Do you have patients who suffer from these symptoms?
If so, then keep reading… Each of the above symptoms can be linked to ONE common health problem–possibly the BIGGEST problem in the world!
Happy New Year everyone! Are you holding strong with your New Year’s resolutions? I set some goals, which have inspired me to do a little research.
Like the majority of the population, “losing a little weight” was at the top of my list of accomplishments for 2013. I met with a fitness coach to map out a plan on how I would accomplish my goal, and she sent me home with only two items to focus on for an entire week.
Drink three liters of water per day
Eliminate sugar and white flour
I’ll admit, I was a little shocked… I thought she would give me a big elaborate eating plan and exercise program. But, NO–she started me out with a daily two-item checklist.
I followed her plan diligently for the first week and also did a lot of reading about the benefits of water—from both a Western and TCM perspective.
Did you know the majority of our patients are chronically dehydrated? I’m embarrassed to admit I have dehydrated myself. This week I’ve asked patients about their water intake. Eight out of ten were not drinking enough water.
Some facts to ponder:
- 60% of the human body consists of water
- Lean muscle tissue contains 75% water
- The brain contains 75% water
- Body fat is 10% water
- Bone is 22% water
- 83% of our blood is water
- Each day, humans need to replace 2.4 liters of water
*Reports vary, so my percentages are approximate.
Most of the body’s water is found within the cells. The rest is found in blood vessels and in the spaces between the cells (interstitial spaces). Dehydration occurs when the amount of water leaving the body is greater than the amount taken in. We lose water from the body when breathing, sweating, urinating and having a bowel movement.
Have you ever found yourself at the end of the day, sadly realizing you hardly drank any water? I find this to be true not only for many patients but sometimes even for myself. This lifestyle pattern, over time, leads to:
Most people have no idea they are experiencing chronic dehydration. Acute dehydration is pretty easy to watch for because it usually occurs with severe vomiting or diarrhea. (We’ll talk about symptoms of “chronic” dehydration further below.)
TCM Pattern Analysis
Whether you are thinking of TCM in the role of pattern identification or in the role of each organ system, you cannot discount the importance of drinking water.
Let’s take a quick look at the yin channels:
Without enough water, the Chinese organ systems cannot function at optimum capacity, which leads to the formation of typical TCM pattern presentations—including the invasion of phlegm, damp, cold, heat, and toxicity.
Blood stagnation is a common pattern in an acupuncture clinic because so many patients present with pain-related issues. Considering 83% of our blood is composed of water, imagine the effects if we don’t replenish water regularly. If the body doesn’t have enough blood, then movement through the vessels becomes sluggish and “stagnant.” Pain is the primary symptom of blood stagnation. I’m sure you can relate to the heavy sluggish feeling throughout the body when the spleen is overloaded with “dampness.” Dampness kind of feels like pudding is moving through the body–slow and hesitant. Water is a perfect cleansing agent for dampness. Obviously, all 12 organ systems function better with the addition of a healthy supply of water on a daily basis.
Western Symptom Analysis
Blood travels 12,000 miles per day through the blood vessels and is responsible for delivering the necessary substances to the cells throughout the body. Chronic dehydration keeps the body from functioning at maximum capacity. If the blood is supposed to travel 12,000 miles but can’t, then major functioning problems will occur.
Some of the symptoms of chronic (even mild) dehydration are as follows:
Fatigue: Slow enzyme activity. Enzymes travel through the bloodstream.
Tension headaches: Tension headaches often come because of fatigue and toxic build up in the muscles. Fatigue and toxicity are both side effects of chronic dehydration.
Constipation: Waste moves slowly through the large intestine when water intake is decreased. Drinking water causes the motilin to be secreted. Motilin is a hormone that causes rhythmic contractions in the intestines leading to regular bowel movements.
Stomach Ulcers: Digestive juices are made from water. If secretion of digestive fluids decreases, the stomach becomes more acidic and ulcerations occur.
High Cholesterol: Dehydration causes fluid to release from the lining of the cells. The body has a natural protection mechanism to keep the cells from leaking too much cellular fluid. Excess cholesterol is formed to line the cell as a protective sealant to keep water in.
Respiratory Problems: Mucous membranes lining the mouth and nose need to be moist in order to protect against the inhalation of pathogens. Histamine, a chemical that produces symptoms of an allergic reaction, increases exponentially as the body loses more and more water. According to some sources, chronic dehydration is the primary causes of allergies and asthma in the human body.
Excess Weight/Obesity: Fatigue is an indication that cells are lacking in water. Often people rely on gaining energy from food rather than water—leading them to overeat when in reality they are just thirsty.
Eczema/Skin Disorders: Sweat helps to excrete toxins from the body. Not enough water means not enough sweat. With dehydration, toxins are not eliminated properly through the skin, making the skin vulnerable to all kinds of skin disorders.
UTI/Cystitis: If toxins in the urine are not sufficiently diluted, they attack the urinary mucous membranes. When the body is dehydrated, toxins are not eliminated and accumulate as acid waste, creating an environment that breeds bacteria—leading to infection, inflammation, and pain.
Joint Pain and Weakness: Cartilage is mainly composed of water. Joints have cartilage for padding, to protect bone structures and provide lubrication. Dehydration causes weakness of the cartilage and slows the process of joint repair.
Low Blood Pressure: Too little water leads to not enough blood volume to completely fill the arteries, veins, and capillaries.
High Blood Pressure: When the body is dehydrated, blood thickens and causes resistance in the blood flow. This leads to high blood pressure.
Analyze yourself and your patients regarding “chronic dehydration.” It’s time to stand up on your pedestal and strongly encourage drinking more water. Your tough love will make a huge difference in their health.
I treat a lot of chronic pain patients. Some of them are addicted to acupuncture and love to come in for their regular visits, even if their progression is at a standstill. These patients are going to be the first group that hears my lecture. I’m going to INSIST they drink 3 liters of water per day!
“Dry mouth is not the only sign of dehydration; waiting to get thirsty is wrong.”
Lucky for me, my fitness coach gave me the “tough love” lecture about drinking more water. I followed her guidance and this is what happened:
#1: Running to the bathroom a LOT. (Natural side effect of drinking water, huh?)
#2: Sleeping better.
#3: Less aches and pains.
#4: Clear mind.
#5: More energy.
#6: AND—I lost 15 pounds!
I’ll share some graphing results from a couple of chronically dehydrated patients.
Until then check out the AcuGraph video and drink your water!
I’d really like to hear your thoughts about this!
(Post a comment on this article and let me know)
1. How much water do you drink every day?
2. How is this manifesting in your body?
3. How much water do your patients drink per day?
4. How will you encourage your patients to drink more water?
Kimberly Thompson, L.Ac.