Constipation is difficulty or inability to pass bowel movements for an extended period of time. Whilst one to two bowel movements per day is normal, going three times every day is healthy.
Constipation can be painful as the faeces are hard or dry in texture and can leave haemorrhoids in their path, which are painful. Accompanying gastrointestinal symptoms may include flatulence, bloating, abdominal or intestinal discomfort, and incomplete evacuation.
In TICM, constipation is viewed as either excess heat or deficiency. With excess heat in the body, fluids are dried out in the Large Intestine, which harden the stool and make it difficult to move the bowels.
Some causes to excess heat in the Large Intestines are consistent ingestion of overly spicy and hot foods which can be anything from spicy foods to over consumption of charred and red meats. Related symptoms can be extreme thirst, red face, craving for ice drinks, hot flashes and bad breath.
TICM view emotions are always related to our physical symptoms. Emotional pain can lead to internal imbalances in the Stomach which can disrupt your normal bowels and create a blockage. Holding onto old feelings, old beliefs, inability to digest life and fear of moving forward can create this imbalance. Also a lack of expression of feelings, creativity or emotions can disrupt Stomach flow as well.
Another root imbalance that can lead to constipation is a combination of deficiency and in Spleen and Stomach paired with sluggish Liver function. If the Stomach and Spleen are not able to disperse nutrients and the liver is not able to properly remove waste material, constipation may very well arise. With deficiency constipation, defecation is a bit easier, but stools are smaller and not completed.
In order to alleviate constipation, start with drinking warm liquids, especially in the morning. Drinking warm ginger power tea with lemon on an empty Stomach when you rise actually activates the Liver to expel toxins. It also promotes the activation of the metabolism. Refrain from drinking iced or cold beverages while experiencing constipation as they can further prolong the problem.
Eat regular meals, but lighter ones at night. Concentrate on a diet of whole foods and remove processed and snack type foods. Remove overly spicy foods for the time being and make sure to consume natural fibre found in fruits and vegetables. Vegetables should be the largest part of the meal. Eat foods that are easy on the digestive system and cook your vegetables. Stay away from raw foods as they are much harder to digest, especially when the bowels are not functioning properly.
Try drinking warm water with a spoonful of raw, organic honey in it before going to bed to activate Liver function.
Shan Zha (Hawthorne berry) tea is great for people with excess heat, this berry can relieve constipation caused by eating too much high protein and fatty food.
Get your TICM doctor to prescribe Liver herbs which helps emotional and physical stagnation. Emotions like agitation, unhappiness, anger, irritability, frustration and depression harm the Liver. The Liver is in charge of the flow of our emotions and responsible for clearing out toxins. An unhappy Liver always attacks the Spleen and Stomach, so constipation can be rooted in the Liver and cause Stomach bloating, belching or pain.
Make sure to strengthen and work out your abdominal muscles and entire body with regular, moderate exercise.
Avoid the long term use of laxatives as the bowel may become dependent on them, ultimately exacerbating constipation issues. I say no more than 7 days of laxatives.
Acupuncture is proven to be effective for constipation. Your TICM doctor can place you on a regimen of acupuncture, acupressure and herbs to dissipate the root cause of the constipation.