Q: Can you offer me some food and herbal advice for constipation?
A: Sure! For starters, do note that both in Chinese medicine and Western medicine, constipation is defined as having NO bowel movement in 3 days time. Most health practitioners recommend having at least 1 bowel movement per day.
Also note that there are 2 types of fiber: insoluble and soluble. Insoluble fiber is not soluble in water and the body doesn't digest it. It serves as a "broom" to remove waste from the body. Most fruits and veggies contain insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber is soluble in water and has a gelatinous quality to it. Soluble fiber helps to softens stools. Good examples are chia seed, flax seed and psyllium husk.
There are 2 types of patterns seen in TCM related to constipation: hot/excess and cold/deficient.
The 1st is more of a pattern seen in men, however it is still very common in both sexes. Constipation arrives because there is not enough fiber and water in the diet. Typically this is a pattern due to overeating on processed/junk food, on high amonts of fatty food such as meat and dairy, and on overconsumption of sugary foods such as pastry and candy. The recommendation is to clean up the diet with fiber-rich and high water content foods (e.g. veggies). Herbs are useful in moving the bowels and should be paired with demulcent herbs to avoid gripping/stabbing pains. Probiotics are useful in repopulating the gut flora, while enemas/colonics can be viable, temporary solutions to remove old, hard waste.
The 2nd is a pattern seen more in women, in which constipation is due to a lack of bodily fluids. In this pattern, the diet is generally OK but the interfering pattern tends to be hormonal (e.g. adrenal, thyroid or menopausal issues) and is called a yin deficiency pattern in TCM. TCM uses a gentle method of "building up the yin" (or regulating the hormones in Western medicine speak) with foods and herbs. Note that building yin takes time to build.
Exercise is an excellent "treatment" for both types :)
is a Health Practitioner with a Background in Chinese Medicine. Get in Some of her Savvy Adivce When She Answers Your Health Question.
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