The human intestines are about 25 ft long. In order for body wastes to travel this length and be pushed out of the body, it takes a mix of the right amount of water, fiber and the stool to exit this long length through the work of peristalsis. So it's not that easy.
Treating constipation is way more complex than just drinking lots of water and eating fiber. The cause of constipation from the Chinese medicine perspective could be from:
- External heat that gets in the lungs, the stomach or the intestines, thus drying up the stool.
- Internal heat from emotional turmoil that impedes the liver qi that transforms into stubborn heat that stays in the body and dries the stool. This heat could be from improper diet such as hot spicy foods, processed foods, alcohol, or cigarette smoking.
- Foods that introduce phlegm such as dairy products, rich/greasy products, overeating, and obesity could all cause the so-called sluggish stool, the result of qi stagnation making it hard to pass.
- Deficiencies in the body from lack of yin, blood and body fluid could also dry the stool.
- Deficiencies in the body from lack of qi and yang that introduces internal coldness to the body, thus lacking the energy to pass the stool per peristalsis.
- Lack of exercise leads to sluggish qi or stagnant qi all throughout our spine. Daily stretching exercise, especially of the back totally relieves this type of strain that prevents normal bowel movement.
- Medications such as iron supplements, codeine, opiates, diuretics, and antidepressants are notorious in drying up the stool.
- Certain health conditions also lead to sluggish stool.
In conclusion, when the body has free flow of qi, and blood; good balance between yin and yang, and there is enough body fluid and fiber and without the built-up of internal heat or cold, then stool should pass easily through peristalsis. With Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine we are well equipped to diagnose and treat constipation and we’ve had many happy patients who were helped to steer clear from this nasty condition.