Our Mouth Speaks Eloquently of the Small Intestine
Most of us don’t spend much time thinking about our small intestine-you might say it’s another one of our body’s unsung heroes. Yet, heroic it is, for our overall health and mental clarity depend upon the proper functioning of this amazing yet often unappreciated organ.
According to modern medicine, the function of the small intestine is to absorb nutrients and eliminate waste from the body. However, according to the late Japanese scientist Dr. Morashu Chishima, the small intestine is also the primary site for the production of blood. After years of experiments, Chishima concluded that the small intestine, through some as yet unknown chemical process, produces white blood cells directly from the absorbed food particles, out of which emerge red blood cells like butterflies emerging from a cocoon. His experiments and documentary photographs are published in Volume 9 of his 18-volume work entitled The Revolution in Biology and Medicine, now out of print. Chishima’s work, which was published in the late 1950s and early ‘60s, seems to support the view of some traditional healers that the blood is produced primarily in the small intestine from our food, and only secondarily or during times of fasting in our bone marrow and spleen.
Production of blood and digestion of food are not the only functions of the small intestine, according to traditional and Oriental medicine. The traditional healer viewed the central lower abdomen as the place where the energy of heave and earth collide to form on of the body’s seven major centers of energy or chakras. This particular chakra is known among Japanese as hara and among the Chinese as tan tien. It provides us with lower body strength and circulation and the drive and confidence to realize our dreams. It is also our center of gravity. For these reasons, the traditional martial arts, such as tai chi chuan, aikido, and judo place special emphasis on strengthening the hara or intestinal region. By doing this, one becomes ‘centered’ and thus better able to use one’s energy and the energy of one’s opponent to one’s own advantage. The hara is also regarded as the chakra that governs courage, endurance, integrity, and mettle, as signified by the expression ‘that took guts!’ In addition, traditional healers classified the small intestine as a complementary partner to the heart, each supporting the other in their respective blood-producing and blood-circulating activities as well as through their harmonized rhythmical beatings and peristaltic movements.
In diagnosing the condition of the small intestine, one should begin by recognizing the constitutional strengths and weaknesses of that organ. This will give important clues to the kinds of intestinal disorders that are likely to arise.
The mouth and especially the lips show the constitution and condition of the stomach and intestines, as these are the beginning of the digestive track and embryo logically developed at the same time as the intestines. In determining the constitution of the intestines, if the mouth is wider than the nostrils or if the lips are thick, the intestines are more constitutionally expanded (yin) and were created by a diet richer in carbohydrates and fats. This is most commonly seen in people from tropical climates. If the mouth is as narrow or narrower than the nostrils, this indicates a relatively higher intake of minerals and therefore intestinal strength; and if the lips are thin, this indicates tighter, more contracted (yang) intestines created by a diet high in meat, eggs, and other animal foods.
In addition to constitution, the mouth also reveals the present condition of the intestines. The upper lip corresponds to the upper digestive system or stomach and esophagus while the lower lip shows the condition of the lower digestive system or intestines-the inside lower lip and corners of the mouth being associated with the small intestine and the outer lower lip with the large intestine. If the lips are swollen and/or the mouth droops open, there is an indication of an expanded intestinal condition. If, in addition to being swollen, the lips are wet, this usually suggests diarrhea, while if the lips are swollen and dry or cracked, there is more of a tendency toward constipation.
If the lips are tight and contracted and/or the mouth is held tightly pursed or the jaws clenched this indicates a constricted intestinal condition and the tendency towards constipation. In addition, the corners of the mouth relate specifically to the duodenum, the primary site for the breakdown of fats into fatty acids. If the corners become dry and begin to crack, this is a sign of an excessive consumption of salt, baked foods, and saturated fats, leading to a contracted and congested duodenal condition. The development of sores or blisters in this area indicated too much oily food, leading to an acidic or ulcerous duodenal condition.
Either the expanded or contracted intestinal condition can lead to poor absorption of nutrients and therefore result in more extreme blood diseases, such as anemia or leukemia. In addition, these conditions often cause incomplete food digestion, fermentation, mucous formation, flatulence, ulcers, inflammations, and eventually cancer, as well as many lower body problems such as poor circulation in the legs, excess weight around the hips, varicose veins, or multiple sclerosis.
The color of the lips is also an important indicator of the present intestinal condition. The lips should be a clear pinkish-red color. If they are vivid red, this indicates expanded capillaries in the intestines with probable high blood pressure and possible intestinal inflammation or infection. If the lips are white the person is probably suffering from anemia and poor blood circulation. Sometimes the lips turn dark or purplish, indicating blood stagnation, or if there is a black spot on the lips, toxic blood stagnation is present with the possibility that a tumor is forming. Occasionally, there will be a greenish tint to the mouth or lips indicating the possibility that a tumor is forming. Occasionally, there will be a greenish tint to the mouth or lips indicating the possibility of intestinal cancer.
The forehead further shows the condition of the intestines. The outer right side of the forehead (before the temple area) corresponds to the ascending colon, the top of the forehead to the transverse colon, and the left, frontal area to the descending colon. The middle area corresponds to the small intestine. Horizontal ridges or deep lines present in any of these areas indicate a swollen condition in the corresponding intestinal area, while vertical lines indicate a contracted condition. Acne on the forehead suggests fatty acid accumulation in the intestines, and moles show the accumulation of excessive protein mucus from animal food.
The condition of the stools is probably the most important index to the condition of the intestines. Dark, hard stools indicate a contracted, constipated condition, while loose stools or greenish stool’s indicate a more expanded condition. The person with the yang problem is probably eating too much salt, eggs, meat, or dry baked foods while the yin condition is usually caused by too much sugar, fruit, fruit juices, alcohol, or even too many leafy green vegetables.
The head hair corresponds directly to the intestinal villi. If the hair is oily, dry, or splitting at he ends, the intestinal villi most probably are in a similar condition and if the hair begins to fall out, this shows a weakening of the digestive system, loss of villi, and therefore loss of absorption ability.
In addition to the above methods for diagnosing the condition of the small intestine itself, there are also several methods whereby we can determine the condition of the functions or energy of the intestines. First, this can be done by taking the small intestine pulse, a superficial pulse, which is located on the left wrist closest to the hand on a man and on the right wrist in the same place on a woman. A pulse that is heavy and pounding indicates an overworked and hyperactive intestinal function while a faint, hesitant, or nonexistent pulse indicates a more weak and under active intestinal function.
This intestinal function can also be diagnosed by feeling along the small intestine acupuncture meridian, which runs along the inner arm out to the little finger. Superficial pain and tension indicated hyperactive intestinal functions while looseness or deep pain indicate under active functions. (During a heart attack, patients commonly will experience intense pain or numbness radiating out along this part of the arm, which is also the area of the heart meridian. This may provide another clue to the close relationship between the heart and small intestine.)
A similar diagnostic palpation can also be made on a person’s shoulders, particularly on the peak area of the shoulders right at the base of the neck. Here, you can feel again for overactive or under active intestinal functions or simply feel for the relative degree of intestinal blockage and stagnation. (Massage in this area is a great treatment for intestinal disorders.)
The traditional healer viewed the mind and body as inseparable. In particular, a close association was made between the intestines and the brain, considered to be the major complementary/antagonistic organ pair of the entire body. There are amazing similarities in their structure and appearance, while in function they are complementary: the intestines digesting and absorbing physical (yang) food and the brain processing and taking in nonphysical (yin) food.
When the intestines are having trouble eliminating waste from our bodies, this indicates a corresponding difficulty in our ability to think clearly and rationally. Oftentimes constipation or difficulty in eliminating foods suggests that we are also holding onto past memories, delusions, or behavior patterns that would otherwise be much easier to let go.
Finally, the small intestines represent our ancient origins in the ocean, the dark and mysterious deep out of which organic life is transmuted and given birth. Each day our intestines are replicating these origins by transmuting our food into the blood of life. If our understanding of life is to deepen, if our memories are to be regained and our purpose illuminated, we must know and care for this little known and overly abused physical organ.
To restore health and vitality to our intestines, a diet consisting of whole grains, beans, and vegetables is far more suitable than one consisting of animal products, sugar, chemicals, and refined flour products. Human intestines are structurally much closer to those of herbivores than carnivores. Carnivorous animals have short intestines that are capable of quickly digesting and processing meat. However, the long intestines of humans and herbivorous animals are more suited to the slower breakdown and absorption of complex carbohydrates with animal food tending to putrefy before its intestinal journey is completed.
Any type of pelvic exercise, particularly walking, will help stimulate and strengthen the intestines and is recommended for everyone. Like all our organs. the intestines have a vital part to play in our overall health and ability to realize our goals. A little care, some exercise, and a change in diet will result in some very important rewards in balancing this central sphere of our lives.