will get rid of any air in the syringe. If you are using a bulb syringe, maintain your grip and make sure not to let the bulb inflate and draw the air back in.

Lay on your left side with the left leg straight and right knee bent. You can rest your head on your left arm or on a pillow. Your right hand should be able to reach your anus, if it does not, you will need assistance to administer your enema. This position is usually the most comfortable for people.

Lubricate the anus as well as the enema nozzle and gently guide the nozzle into the anus until you have passed the internal anal sphincter (about 3 inches). Remember to relax! Once the nozzle is in, it is time to inject the oil; it will only take a moment to get all of the oil inside the colon.

Leave a small amount of oil in the syringe, if you inject it all into the rectum, you risk injecting air as well. If you take in air, it will become more difficult to retain the enema.

Remove the nozzle and retain the oil
After the enema is administered, slowly remove the nozzle from the rectum and squeeze the muscles of your anus. Retain the oil for 30 minutes. If oil comes out before 30 minutes, then repeat the basti right away; oil which does not remain inside does not serve the purpose.

While you are laying down, massage the abdomen in a counter clockwise direction to move the oil deeper into the intestinal tract.

After you have held the oil enema for 30 minutes you can evacuate in the toilet. If oil does not come out, it is ok, this just means that it was absorbed into the tract. If it is going to come out, it will do so within 9 hours. If 9 hours has passed, then forget about it, it means it was all absorbed.

Be aware of post-enema leaking
Some oil may leak out, even a few hours after the enema; wear a pad or an old pair of underwear that you do not mind getting oil stains on.

Keep in mind, that if you pass some gas after your oil enema, you are likely to pass some oil along with it. Of course, holding intestinal gas is never recommended, so either make sure you are wearing something that will absorb the oil or move to the toilet before expelling the gas.

You will only have to be cautious about the possible leaks on the day which you took your enema; all remaining oil will be absorbed or expelled by the next day.

How often should you take an oil enema?
For maintenance purposes, an oil enema can be performed daily, in doses under 60ml (usually 15-25ml is plenty for daily use). Volumes over 90ml should be done on an as needed basis, for a maximum of 7 consecutive days.

Precautions
Do not administer oil enema is you are currently suffering from:

diabetes
rhinitis
cold or flu
indigestion
diarrhea
obesity
consumption of poison

This information was obtained from flowingfree.org 

B.  Oiling and massaging your scalp to relieve stress  is just as important as oiling and massaging your body. Massaging the scalp with coconut oil infused with cooling herbs was a delicious experience.  I forgot about the pain in my toe and the stress that I had accumulated over the last couple of months melted away.  Even though we were experiencing a heat wave in India, the cooling Ayurvedic herbs infused in coconut oil helped to lower my body temperature and relaxed me in a whole different level.

Here’s a recipe you can make at home to help cool you down as the temperatures go up and to relieve any stress you might feeling (whether caused by trauma or life events):

Ingredients:

  • 1  3/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon neem oil
  • 3 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 5 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon of each of the following herbs:  passionflower, licorice, lavender, manjista, Shatavari, and Brahmi  (all of these herbs can be found at banyanbotaicals.com).

Method:

  1. Combine all the dried herbs in a pot.
  2.  In a separate pot bring water to a boil. Pour 5 Tablespoons of boiling water on the dried herbs.
  3. Let herbs hydrate (soak water) for about 2 hours
  4. Pour all the oils over the hydrates herbs in the pot. Stir well.
  5. Turn on heat at low so that the oil is warm to slightly hot.
  6. Continue steeping un-covered at low heat for 2 to 3 hours
  7. Turn off heat. Let it cool
  8.  Filter to remove all solids
  9. Heat oil again to remove more moisture for about 30 minutes on low heat
  10. Let the oil cool and store in a dark colored glass container (non-transparent).

Massage into scalp once the oil has cooled down and leave on for at least 2 hours.  If you like, you can massage at night and sleep with oil in your hair for added benefit, and wash out in the morning.

C.  Eating fruit in the morning for breakfast during the hot season, will hydrate your body and provide some of the much needed electrolytes that can be lost due to perspiration.

I never ate so much fruit in my life, especially in the morning – and I have to say, my blood sugars where not affected nor was my energy levels or weight.  As a matter of fact, it’s exactly what I needed to be able to withstand the 108 degree weather.  So as we head into summer and as the temperatures begin to rise, start incorporating more local fresh fruit into your morning diet.  Your body will thank you for the extra minerals & natural sugars you’re providing it as you go on about your day.

I hope you’ll enjoy some of these wellness recipes and tips, and I wish all the moms out there a relaxing and nourishing Happy Mother’s Day!

india 2
sunset at the beach in Inida

9 Comments
  1. So happy for you that you were able to experience India; though so sorry you fractured your toe & had gastric distress!! <—-Not fun
    Much love sent!!

    • Thank you Suzette! Even with the fractured toe, the experience was amazing.

  2. Annette, divorced mom with three children here.

    omg how did you manage to fracture big toe in two places? That must have smarted really nice. Especially when on a trip to India. I hate it when something happens when traveling.
    And painfully constipated too. OMG poor you having deal with both of those at the same time. Hope all is well now. I could only stand one at a time! Not both.
    How did you like India? I have read and heard so much about India. Must be a amazing place to see and learn from.

    A friend (she has three children) referred me to your blog. I love your blog. Thanks for posting such good information.

    One of mine (youngest boy) had been constipated off and on ughhh. Her and I were discussing what home remedies she did for constipation when one of hers was constipated or sick. That is when she mentioned your blog and the oil enema! I told her I had given enemas in the past. She told me the oil enema was better.

    I had never heard of a oil enema until she told me and I read your blog. Thanks to both of you for telling of this wonderful home remedy. I have given a few enemas with the bag. But never a oil enema with the bulb syringe.

    Enemas are a very good natural home remedy. Openly discussed in my home.
    Always check with your doctor, naturopathic doctor, before giving any home enema.

    I did as you told you your blog for the enema. So glad you mentioned not to use the regular enema bag for it. Which I almost used for it. After reading your blog and learning from the other mom, I purchased a 8 oz enema bulb syringe at the local CVS. Cost few dollars. And well worth it to have another tool in my natural healing cabinet. I checked with naturopathic doctor and was told it was ok to give the oil enema.

    Your idea of keeping the oil warm in a pan of warm water was great. I did the same. Sat the full enema bulb syringe up right in a pan of warm, not too hot, water. This kept the oil warm while I carried it to the room where he was given the enema. Also good idea to have every thing ready. Including the one who will be given the oil enema. Make sure you will have no interruptions when giving the enema and during the 30 minute wait. Fortunately my other two are older and played nice when I was preparing the enema, giving it and waiting the 30 minutes. If there are younger children in the house it may be best to give the enema when they are napping or you have another person there to watch them. Not being interrupted is very important.

    Glad you mentioned to keep a firm grip on the rubber bulb when giving the enema. Be careful if your fingers have oil on them. This may make the enema bulb slippery and hard to handle.

    I found it was easier to give the enema when he was laying on tummy on the bed. After removing the nozzle had him turn over on side then onto back for the massage.

    I used a tray to bring the filled enema bulb syringe in the pan of warm water, face cloths, and tissues, to his room. The tissues came in handy. After the enema is given sitting the bulb on the tray is better than sitting it on the wooden night stand. Squeeze the bulb very slowly. Take your time. I told him to relax. Take deep breaths in and out of open mouth. That the enema would not hurt and was soothing. It went very well.

    After administering the enema I did the massage your blog told of. Only thing I would suggest for your blog to mention is to have something to do while waiting the 30 minutes. Such as having a book, I pod, music to listen to, something. I did as the other mom told she did, let him play on iPad after the massage. A 30 minute wait is a long time.

    I was expecting a mess. There was no mess. Little post enema leaking. I was worried about the oil leaking out on to the bed. I had a few towels on the bed. Just give the enema slowly. Have no air in the bulb. And slowly remove the nozzle. Leaving a little bit or oil in the bulb. After expelling, I put old undies on him. Kept a eye on him for any leaking oil. Was some but not much.

    I gave him the enema two days in a row. I read on your blog the maximum to give this enema is seven days in a row.

    I told my friend how good it went. When I told her I gave it on the bed, she told me she gives it on a table. Put a towel on the table. Have every thing ready in the room and on the table. Then go get the one who will get the enema. Table will be used next time.

    Washed the enema bulb with warm soapy water. Rinsed well. Final rinse with hydrogen peroxide. Let it air dry sitting out for a few days before putting it up. She told me best way to air the enema bulb out is after cleaning to put it upside down between the wall and towel rack. With nozzle off of the bulb syringe.

    Hopefully other moms reading on here can also learn of this natural home remedy for constipation.

    Blessings. Hope didn’t talk too much.

    • I’m so glad to hear you had success with the oil enema, they are very hydrating especially for a vitiated Vata dosha – where there’s a lot of generalized dryness, constipation, and a sense of generalized coldness noticed. With oil enemas, if you trying to relieve constipation and generalized drying and pacify an aggravated dosha, it is recommended you do these oil enemas for 5-7 days consecutively for maximum effectiveness. But always listen to your own body and if you find relief after a couple of treatments, then you can stop there and just add in other practices such as warm fluid intake, warm foods, warm colors etc, to enhance the effects of the oil enemas.

      • Annette, thanks for the reply. Such good information to learn from you.
        And so wonderful you take the time to reply. Thanks for your helpful information and ideas.

        Here I go again talking too much. But I want other moms to learn.

        I am sure you know this book: Prescription For Nutritional Healing. Wonderful book. Has many home natural remedies in it. Every home should have a copy of this book.

        I find it interesting that to enhance the effects of the oil enemas that warm fluid intake and warm foods help. Surprised to read that warm colors help as well. I am glad you told me that. Any ideas about warm colors?

        Do ou mean to give him warm fluid and food intake before giving him, or the other ones, the oil enemas? or after the enemas have been given then give warm fluids, food and warm colors?

        Due to my limited knowledge of such things, I won’t even ask how warm colors can enhance the effects of the oil enemas. Please explain if you like. Would love to learn more.

        Do you mean having warm colors in the home for him? or having him dressed in warm colors? Very interesting. Love learning that. By warm colors I assume you mean bright colors?
        To me I guess you mean warm colored blankets for him, curtains, flowers in the room etc ??

        Would having warm, guess you mean bright colors, colors in the room where the enemas are given help? like a warm colored towel on the table? or warm colored curtains in the room?

        For other moms to learn, you do not need any special table or room for giving the enemas. Just make sure it is a sturdy firm table. Never leave one on the table alone. Always be there. I have a small room close to the bathroom. I am going to put a small extra table in that room for enemas. I want to put some warm colors into the room. The other mom told me she burns a scented candle when she is giving a enema. It helps relax and soothes. Gives a relaxing atmosphere to the room. Good idea. What colors would be good for the room Annette?

        You were so lucky to been able to travel to India and learn.

        The next time I give him the oil enema, I will give him a oil enema for seven consecutive days. For maximum effectiveness. I can see the benefits of doing it every day for seven days.

        The two enemas that I gave him (two consecutive days in a row) helped. But I think he, and my other two, would benefit more from getting a oil enema for 7 days in a row.

        I gave him the oil enemas in the morning. Given with the 8 ounce enema bulb syringe. Around 10 am or so. Is there a preferred time of the day to give him the oil enemas? Better at night at bed time? Or mid day?

        It was, in a way, easier to prepare and give him the oil enemas than giving him the old fashioned bag enema.
        So other moms learn, the bulb is very easy to give the enema with and very easy to clean after giving the oil enema. It can also be used for catnip tea or garlic enemas for fevers.

        Having given other enemas to my children before, such as garlic and catnip tea enemas for fevers, or plain warm water enema for constipation, I was told, read and learned to have the one who will be getting the enema to drink a large glass of water before the enema is given. It did not say to have him drink a warm drink. Just a plain glass of water before the enema is given.
        When one of mine is going to be given a enema, I have him drink a large glass of water about a half hour before the enema. Gives me time to have him drink the water and then go prepare the room and the enema.

        I gave him his first ever oil enema on the bed. I was worried about oil spilling or leaking onto the bed. Next oil enema I will do as the other mom told me she does — will be given on a table. With a towel on the table. Given how you told in the blog. On side. Then turn over and give the tummy massage. It was a learning experience. I am trying to pass on some information and ideas for other moms who may read on here and want to give the same enema.

        Have iPad or book or music so the one who got the enema can read, play or listen. While waiting.

        Today I talked with the other mom. I told her I posted a comment to you. I haven’t told her you replied so soon. I will tell her about the warm drinks, food and colors.

        I was afraid that my initial post was too long. I wanted to explain much as I could so other moms can learn by reading on here. I think it is good other mothers learn natural home remedies. Especially enemas!

        Always ask your doctor before giving any enema. or any natural home remedy.

  3. Annette, whoops I went back and reread your blog.

    You told that you did the oil enema “….and administer this oil as an enema everyday for a week….”

    I only gave the enema for two days.

    Is the week better?

  4. Most important Annette: thank you.

  5. Annette, I just read “Heal your energy through the power of color”

    Amazing. Learned so much.

    Again, thanks for the blogs.

  6. Thanks for sharing the useful information. It is really a great blog. Also you can know more about Ayurveda on Panchkarma Treatments.

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