The Digestive Fire, Part 1: Does your fire need tending?

If you suffer from digestive difficulties, your digestive fire may need tending.

Whether it’s gas and bloating, loose stool, sluggish bowel, constipation, low morning appetite, low energy or other issues, your digestive fire may be weak.  What is the digestive fire and how do we tend to it?

Every day, our body and activity wax and wane with the sun.  The fiery sun rises, and so do we.  We are active, alert and busy all day, and in the evening we wind down, and fall into stillness as we rest for the night.  And our digestion follows this same path: ideally it is strong and ready in the morning and afternoon, and is left to rest in the evening.  Our digestion is like an engine: it uses heat to take in food, extract nutrients, and transform them into usable qi and blood. The heat of our digestive fire manifests as the spark of our appetite, a full and easeful extraction of nutrients, and the motility of our intestines.    If the engine is too cold, it can’t do this important work, and we are not getting the full benefits of the nutrition we take in, resulting in low energy and the signs listed below.   Maintaining our digestive fire is a lifelong project toward longevity and wellness.

Signs your Digestive Fire is running low:

·      Low or no appetite in the morning – no spark

·      Gas/bloating – an inability to easefully process food

·      Loose stool – no fire to remove nutrients and water

·      Sluggish bowel/Constipation – no force to push the bowel

·      Low energy midday and/or after eating – when the digestive fire is weak, it struggles to do the work of digestion.

Reasons your Digestive Fire may be low:

·      Too much cold food has dampened the fire.  Smoothies, salads, iced drinks, dairy, soy, cereal, and other cold foods really put out your fire!

·      Cold or no breakfast.  When the sun is strong, so is the digestive fire.  This means breakfast and lunch are our strongest times for absorbing nutrients, and the most important time to stoke the fire with warm foods.

·      Large dinners, eating late.  In the evening, as our energy naturally wanes, so does our digestive fire.  After 7pm, our belly simply does not have the oomph it needs to take in a large meal, especially a cold one.  Late night eating and large dinners require a lot of work to digest at the time of day when our fire is low and it is time to rest.  After all this work, we may wake in the morning with a dampened fire and no interest in breakfast.

Do you think your digestive fire is low?  We can help you make a plan to get your digestion back on track, with herbal medicine for your specific needs, and acupuncture to integrate your hard work.  Click HERE to make an appointment – Shift Acupuncture Collective is open 7 days a week to help you get started!  And look out next week for PART 2: How to Stoke your Digestive Fire