Let’s talk about our bowel movements! And other issues related to the Large Intestine meridian, like letting go and processing grief. The words ‘poop’ ‘stool’ and ‘sh*t’ get used a lot in this episode, and while we have a sense of humor about it, we avoid being gratuitous or excessively gross. Everybody poops.
Episode Two is finally here! We got delayed when Raymond’s computer didn’t upload to the cloud and episodes 2 & 3 got lost in the ether before they could be edited. Luckily we don’t mind talking about these topics again and again (hence us making it our careers and making this podcast), so onward and upward.
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Billy: Healing with Raymond and Billy.
Raymond: Healing with Raymond and Billy.
Billy: Healing with Raymond and Billy.
Raymond: Healing with Raymond and Billy.
Billy: Healing with Raymond and Billy.
Raymond: Today is episode two. The last episode we talked about the Lung and we’re gonna talk about its pair meridian, the Large Intestine. The Large Intestine, one of the main things that goes with that meridian is letting go, which is appropriate because this is the _second_ time Billy and I have recorded this episode. I had a little issue last month with my computer and lost a couple of files including a whole episode two and episode three but, luckily, we’re both pretty good about letting shit go so we just let that shit go-
Billy: So meta.
Raymond: -and now we’re here today. I know, right? It’s so literal. That’s kind of my thing. I like realism because I think it’s really the ultimate satire.
Raymond: Right? Anyway. Welcome Billy, I love talking to you about this stuff. Thank you for taking some time to talk about it today.
Billy: Thank you.
Raymond: The Large Intestine Meridian. In the last episode we talked about how these meridians are named after organs and so this, obviously, does have a connection to the large intestine, which we sometimes call the colon as well and then there’s also the other meridian that it has, or the other meaning it has, for the whole Meridian in your body. And, so, I’m gonna start off with just the location of the meridian. I know last time we talked about the lung, how it runs down the top of the inner part of your arm; so if you were to hold your arm out and stick a pencil through those lung points perpendicular to your arm, where that comes out is where the Large Intestine is.
Raymond: If you’re starting at the top of your shoulder and you’re working down the Lung channel and you end in the meat of your thumb. And right at your thumb, that’s where the lung channel ends. And then if you imagine the channel going back up your arm, but on the other side, so if you take the little V crook of your hand … it’s actually a good way I find the Large Intestine for is a point that a lot of people use for pain and headache. I feel like if you ever see an acupressure article on pain points for headaches, they always recommend this point. And, to be honest, it doesn’t do shit for my headaches but, it does have other releasing effects for me.
Raymond: But, anyway, so if you spread your fingers on your hands and then you closed them together and you look at where your thumb meets down in that crease to your hand, right where that line ends, it’s almost like if you follow that line and at the end you push it, it should feel a little bit sensitive, a little bit weird. Sometimes it makes me feel slightly queasy depending on what’s going on. That is the Large Intestine point so, then, that’s a big point. Obviously, the end of the channel is your index finger but that one is the one that gets used a lot.
Raymond: And then you follow it up your arm and then if you bend your elbow and then there’s that little line crease there; it’s almost like if you connect the line between the one and your thumb and index and the one at your elbow, that is the channel right there and then it comes up to your shoulder. So it’s the paired meridian with the Lung. What are some of the first things you think about with the large intestine meridian?
Billy: I think about the way that the channel goes, basically, from where you were saying the little spot between your thumb and your pointer finger and I think about how it goes up to the face to the nose area because a lot of times … When we’re working with the Large Intestine channel a lot of times people like, “Oh, Large Intestine? Of course this is gonna go to my actual large intestine,” but it also interacts with the face, specifically the nostrils. A lot of times I will work with that point if there are people who are having congestion like I do right now.
Raymond: I’m so really massaging that point. I’m like, “Oh yeah, I should use that point,” because I’m having a little sinus pressure pain today. It’s kind of… if you go to the outer edges of your nostril and then I always like to do that little twist, so it’s almost like I’m pointing at my nose and then I apply a little bit of pressure but then I twist outs all the way from my nose and that gives a nice little opening up of the channel. Sometimes I feel like-
Raymond: – my ears pop even from the release of stuffiness.
Billy: I’m doing that right now.
Raymond: The Lung and Large Intestine together, these paired meridians, they also correspond with the Metal elements, so I wanted to start a little bit and talk also about five elements. In addition to the 12 primary meridians that we worked through and that we’re basing this season one of the podcast on, going on the journey through the 12 meridians. All the meridians are also associated with a different element. There are five elements and, sure, let’s see if I can do this off the top of my head. I can totally do it off the top of my head, but I always have to think about the story.
Raymond: Let’s start with Water; the beginning of life began was water. Water feeds the Wood, so the Wood is the next element. The Wood grows because of the Water. Is that right? Yeah. Okay. Then the wood dries out and it catches on fire so Wood feeds the Fire, just like you feed a fire with logs of wood. The Fire burns down to ash and that’s the Earth, so the dirt that we think about is the ash in the soil. And then as Earth sinks down deeper and deeper into the earth it becomes more refined and compacted and that’s Metal. So the metal is also goes down to the water table so that connects to the Water, which then goes to the Wood, to the Fire, to the Earth, to the Metal, and so on.
Raymond: That’s the Generating Cycle and also a way you can help remember all the five of them. A lot of times you’ll see people will make a chart and they draw that circle and, then, you can also take the Five Elements and connect them the way you would draw a star so it ends up looking like a Pentacle, a five pointed star with a circle around it. And those star lines are what are referred to as the Controlling Cycle. Water feeds Wood and Wood feeds Fire but when you draw the star pattern, Water also controls Fire, which makes sense like we use water to put fire out, the cooling aspect.
Raymond: A lot of the ways we look at how the 12 meridians follow a path in the body and follow a path through our metabolism and our lifecycle but, then, the Five Elements is a little bit about how the cycle of the whole world, the cycle of the seasons; and that is another way of drawing a map of how energies move throughout the body. Do you use Five Elements in your work with clients?
Billy: I thought it would really be into it and then my work took a different turn, but I like the idea of considering the pairing of the elements, for example with Metal how Lung and Large Intestine are connected. And it took me awhile to really kind understand why they were so connected but I thought a lot about it. And I think the Lung, like we talked about in the last episode, the Lung is really about opening and dispersing and that kind of energy is very much related to the Large Intestine and the colon.
Billy: If the Lung is improperly working, then, it’s not gonna be able to help the Large Intestine to disperse and release whatever it needs to do to move things through the system and so that made a lot of sense to me how the two of those could be related. And so a lot of times when I’m looking at people who have issues with constipation or abdominal kind of stuff, I’ll look at the relationship with the other part of the Metal element, which is the Lung.
Raymond: Oh, yeah. It’s funny because when you were talking I realized that I use Five Elements a lot more when I think about food balancing and what things to sort eat to benefit or to control or to tamp down different issues. Like if I might have something going on in my Liver, that’s a wood element, so then I might think about what element will help release it or stuff like that. But I don’t necessarily use it … I don’t use it in my Shiatsu work per se. You know what I mean? I’ll talk about it in my clients and I think I use it a lot in the storytelling aspect of when we’re talking about their healing process but when I actually think about how I work the body and how I work the meridians in a session, I don’t really think the Five Elements really interlink for me in a way.
Billy: In the same way I think a lot of people are like, “Oh yeah, this person has right shoulder pain so that’s whatever channel it is so we’re gonna use the other element to treat it.” I get so confused, like obviously right now that made no sense. But I just get so confused and I’m like, “Let’s just keep it simple for me.”
Raymond: Right, right, right. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And I’ll use the elements in Qigong moves, those sorts of medicine and when I think about it the Meridian location will, sometimes, guide the movement. My favorite, one of the moves that I do for Metal expression in Qigong I take a deep breath in and I open my arms out and I’m turning my thumb up to the sky and out away from my body and my arms follow. And I’m like, “Take a deep breath,” so it’s like I fill that lung. Then I lead with my index finger and I start to point down at the ground when I exhale out.
Raymond: The idea is you inhale some lung qi and then you let that shit go; and that’s, literally, what I say. And when I’m having a problem releasing something or when I’m having problems letting something go I will repetitively do that. And so, then, it becomes a funny dance where I’m pointing at different places on the ground in the room like, “And I let it go there and I let it go there and I let it go there.” I guess I have been using it a little in that sense and I do think it’s helpful as if you’re someone who really pays attention to the seasons and eating with the seasons and why we connect different things with the seasons.
Raymond: Having that understanding of the different elements can be useful in that sense as well. But so let’s go back to just … Well since we don’t use Five Elements, I think I’ve pretty much covered those! When we get to Fire and stuff like that we’ll bring it back up and when we talk about food later I’ll bring it up too. But I wanna go back to, specifically, the Large Intestine meridian. I feel like almost every time I’ve ever gotten acupuncture, I’ve almost always gotten the Large Intestine four point…I’ve had a needle stuck in it. What does that do? Why do you put needles in that Billy Janes? Oh my God, that’s going to be the new segment: Why do you put needles in that, Billy Janes?
Billy: Well, personally, I don’t. I’m just kidding, I do. Of course I do. We all do. The reason … Okay, so there’s a combination of two points that is used to move blood in and chi in the body and that’s LI-4 and LV-3. Liver three is between the big toe and the second toe and generally what you do is you do opposite pairings; so one in the hand and one in the foot on the opposite sides of the body to help just regulate or move chi or, basically, get the body to activate a response to get things open for the treatment. It’s an opening move a lot of times that people will do.
Billy: The other thing is, ironically, LI-4 or Large Intestine four which is the point at the mound between your thumb and your first finger, while many people find it to be very sensitive, it’s also used a lot for pain. So when I have a patient who has pain, I’m often thinking … especially if it’s abdominal pain, I’m often thinking LI-4 and sometimes that includes palpation of the abdomen to find where the pain is and then stimulation of LI-4 to see if the pain changes. It’s one of the tools and our hand belt or hand pocket. What do you call it? Fanny pack?
Billy: Yeah, that.
Raymond: Totally. Oh my God, I totally need to get you an acupuncturist fanny pack.
Billy: I have one actually.
Raymond: Oh yes! Oh my gosh. Pics or it’s not real.
Billy: It’s cute. I know I have to get pics but it’s cute. I have to find it first. I lost it. Anyway, talking about letting things go.
Raymond: Right. That’s right. It’ll come back to you if it needs to be. I also will use that point sometimes if I’m personally feeling either constipated or if I’m having some sort of gastrointestinal distress. I’ll do a little bit of self-massage. It’s funny how I associate it with, “This is why acupressure fails.” Do you know what I mean? Because I never really understood it and I think, probably, acupressure in general. I ran into this a lot as a Shiatsu person when I’m explaining to people what I do and they’re like, “Oh, is it like acupressure?” And I’m like, “Well, sort of.”
Raymond: I guess because acupressure is just an easy way for us to think about the equivalent; I’m not using needles on the points, I’m applying pressure. But I think about what I do as so much more than just applying pressure. It’s not just pushing at things, it’s about moving energy up and down the channel. Sometimes I’m holding a point; sometimes I’m expanding a point so it actually feels like I’m opening it rather than pushing in. Or in also the way you work a point so, maybe, pushing in perpendicular isn’t good but doing in a clockwise motion, then, things start to happen.
Billy: Yeah, absolutely. And I think, for me as an acupuncturist, that’s one of the things that when people come to me sometimes for acupuncture and they’re like, “Just shove a needle in it.” Sometimes my response is, “Well, sometimes doing a manual type of hands-on work with the fascia itself is more helpful in getting things to have a directional move versus putting in a needle in one place, stimulating it to try to get it open and wait for the energy to move and then putting the needle to the next place.” Sometimes I feel more effective to have a hands-on approach and do something with the different layers of the fascia.
Raymond: Yeah. A lot of times when acupuncturists who work with young folks, with kids and babies, a lot of times you’re not even really using needles anyway.
Raymond: And that is a lot of what you’re doing, right? You’re doing different palpations and movements and things like that. I sometimes think I wanna go to Just Enough Acupuncture School just so I can figure out pick to stick needles in myself because whenever I do have sinus headaches or sinus pain I just feel like I just go “Aah, stick needles in it; release the pressure.”
Raymond: I remember when I was, probably, 12 or 13 and I first started having sinus stuff and I remember having a fantasy about sticking a teeny tiny hose up my nose. And then I grew up and learned about Neti pots, which is essentially what you’re doing, right? You’re like flushing it out in that way.
Billy: An important thing about the Neti pot, just FYI, somebody apparently … Recently, I think two cases happened where they aren’t using distilled water or they’re not boiling the water first. You have to use distilled water or boil your water first because there’s shit inside of the water, like amoebas and stuff, that got into this person’s brain and killed them. It’s important if you’re using a Neti pot that you use the proper kind of water for it.
Raymond: Right. Correct. We don’t wanna scare people into not using their Neti pot-
Billy: No, they’re great.
Raymond: – but it’s one of those … it’s so preventable. And part of why it can be as preventable is through education so that’s why we just wanna make sure you out. My routine, what I do, is you can go to the drugstore and buy little saline packets that are pre-balanced and stuff like that but I also will just make my own. I take my four cup Pyrex, my big giant Pyrex and I’ll have a thin layer of kosher salts because I think it’s good to use UN-iodized salt. It’s better to use that than to use iodized salt so you can use sea salt or kosher salt and things like that. And then I add a little pinch of sodium bicarbonate baking sod,a and then I’ll add the boiling water.
Raymond: I boil water in my kettle and then I’ll fill it up so it’s four cups. Basically the rule is if it feels okay in your mouth, then, it will feel okay in your nose so you want the water to cool to a point where it’s pretty warm but not … if it’s burning your lips and it’s burning your tongue, then, it’s going to burn your nose. Also, if it’s too salty and it’s burning your lips because it’s too salty, it will also burn your nose. But I sometimes find if you don’t get the water salty enough, it won’t feel great. You know what I mean? Like kind of getting too much water in your palette from the shower or whatever.
Raymond: You wanna have that nice balance where it’s about as salty as our body is. And, like you said, always use distilled water or I just always use boiled water. It’s fine if it’s been boiled. If it’s been boiled and then comes to room temperature, it’s fine. You don’t need to keep re-boiling. You need to boil it once to kill all those Amoebas and then you’re good to go.
Raymond: No amoebas in your nose.
Raymond: No Amoebas in 2019. All right. Now let’s talk about one of our favorite things, which is bowel movement health. That is a lot of what the Large Intestine brings as well. There’s a couple of different things that are related to this that we have bonded over, and we also talk about with our clients. It has to do with asking what are we eating to have good bowel movements? How are we sitting in order to have good bowel movements?
Raymond: Let’s start with that. Let’s start with posture Billy Janes.
Billy: I’m such a big fan of this. Posture on the toilet is so important. A lot of people strain and don’t realize that a posture is a component in terms of allowing the poo to flow out nicely; and that’s also the diet component. But as far as the postural component, when you’re sitting on the toilet your pelvis should be tucked under a bit. You don’t wanna sit with your butt’s sticking out like you’re sitting in a regular chair, you want your pelvis to be tucked forward or tilted forward just a little bit and that will help create a line with the colon so that things are able to just naturally flow out. Some people also like using those potty kinda things, squatty potties.
Raymond: Right, so you have some sort of leverage.
Raymond: Some people I know just keep yoga blocks in their bathroom and they put it up on that.
Billy: Whatever works.
Raymond: Right. What was helpful for me to think about was how for basically tens of thousands of years, as human beings, the way we used to poop was to squat down.
Raymond: You would be flat footed and you would squat as close to the ground as possible and a lot of us don’t really do that because we haven’t retained those muscles. We don’t poop that way anymore, for the most part. There’s still plenty of people in this world that’s still do that and still have that skills and that’s great. That’s good for their colon health.
Raymond: I have no problem with toilets. I especially like the really fancy toilets with the built-in bidets and all that stuff; it’s a very important experience but it’s good to think about how do we replicate that posture in our body. And so, for me, what I even do is I’ll just go up on my tippy toes and lean forward just a little bit and then do what you’re saying, tuck under a little bit too. So you’re getting a lot of that same posture as if I was flat footed and squatting down on the ground. But it also is great because as we get older we it’d be harder to do that as well so it’s good to have a lifelong and good posture when you’re releasing your bowel movements.
Billy: Oh yeah.
Raymond: Do you check your bowel movements? I feel like I always need to have a light on in the bathroom, if it’s early in the morning, because I always need to look at my bowel movement because that’s my check in on my daily health.
Raymond: I think that’s another thing that we’re a little bit disconnected from. I think we have this like fear of shit. We have anxiety around it and things like that; it’s really unpleasant and whatnot … and it’s true. It doesn’t necessarily always smell wonderful but, to be honest, for the most part if you are a generally in a good state health it shouldn’t be that terrible smelling. Do you know what I’m saying?
Raymond: Sometimes if I go into a bathroom after someone, like in a public restroom, sometimes what the first things I think is, “Oh that person has some damp heat going on.” If they have that really terrible, pungent, like rotten eggs or any of that sort of really intense smells that usually means the body is either getting rid of something or some sort of imbalance is happening. It’s good to see like is something floating or is it sticking to the top? Is it solid or is it watery? One of the questions I ask almost all my clients, I ask them about their sleep and I ask about their digestion.
Raymond: And I ask if your digestion goes off, do you tend to become constipated or do you tend to have loose watery stools? Because, obviously, we could have any of those things at any time but I feel like most people generally tend towards one or the other; or even maybe during a season or during the time of their life, they tend towards one or the other and that gives us some information about like where the imbalance might be coming from. What are some of the things you look for in your poop Billy Janes?
Billy: Let me tell you.
Raymond: When you’re cruising grinder, what do you look for in your poo?
Billy: What I don’t look for. For me, I think while we do have a culture of shit shame, I think there’s also really important and valuable part or aspect of becoming familiar and comfortable with our own poo because it can tell us a lot about what’s happening within us. For me, I tend towards constipation so that’s because I do not get enough fiber in my diet and I don’t get enough water. And so I have to drink a lot more water and take some fiber supplements otherwise what happens is if I don’t do that, then, I find myself straining and straining leads to hemorrhoids. And those hemorrhoids are basically just the veins that get engorged with blood.
Billy: Eventually what can happen is they can get engorged and not go back up or they can get a little blood clot in there and become super painful. For me, I’ve learned is that I want my stools to come out nice and easily. I want them to be well formed or what you might call kind of fluffy. They look like little brown clouds-
Raymond: Yeah, fluffy. I like that.
Billy: -but not falling apart. You want them to be solid. And the idea is that our poo is basically … we want it to be like a little sponge that goes through our large intestine and kind of, “I’m gonna a scrub this and I’m gonna scrub this. I’m going to move some of this out.” And that moving out of it helps it to keep it like a nice well-functioning transportation system. But if you don’t have enough fiber in there and you don’t have enough water, then, it’s going to be either dry or hard. The sponge isn’t gonna be the right kind of texture to really be able to scrub things on the way out so really looking for that proper texture of your poo in the toilet can give you an idea.
Billy: Does it look like salsa? Well that means that I probably don’t have enough fiber. Is it hard? Oh, it’s probably either been sitting in my colon for too long, which means I’ve been neglecting following my body’s messages to go poop, or I just haven’t had enough water and so I need to increase my water intake. And those are two areas I use to look at, “So yesterday or the last eight hours, or whatever since my previous poo, what is in here that’s undigested that I ate? What is the general color and the shape and the quality?” And then that gives me, “Well I’m gonna do better for the next eight hours.”
Raymond: Eight. That is the beauty of it because it changes from day to day and so it does give you that snapshot about, “All right, that was something I ate in the past 12 hours or the past 24 hours.” I’m someone who definitely leans … I’m more likely to be Spleen Qi Deficient, which is what leads to like loose watery stools, so I’m definitely more prone to that. And it’s not exactly diarrhea because I feel like diarrhea has a sort of … When I think about diarrhea, I think about having really intense abdominal cramping and then a really, really intense urgency to go right away that really fast.
Raymond: And a lot of times it’s almost very liquid versus just a looseness like that … For me, usually, it means that it could be that … Well, one, my stomach in general tends to be where a lot of my emotional stuff is so if I have any sort of emotional stress then that’s, probably, going to affect my appetite and it’s probably going to affect my bowel movements. If I’ve just come out of some really stressful stuff, then, I know that, “Okay, this is probably just that.” If generally I’ve been feeling okay, usually for me it’s about … I have to make sure, again, fiber but how I get my fiber and for me I like to get my fiber through fruit and through also vegetables that have a lot of inulin. I-N-U-L-I-N, inulin is how you spell that.
Raymond: Inulin is a really good thing that feeds the bacteria in our intestines. You can also take probiotics and that’s another good thing to do. It’s good to eat a little bit of fermented food. It’s good to feed all the little creatures that are living in our gut and helping them along but you can also help them by giving them lots of good material to eat so that they proliferate on their own. For me, I end up eating a green banana, probably, five times a week. Almost every morning, I like to have a banana that definitely has a little bit of green on the tips and hasn’t started to get too sweet and it doesn’t have any of the brown spots.
Raymond: And then I also like to have another piece of fruit in the afternoon, usually like an apple or an orange or whatever is around and in season and things like that, and berries and stuff like that. I eat leafy greens, I eat vegetables and stuff like that but, for me, it’s the fruit piece that I feel has noticed in my body makes a difference fiber wise. And that also makes sense because I tend to have Earth imbalances and Earth craves like sweet foods and things like that. When you are thinking about wanting to add fiber to your diet, you’re gonna come across all these lists of things that have all things that have fiber in it and it’s okay to think about which type of fiber is best for you and what time of year is it.
Raymond: Because, obviously, certain foods are more in season than others and now is the season of cabbage and winter vegetables and things like that and those are also great as well. I’m just trying to think about what else do I … The other thing though to think about, going back to the loose stool and the diarrhea and things like that … It’s funny when you take a step back. When I’m in the conversation about bowels it’s totally fine and then when I’m like, “Oh.”
Billy: That’s so natural.
Raymond: Right, totally. My body uses … I’m really good at eliminating things from my body that way. For example, about a week and a half ago I could feel the beginnings of a cold and so I took some of the herbs I like to take for that to help it purge. And that’s what ends up happening. It’s that I will actually have a little bit of diarrhea after taking some of those herbs like Yin Chiao or any of the things that are heat clearing and it’s not a bad thing. It’s kind of once you start to really get to know your body and get to know your bowel movements and get to know how your bowels work, you really understand. Sometimes I’m all like, “Oh, that was a lot of liquid in my poop; what’s wrong?”
Raymond: Whereas other times I’m all like, “Whew, I got it all out.” There’s a way that I know what’s happening in my body and what I just ingested and that actually isn’t necessarily a bad thing per se that my body was doing that any more than it’s bad for you to vomit up because you have food poisoning. That’s just your way. Your body is trying to eject it out of your body. But I do wanna make sure that I up my hydration game afterwards and do things like that to compensate for all the things. Because what that means, if you have loose watery stools, is that your, your bowels might be eliminating too much.
Raymond: You might be sending too much through so that means you’re, maybe, losing some of your bacteria friends or you might have a lot of undigested food that means you’re not getting enough nutrition. You might be eating food and it’s passing through all your canals but if your body is not properly mashing it up and extracting the nutrition and absorbing it into your body, you’re not getting the nutrition you need. That makes me think about a study I read one time about anxiety and eating. They gave two different groups the same meals but right before the meal they gave them different messaging.
Raymond: And so one group was told, “Here is this meal that was made just for you based on your preferences and it’s got all the things you need and it’s full of vitamins and nutrition and proteins and fats and you’re gonna feel so good. Eat this meal.” And then the other group was told, “Here’s some food but don’t eat too much and you don’t wanna make yourself sick and have you thought about losing weight,” and basically all the messages that we’re bombarded with all day through magazines and TV and commercial, all of that stuff. They were kind of given it a concentrated dose of that.
Raymond: And when they tested people who had eaten the same meal, the first group absorbed all the nutrients into their body and digested well, whereas the second group wasn’t absorbing the nutrients that they needed to. The thoughts and the messages and the anxiety and the emotions tied into the worry about eating even just affected their metabolism and how their body works to process the nutrition it needs. Which is why there’s a lot of reasons why I’m very much against all sorts of shaming and comments about weight and food and things like that but, first of all, it doesn’t work.
Raymond: Second of all, it’s abusive. The third of all, you’re not getting any nutrients in your body because you have all this anxiety around it. Even people who are trying to claim that they mean well, it doesn’t matter. You’re actually harming people with that type of talk.
Billy: Mm-Hmm [Affirmative]. And also, just on that same note, it is so stressful for me to try to figure out, oh my gosh, am I getting enough fiber? Am I getting enough water? Do I need to eat this fruit? Do I need to do that. Do I need to do this? And I think what I’ve come to accept is that it’s okay for me to take supplements to be able to make sure I’m getting enough fiber in my diet because, honestly, it can become so stressful that it’s like a full time job of, “Oh my God, am I getting enough fiber or what am I going to do?” So I’ll just take some Psyllium fiber supplements and then look at my stool and see how it’s changed and is it what I want. Is it the …
Raymond: Is this my ideal poop. Right?
Billy: Exactly. And when I get to that place, then, I’m like, “Okay.” This then becomes part of my routine so it’s a probiotic in the morning, some fiber supplement situation and then I carry on about my day. And then, that way, I don’t have to worry so much about making better choices in my day. I can just eat and do the best for myself but not feel the kind of stress of, “Oh my gosh, should I go chew on that tree to get some fiber because …?”
Raymond: Should I eat three cups of oatmeal for every meal for a week? We don’t realize how quickly we can really slip into disorder eating thinking a lot of times. As someone who I have a chronic stuff with psoriasis and there’ve been times where I was trying a lot of different eating plans to see if something was triggering an outbreak, like was it a gluten thing? Was it a dairy thing? Was it this? I’ve done whole 30, I’ve done all these things and I feel like temporarily changing your diet to try new things … I don’t even like that word ‘diet’, that’s why I say eating plan. Changing your eating plan is really useful for helping you to pay attention to how is your body reacting: How do I feel after this?
Raymond: “Oh my headaches went away but now I have this problem with my bowels. Now I’m having cramping. Now I’m having gas or whatever.” It’s good, sometimes, to take breaks or to take time to really examine the relationship between how we feel and what we eat because then we learned about ourselves. But, like you were saying, we can start to make ourselves a little bit whacked out because of it. And we start to get too intense and then that stress and that anxiety is very, very, very counterproductive. We’re also, then, playing into a lot of these messages around like clean eating and oh, that’s just so gross. Stuff like that.
Raymond: Of course, we wanna eat food that’s mostly looks like food and not processed to death. Of course we wanna eat things that are not filled with too many chemicals and pesticides and things like that. Of course, we wanna eat meat that is harvested or sustained and the animals were well cared for and things like that but we need to stop thinking that one meal is gonna undo all this stuff and really start to think in terms of just nail like 80%. If you nail like 80% across your lifetime, across the months and across the years, that’s what really adds up. And so I think people get really hung up on the the individual micro choices and that sort of doing as well.
Raymond: I know I try and eat a wide range of fruits and vegetables to get all my vitamins that way but I also take a multivitamin because, like you were saying, I wanna have that baseline. I just want to start the day with that baseline and then everything else is only gonna be better. Do you know what I mean?
Raymond: I like to do children’s chewable vitamins-
Billy: Oh, that’s cute.
Raymond: -partly because I wasn’t really allowed those as a kid so I like that. Like, “Yes, now I get to have the hippie Flintstone vitamins,” or whatever because like they’re not actually that brand. They are some natural hippie version of them, the garden of life or variety or some nature’s garden or some variation of that as they’re all called. Right? They all have that theme. But what I like about them too is that if you take children’s chewables, then, you’re just getting 100% of everything for the most part. Sometimes those multivitamins that you take, that are really expensive, you’re getting like 300%, 500%, 700% of all the different stuff across the spectrum.
Raymond: And if you’re deficient or if you have a predisposition maybe you do need that much but I feel like I don’t want that to be on autopilot, that I’m taking high dose vitamins. Do you know what I’m saying? I actually like to just have just a little, little baseline vitamin start to my day.
Billy: Absolutely, that’s how I feel about it too. It’s just, get what I need so that I don’t … The whole point of the Large Intestine channel is about letting go, right? If we are so kind of, “Oh no, I gotta do this; I gotta do this.” That is so constipating.
Raymond: Yes. Yes.
Billy: I don’t need that in my life so I’m fully on board with what do I have to do, as a routine, to take care of my digestive health so I can move on and let it go and just do my best.
Raymond: Yes, that’s all we can ask of ourselves. Right?
Raymond: Speaking of the letting go aspect, we’ve been talking a lot about the literal, physical elimination and our bodies but the emotion that’s also associated with Large Intestine and with Lung is the emotion of grief. And so, it’s interesting to think about … There is a phrase like, when dealing with grief and when thinking the process of grieving … In some ways it’s very similar too. I think people think of grief as something that happens for one week or for two weeks, maybe a month if you are really close to the person or whatever. We have these very compact, constricted ideas of what it means to grieve someone, but grieving is something that we’re actually always doing.
Raymond: It just like we’re always gonna have to have another bowel movement. We’re always going to have to eliminate things and let things go so grief has that aspect. I saw this on the Internet a few days ago, someone drew this really interesting image that I thought was helpful in explaining grief, which is that if you take a square and then you draw a circle inside the square so basically the circle is pretty much touching the four walls of the square. And then imagine on the sides of the square is a little red button and that red button is that feeling of what we call grief, that feeling of just devastation and loss and sadness, that feeling of just like, “Ah, I’m feeling that.”
Raymond: The lungs, it makes sense that they’re associated with grief because we do a lot of that deep, guttural sigh that comes with it. And when something really intense first happens, that you need to grieve, that circle is so big it’s basically hitting that button all the time. But over time, as we start to re-enter life, the circle gets smaller and it starts to bounce around the square of the box. And so it will still hit the button but maybe it’ll hit the button once a day and then it kinda gets a little bit smaller and maybe it only hits it every other day . Eventually, it becomes really, really tiny and it will still hit the hit that button.
Raymond: There’s maybe someone in your life that you’ve lost and years later something will happen and you, you think of them and it will bring you to your knees; you will feel distraught almost as if it’s happening all over again. But then it passes very quickly because it’s like the little tiny ball on the square has just hit it once but then it’s gone back to floating around and not hitting the button anymore. And I thought that was really a good metaphor to think about the process of it, how you’re still going to be hit by it but it’s gonna become a little bit less often in that way. [pause]…I don’t know how to connect that back to the Large Intestine!
Billy: I think it’s perfect because that’s what the connection to the Lung and the Large Intestine is just about. The Lung is very much about inspiration and the spirit and our connection to life and, in a very real way, the process of breathing in air. And then this part of how do we then transform these different parts of ourselves that we can’t see, that we often don’t wanna have a relationship with, our shadow, that we do in secret … these darker parts and feelings of ourselves, how do we then build a relationship with them so that cyclical it can be let go from us so that we can build some relationship with it where we aren’t uncomfortable or held down or in distress.
Billy: And I feel like that’s a large part about that. That relationship with grief often will manifest in people’s lungs or in their digestion and it’s very cyclical times of year, times of the day or around traumatic events or situations. So, yeah, I am completely sold with everything you’ve just said.
Raymond: Yeah. And also thinking about how at the beginning we were talking about having to get over our fear of shit and get over our aversion to it and things like that, I think we have a similar cultural thing where we’re scared of grief. We’re avoidant of grief. We don’t wanna look at it. We don’t really admit that we’re feeling grief. I think it feels like we’re admitting weakness. It feels like we’re not over something. Even, just recently, someone was talking about, “I don’t wanna get too much into my childhood trauma because I don’t want to make excuses and excuses are for cowards.” And I was like, “Whoa, there’s a lot to unpack here.”
Raymond: Because, of course, we’re influenced by stuff that happened to us as a kid and there’s nothing wrong with saying like, “Hey, I do this now because of … I do Y because of X.” And I think what this person was … they were just really focused on Z. They wanted to get to Z, like X, Y, Z. But I feel like Z only comes if you put X and Y together. Right?
Raymond: You have to embrace it. You have to be part of it. Your colon health is related to that. What goes and how it goes out of your body is related to what went into your body. And in a way like when we grieve, we grieve things; we grieve chapters of our lives. We grieves jobs, we grieve friends and family. It is a way that … It can also be an opportunity to cultivate a sense of gratitude that we had the experience and that we have the capacity to have those connections and to see the accomplishments that came with it. It’s not so much that, “I messed up because I am getting divorced,” or, “I messed up because I quit this job or whatever.”
Raymond: But to also see, “Wow, I did this job for X many years,” or, “I was in a relationship with this person and we had all these experiences and that’s okay. You don’t need to let all of it go per se.” And sometimes the people who are, if you know what I mean, they have it’s almost like emotional diarrhea. They’re like, “I’m just gonna purge it. I’m gonna burn everything in my house that makes me think of that. I’m never gonna speak of it again. I’m never gonna look back to it.” And I think that they think that they’re putting up these boundaries and they can move forward but I’m not sure you can really wholly move forward that way. It’s going to come back.
Billy: Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s also part of our culture’s obsession with detoxing and removing any kind of impurities from our bodies and how that goes into the mindset of our bodies being this disgusting thing that has to be purged. And I think our medicine, from where we come from, the idea that the body needs nourishment in order to do what it naturally does and looking at the ways that we nourish our bodies in ways that really benefit ourselves versus, “Oh, I have to nourish myself with only these organic things and blah, blah, blah.” But really just thinking about, “Okay, what is my body asking for?” And looking at your poo is a really great way of seeing. Well, what is it asking for and how do I then view this as a type of communication between me and my body.
Raymond: Yeah. Whenever I see someone use the word detox, I just immediately think … Well, one, I’m like, “Detox from what?” Two, what are you trying to sell me?
Raymond: Because it’s always hand in hand. It’s always this mysterious thing and they’re always trying to somehow sell me on something. It might even just be an idea, like you’re trying to sell me on some idea. I have news for everyone that our bodies do this amazing job of purging things out all the time. Do you know what I mean? We were built to do that so what you can do is you can do things to boost your body’s ability but you can’t really eliminate … We all live in this world together and so we’re exposed to things, we’re exposed to bad things in the environment. We sometimes eat things that are not great and drink things or whatever.
Raymond: A lot of them are passing through us fine because our body was designed to do that. That’s what your body is designed to do so the best way to ‘detox’ your body is just to take care of it in its best away and feed it and give it good rest and have it have good relationships and be happy and things like that and take milk thistle.
Billy: Which I’m selling by the way. [both laugh]
Raymond: Please go to healingwithraymondandbillymilkthistle.com. Honestly, that herb is not for everyone and you should talk to your herbalist or researcher on things like that but it is one that I have taken for a long time and it’s one that reaches across a lot of different cultures. A lot of different cultures use it in their medicinal practices as well and all it really does is it’s really great at helping your liver generate new cells. And so if your liver is generating new cells and your liver is happy, your liver is what’s does a lot of detoxing in the body and cleaning the blood. So that is why I suggested that as well. But I go off and on it and stuff like that or whatever and I don’t sell it. And, luckily, it’s relatively cheap.
Raymond: Sometimes people recommend some special herb or supplement and it’s really expensive but milk thistle is pretty, relatively inexpensive and you can take it in a capsule; you can also crush it up and mix it with honey and eat it that way and there’s all different stuff like that. That leads me to, it’s time for Billy’s Herbal Corner.
[jazzy theme song plays]
Raymond: Hey. Now, you mentioned Psyllium husks earlier but are there other herbs or things that you might recommend related to digestive health?
Billy: Yeah. Let me think. We talked before about inulin and that being a prebiotic which can be really helpful for people. It’s important that if you are on diabetes medication that you consult your doctor if you’re gonna be taking anything with inulin because it does impact the body in terms of the sugar, the insulin. It’s important that you talk with your doctor first but burdock root is something that has inulin in it. And if you make your own tinctures when you put your burdock root into the alcohol and you’re looking at it, you can see that there will be this milky substance and that’s the inulin.
Raymond: It is very thick, those tinctures.
Billy: They are. Yeah, with the root. I will definitely … For myself, I will put burdock under my tongue anytime that I feel like I’m starting to get sick or maybe my lymph nodes feel a little bit swollen. I’ll put some tincture under my tongue and kinda … It’s a lymphatic mover and a blood cleanser, it’s the whole idea behind it, but it also has inulin in it. So some people who are pre-diabetic, will use some burdock root that they get either in capsule form or even as a tincture. They will use it like that. And then I just take a probiotic every day.
Raymond: Every day.
Billy: Every day I’m like, “Whatever, I can never have enough.” And then I eat some probiotic yogurt just like, “Why not?”
Raymond: Why not?
Billy: Colonize me.
Raymond: Yes. They really are ruling a lot of us. I think like they outnumber us, to be honest. If you look at the stats of all what’s living in our gut, we are definitely a multiverse and we are definitely outnumbered. It’s humbling to think about that like, what’s that craving really come from?
Billy: Yeah, totally.
Raymond: Yeah. Yeah. I’ve also, sometimes in the past, done marshmallow roots and I do an infusion of it; so it’s a cool water infusion. It’s a shreddy wooded thing and then you put it in a court of cold water and you let it sit for 24 hours and then I’ll drink that and that has also been good. I feel like that’s a thing I’ll do if my gut is recovering. I feel if I’ve had a lot of loose stools and a lot of undigested food, for whatever reason my gut is not maybe absorbing the nutrients it needs to, and I feel like I need something to sooth it, I’ve had good experience with that. So it’s not like I do it all the time but it’s just more like I’ve done it as-needed type thing.
Billy: I have one too. You know what you could do, and this is actually … I give this to a lot of my patients and this has been pretty successful with them. If you take fresh ginger root, which you can just buy at any grocery store it doesn’t have to be anything special you and it keeps for a pretty long time, just don’t put it in the fridge, it’ll dry out. Basically you just chop up a little bit of the fresh root; you don’t have to peel the skin or anything like that. You just chop it up till it’s, basically, a small handful, put it into a little ball jar if he got it, a regular cup is fine, and then put like a peppermint tea bag in there and then pour boiling water on top and then put a lid on top of it.
Billy: Let’s say you’re gonna run out the door for work, just put that in a ball jar and then run out the door and then in, at least, 20 minutes go ahead and drink that drink and you can drink it throughout the day. It’s super good for your digestion and the mint in it as well is really good for anxiety; so you have like a nice little like, “I’m gonna soothe your digestion, I’m gonna help it and I’m also gonna help you with some anxiety through your day.”
Raymond: Nice. That’s a nice mix because the ginger is activating and moving and then the mint is the cooling and soothing so they have the good balance together.
Billy: Mm-Hmm [Affirmative]. Yeah.
Raymond: It’s good, I’ll have to try that. And also I just wanna clarify because I was like, “What’s a ball jar?” And I was like, “Oh I think that’s a brand. Right? Can we say jar?”
Billy: Oh, yes. Okay, can we go back and edit that? Let me try, Mason.
Raymond: Well, that’s … because this a different brands. It’s just fine.
Billy: Oh wait, Mason is another brand?
Raymond: You can use whatever brand jar you want because every name, they’re all brands.
Billy: What are they called?
Raymond: All evil capitalism. I don’t know, canning jars or just a jar with a lid. I don’t know.
Billy: Okay, canning jar.
Raymond: Canning jar. It’s kinda like band-aid or whatever, now it is neutral. It wasn’t until the second time that you were like, “Ball jar.” And I was picturing like a globe, like a perfectly round jar and I was like, “Where does the lid go?” Or is it some brand of apple juice that has that really round body?
Billy: Oh, yeah. Totally. Oh my gosh. Okay.
Raymond: Oh my gosh. Anyway, any jar of any brand that you’re infusing-
Billy: Yes, with a lid.
Raymond: -just make sure it’s clean. Its clean.
Billy: Aha. Mm-Hmm [Affirmative].Clean it.
Raymond: That’s right, no Amoebas.
Billy: No amoebas.
Raymond: No, Amoebas in 2019. Perfect. All right, I think that about does it for today’s discussion on bowel movement health and the large intestinal testament. [both laugh] Please send us your large intestinal testaments to healingwithraymondandbilly.com. All right, Billy, thank you so much for having this conversation with me *again*. I know if you’re listening-
Billy: Oh my gosh.
Raymond: -this is your first time but, yes.
Billy: Better the second time around.
Raymond: Exactly … Always. All right, thank you for listening and we will see you sometime soon with episode three.