Many people have experienced constipation, some only for a few days whilst others have suffered from it long term.
1. Symptoms of constipation
The symptoms of constipation are: dry stool, unable to go to the toilet everyday or only once a week, usually the stool is very dark and very pungent. Due to the sluggish bowel movement, most people suffer from bloating, insomnia, headaches, weight gain, haemorrhoids and lack of energy.
2. Cause of constipation
There are many causes that may produce constipation, such as; body heat, irregular diet, internal organ disorder such as weak spleen, heat in the large intestine, irregular life style or stress. All of these causes result in stool being stuck in the intestine area, longer than what it should be. This will cause constipation and affect the body.
3. Result of constipation
As we mentioned above, constipation is not only a bowel problem, if it is long lasting it will affect the whole body and may result in some diseases such as: diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, liver disorder, lower back pain.
In my clinic, there have been many chronic cases with constipation. As soon as I was able to make their body have regular bowel movements, the associated symptoms all cleared. I suggest that whilst you are undergoing treatments, eating certain foods to help prevent and improve constipation. Spinach is one of these foods.
4. Health effects of spinach
i) Clear the intestine and improve bowel movement
In many Ancient Chinese herbal and diet therapy books it mentions how spinach can clear the intestines and regulate bowl movement. The book ‘Ben Cao Qiu Zhen’ records that spinach tastes sweet, it has cold characteristics and after eating it mainly acts upon the intestines and stomach channels. So if you have hard and dry darker stool, smelly stool and wind; this indicates that your intestines are sluggish and is causing heat and toxins to accumulate. It is best to eat spinach 3 or 4 times a week until your bowl movements are more regular.
I suggest that you eat spinach soup. Please see the recipe below.
ii) Clear body heat and reduce the symptoms of diabetes
Chinese medicine considers diabetes being due to different organ disorders. It is believed that a type of diabetes is due to heat in digestion they symptoms are; increase in thirst, increase in hunger, body being hot. An Ancient book “Ben cao gang mu” mentions that the stalk of spinach can help diabetes by improving digestion, to increase metabolism (to break food down quicker) and clear the heat in the intestine. (The stalk which is effective in improving diabetes is of reddish colour and is located close to the root.) I suggest that if you have diabetes with the symptoms mentioned above, do not waste the stalk as it can be very beneficial! You can try spinach stalk drink. Please see the recipe below to help your bowel movement.
i) Spinach soup
1 Bunch of spinach chopped into small pieces
2 cups of water
Boil the chopped spinach in the water for 2 minutes. You can drink this soup throughout the day. You can drink this 2 or 3 times a day.
Effects: Clears body and intestine heat; improves bowel movement.
ii) Spinach stalk drink
1 Handful of spinach stalk, washed and chopped
2 cups of water
Boil the spinach stalk on a small heat for 5 minutes. Drink the liquid throughout the whole day. You can drink this 3 or 4 times a week.
Effects: Clears the large intestine; reduce the symptoms of diabetes.
i) Due to the characteristics of spinach, the following people should avoid eating, or not to eat in excess. Those who have diarrhea, kidney infections or kidney stones.
ii) If you are unsure if you are able to eat spinach, please advise your experienced TCM practitioner.