Traditional Chinese Medicine for Constipation

From the perspective of traditional Chinese medicine, constipation can be divided into four types according to different causes: excessive heat, food stagnation, insufficient blood and insufficient energy. Excessive heat in digestive system is the most common type of constipation.

For excessive heat and food stagnation, you need to stimulate bowel movement. Healthy diet is often recommended. You should eat more high-fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, drink adequate amounts of water. For insufficient blood and insufficient energy, TCM practitioners will address the root cause of the illness, offer acupuncture combined with herbal formula to restore balance.

There are many factors that can cause constipation such as low-fiber diet, changes in life, lack of exercise, irritable bowel syndrome, abuse of laxatives and medications. Constipation is a side effect of many drugs. Long-term persistent constipation must be examined by doctor to ensure that there is no underlying disease or disorder.

Chinese Herbs for Constipation

In TCM, Hei Zhi Ma (Black Sesame) is recorded in the Chinese Materia Medica for moistening and moving the bowels and relieving constipation. Fan Xie Ye (Senna Leaf) is sometimes used to help constipation issues. However, it can be used for short-term constipation relief only. Senna leaf has natural laxative properties. Long-term Senna usage may cause laxative dependence.

Gan Cao (Licorice Root) has been traditionally used to soothe the digestive system and encourage bowel movement in Chinese medicine. Xiao Cheng Qi Wan is a Chinese herbal formula which helps bowel movements to alleviate abdominal distention and constipation.

Acupuncture for Constipation

Acupuncture can be as effective as conventional therapy in the change of bowel movements (1). There are meridian lines for each major organ system in the body including the large intestine. On the large intestine meridian, there are acupuncture points which can be used for constipation. Other internal organs such as the stomach and liver also have specific acupuncture points that are used for constipation. TCM practitioners may offer electro acupuncture, which uses thin needles inserted beneath the skin that are attached to a device that sends electric pulses into the body.

It is known that stress can influence the bowels and contribute to constipation. This is why sometimes liver acupuncture points are used to help the bowels, because healthy liver can help reduce stress.

If you are a do-it-yourself type, you can also try stimulating acupressure points for constipation on your own.

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