More often than not, some important personal health questions never get asked. Shying away from talking about certain subjects has become more and more common, especially in a world where technology has made it very easy to virtually find answers from the privacy of your own home. Visits to your acupuncturist’s office most likely will go into great detail on certain natural bodily functions so do not be embarrassed to talk about them:
What are your bowel movements (BM) like?
Yes it is often considered a private subject matter, but the frequency, consistency, odor, and color of your stool can actually be a key factor in determining what issues you may have. Typically this subject matter is not routinely delved into by many but acupuncturists consider this to be very vital information when prescribing herbal medicine and acupuncture points. Part of the reason is because sometimes BM issues can actually be a secondary symptom of something else. For example, high stress can result in digestive system issues from stool changes to poor appetite. This condition is called “Liver overacting on Spleen”. Unchecked stress can be a trigger for many other issues from lowered immune system to high blood pressure. Another example is foul smelling BM’s. This in TCM indicates that there is excess heat in the body that needs to be cleared. Excess heat in the body can lead to sweating, mouth ulcers, irritability, thirst, etc.
How is your sex drive?
Men and women usually shy away from voluntarily sharing this information but it is an important question that reveals a lot of information about a person’s constitution. Libido can be affected by many different factors ranging from stress and diet but sometimes one may experience it for no necessary reason. In TCM, libido is primarily considered to be a function that is rooted in the Kidneys. When libido is low it is called a Kidney deficiency and is usually accompanied with other symptoms such as having low back pain, knee weakness, bone issues, etc. Another diagnosis that can decrease libido is called “Liver Qi Stagnation” which basically means “high stress”. There are tons of factors that can cause low libido so it is very important to have an open communication about it in order to find out why it’s happening, and what else it can be affecting.
How is your menstrual cycle?
Finding out which cycle day you are on is a typical question that is asked by physicians but there are many deeper questions that hardly ever get asked. Questions like, “Are there clots?” “Is it irregular?” “What color is the blood?” “Is there any odor?” etc, can be very revealing. Clots come in all different sizes from pencil lead to large globs. Clots in TCM are a sign of having “Blood Stagnation”. A popular other symptom associated with this is bad cramps. It’s a sign that the blood is not circulating as well as it could be. The color of blood is another indicator of blood circulation in the body. Menstrual blood can range from bright red to dark brown even black; the darker the color the more blood stagnation in the body. Odor can also be a sign of “old blood” or heat in the body. There are many factors that can affect a women’s period and most of which have different ways they need to be treated so do not be shy to get down to specific details.
What color is your mucous?
You can learn so much about your body when you take a good hardy look at what comes out of it. Mucous is considered to be a type of damp retention of the body in TCM. The color of mucous usually can tell you how long the duration of it has been going on. When it is clear, it is typically an indicator that the condition is more recent or that the pathogen has not gotten deeper into the system. Usually after awhile or when the pathogen has infiltrated your immune system a little more the mucous will change to yellow and then to green. The color dictates the type of treatment you should receive. For clear mucous conditions a regular damp clearing treatment is most beneficial. For yellow to green mucous a treatment aimed at clearing damp heat is advised. Not all mucous is the same, and the different kinds need to be treated in different ways.
Have any Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)?
Diagnosis in Chinese Medicine predates the use of modern day technology such as microscopes and blood tests so what modern science refers to as an infection, in TCM it is referred to as Heat Toxins. Toxic Heat is when bacterial or viral pathogens invade the body and usually affects the body systemically with heat like symptoms such as fever, redness, burning at outbreak sights or burning while urination, dark urine, yellow tongue coat, etc. Symptoms that are “damp” in nature such as purulent discharge are considered to be Toxic Damp Heat. There are also an emotional component to having STDs that if unchecked can trigger more outbreaks and the severity/duration of the outbreaks. Not telling your physician about your STD can take away valuable information in your treatment and your overall well-being.
How is your pee?
When taking a look at your urine things you want to take notice of are color, smell, frequency, duration, sensations like burning or incompleteness, blood, etc. Color for example can range from clear to dark yellow and the color can be an indicator of issues such as dehydration or an infection. In TCM heat is the underlying pathogen of an infection (as explained above) and can also burn up body fluid causing further dehydration. Of course many things such as diet and vitamins can modify the color and smell of urination too like how vitamins can turn pee fluorescent yellow or how asparagus can turn the smell of urine more pungent. If you feel like you urinate more often than most people it can be because you hydrate your body often, but if you feel like water input does not equal to water output then in TCM your Kidneys are the key organ to first look to during diagnosis. This is called Kidney Qi Deficiency. When people have this they typically have other accompanying symptoms such as low back pain, knee weakness, teeth or bone issues, possible health issues stemming back from childhood, fear, night time urination etc.
Health issues people find embarrassing or uncomfortable to openly talk about vary from person to person but they are typically basic health questions of normal bodily functions. No matter if you already take notice of the things going on in your body or if you have never thought about tracking them before, one can see how being more aware can lead to prevention, detection, and overall well-being of oneself. If you have any questions and would like to know more about how acupuncture may help you or someone you know, please visit Texas Acupuncture Clinic or visit us at our Facebook page at Tiffany Chiu at Texas Acupuncture Clinic.