Constipation In The Elderlyaccording to TCM

Symptom family: Stool and Bowel Irregularities

Parent symptom: Constipation

What is Constipation in the Elderly?

Constipation in the elderly is a prevalent condition characterized by infrequent, difficult, or incomplete bowel movements. This condition is more common in older adults due to factors such as reduced physical activity, dietary changes, medication use, and underlying health conditions.

Chronic constipation can significantly affect the quality of life, leading to discomfort, pain, and other health complications. Understanding and addressing this issue is vital for maintaining health and well-being in the elderly population.

How does TCM view Constipation in the Elderly?

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), constipation in the elderly is seen as a manifestation of the natural decline in vital Qi and Yang energy that accompanies aging. This decline leads to a weakened digestive system and reduced bowel movement regulation.

TCM diagnoses and treats the specific pattern of disharmony in each individual, recognizing the unique challenges aging bodies face. The focus is on restoring balance to the body's internal environment, thereby improving digestive health and overall well-being in the elderly.

Causes of Constipation in the Elderly According to TCM

In TCM, two primary patterns are often identified as causes of constipation in the elderly: Yang Deficiency with Empty Cold and Kidney Yang Deficiency. Yang Deficiency with Empty Cold refers to a decrease in the body's internal warmth, necessary for proper digestion and bowel movements. This Deficiency leads to a cold accumulation in the intestines, slowing down peristalsis and causing constipation.

Kidney Yang Deficiency pertains to a decline in the vital fire housed in the Kidneys, essential for supporting the functions of the Spleen and Stomach in digestion. This Deficiency can result in weakened bowel movements and, subsequently, constipation. Addressing these underlying issues is crucial for alleviating constipation in the elderly.

TCM Herbal Formulas for Constipation In The Elderly

For treating constipation caused by Yang Deficiency with Empty Cold, TCM recommends the formula Ban Liu Wan, which contains Sulfur (Liu Huang) to warm the interior and dispel cold, effectively addressing the root cause of constipation in this pattern.

For those suffering from Kidney Yang Deficiency, the formula Ji Chuan Jian, with Desert-Living Cistanches (Rou Cong Rong) as a key ingredient, is used. This formula acts to warm the Kidneys, nourish the Yin, and ensure the smooth movement of stools. These TCM formulas provide targeted relief for constipation in the elderly by addressing specific underlying patterns, promoting overall digestive health and regular bowel movements.

Explore below some TCM herbal formulas used to address constipation in the elderly, organized by formula type.

  • By Formula Type
  • Formulas that warm and purge
  • Formulas that moisten intestines and unblock bowels

TCM Herbs for Constipation In The Elderly

Explore below some TCM herbs used to address constipation in the elderly, organized by herb category.

  • By Herb Category
  • Herbs for external application
  • Tonic herbs for yang deficiency