Book An Appointment

Home 5 General Health 5 Treating Constipation with Chinese Medicine

Treating Constipation with Chinese Medicine

Last Updated: Dec 20, 2023 | General Health

Constipation can be a frustrating and uncomfortable condition that affects many individuals. While there are various treatment options available, Chinese medicine offers a holistic approach to addressing constipation and promoting overall digestive health. By understanding the causes and symptoms of constipation, as well as the principles of Chinese medicine, individuals can effectively manage and relieve this condition. In this article, we will explore how diet, lifestyle, acupuncture, herbal remedies, and exercise can play a significant role in treating constipation from a Chinese medicine perspective.


Understanding Constipation: Causes and Symptoms

Constipation is a common gastrointestinal disorder characterized by infrequent or difficult bowel movements. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including a lack of dietary fiber, dehydration, lack of physical activity, and certain medications. Symptoms of constipation may include bloating, abdominal discomfort, and the inability to pass stools easily.

The Role of Diet and Lifestyle in Constipation

As the saying goes, “You are what you eat.” In Chinese medicine, poor dietary habits are often seen as contributing to constipation. Eating a diet high in processed foods, fatty or fried foods, and lacking in fiber can lead to sluggish bowels. Incorporating plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and adequate hydration can help promote regular bowel movements.

In addition to diet, lifestyle factors such as physical activity also play a crucial role in preventing constipation. Leading a sedentary lifestyle can inhibit proper intestinal motility. Engaging in regular exercise, even something as simple as brisk walking or yoga, can stimulate the digestive system and alleviate constipation.

How Stress and Emotional Health Affect Bowel Movements

It is not uncommon for individuals to experience constipation during periods of heightened stress or emotional distress. In Chinese medicine, emotional well-being is closely tied to gut health. Stress, anxiety, and other emotional imbalances can affect the smooth flow of Qi, or vital energy, in the body, leading to constipation. Practicing stress-management techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or exploring acupuncture can help regulate the body’s energy flow and alleviate constipation.

The Principles of Chinese Medicine

Chinese medicine is based on the principles of balancing the body’s energy and addressing the root cause of health issues. By understanding these principles, individuals can gain insight into how Chinese medicine approaches constipation treatment.

The Concept of Qi and Digestive Health

In Chinese medicine, Qi is believed to be the vital energy that flows throughout the body, maintaining physical and emotional balance. When Qi becomes stagnant or blocked, it can lead to a variety of health issues, including constipation. By stimulating the flow of Qi, either through acupuncture or herbal remedies, the digestive system can be regulated, promoting regular bowel movements.

Yin and Yang: Balancing the Body’s Energy

The concepts of Yin and Yang are fundamental in Chinese medicine. Yin represents the cooling, feminine aspects, while Yang represents the warming, masculine aspects. When Yin and Yang are in balance, optimal health is achieved. In the case of constipation, an imbalance between Yin and Yang energy can lead to digestive issues. By identifying and addressing this imbalance through dietary adjustments, acupuncture, and herbal remedies, Chinese medicine seeks to restore balance and alleviate constipation.


Chinese Medicine Approach to Treating Constipation

Chinese medicine offers several approaches to treating constipation. These include acupuncture and the use of herbal remedies.

Acupuncture for Constipation Relief

Acupuncture is a key component of Chinese medicine and involves the insertion of thin needles at specific points along the body. This practice aims to restore the flow of Qi and stimulate the body’s self-healing mechanisms. For constipation, acupuncture can be used to address the underlying imbalances contributing to the sluggish bowel movements. By stimulating specific points, acupuncture can help regulate the digestive system and promote regularity. Some common points includes ST25 Tianshu (天枢) and SJ6 Zhigou (支沟) 

Herbal Remedies for Improved Digestion

Chinese herbal remedies have long been used to support digestive health. Various herbs and formulations are believed to help regulate bowel movements, address Qi stagnation, and tonify the intestines. Some commonly used herbs for constipation relief include rhubarb (大黄), magnolia bark (厚朴), and radix angelicae sinensis (当归). It is essential to consult with a qualified Chinese medicine practitioner to determine the appropriate herbal remedy based on individual needs and constitutional factors.

Dietary Recommendations in Chinese Medicine

According to Chinese medicine principles, maintaining a healthy diet is crucial for preventing and alleviating constipation.

Foods to Include for a Healthy Gut

Incorporating specific foods into the diet can support digestive health and help alleviate constipation. Some examples include:

  1. High-fiber foods: Consuming plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes can increase stool bulk and promote regular bowel movements.
  2. Warm foods: In Chinese medicine, warm foods aid digestion and promote Qi flow. Incorporating cooked warm foods such as soups, stews, and herbal teas can help support digestive function.
  3. Probiotic-rich foods: Fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi contain beneficial bacteria that aid in digestion.

Foods to Avoid to Prevent Constipation

Chinese medicine suggests avoiding certain foods that can contribute to constipation or hinder digestion. Some foods to limit or avoid include:

  • Greasy and heavy foods: Fatty and fried foods can be difficult to digest, leading to constipation and Qi stagnation.
  • Processed foods: Highly processed foods often lack fiber and essential nutrients, which can negatively impact bowel movements.

Lifestyle Changes and Exercises

Alongside dietary modifications, specific lifestyle changes and exercises can support digestive function and alleviate constipation.

Qi Gong and Tai Chi for Digestive Health

Qi Gong and Tai Chi are ancient Chinese practices that combine gentle movements, breathing, and meditation to promote overall well-being, including digestive health. By incorporating these exercises into daily routines, individuals can stimulate Qi flow, enhance circulation, and alleviate constipation.

The Importance of Regular Exercise and Rest

Regular physical activity is essential for maintaining a healthy digestive system. Engaging in moderate exercise, such as walking, cycling, or swimming, can help stimulate bowel movements and prevent constipation. Additionally, ensuring adequate rest and sleep allows the body to recharge, support digestion, and maintain overall well-being.


Constipation can significantly impact daily life and overall well-being. By incorporating Chinese medicine principles into the treatment of constipation, individuals can take a holistic approach to promote healthy digestion. Understanding the role of diet, lifestyle, acupuncture, herbal remedies, and exercise can empower individuals to address the root causes of constipation and achieve long-term relief. However, it is essential to consult with a qualified Chinese medicine practitioner to create a customized treatment plan that considers individual needs and constitutional factors.

TCM Singapore
Categories: General Health