Are you regular?
In Traditional Chinese Medicine each season correlates to specific organs. Autumn is connected to the Lung and Large Intestine organs. Just as the natural world "lets go" during this season, so do the associated organs. These organs function to take in and absorb what is needed and let go of waste.
This is a good time of year for acupuncture to help with ongoing issues connected to the Large Intestine. Read on for information about digestive irregularities like constipation and diarrhea.
Hard to go?
If you are pooping less than three times a week, it does not feel complete, and is hard to pass, this is considered constipation. In Chinese Medicine constipation can be part of several health patterns. Here are some common patterns:
Infrequent, difficult, hard, dry: This is considered an excess pattern caused from systemic heat and dryness. If there is heat in your body (from inflammation, diet, stress) it dries up fluids causing stool to be dry and hard to pass. Other symptoms may include thirst, bad breath, distended belly.
Small, dry, bitty, or feeling incomplete: Along with having heat there also may be decreased circulation. In the Eastern perspective the Liver is the organ system that keeps circulation moving freely and easily. When the liver is stressed all the organ systems become sluggish. With this pattern there will be the above heat symptoms plus the addition of irritability, tension headaches, frequent sighing, insomnia.
Seeds are moistening, so adding them to your diet can help relieve constipation. Or try an herbal formula like Ma Zi Ren which combines hemp seed, apricot kernel, bitter orange, and rhubarb root. This is not a laxative but rather adds moisture and clears heat in the intestines to promote peristalsis.
Increase moistening foods like apples, pears, almonds, peanuts, and honey in to your diet.
Cut back on hot, spicy food, meat, and alcohol.
Alternating constipation and diarrhea
The combination of these irregularities show that both the Liver and Spleen organ systems are affected. The liver functions to keep everything in your body moving freely and is easily disturbed by excess emotions or overwork. This disruption from emotions like chronic stress or anxiety can effect bowel activity. Stagnant Liver function can cause constipation (or pebble like stools) and then effect the digestive Spleen organ causing loose stools.
Other possible symptoms: irritability, moodiness, bloated, reduced appetite, reflux
This is a common condition that everyone will experience at some point. There are many reasons for an acute flare up and it typically resolves rather quickly. On the other hand, a chronic condition is more concerning. Explained is the common cause of chronic diarrhea from a Chinese Medicine perspective.
Loose stool with undigested food: This indicates weak Spleen energy, an important digestive organ in Eastern Medicine. The Spleen works to transform our food and liquid in to usable energy resources for our body. When Spleen energy is weak you may have sensitive digestion or not be able to properly absorb the nutrients from your food.
Related symptoms: poor appetite, bloated and tired after eating, low energy, worry and rumination, easy to gain weight.
With sensitivities it is helpful to eat foods that are more easily digested. There is considered to be a "digestive fire" in Chinese Medicine, and foods that are warmer are more easily metabolized. This includes warm in temperature, as well as what is considered warm energetically. Cut back on foods right out of the refrigerator, ice water, and raw fruit and vegetables. Increase cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, turmeric, garlic, ginger, onions, soups and stews.
Acupuncture and Moxa
Moxa is the therapeutic modality of warming mugwart on acu-points. In addition to moxa being useful for overall immunity, pain and arthritis, and regulating emotions, it is incredibly useful for sluggish or overactive digestion.
Scientific research has shown that acupuncture and moxibustion (moxa) therapy provide great relief for constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, and abdominal pain.
Treatments can help regulate peristalsis and GI motility as well as regulate the nervous system for stress induced digestive issues.