Peter V. Swanz, ND, FHANP

There are two things for certain that will be discussed when meeting with a naturopathic physician: nutrition and bowel function.  These topics are covered in depth regardless of the reason for making the initial appointment.  The nutrition component is to be expected.  I think most patients are eager to come in and learn about ways to change their diet and eating habits in order to support healing and maximize long term health.  Bowel function, on the other hand, is often received as a forbidden subject to be avoided in conversation at all costs… even with a doctor



I typically try and ease any concerns by explaining that after four years in medical school, and six years in practice, I have heard just about every distinction there is to tell.  We are looking to cultivate a holistic picture of health and this topic is vital to the totality of the individual.  What always amazes me through this process is the variation that individuals will accept as normal for themselves or their children, simply because they have not been told or exposed to what is normal or ideal bowel function.  To simplify what is normal, I will generally break down the process into six words,  “food goes in, poop comes out.”   It truly is that simple.  And just like so much along our journey to health, restoring this process isn’t necessarily easy.


So in general, what should we hope and expect for in our poops?  The stool should be rather large, congruent in form and color (the color should be brown), easy to pass, and happen at least once per day.  For most people two or three times  per day is a reasonable expectation.  I am always amazed and my own stomach begins to hurt when patients come in and describe their bowel frequency as happening once or twice per week.  This is especially concerning because our stools contain mostly the waste byproducts of the foods we eat and process.  Not regularly removing this toxic decaying matter is comparable to leaving our garbage piled up in the kitchen for months at a time.  In addition to taking up space in our gastrointestinal tract, our body will inadvertently reabsorb many of the toxic waste materials and this creates unnecessary inflammation and oxidative damage internally.  It is the prevalence of exces


If this is an area that you are struggling with, please talk to your family doctor or naturopathic physician today.  There are many approaches and interventions that can be used to help regulate and restore healthy bowel function.  I would like to share a simple, non-invasive hydrotherapy technique that you can start at home safely for yourself or your children if your stools are not meeting the desired characteristics or frequency.sive inflammation and oxidative damage that is central to the decline in overall health in people today.  If you want to be healthy, you have to poop.


Alternating Abdominal Hydrotherapy is an excellent way to support gut rebuilding and promote bowel regularity by creating a pumping effect in the digestive area that will move blood and lymph helping to heal and stimulate gastric function.  Here are the steps for the home procedure:

  1. Get two bowls of water – one with water as hot as you can stand to touch with your hands and one filled with ice and water.  Please be careful not to use water too hot so as to burn the skin. Be especially cautious when treating children.  Warm bath water is appropriate.
  2. Put a washcloth or hand towel in each bowl and then begin the procedure by first grabbing the hot towel.  Squeeze out the excess water and rest the hot towel on the stomach or abdomen for three to five minutes.  You can cover the hot towel with a dry towel while it is resting to help trap the heat against the body.  At the end remove the hot towel and return to the hot water.
  3. Immediately squeeze out the cold cloth and vigorously rub the stomach and abdomen in a clockwise motion for 30 to 45 seconds.  If it is a young child or an individual with sensitive skin, simply rest the cold towel across the stomach.  Remove and return the cold towel to the cold bath.
  4. This counts as one cycle. Repeat for 3-5 cycles. Always end with the cold towel on the stomach.
  5. This can be repeated daily and should be used at least every other day during the initial phase of gut healing.

Give this a try today.  Good health and good pooping!