Loose stools? The runs? Hershey squirts?
Diarrhea goes by many names, and most people don’t realize that “diarrhea” actually has three meanings:
- bowel movements that have more liquid content than is usual
- bowel movements that are larger (ie: more volume) than is usual
- having more bowel movements in a day than is usual
The kind of diarrhea that manifests as loose, watery stools relates to Pitta dosha in Ayurveda. Pitta is made up of the fire + water elements and has the qualities of: hot, oily, and sharp.
Loose, watery stools (ie: Pitta stools) show up when the body is doing what it knows to do in order to remove excessive heat from the body. It is a form of intelligence on the part of the body and is not necessarily a bad thing. Loose, watery stools are actually a very quick and efficient way to cool things down in an excessively Pitta situation/individual. Most people whose constitution is Pitta tend towards having loose, watery stools.
In times of stress, it is possible for Pitta to become excessively high. This mostly shows up in someone who is driven and who is putting in a lot of work effort.
Pitta naturally arises in summertime (think warm, sunny weather) and in the middle of the day.
With Ayurveda’s focus on Opposites Balance Each Other, in order to address a high Pitta state, we apply the opposite qualities to restore balance. These qualities are: cool, dry, and smooth.
Here’s what that looks like in real life:
- put on cooler clothing
- eat cooling foods (fruits and leafy greens generally)
- get into the shade
- put on a hat & sunglasses
- drink some cooling tea (ie: peppermint tea)
- avoid things that are heating (ie: coffee, alcohol, spicy foods, direct sun exposure)
- eat astringent foods to pull excess moisture out of your tissues (ie: dals and lentils, slightly green bananas, apples, turmeric, potatoes)
- use lighter skin moisturizers and skin care products (that are easily absorbed)
- use lighter oils in your cooking (ie: olive, sunflower, ghee)
- limit your intake of salt
- increase your mindfulness and awareness (of yourself, mostly)
- meditate to cultivate a mental calmer state
- consciously decide to be less critical (of yourself and others)
- engage in play (not just work)
- spend time in nature
- leave your competitive side behind for a while
Pick any of the above suggestions and implement them. Do what is easy for you. They will all work, but you may need to stay consistent with them over a period of time (a week or more) as you train your mind to shift away from its high Pitta state.
Another tool that I find to be indispensable is yoga nidra. This is a guided meditation—and so much more.
The yoga nidra that I recommend is this one. It’s a $10 download. (I get no financial gain from recommending this product.) You get 3 tracks: an introduction to why yoga nidra is so effective (and why it’s different than any ol’ guided meditation); a 20-minute practice; and a 30-minute practice.
It is said that 20 minutes of yoga nidra is the equivalent of two hours of sleep. Doing yoga nidra on a regular basis will shift your mental-emotional state out of its Pitta tendency to be highly driven and productive.