There are two types of people in the world: people who don’t want to talk about bowel movements, and people who do. The vast majority of people who make up the latter category are middle school boys, and the remaining 1% are physicians. Oy vey.
In my office, clients either turn red, groan, or look down at the floor when the Bristol Stool Chart comes out. If you’ve never heard of this tool, it is a chart that classifies a person’s stool into one of seven categories, with the optimal appearance being a Type 4.
A healthy gastrointestinal tract secretes digestive enzymes and other chemicals into the small intestine, and absorbs important nutrients from food. It also secretes or absorbs water in varying levels depending on the body’s needs, eliminates waste products, and produces a number of important hormones and biochemicals.
The colon also contains a few hundred billion “good bacteria,” referred to as the body’s microbiome. These bacteria are responsible for most of the processes described above. Without them, no digestion or defecation would occur. So, it makes sense that dysfunction in the digestive system is the result of an imbalanced microbiome. This may manifest in a number of ways, including upset stomach, fatigue, depression, nutrient deficiencies, and the most obvious being constipation or diarrhea.
If severe conditions are ruled out, such as infections, cancer, Crohn’s and colitis, most cases of chronic tummy troubles are lumped into the category of “IBS.” In the medical world, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) isn’t a real diagnoses. It’s good enough for insurance records, but it really says: “I don’t know what’s wrong, sorry!” The usual treatment protocol is a FODMAP diet, generic fiber supplement, and in severe cases, an antidepressant. It’s not life-threatening, there are no drugs or surgeries that will help, and so insurance companies are done.
A holistic approach is much different. Natural physicians order additional levels of testing, and then used targeted approaches to treat the specific cause of the imbalance rather than just treating symptoms or experimenting. So, if you’re not a Type 4 (and I’m not talking about the Enneagram) then book an appointment!