In the world of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), your everyday bathroom routine takes on a whole new significance. Beyond the ordinary, TCM practitioners read the language of stools to understand the nuanced messages your body is sending. The color and shape of your stool aren’t just biological details; they’re vital clues about the balance of your body’s energy. In this article, we’ll delve into the practical and intriguing practice of stool analysis in TCM, and what it reveals about your gut health. We’ll also share some tips to aid better stool and gut health. Afterall, you don’t need to be a TCM master to understand your own poo!
In TCM, the normal color of stool is considered to be brown, reflecting a harmonious balance of Qi within the body. Brown is considered the normal color because it is formed when the waste is mixed with the digestive juices and pigments within the digestive tract. Variations in stool color can indicate specific imbalances or deficiencies. For example, a light clay colored stool is indicative of biliary deficiencies or gallbladder duct blockages. While dark black colored may show dried blood in the stool due to upper intestinal pathology. In TCM, black or dark brown stool is suggestive of excess heat in the stomach or intestines. We recommend eating less spicy, sweet, and fried foods if you believe you have excess heat in your body.
Not only does the color show possible pathologies, but it also is a great indicator of what we eat. When we consume a lot of veggies and fruits, our stool may become dark yellow. Or if we eat lots of protein, our poo will be dark. Overall, understanding the variations in stool color are key diagnostic clues for TCM practitioners – and now you! – when trying to identify and address underlying imbalances in the body.
Decoding Shapes and Textures
In addition to color, TCM also analyzes the shape and texture of stools. A well-formed stool is an essential sign of a healthy digestive system, but that is not always what we see in the toilet. Below we’ll go over what different shapes mean in terms of body deficiency.
Loose and watery stools
TCM recognizes loose or watery stools as a signal of a deficiency in the spleen or kidney. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the spleen controls the transportation and digestion of food, while the kidney warms the spleen so it can function properly. Therefore, deficiency in the spleen would cause poor digestion of the food, leading to diarrhea. Long periods of stress or chronic illness can lead to kidney Qi deficiency, which would also cause diarrhea like symptoms.
Thin or pencil-like stools could be linked to a Qi deficiency in the large intestine, suggesting a need for tonification of this vital energy. To help cleanse your Qi, try eating foods like lentils, quinoa, and root vegetables.
Constipation and pellets
Constipated poops that are shaped like pellets or just hard-to-pass may be indicative of liver Qi stagnation with heat or insufficient consumption of liquids. If we have too much heat in the liver, it will dry up bodily fluids. This excessively dry environment makes it difficult to poop because our intestines cannot perform peristalsis – the movements our intestines do to move contents along. We recommend drinking some more liquids, electrolytes, and fiber to move things along.
Overall, irregular shapes and anything less than 1-2 poops per day may point towards imbalances in different organ systems. And it’s important to recognize those imbalances so you can work on healing your body!
Tips for Optimal Stool Health
In TCM, diet plays a pivotal role in maintaining the balance of Qi and promoting optimal gut health. Incorporating foods that support specific organ systems can help address deficiencies and imbalances spotted through examining stool.
- Foods that nourish the liver, such as leafy greens and bitter vegetables, may be recommended for those with pale stools.
- Cooling foods like cucumber and melons can be beneficial for individuals with excess heat.
- Herbal teas, such as ginger or mint, may aid in digestion and help alleviate symptoms associated with various stool irregularities.
Pay Attention To Your Stool
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, stools are viewed as a mirror to the internal landscape of the body. Looking at the color and shape of stools provides valuable insights into potential imbalances. Now that you know a little more about what the color and shape of your poop means, you can start making some more informed dietary choices to support your health. So, the next time you glance into that toilet, remember that your stools are telling you something!