If you are moving your bowels less than once every three days, the process takes a long time, is uncomfortable and the stool is too hard or too dry, you are likely suffering from constipation. While Western approaches tend to suggest bananas or laxatives to ease constipation woes, Chinese Medicine is more critical of irregular bowel movements, and view them as important clues to identify imbalances involving the internal organs.
Four Types of Causes of Constipation
This is caused by excessive heat in the body, especially in the large intestine. In Chinese Medicine, too much heat consumes the body fluid, affecting the stools in the bowel not be able to move freely. The stools are dry or hard, and you may show other symptoms such as bad breath, dry mouth, dark urine, bloated stomach and a flushed complexion.
The stool is dry or normal, but difficult to pass. You may experience other symptoms including a pale complexion, cold limbs, a dislike for cold temperatures and a pain that does not disappear when you apply pressure on your stomach. If you look at your tongue in the mirror, it may look pale.
The symptoms of constipation caused by Qi stagnation are difficulty in passing stools even though you have the urge, stomach bloating, frequent belching, and pre-menstrual syndrome. Your tongue tends to have a thin, white coating. And you may have a poor appetite.
There is an urge to clear the bowels, but you have to push very hard to release the stools. This is just one of the many symptoms of constipation resulting from deficiency. In some cases, the dry stools look like small stones. Other accompanying symptoms include fatigue, dry skin, dry hair. If you are exhibiting these symptoms of deficiency type constipation, your tongue looks pale when you examine it in the mirror.
Natural Remedies for Constipation
In Chinese Medicine, a wide variety of herbs are used to relieve constipation. To prevent over-dependency and health changes to the large intestine, we do not recommend the overuse of laxatives, even Traditional Chinese Medicine herbs. Instead, we recommend treating the underlying causes of constipation with natural remedies, which balance the body and allowing bowel movements to become regular again.
Heat type constipation
Excessive heat is best balanced with herbs like Rhubarb (Da Huang), Aloe Vera and Rhubarb drains heat from the body. Cut down on ‘heaty’ food like spicy food, alcohol, beef and lamb. Add more food like bananas and prunes (or prune juice) to your diet.
As cold type of constipation often causes the large intestine to lose energy, Dang Gui is one of the best remedies as it disperses cold and tonifies blood. It also moistens the intestines and unblocks the bowels. If you are suffering from cold type constipation, food like prunes and bananas do not help and may even worsen your constipation. Cut down on cold food, raw food, sweet food and dairy.
Astragalus Root (Huang Qi) and Codonopsis (dang shen) tonify the “q” (energy) of the body and digestive system. Include peppermint tea in your diet, daily or weekly, to increase the flow of Qi. Additionally, it helps to loosen the bowels, making pooping a less forceful task for you.
Constipation caused by deficiency is common in the elder and women who just gave birth. Using Cannabis seeds (Hua Ma Ren), in the form of hemp seed oil improves this type of constipation. Furthermore, it lubricates the intestines, which helps improve bowel movements.
Other Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations
In addition to infusing Chinese Herbs in your daily diet, developing a habit of daily bowel movement, adding healthy food, exercising and managing stress will relieve long term constipation problems.
Include More Fibre
A healthy, fibre-rich diet is fundamental to a healthy bowel movement. Make sure you include a variety of lightly cooked vegetables (eat a wide variety, and cut down on raw vegetables), cooked whole grains, nuts and seeds.
Drink about two litres a day. Cut down in coffee and tea as they dry you out, causing stools to be dry and hard.
Go to the Toilet As Soon As You Have the Urge
Doing this will get your body to kick the habit of holding on to your poop when nature calls.
Work stress, over-thinking, anger and other strong negative emotions can slow the movement of stools through your intestines, causing constipation without you realising it. Exercise, taking long walks and even acupuncture can help reduce stress and constipation.
Not only does massaging your abdomen helps you to relax, but it also helps to improve blood flow, Qi stagnation and stimulates your bowels. To improve Qi movement and provide immediate heat to the abdomen area, you can add Meditrina Moxa Pain Relief on Tian Shu Acupoint for Qi type or Cold type constipation. It is normal to experience breaking of wind right after the application of Moxa Pain Relief in this case. For Cold type constipation, you can massage with QiActiv Pelvic Essential Oil, which contains Dang Gui to boost Qi flow and Roman Chamomile which supports gastrointestinal health.
If your constipation has been bothering you for a long time, or if blood is visible in your stools, you should speak to your healthcare professional for professional advice.