Constipation is a fairly common physical symptom which many of us experience once in a while, however, a small subset of the general population suffer severe and chronic constipation. Many over the counter laxatives and some prescription drugs are available to us for this problem. Many offer temporary relief and tend to be habit forming. I would like to get to the bottom line, and suggest some alternative approaches which not only relieve constipation but change body energy for the better.
Let me share two cases with you:
A young male engineer came to my office recently with a two-month history of diffuse dull abdominal pain. He had been constipated for a long time. Upon a recent visit to a local emergency room, an abdominal CAT scan was obtained showing significant amount retained fecal material. He had been a vegan for four years. On examination, his hands were very cold to touch, abdomen soft, but pulse deep, thin and week. Blood pressure was low, but pulse rate slow. He had the so-called "Kidney Yang Energy Deficiency" in Chinese medicine.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbs were provided. Herbs were used to warm him up and to boost the kidney yang. I also discussed with him massaging the abdomen, acupressure applied to certain acupoints on legs to stimulate defecation, to apply heat to the abdomen, to avoid cold drinks and raw foods, etc. I asked him to try to eat some meat, such as lamb, if he is willing to consider as he has a very weak body constitution. His symptoms resolved quickly.
Case # 2
A 55-year old lady came to my office several years ago for help with very chronic constipation of many years. She had tried many drugs and supplements, with only minimal help. Upon examination, she fell under the category of "heat excess", also feeling warm and rapid heart rate. Anxious and feeling agitated from time to time. After several acupuncture session and herbal mixture consisting of several formulas, her condition improved dramatically and has remained so till this date. In short, the treatment changed and balanced her body constitution.
Traditional Chinese medicine is a personalized medicine. For chronic constipation, or IBS, everyone is treated as a different individual based on body constitution. The two cases presented above should illustrate this point well. Of course, there are other body energy types which are associated with constipation, such as kidney yin deficiency, or liver fire, just to name a few.