July 12th, 2018
Let’s talk about poop! This topic has fascinated Chinese medical practitioners for thousands of years. Their theory is simple. Your health is determined by the state of your digestive system. When your digestive system is irritated, the rest of your body will be taxed. This taxation can lead to a short-term or long-term issues that lasts a lifetime. When it comes to your dairy air, consult your poop then your Chinese medical practitioner!
What's the Big Deal with Poop?
Your bowel movements can provide big insight into your current state of health. Abnormal bowel movements may be the cause of many issues including fatigue, rashes, headaches and even arthritis. Your poop also provides clues to any issues along the entire digestive tract, which includes your mouth, esophagus, stomach, intestines, and colon.
The best way get to the bottom of your troubles is to talk about poop. So, let's get personal!
Your Poop Questionnaire
Take a moment to think about your past few bowel movements. Was it a pleasant experience? Did it make you cringe? Did you run to the bathroom with urgency? Were you camped out on the porcelain throne waiting for one drop of gold?
You may be laughing or cringing at the thought of these questions, but stick with me. We’re going to get dive a deeper into your poop situation.
Let's go back to your past few bowel movements. Now consider these questions:
- Are your bowel movements loose or formed?
- Does your poop come out in small bits?
- Does your poop smell?
- Do you have undigested foods, mucus or blood in your poop?
- How many wipes until you are clean?
- Are you gassy? Bloated?
- How many times a day do you poop?
- Do you or have you used laxatives?
Consult the Bristol Chart below for a visual!
Don’t be shy. Answer them as best as you can. This topic may not be appropriate for dinner, but it is one that your Chinese medical practitioner will need to know the ins and outs of. These questions are also an opportunity for you to begin to pay more attention to your body’s pattern. Throughout this process, we want to uncover what your normal is? What are your body’s tendencies?
Common answers to these questions include:
- Abdominal pain/cramping
- Acid reflux
- Constipation for more than two days
- Urgent bowel movements
These signs and symptoms are known in western medicine as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Let’s pause here for a second. I’m going to hop on my soapbox.
Trouble In a Name
Could western medicine have given these signs and symptoms a more obvious name? Any time I’ve experienced irritable bowel syndrome, I am irritable and downright uncomfortable. My point here is to avoid getting caught up in your “diagnosis.” This hang-up may hinder your recovery and repair more than help it.
Physicians of Chinese medicine need and want to know your western medical diagnosis. However, it’s not imperative for a Chinese medical diagnosis and treatment. We want to know what’d behind your diagnosis. How you’re feeling, and the signs and symptoms that you’re having. With this in mind, I encourage you to be less attached to the name of your diagnosis.
Ok, back to business.
The Truth About Your Poop
The hard and fast truth about our digestive system and poop is this...We are all different. The state of your digestive system and poop is influenced by several things:
- Food tolerances and sensitivities
- Fluid intake
- Daily habits and rituals
- Stress levels
- Emotional tendencies
- Hormones. This one is specifically for my ladies. Our hormones are constantly changing from week to week. Is there a difference in digestion and bowel movements before, during, and after your menstrual cycle?
The ideal bowel movement would be one to three times a day, formed (long, like a snake or the shape of your intestines), little to no smell, and very little wiping. Before and after eating, the body does not experience any bloating, gas, acid reflux or abdominal cramping. See the above Bristol Stool chart for a visual of a normal bowel movement.
Now that you know what to look for, and have identified your tendencies and patterns, the healing process can begin!
Take this information and any other concerns to your Chinese medical practitioner. During your appointment, further questioning and diagnosis will be identified. From there, the practitioner will provide a treatment, herbal recommendations, and nutrition/food therapy suggestions.
Remember, every body is different including yours. General guidelines, supplements, and herbs may offer you temporary relief, but they likely will not get to the root of your poop issue. The best way to get relief and stabilize your digestive system is to consult with a Chinese medical practitioner and stay consist with recommendations.
To find the best practitioner in your area, read my post, “How to Choose an Acupuncturist.”
Be patient with your poop issue. Repair and relief will in time.
Five Steps To Get Started
To get started in the repair and relief process, here are five steps to follow:
- Pay close attention to how you feel after eating a meal. It takes about 13 hours for your body to completely process, absorb, and eliminate food.
- Keep a log of those 13 hours and track the answers to the questions above.
- Upon waking, drink eight to 16 ounces of water preferably with one fourth of a lemon squeezed in. This simple blend will help your body flush toxins and prepare it for food.
- Eliminate any foods that may cause your issues. Eliminate these foods for one week. The following week eat the food you eliminated. During that reintroduction week, if you're symptoms return, eliminate the culprit completely or rarely ingest it. Here are a list of items that cause digestive distress:
- Dairy: cows milk, eggs
- Grains: white bread, wheat bread, pasta, white rice, brown rice, crackers
- White sugar: cookies, soft or hard candies, donuts, sodas/pop
- Be patient. This is a process and there is not a one-fit-all.
For digestive relief after a large meal, check out my post, "There's an Herb for that: Digestive Distress and Heart Health"
I hope you found this poop conversation pleasant and some what enjoyable!
Irritable Bowel Syndrome Western Research and Chinese Herbal Medicine
Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome with Chinese Herbal Medicine published by The Journal of the American Medical Association.
Acupuncture and related therapies for treating irritable bowel syndrome published by the British Medical Journal.
Disclaimer: This information is intended for general reference only. It is not a replacement for professional health advice. The content in this post intentionally does not provide dosage information or possible interactions with prescription drugs or other medications. Please contact a certified health practitioner such as a physician of Oriental Medicine or Herbalist before considering use. To schedule an appointment with Malerie, visit the services page.