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We have all giggled at the thought of constipation, but anyone who has been there knows it is no joke. The term constipation is used to describe the slow movement of unduly firm content through the large bowel, leading to infrequent passing of small, hard stools. Constipation can be recognised by these signs:

  • Bowel movements that do not occur daily

  • Dry and/or hard stools

  • Difficult defecating

  • Abnormal shape of stool

The quality of stool varies from culture to culture. In rural Africa, about 400 to 500 g of stool are passed by an adult daily. In contrast, in Western countries, an adult passes about 80 to 120 g of stool daily. Similarly, the transit time of stool average is 1.5 days in rural Africa and 3 days in Western countries.

There are several factors that affect constipation, including:

  • Irregular diet

  • Emotional stress

  • Lack of exercise

  • Being overworked

  • Childbirth disease

The key factor in healthy bowel functions is a good supply of fluids in the stomach and intestines, and strong Qi to move the stool along the digestive system. The longer waste remains in the intestines, the drier it gets and the more difficult to pass. In this blog, we will discuss constipation due to lack of Qi.

From a TCM perspective

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), there are several causes for constipation. At the Point of Health, we do four diagnostic exams to determine the specific cause of your constipation. However, there are certain unusual factors that cause constipation. The one we will focus on in this blog is Spleen and Lung Qi deficiency.

One of the jobs of the spleen is to make sure the body is able to utilize the nutrients from the food that you eat. The spleen puts nutrients into the bloodstream. When the spleen works efficiently, your whole body gets nourished by the food. When the spleen does not work efficiently, your body suffers because of lack of nutritional absorption. If there is a lack of nutritional absorption, your body does not have the building blocks to create energy. This is called a qi deficiency. If your body has a qi deficiency caused by the spleen, you will have difficulty releasing stool because the body doesn’t have the energy to expel stool.

Here are some of the symptoms of Spleen and Lung Qi deficiency:

  • Difficult to defecate; defecating with great effort

  • Feeling exhausted after having a BM

  • Thin and long stools that are not dry

  • Pale complexion

  • Tired/ fatigue

  • Muscular weakness

  • Poor appetite

  • Slight shortness of breath

  • Weak voice

What we do

At the Point of Health, we combine the thousands of years of the old practice of acupuncture with education on your body to alleviate the root cause of your symptoms. We offer nutritional advice, herbs and essential oils in addition to acupuncture, and recommended additional treatment references. When you make your appointment with Dr. Brittany, she will spend time learning about your body and how TCM can help. Until then, here are some things you can do at home to start helping alleviate your constipation symptoms.

Food options to help relieve constipation:

  • Bananas

  • Apples

  • Walnuts

  • Figs

  • Spinach

  • Peaches

  • Pears

  • Pine nuts

  • Mulberries

  • Grapefruit

  • Yams

  • Honey

Lifestyle changes that will help too!

  • Eat 2 bananas on an empty stomach, followed by a glass of warm water with 2 tsp of honey in the morning

  • Eat 5-10 figs on an empty stomach followed by a glass of warm water with 2 tsp of honey in the morning

  • Exercise

  • Cardio

  • Yoga

  • Hiking

Try this essential oil recipe:

  • Combine 1 drop of each

  • Rosemary

  • Lemon

  • Peppermint

with 1 tsp. fractionated coconut oil and massage on stomach and back

Here is a folk remedy:

  • Rubbing the belly in a clockwise direction 100 times can stimulate peristalsis

  • Breathing with the mouth open can stimulate a bowel movement

The health of your gut is so important to your life--and constipation can slow you down. If you have been experiencing symptoms of constipation then please do not hesitate to schedule your first appointment with the Point of Health. You don’t have to wait for it to pass. We can help!

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