Regular Bowel Movements (RBM). I tried thinking up some clever titles for this blog, of which there are many, but instead decided to give you the straight poop (couldn’t resist). This is one of those topics that many people try to avoid as it brings up uncomfortable feelings discussing what tends to be one of the last highly private moments that we aren’t sharing with everyone else on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms.
Discussing regular bowel movements is something that most everyone should be a little more familiar and comfortable with. In some societies, it’s a common practice to monitor the bowel habits of children and elderly adults alike. The bowels can tell us a lot about our health. The shape, color, consistency, and even smell can tell us a lot about someone’s overall state of health. Mom’s are used to monitoring their babies stools for signs of imbalances in their bodies.
Slow bowel movements tend to lead to stools that are hard and dry, and can be uncomfortable or painful to pass. The longer a stool sits in the colon, the more likely it will become hard and dry as one function of the colon is to re-absorb water. Diarrhea is on the other end of this spectrum with watery stools that are loose and runny. In between, we find all the a variations on normal and abnormal.
Constipation is usually described as when someone moves their bowels every three days or farther apart. I think this is a generous allowance, as I view constipation as anything less than once a day. Not moving the bowels is not healthy. Your average MD will tell you that one a day is normal, but it isn’t. It is “typical”, but it is not normal according to the physiology of how the body works.
So what are normal regular bowel movements? According to physiology textbooks, eating produces peristalsis, a wave of contractions throughout the intestinal tract, that moves food along. This is accomplished through a series of reflexes (gastrocoloic, duodenocolic, enterogastric, gastroileal and various other defecation reflexes) that keeps things moving. This means that there should be a bowel movement after each meal, as the food coming in pushes the waste of previous meals out.
The “typical” one a day bowel movement usually happens first thing in the morning for many people. This accomplished by the gastrocolic and duodenocolic reflexes. They generate a large mass movement of the large intestine. Most people are happy with just this one movement a day and some are even bothered by having to go more than once a day.
In Chinese medicine, the various organs of the body hold two-hour dominance during a 24-hour period. The main detoxification organs of the body work at night, beginning with the Gall bladder (11pm-1am); Liver (1am-3am); Lungs (3am-5am); & Large intestine (5am-7am). Viewed from this perspective, when most people wake, the large intestine is the dominant organ and they have a bowel movement as a part of its function. The movement of the bowels in the morning helps to process out all of the toxins being collected for elimination during the night.
So, whether it from a Chinese medicine perspective or traditional physiology, having a bowel movement first thing in the morning is normal. Then, a regular bowel movement after each meal for a total of three to four bowel movements a day is considered normal, and healthy.
So where are you on this spectrum and where should you be? The closer to the above normal would appear to optimal for health. Even if you’re a one a day person, moving to two a day can be very beneficial. Someone who moves their bowels every two to three days would improve their overall healthy significantly with one a day. Start where you’re at and move forward from there.
To help create regular bowel movements, I recommend Trace Mineral Research Trace Minerals Concentrace. It comes in liquid and tablet forms. In the liquid form, you’ll need to take 40-80 drops, 2-3 times a day. ADJUST up or down depending on results. With tablets, the directions on the bottle state to take 2-6 tablets a day. You may have to take more than what is recommended on the label and ADJUST up or down depending on results. Your body will supply the feedback on what works and what doesn’t. We carry both tablets and liquids on our site and you can usually find it at Whole Foods, and other health food stores. Remember to ADJUST it up or down depending on results. Some people also choose to use herbal colon cleansers, psyllium, magnesium, colonics, enemas, etc. We carry the Colon Program cleansing formula.
Dr. Bernard Jensen is credited with stating that, “Death begins in the colon”. That may or may not be true, but it emphasizes the importance of normal bowel function in the picture of overall health. Bowels that are backed up can also slow other detoxification pathways throughout the body. This can impact almost every tissue throughout the body in one way or another. Improving bowel function will almost always improve the health of every tissue and condition in the body.
Backed up toxins lead to water retention as the body attempts to buffer the toxins retained in the tissues. This can bloat the body and contribute to further dysfunction. When trying to facilitate detoxification of the body, normal regular bowel movements always help to create a pathway for toxins to leave more easily and efficiently. For those people following the Candida Plan, regular bowel movements can help increase the effectiveness of the Plan, just as they can continue to help maintain a greater state of health overall after the Plan.
Improve your bowel health and you will improve your life.
Dr. Jeffrey S. McCombs, DC, is founder of the McCombs Center for Health, the Candida Plan, the Candida Library, and author of Lifeforce, The Everything Candida Diet Book, and The Everything Guide to Autoimmune Diets. Check out our podcast, “The Candida Chronicles” on iTunes and SoundCloud.