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Suppression of Natural Urges: Unretainable Urges

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It has been commonly experienced that to avoid eating when hungry leads to a sudden drop in energy level. Similarly, the body feels tired and lifeless if thirst is not quenched. Thirst might cause dizziness and syncope. To avoid urination or fecal elimination on experiencing an urge to do so, leads to pain in the bladder and one may develop flatus and other symptoms, respectively. Hunger and thirst, the urge to discharge body wastes and other such urges develop naturally in the body. These are the natural urges of the body. These urges are felt by all conscious people. Timely satisfaction of these urges are paramount to good health. Interfering with the natural action of the urges provokes Vata, and thereby postponing or ignoring them can lead to various kinds of ailments. There are thirteen main urges listed in Ayurveda, which are as follows:

  1. The urge for urination
  2. The urge for defecation
  3. The urge for seminal ejaculation
  4. The urge for passing flatus
  5. The urge for emesis or vomiting
  6. The urge for sneezing
  7. The urge for belching (eructation)
  8. The urge for yawning
  9. The urge for hunger
  10. The urge for thirst
  11. The urge for tears (weeping)
  12. The urge for rapid breathing or hyper-breathing
  13. The urge for sleep

There are some contradictory views regarding these 13 non-suppressible urges in some Ayurvedic texts. They count the non-suppressible urge to discharge urine and fecal matter (Nos. l and 2) as one and consider cough as a separate urge, thus maintaining the number of total urges to be 13. Hyper-breathing due to physical work is counted as number 12, and this is associated with the trachea. Therefore the urge to cough has been included in the urge for hyper-breathing and not as a separate identity.

Usually for the sake of good conduct, manners and etiquette, some urges are suppressed forcefully. Among these urges, sneezing and flatus in gathering or public places are commonly suppressed. Such tendency of suppression is common in woman’s society. It is clearly specified in Ayurvedic treatises that when such natural urges develop, allow them to occur. Suppressing the urge to expel flatus, fecal elimination and urination develops a serious disease named udavarta (circulation of flatus in the upward direction in the abdomen). Also, other diseases occur due to the inhibition of these non-suppressible urges.


  • Suppression of the urge to cough

When a patient suppresses the urge to cough forcefully, it not only causes an increase in cough but also results in hyper-breathing, anorexia and cardiac diseases. The chances of tuberculosis, emaciation and hiccoughs may also develop. For this, anti-cough treatment is required.

  • Incurable symptoms of urge suppression

In Ayurveda, as a consequence of suppression of the above-mentioned urges, if a person is not benefitted even by medication and the following symptoms are also visible, then the patient is said to be incurable. These symptoms are:

  1. Increased thirst and suffering from pain
  2. Patient turning emaciated
  3. Vomiting of toxic food

   All these diseases are caused by the forced initiation or inhibition of urges. On the other hand, if one excretes forcefully, this also may result in disease. In such conditions, the majority of diseases develop due to aggravated Vata. Therefore, to pacify them carminative substances, certain foods, liquids and medicines should be used. When natural urges are forcefully suppressed or not expelled in time, then they develop into suppressed urges. They are described below:

 Suppression of the urge for urination: Suppressing the urge to urinate leads to pain in the bladder, genital organs, lower abdomen, kidney, urethra and urinary canal. It causes dysuria, headache, flatulence, distension in the lower abdomen, drooping of the body and other complications such as bodyaches, calculi (stones), weakening of the urinary bladder, inflammation and infection in the urinary tract.

Treatment: These can be treated with tub baths, abdominal massage, instilling drops of ghee in the nose and by three types of enema therapies (asthapana basti, uttara basti and anuvasana basti). Besides, therapies to reduce inflammation in the urinary tract and medicines to strengthen the urinary bladder and to reduce the infection should be prescribed. According to Ayurveda, intake of ‘avapidaka ghrta’ is effective. The intake of ghee in a good amount before food and also after the digestion of food is termed as ‘avapidaka ghrta.’

 Suppression of the urge for defecation: Avoiding or postponing defecation (at its natural call) can cause acute pain, headache, obstruction of flatus and feces, cold, constipation, cramps in calf muscles, distension in the lower abdomen, obstructed heart beat and toxic vomits.

Treatment: Treatment includes sveda (fomentation), abhyanga (massage), avagaha (tub-bath), varti (inserting suppositories in the anus) and basti karma (enemas). Purgative foods such as papaya, green vegetables, fruit juices and other laxative foods and drinks are helpful.

 Suppression of the urge for seminal ejaculation: Suppressing the urge for seminal ejaculation leads to pain in the genital organs and testicles, inflammation, fever, wheezing, pain in the cardiac region and retention of urine. It can also lead to bodyache, frequent stretching and yawning, hydrocele, calculi and impotency.

Treatment: Treatment for such complications include massage, tub-bath, oil-free enema, and eating unpolished rice and milk. Milk boiled with diuretic medicines such as caltrope (gokharu) is also effective. To prevent unnecessary seminal discharge, avoid sexual intercourse, and also avoid desire-provoking literature, videos, photographs and excited talks. Along with such regimen, refrain from heavy, spicy and tamasika food, and consume sattvika food.