Have you ever experienced the discomfort brought by constipation? Not having regular bowel movements is not only uncomfortable; it’s also unhealthy and can lead to gastrointestinal complications.
What is considered a normal bowel movement?
Your bowel movements are a reflection of your gut health. A healthy adult should have a bowel movement frequency of 3 times per day to 3 times per week. This applies to everyone regardless of age and gender.
Stool consistency may vary, depending on the food you eat and how long the stool stayed in the colon. The Bristol Stool Chart is a handy guide to know the consistency of your stool and what it means.
Answer the following questions to find out if you have a normal bowel movement:
- Do you feel the need to go at least 3 times a day to 3 times a week?
- Is the urge to pass stool strong but manageable?
- Can you relieve yourself as soon as you sit on the toilet?
- Does passing stool require no effort or straining?
- Does your stool pass smoothly?
- Do you feel pleasantly relieved afterward?
If you answer yes to all of these questions, you have normal bowel movements. If not, you might be suffering from a variety of gastrointestinal problems such as constipation.
What is constipation?
Everyone experiences constipation at some point in their lives. In fact, it is one of the most common health problems concerning the gastrointestinal tract. Approximately 2.5 million Americans get checked for constipation every year.
A constipated person is someone who has less than 3 bowel movements in a week. However, since each person’s bowel habit is unique, you can be considered constipated if you “go” much less frequently than your usual pattern.
The signs and symptoms of constipation include:
- Dry and hard stools
- Bloated sensation
- Pain and straining during defecation
- Stools that are difficult to pass
- Not feeling relieved after defecating
Generally, the longer the interval between your bowel movements, the more difficult it is to pass stool. This happens because the longer your stool stays inside the colon, the more liquid will be absorbed from it.
What causes constipation?
Constipation can occur because of your lifestyle or a medical condition. Taking certain medications can also lead to constipation.
Examples of lifestyle causes are:
- Poor hydration
- Physical inactivity
- Low fiber diet
- High levels of stress
- A sudden change in routine
- Eating large amounts of dairy products
- Not defecating when you feel the urge to go
Hormonal changes during pregnancy can also make a woman more prone to getting constipated. The growing fetus can also press the colon and slow down the passage of stool.
Why do you become constipated?
Nutrient and water absorption are a normal part of digestion. From the stomach, the digested food moves to the small intestine, where the nutrients are absorbed. Then, it will pass through the large intestine or the colon, which absorbs water and solidifies the stool.
If a person is constipated, their stool spends too much time inside the large intestine. Therefore, more water is absorbed from it, making it hard, dry, and difficult to excrete.
Why should you go easy on laxatives for constipation?
Laxatives, such as bisacodyl and sennosides, are drugs that stimulate bowel movement and soften stool to help you defecate. There are different classifications of laxatives, each with a different mode of action to treat constipation.
Laxatives are safe and effective when used occasionally. However, frequent use of laxatives can lead to bowel irritation, dehydration, loss of electrolyte, and mineral imbalance. It can also make you dependent on the drug to defecate and even lead to long-term constipation.
There are several ways to treat constipation. If you want to go for the natural and safe treatment option, consider changing your lifestyle and getting acupuncture in Gainesville, Fl.
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a form of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that originated from China centuries ago. TCM practitioners believe that illnesses and diseases are caused by an imbalance or disruption in the flow of the body’s life force called ‘qi.’
The ‘qi’ is made up of two opposing forces called ‘yin’ and ‘yang.’ In a healthy individual, these forces should complement and balance each other.
The goal of acupuncture is to restore balance in the body. To achieve this, ‘qi’ should flow freely through meridians and pathways that connect over 2,000 acupuncture points. A trained and experienced acupuncturist knows where to insert fine needles to trigger these acupoints and achieve the desired effect.
Does acupuncture work for constipation?
Many studies have explored the benefits of acupuncture for constipated patients.
Acupuncture for functional constipation
Resisting the urge to poo, when you know that it can be uncomfortable and painful because you are constipated, is a typical response. This is called functional constipation.
According to a study published in the Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine journal, acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment for patients with functional constipation. Acupuncture has been proven to relieve symptoms of constipation, increase the frequency of defecation, and improve the quality of life of patients.
In another study published in the same journal, the researchers concluded that electroacupuncture is safe and effective for treating functional constipation. Compared to the effects of taking mosapride, a drug that accelerates gastrointestinal movement, electroacupuncture is as effective but has lesser side effects. The participants of the study were also more satisfied with the effects of electroacupuncture.
Acupuncture for chronic constipation
Patients who suffered from a traumatic brain injury (TBI) may suffer from chronic constipation due to long-term immobility. A study published in the Medical Acupuncture Journal has explored the benefits of acupuncture treatment for chronically constipated patients with severe TBI. It has been found that the TBI patients had more frequent bowel movements after 10 weeks of getting acupuncture treatment.
In another study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine journal, the researchers explored the benefits of acupuncture for chronic functional constipation patients who had no underlying diseases. After only 8 weeks of electroacupuncture, the study participants have experienced an increase in complete spontaneous bowel movements.
How can acupuncture help treat constipation?
Acupuncture can release the blockage in the meridian that contributes to poor intestinal motility. It can stimulate the intestinal muscles to produce peristaltic movement and move the digested food out of the colon.
What to expect during your acupuncture treatment in Gainesville, Fl
During your consultation with our expert acupuncturist, Dr. Weiwei Guan, she will ask about your lifestyle practices, past medical history, and the history of your present ailment.
Your answers to her questions will help her decide what form of TCM and acupuncture technique to use on you. The goal of treatment is to restore balance in your body, increase bowel movement, relieve constipation symptoms, and improve your quality of life.
Since lifestyle can affect bowel movement, Dr. Guan may also give recommendations on how to improve your habits, routine, and diet. If your constipation is stress-related, she may also recommend a different form of acupuncture therapy to help relieve stress.
Where to get acupuncture treatment for constipation?
If you are looking for an established facility that offers acupuncture and other forms of alternative medicine in Gainesville, Fl, visit us at Guan Physical Therapy and Acupuncture Clinic. Our goal is to relieve your symptoms and improve your quality of life through acupuncture and traditional Chinese Medicine in Gainesville, Fl.
For more than 130 years, our world-class acupuncture has eased discomforts, aches, and pains, promoted nerve recovery, rebalanced hormones, and helped patients enjoy their healthy lives.
If you are interested in an appointment or have questions, contact us or give us a call at (352) 353-0288.
The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.