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How Does TCM Help With Occasional Loose Stools?

It’s a dinner conversation nobody wants to have…

Discussing occasional, loose watery stools is certainly unpleasant. But when it strikes you, do you know how to put a stop to it fast—without having to rely on nasty-tasting, artificially-colored bright pink or green thick goo sold over-the-counter? 

The good news is that TCM herbs that have centuries-worth of a track record of success, may be just what the doctor ordered. 

And here’s how…

How Does TCM Explain Occasional Loose Stool? 

In order to find out how traditional Chinese herbs help restore normal gut function, we need to understand how TCM theory views healthy digestion in the first place. 

The pure Qi (energy) we receive from food (and healthy beverages, too) is directed upwards by the Spleen organ system to the Lungs. Meanwhile, metabolic waste is directed downwards towards the intestines, and is separated from the nutrients we need and directed towards elimination. 

So what causes loose stool, according to TCM theory? It’s when the purified Qi that we get from food descends instead of rises. In addition, excess dampness causes loose stools. How much dampness there is in the intestines will determine how severe your bout of loose stool is. 

Rebellious Qi

But what causes Spleen Qi to descend rather than rise to the Lungs (rebellious Qi)? As Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.D., Director at the Institute for Traditional Medicine in Portland, Oregon explains, the answer is three-fold:

In order to resolve loose, watery stool, TCM formulas reinvigorate Yang energy of the Spleen and Kidney channels.
  • The Spleen becomes overwhelmed because of overeating, not chewing food adequately, irregular meal schedules, or eating the wrong types of foods according to your constitutional type.
  • Eating cold/raw foods: Despite popularity in the west, eating salad is virtually non-existent in traditional Chinese diets. That’s because coldness causes Qi to descend. Not only that, raw veggies have lots of fiber, which may be difficult to digest. Plus, uncooked food may contain pathogens. 
  • Eating cold foods can produce Damp Heat in the body. Damp Heat overwhelms the spleen’s natural function of separating and dispersing moisture.

Because of these factors, the Spleen and Kidney systems enter a vicious cycle. The Spleen becomes deficient in Yang energy, unable to get that Qi where it’s supposed to go (the Lungs). The Kidney system also suffers a Yang deficiency, unable to provide enough heat to the Spleen to help it do its job of transforming nutrients into pure Qi. 

How TCM Helps For Occasional Loose Stool

In order to resolve loose, watery stool, TCM formulas reinvigorate Yang energy of the Spleen and Kidney channels.

In addition, TCM herbs that remove dampness are employed. Another type of herbs used in TCM formulas for occasional loose stool help support normal moisture in the intestines. recommends having Stomacare with you if you’re traveling overseas where you’ll be exposed to microbes in food and water you’re not used to. It’s also good if you’re consuming lots of Damp Heat-producing food and drink. 

If you’re really sensitive to cold drinks, Midwarmer may help. 

There are also two formulas that concentrate on removing dampness from the digestive system:

Hopefully, one of these formulas will help your temporary bout of loose stool. If you’re still struggling with occasional bloating, learn about this classic herbal formula


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