Some believe going to bathroom every two or three days is not constipation. I have a different opinion. It takes about 12 hours for food to go from the mouth to the rectum. If we finish dinner at 6:30 pm in the evening and go to bathroom at 6:30 am in the next morning, we excrete all foods eaten yesterday. Otherwise we carry unnecessary stools in our body at least one more day. Is there any good reason to carry unnecessary stool in our body? Whatever it is, we must not carry it to next day.
Women have a tendency to have constipation than men. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, women belong to yin and men belong to yang. Yin’s character is gathering and contraction. Yang’s is dispersing and expansion. Of course this is a general concept only and doesn’t apply to all cases. Men can suffer with constipation and women with diarrhea, too. Some experience alternating constipation and diarrhea, which is called irritable bowel syndrome. I will discuss this syndrome separately.
Some say drinking water helps but drinking water causes more frequent urination and does not help constipation. Some suggest eating more fibers. Yes, this helps definitely. However, some who eat lots of fiber suffer with constipation. Some take softener, laxatives or an enema everyday or whenever necessary. If constipation returns without laxatives, we have to remember that large intestine function would be decreased ultimately. Some dig out into rectum by finger wearing a vinyl glove. When those who suffer with constipation get colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy etc, some kinds of polyps, inflamed tissues or even cancer could be found more often than normal person.
Some are afraid of going to bathroom because of constipation. Some suffer with bellyache, unnecessary weight gains, and look ugly on the lower abdomen. Constipation can cause hemorrhoids, making bleeding due to breaking rectum.
There are some other symptoms not known to the western medical field. Frontal headache, skin dryness and roughness, acne, and atopic skin could follow constipation due to toxic gas rising that is accumulated in the large intestine. Stools cannot move to small intestine, but gas can move to the head. This kind of gas contains heat, causing moisturized skin to dry, including neck and face. This is an oxidant, causing less supply of nutrition and oxygen to head area. This will cause skin to get older fast and make more wrinkles.
Constipation and Traditional Chinese Medicine
There are many reasons for constipation according to Traditional Chinese Medicine. Constipation is especially prevalent in old age. Many old people in nursing homes suffer with constipation due to weak function.
- Main reason for constipation is on large intestine (LI).
LI may be too weak for peristaltic motion causing all food to stay accumulated, causing constipation. This could be classified as qi deficiency, blood deficiency, yin deficiency, and coldness.
- LI has too much heat causing absorbing more water than it should, making constipation worse. This also divides heat type and stagnation.
All these subjects are difficult for people not trained in Traditional Chinese Medicine to understand. The best way, in my opinion, is to activate the function of large intestine, which is peristaltic movement, by activation of Qi and blood and removing heat accumulated in the large intestine. Peristaltic contraction of large intestine must be increased by proper blood circulation (cooling or warming). This is the best and only way without damaging your interior systems. How can we improve better blood circulation for large intestine than acupuncture treatment?
Treatment for constipation only requires 1-3 sessions in most cases with acupuncture. We may offer the patient tea to drink in some cases. This combined treatment will bring better results.
Clinical cases of TCM treatment for constipation
Sometimes the patient feels moving in the abdominal area on the table while getting the acupuncture treatment and goes to the bathroom immediately after treatment.
Some could not breathe due to a real bad smell after excreting even though this came from their own body, as this accumulation may have been there for years. Some report not only losing more than 5-10 pounds, but also knee pain was released as less weight puts less burden on knees, (some knee pain comes from overweight).
Constipation in Older People
One old couple came for treatment of constipation. They had tried everything such as more fiber, stool softener, laxatives etc. After the first treatment, they felt something moving, but did not have enough power to excrete easily. The second session gave the husband full power to excrete every thing that remained in the body. According to them, a toilet bowl was full of stool and they couldn’t flush with water. A superintendent came to help and made it to go. The wife had same experience like the husband after the third session and called the superintendent again. He asked, ‘why do tenants in this apartment make huge stools?’ They felt their body become light and felt like they were walking on the air.
Headache Caused by Constipation
A lady came for a headache and pointed to her nose and between her eyebrows during consultation. She took one Excedrin in the morning and another one in the afternoon due to her severe headache. She thought her problem may be sinusitis, but without any runny nose she ruled out sinusitis. She has tried to consider any possibilities through her knowledge and visiting medical offices, but failed to find a real cause. All tests came out negative and the test results made her more frustrated.
I asked her if she had a constipation problem and she said yes. How could I tell this? The answer is that I am an acupuncturist.
Her constipation began since she attended college and lasted for more than 25 years. She went to bathroom only once a week. This was much suffering for her.
After one treatment, she was able to go every two days and stopped taking an Excedrin in the morning, but still had to take one in the afternoon. She took another treatment one week later. In the mean time she had the most pain free menstruation on her memory. She could go to the bathroom every day for her bowel movement. It took two more sessions to solve her other issues.
- Fibers such as whole grain foods, fruit and vegetables are excellent source for preventing constipation. Water itself is not related much except for heat in large intestine. Some suggest drinking more water. According to acupuncture theory, water moves from small intestine to urinary bladder. Clean parts are absorbed and sent to the blood stream and dirty parts move to the urinary bladder. Many found or experienced already that drinking more water causes them to urinate more often instead of helping constipation. So drinking more water is not a solution.
- Here is a tip for normal people. Press abdominal area with finger tips. If there is a pain on a certain spot, press longer on that spot where there is a blockage. All laxatives or similar drugs ultimately damage large intestine if they are used for a long time.
- Try rope jumping. Whenever you jump, the large intestine moves up and down, making peristaltic movement.
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