I’m willing to bet that you don’t talk about your bowel movements often, or ever. Why would you? Its rarely appropriate, no one wants to know what you do in the smallest room in the house and its suppose to be private. Did you know that your stools can provide a lot of information about your health, particularly your large intestine (colon) and your gastrointestinal tract.
Now there is no general rule as to have often you should have a bowel movement, some say it can be anywhere from 3 times a week up to 3 times a day. Although I tend to think if things are working properly someone should be able to have 1 bowel movement a day with no difficulty. If you think about babies, one meal goes in, one comes out.
So lets talk about what a healthy stool should look like. A health stool should be formed, preferably one piece. It should neither sink or float. It should be a brown color and should not have a foul odor.
What other color stools may mean;
Dark Black – may indicate an upper intestinal pathology Light clay colored – may indicate biliary deficiencies or gallbaldder duct blockages Dark may show protein in the diet Dark Yellow may show a diet high in fruits and vegetables. If there are strokes of pink or red in your stool it is a possible sign of bleeding in the lower intestine, possibly caused from hemorrhoids.
The odor of stools is due to the foods someone has eaten and the bacteria present in the colon. In Chinese medicine a foul odor generally means that there is stagnation in the bowel. A gas odor is largely due to the foods ingested and varies for each individual. Foul smelling stools can also indicate a more serious health issue, a foul odor can also be accompanied by diarrhea, bloating or flatulence.
Now the density of the stool again tells us a lot. In Chinese medicine everything is a clue to what is going on inside your body.
Dry stool could show excess heat in the intestine, or a deficiency of spleen and or kidney channels. (Note in Chinese medicine we look at the organ systems slightly different, so that does not mean there is something wrong with your spleen or kidney organ.) Loose stools with an odor can indicate cold in intestines or a deficiency in the spleen or kidney Alternating hard and loose stools could indicate an imbalance between the liver and spleen channels. Diarrhea is more common in the elderly due to the energy of the kidney channel declining as we age. If your stool is small and there are many pieces it could indicate qi stagnation in the liver. Which can be caused by repressed emotions such as anger or frustration. It could also be due to heat in your intestines.
So what does your stool say about your health?
This was originally published in MyKawartha Dec 6, 2018