Waste Management 💩!
John mentioned that he’d been constipated for most of his life. He spoke about being a workaholic, bottling emotions, pacing fast to fury, and judging others ruthlessly. Like so many before him, he reported what I call the classic constipation constellation: a long-term condition, hydrated with coffee, propped by wooden muscles, and a busted signal to defecate. He said it. Chronic constipation was a matter worth neglect. A basic need abandoned for decades. Total rectal scorn.
DEFINITION: Constipation can mean one of three things: infrequent bowel movements, difficulty evacuating, or a little bit of both. Difficult evacuations are a special category in itself. These guys have their own set of crayons, so to speak: straining, lumpy or hard stools, incomplete evacuation, sensation of blockage, the need for manual help via tools or fingers, or some medley of the above. TMI.
DID YOU KNOW: Statistics are interesting. They approximate what’s going on. A report from the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation, sponsored by Merck, reported that 1 in 4 Canadians have constipation. Near 30% of these guys tell their doctor about it within 3 months of their initial visit, while about 40% do it within a year. Evidently, it’s a hard problem to admit, pun intended. And prevalent in low-income groups, the elderly, and females more so than males in North America.
When constantly ignored, the rectal wall becomes less sensitive to distention and the rectal reflex fades. The urge fades. Desensitization. In herbal medicine, cathartic herbs are purgative; they promote defecation, and act more aggressively than laxatives. In psychology, catharsis is the purging of emotions and its release results in restoration. RE: pain – the area of the brain that processes physical pain rests heads with emotional pain. You get it.
STUBBORNNESS: If you’ve ever been constipated, you know how it affects you on a mental-emotional level. After all, a half-read book is a half-finished love affair (David Mitchell). Why is there such difficulty in considering that chronic mental states could predispose physical conditions, like constipation? What are our personal challenges to letting go of old doctrines so new intelligence can enter?
LETTING GO: The large intestine is the president of removing solid waste; things the body has had its way with and no longer has use for. Insert bad joke here. In TCM, the large intestine is mentally and emotionally concerned with – letting go. Constipated individuals tend to struggle with swallowing change, allowing change to assimilate, and letting go of difficult situations. They also tend to present with perfectionist and regretful attitudes. As seasons change, namely fall into winter, these conditions worsen. Test the findings yourself.
RELEASE: There’s no shortage of fancy solutions out there for constipation. When it comes to health, I operate from a simple-is-best attitude. Soap and water. Soup and salad. Fiber and good clean water, constantly. A tablespoon of ground flax or chia, daily will do it. Though it tends not to work, when you don’t do it. Even better is eating celery, your greens, and other veggies.
The real question is: Why do we neglect such life-saving practices, make no time to cook well for ourselves or eat these things with presence and enjoyment? It’s a choice you make, no matter how busy you are. Instead of spacing-out in rush-hour traffic next time, give it a thought. What you might discover are some fascinating insights under the foot of steady neglect.
Written by: Dr Jenny Jun, ND