There are many patterns of imbalance in the body that can explain why someone would experience chronic diarrhea. “Cock’s Crow” or dawn diarrhea is one very famous pattern.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), disease is sometimes described in terms of hot and cold patterns. Other times disease is explained by the excess or deficiency of energy of specific organs.
In TCM, the Spleen has the main function of helping the Stomach digest and transform food into energy for the body. If the function of the Spleen is impaired, there will be poor appetite, bad digestion, abdominal distention and loose stools.
The Kidney Yang provides the energy and heat source for the entire body. The Spleen depends on the Kidney Yang energy for proper digestive peristalsis to move food through the digestive tract. When there is deficiency of Spleen and Kidney Yang, the intestines lose their contractile strength and daybreak diarrhea occurs between the hours of 4 a.m. and 8 a.m.
Other signs and symptoms that would be consistent with this diagnosis would be fatigue, cold abdomen and pain or bloating that is aggravated by eating cold or raw foods. Other yang deficiency signs may be present such as cold limbs, weak lower back and low libido. In severe cases there may be fecal incontinence, as the Kidney has the function of controlling the opening and closing of the anus. The tongue would be pale and swollen with teeth marks due to the poor transformation of fluids in the body. The pulse would be deep, slow and weak.
Acupuncture and herbs can be helpful for this pattern of diarrhea, but treatment may take time due to the severity of the deficiency. A famous herbal formula for this condition is Fu Zi Li Zhong Wan. This formula warms the middle and tonifies qi and yang.
Moxa may also be incorporated into the treatment to warm the middle. Burning moxa cones over salt in the naval powerfully warms the yang. A moxa box may also be used over both the abdomen and lower back.
It is important that this condition be properly diagnosed by a trained TCM practitioner. Herbal formulas must be acquired from companies who are well known to independently test herbs for heavy metals and pesticides. Also, tonics should not be taken during the early stages of colds and flu, as they would drive the disease deeper into the body.
About the Author:
Joyce Marley is a licensed acupuncturist that provides acupuncture therapy in New Hartford, NY. She writes Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) health articles about acupuncture and Oriental medicine.