TCM for Constipation

Everyone experiences constipation at some point in their lives. However, if you experience it chronically, it may bring about complications and affect your standard of living.

What is Constipation? 

Constipation is generally diagnosed when one has 2 or fewer bowel movements in a week. Normal bowel movements can range from 3 times a day to 3 times a week.  Chronic constipation is generally described as infrequent bowel movements or difficulty in passing motion that persists for several weeks or longer. Other symptoms that accompany constipation include straining to have bowel movements; abdominal distention, hard or lumpy stools, or a sensation of incomplete evacuation.

Some Possible Causes of Constipation 

  • Inadequate fibre and water intake 
  • Repeatedly ignoring the urge to pass motion 
  • Endocrine or neurological conditions like thyroid disease, Parkinson’s Disease or stroke 
  • Blockages in the colon or rectum (growths or narrowing in the colon)
  • Certain medications like calcium supplements, iron supplements or antacid medicine that contain aluminium or calcium 
  • Travel
  • Pregnancy
  • Change in diet

TCM Perspective of Constipation 


DIY Acupressure to Relieve Constipation

  1. Massage Zhi Gou Point 支沟穴 (SJ 6) 2 minutes daily 
Location: Approximately 3 inch (4 fingers) proximal to the wrist of the dorsal side, in the depression between the radius and ulna.  You can also massage this point during the process of passing motion, especially when you have difficulty doing so as it helps to stimulate intestinal movements.  
  1. Massage Shen Men point 神门穴 (HT7) 2 minutes daily 
Location: On the palmar side of the wrist crease, radial to the insertion of the tendon of the flexor carpi ulnaris muscle.  This is useful for people who suffer from chronic constipation.  
  1. Rub tummy clockwise for 36 times daily
You can do this before you sleep and/or after you are awake on the bed.  Lie comfortably on your back. Place one hand above your belly button, place the other hand on top of the first hand. Then move your hands together in a circle with light pressure clockwise around your belly button.  
  1. Massage Tian Shu Point 天枢穴(ST 25) in circular motions for 2 minutes. 
Location: 2 cun (Approximately 3 fingers) from either side of the belly button.
Note: Those who are suffering from diarrhoea should avoid the tummy massages as it promotes intestinal motility.

Ways to relieve or eliminate constipation

  1. Have regular bowel habits
    – Go to the toilet at the same time each morning. – Avoid ignoring the urge to pass motion. – Avoid holding your stool in for too long (Refrain from using mobile phones or reading in the toilet as it can distract you from passing motion)
  2. Increase dietary fibre intake
    – Insoluble fibre does not absorb water, but increases the stool size and bulk. This promotes regular bowel movement. – Examples: Wholegrains (Oats, Brown Rice), Oil-rich nuts (Almonds, Sesames, Walnuts)
  3. Consume more fruits and vegetables
    – Soluble fibre absorbs water as it passes through the intestine. This helps to soften the texture of the stools and enable it to be passed out more easily. – Examples: Apple, Banana, Orange,Carrot, Black Fungus, White Radish, Potato.
  4. Drink more water and honey
    – Water can lubricate the intestines. – Recommended dosage for normal adult is at least 2 litres per day (unless instructed by a doctor not to do so).
  5. Avoid eating too much fried, spicy, or cold food
  6. Exercise regularly
    – This helps in improving the motility of the intestines.
  Article by Physician Tan Kang Ting
Note: Information provided is not a substitute for a physician or any form of medical care. Individual symptoms differ due to different body constitutions and diagnosis. One should consult a licensed TCM practitioner for accurate diagnosis and treatment.

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