Tell me about your bowel movements…

Well, as my wife says, when you marry a doctor of TCM, you get used to talking about bowel movements, it even may pop up at the dinner table, as food, digestion, and bowel movements are intimately related ! As with any holistic thinking, your bowels are an expression of health, mainly digestive, but also may be great indicators of other underlying problems that should be investigated. Someone has even made an attempt to standardize the appearance of stool so that reporting to your physician is easier, its called the Bristol Stool Scale if you are interested in deepening your understanding even further. Otherwise, please read on and commit this information to memory. As my favorite old Chinese teacher always said in school, ‘your body is your best friend, listen to what it is telling you!’.

So, what is normal?

  • 1-2 bowel movements per day is average.
  • Without extreme urgency or incontinence.
  • Formed, not loose or dry bitty rabbit pellet stool..
  • Easy to pass (no grunting!)
  • No burning (otherwise known as the ring of fire).
  • No pain .
  • Not too foul smelling.
  • No undigested food should be seen.
  • No ‘unfinished feeling’ post movement.
  • If they float they are fabulous.
  • Colored like a fawn.
  • No sense of fatigue post movement.
  • Should not see any oily residue floating on water in toilet.
  • Of course blood should be monitored and determined what the source is; fresh blood on toilet paper or in the toilet water around an otherwise normal looking stool is most often not cause for alarm. Blood from further back in the digestive tract will produce dark tarry stool, which could be as simple as an ulcer or something more serious. In any case, if there is blood, please consult your physician.

    If after reading this list you recognize that your bowel movements may not be normal, please consult your physician or Doctor of traditional Chinese medicine to discuss possible causes and treatments.

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