How to treat Constipation

with points, food, stretches and lifestyle advice

The peristaltic movement of the intestines is a great visual manifestation of the ancient Chinese idea of yin and yang. There are lots of misunderstandings about what yin and yang are, so let me clarify that what I mean by these is exactly what the ancient Chinese meant: expansion (yang) and contraction (yin). You breathe in (yang) and you breathe out (yin). Yin and yang are then quite literally 'breath'. So if body tissue is not breathing, there is sure enough going to be problems. 

 

This breath movement of yin and yang in the intestines is necessary to pass food along. But when either the contraction or the expansion of the intestine lining develops a problem, the food no longer passes correctly and you then develop the symptoms of constipation. So how can you treat it? Here are some ideas...  

1. Common treatment points and areas to relieve constipation:

LARGE INTESTINE 11 (QU CHI or POOL AT THE BEND)

How do you find it?

It is at the end of the elbow crease when you flex your elbow (bring it towards your body). There are probably going to be a few sore spots in this area, a little further down/up the arm. Treat any sore spot like LI-11.

On most people this area is almost always sore when pressed and if you follow the muscle down the forearm, you'll find a sharp pain you never knew you had. Got it yet? This is closer to LI-10 and can also be included in your treatment.

How do you massage the point?

As you can see in the picture, this is a great point for pressing with a Gua sha tool and then circling with less pressure. You can also press with your thumb and move your thumb along as you press to cover the other sore points.

GALL BLADDER 34 (YANG LING QUAN or YANG MOUND SPRING)

How do you find it?

On the outside of your lower leg, below your knee you will find a knobbly bone. This is called the head of the fibula. You can find GB-34 below the outside corner (anterior and inferior) of this bony protrusion. If it feels more sore below the other corner then treat there too.

How do you massage the point?

Press the point and the surrounding area and hold for 10 seconds, circle and then release. Gua sha cover this area, but put a finger of your other hand on the head of the fibula so you don't scrape on it. 

STOMACH 36 (ZUSANLI or LEG THREE MILES)

How do you find it?

You will find it at a hand width below the bottom of your kneecap and one finger width outward from the tibia bone. Feel around this area until you feel a sore point. It is less the exact position and more where it feels tender in that approximate location.

How do you massage the point?

Press the point (and any sore points nearby) and hold for 10-15 seconds. Circle for another 10-15 seconds and then repeat. You can happily use Gua sha in this area in order to cover more of the muscle. 

SPLEEN 6 (SAN YIN JIAO or THREE YIN INTERSECTION)

How do you find it?

You will find it at a hand width above the highest point of the inside ankle bone (the medial malleolus), just behind the tibia bone. It's another common sore spot.

How do you massage the point?

Press the point (and any sore points nearby) and hold for 10-15 seconds. Circle for another 10-15 seconds and then repeat. You can use Gua sha in this area but watch out for the side of the tibia bone. 

2. Foods which can help relieve constipation:

If you suffer from chronic constipation, then there may be something wrong with your diet and how your digestive system processes the food that you eat. In which case you need to adjust your diet according to what your body needs and for each person this is often different. There are however some general food qualities which can be useful to know: 

  • Foods which can help to moisten your intestines:

 

Apples, apricots, pears, peaches, prunes, carrots, cauliflower, spinach, honey, sesame seeds, walnuts and tofu.

  • Foods which have laxative qualities:

 

Asparagus, cabbage, figs, papayas and black sesame seeds.

3. Stretches which can help relieve constipation:

This arm cross and stretch exercise can help to loosen your intestines.

1. Stand with your legs apart. Have your arms at your sides and loosely clench your fists and slowly raise them towards your chest so they cross (see illustration). Breathe in while doing this. 

2. Open your hands, bend your waist and swing your arms downwards and outwards in one motion. Breathe out as you do this.

3. Repeat this several times.

4. Lifestyle advice to help relieve constipation:

Routine: Your body and specifically your intestines like routine. Your eating habits, sleeping patterns and toilet routines should ideally follow a regular pattern so your body gets use to what it is supposed to do when it is supposed to do it!

Exercise: What better to promote movement in your intestines than to move the rest of your body. Especially any exercise which requires some twisting movement of your torso like swimming or tennis.

©2019 Clive Witham

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