What does your abnormal stool mean?

What does your abnormal stool mean?

In my clinic, when clients come to see me for a check-up we usually ask about the condition of their bowel movements. This is a very important question to ask during a traditional Chinese medicine consultation.

Chinese medicine considers that stool is an excretion which can help ascertain the body’s health. Through this we can gain knowledge about what internal organs may not be functioning properly through the density, fluidity, smell and colour of the stool as well as how frequent bowel movements are. Chinese medicine considers that stool is one of the first signs of illness. Knowing what is not working properly in the body is the foundation of principle treatment.

This article will give you an idea of how to know what may be wrong with your body through acknowledging your abnormal stool. This will help with diagnosing the issue and gain earlier treatment to improving your condition.

1. What is normal stool

Traditional Chinese medicine considers for an adult, 1 or 2 bowel movements a day is normal. The stool should be formed, not too hard or too soft, it should be easily passed and the colour should be medium brown (not too dark or not too light), the stool should not have any undigested food, nor blood or mucus. The smell of the stool should not be very pungent. Before, during or after bowel movement you should not have any uncomfortable sensations such as; pain or burning around anus.

2. Do you have the following abnormal stools?

i) Hard, lumpy, dark, pungent stool; bloating; passing pungent wind; unable to have a bowel movement everyday. These types of stool indicate that your body has too much heat in the intestines. I suggest that whilst you are undergoing treatment you should avoid eating hot, spicy or deep fried foods. You should eat more foods with cooling characteristics such as; cucumber, pear, banana, celery, honey, green leafed vegetables, sweet potato. This condition can generally be changed by diet, but if your condition does not change you should see you experienced TCM practitioner.

ii) Dry stool; sluggish bowel movement. These types of stool occur more often in the elderly, those with a long illness or after an operation. The body generally has a lack of fluid which makes the stool stagnant in the body longer, making it harder to pass a bowel movement. I suggest that you add honey to your diet, nutritionous soup as well as food mentioned in the first condition (i).

iii) Dry hards stool followed by loose stool; sluggish bowel movement; unable to make a bowel movement every day; light in colour; stomach fullness and bloating; gain in weight; lethargy; puffiness around the body. These symptoms are usually associated with spleen deficiency which cause food not to be transported properly through the digestive system. I suggest that for this type of condition, you should eat more foods with warm characteristics such as; ginger, lamb, prawns, spring onions, garlic, mandarin, onions. If you are cook your dishes you can add a little amount of ginger. It is best to avoid eating cold and frozen foods.

iv) Irritable bowel syndrome; stool is hard or very loose; irregular; stomach pain or tension with bloating around stomach and hypochondric area (around sides of stomach); very emotional; sleeping problems. This type of condition is associated with a liver disorder. I suggest that you should re-organize your lifestyle which helps to lessen stress or to avoid pressure or emotional issues placed on you. You can listen to soft gentle music, go for a light walk or swim to help relax your body. Drinking green or peppermint tea, eating oranges, carrots, celery, bananas can help to improve your condition.

A happy and not too stressful life is very important for health.

v) Bowel movements with fresh blood; after bowel movement with burning, hot or pain sensation in anus area. Usually this type of condition is associated with dampness or heat in the large intestine or the liver. Ulcer or hemorrhoids may be found in the end of the colon or anus area. I suggest that you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. I suggest that you avoid eating hot and spicy foods, drink more fluids, eat more foods with cooling characteristics mentioned in type (i). You can also seek an experienced TCM practitioner to help balance your body and improve your condition. This is a very easy condition to fix.

vi) Loose and frequent stool. Some people in my clinic mention that they have very loose frequent bowel movements (3 or 4 times a day). They also have lower back pain, lethargy, lowered libido, cold limbs, awoken early, bloating. Usually this condition is associated with weakened spleen and kidney yang. I suggest that you eat more lamb, prawns, beef or beef bone soup, ginger, venison, garlic.

vii) Very pungent stool in children (under 2 years of age); sluggish bowel movement; dark green stool with undigested food or milk; disturbed sleep; stomach pain. This usually indicates that the child has food stagnation and heat in the intestine area. It is best to avoid eating with hot or spicy flavor; deep fried food. Food should be well cooked, and less food should be given right before they go to bed.

viii) diarrhea; lumpy stool; dark stool; stomach cramps; very pungent; nausea; lethargy; weakness; mild temperature. In my clinic we have had many clients come to us with this type of condition. This is usually associated from going to a different country, eating a certain dish, or having a virus. If attention is not paid to this it can become long lasting which will affect the body. Chinese medicine considers that this is caused from external heat and toxins. I suggest that while you are undergoing treatment you can eat more plain foods, vegetables and drink more water. It is best to avoid eating cold and spicy foods.

3. What do you do if you have any of the abnormal stools mentioned above?

i)  If you have abnormal stool for more than few days, I suggest that you should seek medical attention.

ii) Likewise, you can visit your experienced Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner. For treating this condition, firstly we will use a traditional diagnoses method such as tongue and pulse diagnosis to find out the origins of your problem.  We will offer you natural treatment such as herbal tablets, acupuncture and also give you suggestions on how to manage the issue through your lifestyle and diet.

iii) After completing your treatment, your body and organs will become balanced so that your condition will subside and you will be able to have a normal bowel movement. Through the process of your treatment you will be advised on your body constitution so that you will be able to prevent the issue from arising again which you can manage in the future through changes to your lifestyle and diet.

For more ideas on what food is best for your abnormal stool please see my diet therapy section to gain a great knowledge about eating right for your body.




Dr Ping Wang is the clinic founder and senior practitioner of Ping Ming Health. She has over 30 years of experience in traditional Chinese medicine teaching and practice. Dr Ping especially enjoys sharing her knowledge of Chinese medicine through our popular clinic articles, seminars and clinical training of students and practitioners.

  • Christina benson

    It’s been 6 mo. I’ve lost 20 pds..stool is always extremely loose, medium brown in color and almost a fluffy consistancy.
    4 stool samples have shown nothing abnormal.
    I am nauseous often and can’t stop loosing weight, it has also begun to effect me mentally, o am experiencing alot of depression.
    I am also anemic and have a bleeding stomach ulcer and ovarian cysts and a fibrosis mass on my ovarie. Proven by a transvaginal.
    Do you all have any advice on what it might be, or what I should or should not be eating?

    21 March, 2016
  • Alexander

    Dear Ping Ming, My stool is lose. It is typically soft It is very difficult to pass. It comes out usually once per day. Occasionally twice. Nearly impossible to pass it out without doing some sort of Qigong repeatedly until reasonable amount of stool would come out. For the past 2 months I induce spiraling movements of Qi through the large intestine. The Qi moves from the bottom of ascending column, transversal column, descending column and sigmoid column. This motion of Qi together with some physical movements help to move the stool. Underlying condition is kidney yin deficiency, heart yin deficiency, heat in large intestine, and perhaps spleen/stomach yin deficiency. I am using Da Bu Yin Wan compound, Liu Wei Di Huang, and cooling herbs such as Da Huang, Huang lIan and some other compounds to cool large intestine. This lets me move the stool in about I hour. It is a hard work. I am slim. do Hatha yoga, tai chi, a lot of qigong walks, qigong and meditation. But I like to be able to reduce the time I spent on moving the stool. Your post is interesting, but it seems to miss the kind of condition that I have. The stool is lose, but it is not diarrhea. It is constipation instead. Any feedback would be appreciated.

    1 November, 2016