Every acupuncturist is a little bit different when it comes to your initial intake. However, most will do a very detailed intake asking you questions not only pertaining to your chief complaint, but also some things that you may feel have absolutely nothing to do with why you are there. Like your feces. You will realize at your initial intake that your acupuncturist is interested in your bowel movements, very much so.
Why your acupuncturist is interested in your bowel movements
The reason for this is that in Traditional Chinese Medicine we take every symptom that you are experiencing and put them into patterns. This means that even through you are coming in because of acid reflux your Chinese Medical diagnosis will look more like “Spleen Qi deficiency and damp”. This diagnosis does not refer to how Western Medicine views the spleen, but how it pertains to the energetic organ systems and meridians of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
So, why is your acupuncturist so interested in your bowel movements?
The answer is that your feces gives us a detailed explanation of what is happening internally.
If you have alternating loose stool diarrhea, especially around menstruation, you may be diagnosed with something called liver invading the spleen.
If it is sticky/slimy, where you must wipe more than once, it is a sign of dampness. In Western Medicine it could be due to the inability to break down fat properly.
It is important to note if it is pencil thin, if it floats or if it sinks, is it urgent (if so what time of day), does it stink. All of these symptoms point to different patterns, and gives us better insight as to how to treat you. The unique thing about TCM is that many patients with the same complaint, acid reflux, might be treated slightly differently depending on what else is present. The treatments are geared to the individual.
Analysis of bowel movement on TCM
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine the perfect bowel movement is formed but not hard, it should not be odorous, there should be no blood or pus, you should not have to push hard. Belching and gas are also considered to be not normal. Unless of course you just ate beans and brussels sprouts. Basically, if you have any of the symptoms listed in the above paragraph then it is just a symptom of the pattern you fall into, and will most likely be one of the first things to regulate itself once you start treatments.
What will my treatment look like?
During your initial session your practitioner will ask you all types of questions. Some pertaining to your chief issue, and some that seemingly have nothing to do with it. Your acupuncturist will then take your pulse and look at your tongue. Both of which are tools to help us to determine what Traditional Chinese Medicine pattern(s) you fall into.
Once the intake is finished you will lay down on a massage table, at CCHW it is heated during the colder months, to receive acupuncture using specific points based off of your determined TCM pattern. Herbal medicine, dietary and lifestyle changes (including Reiki meditation/mindfulness), and moxibustion (moxa) may be recommended to speed up the healing process.
THAT my friends is why your acupuncturist is interested in your bowel movements. So, look down and check it out. You might be surprised by what you find.
*To learn more, contact Calandra Center for Health and Wellness in Chicago or Arlington Heights IL or visit our blog.