Many people think that elimination is simply bowel movements and urination, but in Chinese medicine it is important to look at a person's sweat and respiration too when looking at elimination.
Your ability to regulate your temperature and your body's efficiency in passing stool, urine, and sweat are all important in telling us how your body is functioning internally, what areas may be stuck or stagnation. Another common pattern is that an organ is working extra hard and needs support.
It helps improve our immunity, strengthens digestion, and supports mental function - brain clarity. It also allows us to be functioning at our very best and have the ability to adapt under stress, which is important for maintaining equilibrium in the long run.
Looking at bowel movements first, we see that frequency, form, and completion are important questions to ask. Many of us have a clockwork time of day that we poop. Others may not, and that’s really okay. A rule of thumb for healthy poop, is it should be medium brown in color, pass easily without pain, and feel complete. Some folks, depending on their diet, may have a bowel movement for every meal.
Form is another area that we ask about often. Is it fully formed, soft, etc? If it’s too soft, it means we need to strengthen the organs of the spleen and possibly kidney systems. If it’s hard, we need to soothe the liver and possibly cool the stomach. There are other patterns too, but these are some examples.
For urination, we ask if you feel like the color of your urination lightens throughout the day? Is your input equal to output, or do you pee more than you drink? A good rule of thumb to stay hydrated is to drink half your body weight in ounces. Make sure to drink filtered, hydrating liquids like water, tea, and coconut water that is room temperature to warm. If you like bubble water, make sure to check for sodium content and make sure you are getting enough magnesium and calcium to support your bones. Avoid artificial sweeteners, too much caffeine, or too much alcohol. If you do enjoy some coffee or alcohol, make sure to hydrate a bit more. It’s important to remember salads, soups, and veggies and fruits count towards your totals for the day.
Thirst is an important question especially in the heat of summer. Do you feel like drinking quenches your thirst or are you super thirsty right away? If so, add some hydrating foods like melon, chia, fresca, or coconut milk, in addition to your water for the day. They help to deeply hydrate you in a way water sometimes cannot. If you are out sweating, make sure to replace your electrolytes with a pinch of sea salt and lime in your water, or use some nuun tablets or others that don’t use too much sugar.
Sweating is super important to TCM practice as well. Why, you might ask? Well, patterns in how, when, and why we sweat can tell a practitioner how your body is clearing toxins, how your hormones are functioning, and whether or not you have yin deficiency. Say what!? Often sweating at night is an imbalance we can treat. Then you will sleep cooler, not wake up hot, and stay asleep. Cool, huh?
Keeping your bowels, bladder, and pores moving is a great place to start. If your body isn’t eliminating waste efficiently there are natural ways to support your body to help with that problem.
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