What are the symptoms?
Constipation is an uncomfortable condition. Symptoms include:
- Infrequent bowel movements – fewer than three movements in a week
- Stools that are difficult to pass – they may be large and dry, hard or lumpy
- You may experience repeated unsatisfying bowel movements where nothing or not enough comes out
- Excessive straining and painful bowel movements
What causes constipation and what can we do to get things moving?
Muscles in the wall of the colon (our Large Intestine) move the waste products of digested food out of the body. A number of factors can cause these muscles to become less effective at their job resulting in constipation. Worldwide about 20% of people live with constipation.
Are you eating enough fiber?
There are two sorts of fiber – Soluble and insoluble fiber.
Soluble fiber absorbs water and creates a gel like substance that helps to smooth the passage of your stools along and out of your bowels. Insoluble fibre acts as a bulking agent and sweeps through your colon like a brush clearing everything out effectively and keeping things moving.
In addition to helping to keep you regular eating sufficient amounts of fiber can also improve the balance of good bacteria in your colon – reducing your risk of various diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
Do you have an underlying health condition?
There are a number of underlying conditions that affect the effective functioning of our colon. These include irritable bowel syndrome, thyroid disease and lactose intolerance. Other less obvious causes of constipation include the side effects of medication, stress, having a slower metabolism or regularly suppressing your bowel movements. By treating the underling cause of these conditions through either Western or Chinese medicine – or a combination of both – you can become regular again.
Are you feeling stressed out?
Stress is a major cause of constipation for a number of reasons. When we are stressed we are less likely to eat healthily, to sleep or to stay hydrated which can exacerbate the problem further. In addition stress hormones cause inflammation to our bowel and also reduce the number of healthy gut bacteria. Try taking a few moments out of your day to focus on your breath, to stretch out releasing tight knots in our bodies.
Lack of exercise
If you are living with constipation it might be because you are not active enough. Exercise helps by speeding up the time it takes for waste to transit along the colon. One of the colon’s functions is to absorb water. Thus a speedier transit means that less water is absorbed, and the result is softer stools that are easier to pass. If this applies to you why not incorporate a few more gentle walks into your weekly routine – it will make a difference.
Fluids help to move waste material smoothly along your digestive system. Increasing your fluid intake may help improve regularity, but there’s no magic number of glasses of water you need to take to improve your frequency of bowel movement as everyone is different. As a general rule a healthy adult should aim to drink bout 3 to 6 glasses of water per day and any soup, fruit and vegetables you consume will count toward that. Discuss your fluid intake with your TCM practitioner and see if you could benefit with increasing your hydration.
Chinese Medicine for Constipation: Natural Constipation Relief
Constipation can be effectively treated with either acupuncture or herbal treatment. You do not need to suffer in silence! According to TCM there are four possible causes of constipation namely:
- Heat Induced
- Cold Induced
- A lack of underlying vital energy – In TCM this is known as Qi Deficiency
- Blood Deficiency – another TCM term relating to nutritional and other deficiencies that diminish the quality of our blood
When constipation is Heat induced it is the result of an over consumption of food or drinks that create heat within us. Examples of this include spicy or fried food or too much alcohol. Heat can also be created internally when we experience intense emotions such as sudden grief or anger. When constipation is heat-induced the stools will be dry and hard with dark coloured urine. You might also notice that you have a distended belly, a flushed complexion and you might suffer from mouth ulcers.
Cold induced constipation is seen in people who have a weakened constitution through a high intake of cold or raw food. You might find it difficult to pass stools that might be of a normal or loose consistency. People with cold induced problems may have a pale complexion, experience cold extremities and pain in the waist and lower abdomen.
When our Qi is Deficient it is because our body is depleted due to ageing, serious illnesses or after childbirth. Over exercise or working too much – and an overactive sex life! – can all deplete our body’s innate energy. When constipation is due to this we might only be able to evacuate your bowels by excessive straining – the extremely dry stools may even need to be removed manually.
Not nourishing ourselves sufficiently, burning the candle at both ends and losing blood after surgery or childbirth can cause Blood Deficiency. When constipation is due to this the symptoms will include dry stools, a pale complexion and pale tongue. Often people with this condition will also experience heart palpitations, giddiness and blurred vision.
Herbs for Constipation : Natural Constipation Relief
There are a number of traditional Chinese herbal formulas and herbs that have an excellent calming effect on the colon and promote regular and easy bowel movements. Remember that as TCM works to address the root cause of a symptom that you may reap a number of additional benefits such as increased energy, decreased stress and improved sleeping patterns – in addition to improved gut health.
Give Spirulina a try. It is a super food which can be added to your daily routine for its nutritional content and overall health benefits. Spirulina has antioxidant and anti inflammatory properties, as well as the ability to help regulate the immune system. This powerful herb offers benefits such as speeding up weight loss, reducing blood lipid levels and it also lowers blood sugar levels.
Our Detox Tea provides an overall detox and stimulates a gentle colon cleanse for a healthier body along. This tea has the additional effect of promoting a healthy weight and can be safely integrated into your daily wellbeing routine.
Another option is our Feiyan Tea which has colon cleansing and weight management properties. If you have high cholesterol, constipation or need a liver cleanse, this UK made tea is right for you.
For more information about how Chinese Medicine can help you, book your free consultation or treatment today.
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. We can’t guarantee the treatment result, as the symptoms of conditions are unpredictable and vary greatly from person to person. The treatment length and recovery time also varies for individual. Please visit our clinics website: GinSen where a specialists will discuss your care and provide a consultation, and the treatment will be designed to meet your individual needs.