MUCUS ON STOOL
WHAT DOES IT MEAN? WHAT'S CAUSING IT? WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Are you prone to a problem with 'Mucus on stool'?
Is Your Digestion Bogged Down with Mucus?Individuals have an innate curiosity about what happens in the murky depths of the bowels. When they see something strange happening down there, they wonder what it means, and what to do about it. Unhealthy elimination not only creates discomfort, it also creates concern.
Ayurveda confirms this instinct is a healthy one. According to Ayurveda, the health of the colon often determines the health of your whole body. As Ayurvedic practitioners, we find many diseases have their origin in the colon, because an unhealthy colon leads to toxic buildup in the rest of the body. In addition, unhealthy stools usually indicate deeper digestive disorders which are best addressed in early stages.
Abnormal stools can be a sign of anything from parasites to candida, and often indicate the presence of inflammation. Even worse, chronic abnormalities are often progressive. Over time, an unhealthy bowel can progress to colon cancer. In the United States alone, over 135,000 new cases of colon cancer are reported each year. So, it's best to pay attention to bowel changes early.
One of the most common signs of digestive distress is mucus on stools. The mucus can be in the stool, on the surface of the stool, eliminated independent of stool. It may accompanied by itchiness or inflammation. Excess mucus is not only a sign of a problem in your gut, it can also create problems in your gut because it harbors bacteria.
Many do not even notice the mucus. Others find it both confusing and alarming to see mucus on their stool. Whether you notice it or not, mucus is an important sign. Get to the bottom of this puzzling mystery by learning what mucus on stool can indicate, the signs and symptoms of excess mucus, and what you can do to support your body's healing. The information in this article was provided by teachers and staff of the Mastering Ayurvedic Digestion & Nutrition Certification Course.
Mucus in the Digestive Tract
Mucus serves several main functions in the body - lubrication, soothing, and protection. Mucus is naturally secreted by the digestive tract lining to lubricate it for the easy passage of stools. Its slipperiness helps move things along. Mucus soothes and coats irritated tissues. Finally, mucus protects the GI from irritating, rough substances. It safeguards your intestines from adhesion and invasion by microorganisms, bacterial toxins, and allergens.
Mucus is secreted throughout the GI tract, including the esophagus, stomach, small intestine (mostly in the jejunum) and in the colon. Mucus in the esophagus ensures that food is easily swallowed and makes its way down into the stomach. Mucus in the stomach protects the body from the hot intensity of stomach acid. Mucus, along with enzymes and bile, alkalizes the acidity of food in the small intestine. Once food reaches the colon, mucus protects your bowels from irritation by rough insoluble fibers found in certain foods. There, it also enables the smooth discharge of feces.
Mucus is therefore essential to the digestive process. Small amounts of mucus in the stool is normal - especially for Kapha predominant people. Overproduction, however, is often the result of an infection or chronic inflammation of GI tract.
Mucus is made from polysaccharides. In other words, you can think of mucus as a complex carbohydrate or sugar. Therefore, sugar and Kapha aggravating foods generally increase the amount of mucus. Some people have too little mucus in the GI tract, and they will want to increase mucus with sweet and demulcent foods.
In a healthy colon, the mucosal layer is intact. There are no bacteria in the mucosal layer. When inflammation is present, the mucus barrier is broken and the mucus is penetrated by bacteria and inflammatory cells. Mucus viscosity increases progressively toward the end of the colon. In the beginning of the colon, the relatively thinner mucus separates bacteria selectively. Towards the end of the colon, bacteria are completely separated by the more viscous mucus.#1
Signs & Symptoms
Mucus on stools gives the stool a shiny or slimy appearance, or sticky consistency. Oily stools may also have this appearance, but mucus has a more gelatinous look. Mucus on your stool may be stringy, clumpy, or can stick together. It may come out with or without stool. If it comes without stool, it may be difficult to eliminate. You may simply see the mucus on the toilet paper.
Blood might be mixed with mucus because of inflammation or an acute infection. If you are experiencing blood in your stool see your doctor or licensed health care professional as this can be life threatening.
Mucus on stool may take many forms. Here are some examples:
Fluffy Stool with Gelatinous & Stringy Patches of Mucus AttachedIn this example, a stool has a slimy, gelatinous surface at points along with fluffy, dry edges and undigested food. Given that the stool is very loose, lumpy and yellowish in appearance, it indicates a fast transit time through the digestive tract. Due to the bulk of the stool, bits of undigested food, and dull color of the stool, this person likely has weak digestion (low agni) and may be losing weight. Their stool probably has a foul odor and their intestines may be irritated. The mucus was likely present in the small intestine or before the stool was formed since it appears mixed into the stool. The stringy nature of the mucus can be indicative of candida, but many other microbes also form stringy colonies.
Mucus Coating StoolIn our second example mucus has formed a clear coating on the stool. It does not appear mixed into the stool. This mucus doesn't appear to be parasite related because it is clear. If microbes were present in the mucus, the mucus would be opaque, yellow or green, just like infected respiratory mucus. The stool appears hard, small and compact indicating constipation. The likely cause of this mucus is irritation in the sigmoid colon which could be the result of constipation. The irritation has incited the secretion of copious amounts of mucus which then coats the stool.
Baby's StoolBabies and children tend to have more mucus in their stool than adults, because they are in Kapha time of life. A baby's first stool, formed in-utero, is called meconium. It often has a lot of mucus. Once babies start drinking their mother's sweet, fatty rich milk or formula only, their stools tend to be oily, slimy, soft and mustard like. If a nursing infant has an overproduction of mucus, as in the photo above, the mother might steer clear of Kapha aggravating foods like sugar, dairy and wheat or increase the bitter taste in her diet with more leafy greens and herbs like turmeric. If formula feeding, the formula may need to be adjusted. Lastly, if a child is eating table food, reducing Kapha aggravating foods may be helpful.
Mucus Due to InfectionSigns of mucus may be more obvious such as when you eliminate a glob of it. Note whether the mucus is clear, opaque, yellow, or green as mentioned above. This may indicates whether parasites or infectious microbes are present in the rectum and / or sigmoid colon.
Main Causes of Mucus on Stool
Non-microbe related inflammation in intestines due to PittaIrritating food, a food allergy, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel disease or an autoimmune disorder can all lead to mucus on stool. Your body secretes the mucus as a soothing balm to heal inflamed tissues and protect them. Note you may have pain accompanying the inflammation if you have this type.
The approach to dealing with this condition is to first remove the cause. Remove any irritating foods from your diet including chili peppers, raw garlic, coffee, and alcohol. Try removing any allergens from the diet as well. Common allergens include gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, nightshades and shellfish. Keeping a food journal can help you determine what foods you are allergic to.
Next you'll want to calm inflammation with a Pitta pacifying diet favoring astringent, bitter and sweet tastes. Herbs traditionally used to cool and soothe inflammation include amalaki, guduchi and shatavari. You can purchase these herbs in Joyful Belly's formula, "Soothe Inflamed Intestines Tea."
Parasites, Candida & Toxic MucusParasites, harmful bacteria, or overgrowth of good bacteria and candida may irritate the gut lining leading to mucus production. These organisms provoke mucus in several ways. Some microbes attack the lining of the gut directly. Others simply secrete irritating waste products (collectively called ama). Other microbes create their own mucus to protect themselves from attacks by your immune system.
Bacterial infections such as H. pylori, salmonella, E. coli, campylobacter jejuni and shigella sonnei can cause mucus on stool as can viruses such as adenoviruses, astroviruses, caliciviruses, noroviruses and rotaviruses. Common signs and symptoms of parasites include indigestion despite a healthy diet, passing a worm in your stool, intense food cravings, weight loss and anal itching. A test is needed to determine which kind you have and the appropriate line of treatment.
Undigested Toxins / AmaExcess mucus in stools may be caused by toxins (ama). Overgrowth of good bacteria causes fermentation of the food, and massive accumulation of bacterial waste products (toxins). The effect of fermentation is similar to pickling a cucumber: the food turns sour and acidic. The acidity that results from fermentation is acidic and irritating the gut, provoking mucus. Excessive gas and bloating is a sure sign of fermentation.
Fermentation in the digestive tract can happen due to different causes depending on body type. Vata type fermentation occurs as the result of constipation, dryness in the digestive tract and enzyme deficiency. Pitta type fermentation is due to parasite infection or inflammation causing enzyme deficiency (Pitta aggravating Vata). Kapha type fermentation is due to sluggish digestion.
To resolve these disorders, address root cause of the ama. Eating foods that are optimal for your body type as well as avoid poor eating habits. Improve digestion (dipan) and burn ama (pachan) with these herbs according to your body type / dosha. Haritaki and hingvastak churna are traditionally used for Vata. Bhumyamalaki and avipattikar churna are traditionally used for Pitta. Triphala and trikatu are traditionally used for Kapha. Tranquil Tummy tea is a formula by Joyful Belly specifically designed to reduce fermentation in the gut.
Excess Mucus Production Due to Kapha Aggravating FoodsKapha people tend to have more mucus in their stool. Mucus doesn't always indicate a pathology for them. Part of Kapha's role in the body is to create mucus to moisten and protect sensitive tissue. Kledaka Kapha is the subtype of Kapha responsible for producing mucus in the stomach. It is essential to protect the stomach lining from hot and sharp stomach acid. Avalambaka Kapha is the subtype of Kapha in the circulatory system and lungs. It makes mucus that protects the lungs from irritation by dust particles in the air.
A Kapha aggravating diet or lifestyle can cause excessive mucus buildup in the respiratory and GI tract. When mucus on stool is coupled with a thick white tongue coating, aggravated Kapha dosha is probably the cause of your bowel mucus.
Approach this type of mucus on stool with a Kapha pacifying diet favoring aromatic, pungent, bitter and astringent tastes. Cardamom is the best aromatic herb for destroying intestinal mucus due to Kapha. Pungent spices, like cayenne, are great for drying up mucus, but be careful because it can irritate the gut as well. Digestive Bitters is a simple and excellent way to purge Kapha mucus from the bowels.
Constipation / Stagnation in the BowelsConstipation can provoke mucus because, ultimately, the stuck stools become more and more irritating to the gut lining as they ferment. As always, you'll want to address the underlying cause, typically dryness or colic for Vata, and poor bowel tone for Kapha. Haritaki, licorice and gentle laxative tea are recommended for Vata while triphala and motil-colon stimulant laxative are recommended for Kapha.
Other associated pathologiesMucus mixed with blood is a frequent complication of Crohn's and ulcerative colitis. Irritable bowel syndrome can result in mucus on stool especially when diarrhea is predominant. Diverticulosis and diverticulitis may lead to mucus on stool, but can also be asymptomatic. Bowel tumors, colon cancer, other obstructions such as impactions, gallstones and twisted colons are also associated with mucus on stool.
The possibilities may seem endless for the cause of your mucus on stool! Remember that in addition to addressing the causes of the mucus buildup above, consider taking a laxative to flush toxins and mucus out of your body. Address any inflammation, if present, as well. Good herbs for bowel irritation include cooling anti-inflammatories like amalaki for Vata, bhringaraj for Pitta, and aloe vera gel for Kapha
These insights will support you in discerning the root cause of your stools mucus as well as addressing it holistically to set you on the path toward healthy bowel movements.
Disclaimer: Conditions such as 'Mucus on stool' that cause tissue changes could be serious and should be checked by a medical doctor.
DIET REMEDIES FOR 'MUCUS ON STOOL'
PRODUCT REMEDIES FOR 'MUCUS ON STOOL'
FIND MORE POOP RELATED PRODUCTSSee our herbs & products in these categories. Or, click here for general Poop Tips.
DISCLAIMER: The pathogenesis of each person's condition is unique, and so the diet must be fit to the individual and the unique root causes of the condition in your body.
HOW DOES AYURVEDA HEAL 'MUCUS ON STOOL'?
AVOID DIETS, LIFESTYLES & HERBS THAT AGGRAVATE THESE EFFECTS
With Mucus on stool, one or more of the following
and qualities may be aggravated.
If you have an imbalance of one of these doshas or qualities, Ayurveda recommends avoiding foods and lifestyle habits that aggravate that quality and/or dosha.
These imbalanced doshas and qualities may need to be brought back into balance before this condition can be healed.
Click on the quality to learn what foods and
lifestyle habits should be avoided.
Symptoms Tell A StoryThe first step to healing is learning patterns from your symptoms. Symptoms are clues that reveal underlying imbalances, showing you where your body is weak. Specifically, they reveal the doshas & qualities that may have become aggravated. If you notice a quality or dosha appears next to many of your symptoms, it helps you establish a pattern that may be systemic.
V = VATA, P = PITTA, K = KAPHA
To learn more about the symbols above, click on them.
FAVOR DIETS, LIFESTYLES & HERBS WITH THESE MEDICINAL EFFECTSEverything you eat has an effect on your body, which Ayurveda categorizes in a simple and easy way, using gunas. Gunas are qualities (like cold and hot) that describe the effect a food or herb has on your body. Cooling foods like cucumber, decrease metabolism. Heating foods like chili pepper, stimulate your body and increase metabolism. For 'Mucus on stool', you should select foods with the following qualities (gunas). Individual results will vary, based on your body type and the root cause of your imbalance.
DIGESTIVEHerbs that encourage healthy digestive.
ANTIMICROBIALAn agent that kills microorganisms or inhibits their growth. Antimicrobial is an umbrella term that can be broken down into specific categories of target microorganism, such as anti-bacterials, fungals, and virals.
GENERAL-LAXATIVEPromotes a bowel movement. General laxative is an umbrella term that refers to several different types of laxatives...
High Fiber Laxative
HIGH-FIBER-LAXATIVEA class of laxative that adds bulk and water to stools. The size of a stool stimulates peristalsis and the stool passes more easily through the colon. It is important to drink plenty of water when using high fiber laxatives, as they can be dehydrating.
ADDRESS ISSUES IN STAGE OF DISEASE 3MUCUS ON STOOL IS IN STAGE OF DISEASE 3 - ATTACKING TISSUE
If you have symptoms in this category it means that your imbalances are becoming stronger and weakening your body's resistance. Most people have a weakness in one or more organs. These areas of weakness are the 'weak link in the chain.' They are first to succumb when an imbalance reaches a tipping point. Repairing imbalances in this category often represent your last opportunity to prevent disease. At any moment, these imbalances could overwhelm weakened tissue and develop into a disease. You may feel pain or discomfort in the weakened area. At this stage you will need to support the weakened tissue with specialized foods and herbs for the weakened tissue.
REDUCE THESE RELATED SYMPTOMS & HABITSThe following symptoms & habits may be related to 'Mucus on stool'. See your quiz results for a computerized assessment of your body type. Please click on the symptoms below to learn more about them.
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HOW AYURVEDA WORKSARE YOU WONDERING HOW AYURVEDA CAN HELP YOU?
WHY IS AYURVEDA THE RIGHT SOLUTION?Ayurveda strengthens the body, in addition to addressing the disorder. It take a holistic, systemic approach, instead of myopically focusing on the disorder in question. Ayurveda shows a person how to interpret signs and symptoms of imbalance, and how to address them using materials from home, so they can optimize their health on a continual basis. You can't take the doctor home with you, but you can take Ayurveda home with you. Ayurveda is the most advanced and easy to use home system for self healing with an exceptional focus on digestion.
HOW DOES AYURVEDA WORK?Ayurveda starts by identifying your body type, which identifies certain tendencies in your body to get sick (as well as identifying your strengths). It uses body type to determine the likely root causes of your disorders. Next, Ayurveda analyzes the nature of your disorder. It fits all your signs and symptoms into a pattern, expressed as a combination of gunas / qualities. For example, you may have a heat disorder, a cold disorder, or an oily disorder, etc. This simple categorical approach shows you how to correct systemic imbalances and strengthen your body as a whole.
On Joyful Belly, we've created an extensive categorization of food so you can easily match food to your imbalances (gunas). By eating an optimal diet that balances your gunas, your whole body is strengthened and the conditions that created the disorder are removed. Once the root causes of the disease are removed, the disease lessens in strength or disappears altogether. Additional remedies - such as herbs and lifestyle practices - focused on the specific disorder, can greatly enhance your healing.
Want to learn more about Ayurveda and its step-by-step approach to healing? Click below.LEARN MORE
GET STARTEDTo get started on your Ayurvedic journey, we first recommend that your find your body type by taking our free quiz. In Ayurveda, every solution is based on your unique body type, so by taking this quiz, you’ll get the best results.
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About the AuthorJohn Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda. His approach to Ayurveda exudes a certain ease, which many find enjoyable and insightful. His online course Balance Your Ayurvedic Diet in a Week provides tools for gracefully healing with Ayurveda to thousands. John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda , which specializes in digestive tract pathology & Ayurvedic nutrition. John and his wife Natalie recently published Explore Your Hunger: A Guide to Hunger, Appetite & Food.
John's interest in Ayurveda and digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel, including his public service work in South Asia. John's commitment to the detailed study of digestive disorders reflects his zeal to get down to the roots of the problem. His hope and belief in the capacity of each & every client to improve their quality of life is nothing short of a personal passion. John's creativity in the kitchen and delight in cooking for others comes from his family oriented upbringing. In addition to his certification in Ayurveda, John holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University.
John enjoys sharing Ayurveda within the context of his Catholic roots, and finds Ayurveda gives him an opportunity to participate in the healing mission of the Church. Jesus expressed God's love by feeding and healing the sick. That kindness is the fundamental ministry of Ayurveda as well.
Comments & Personal ExperiencesHow does 'mucus on stool' affect your quality of life? What aggravates it? What has helped you? Is there something you'd like to know about 'mucus on stool'?
(5.00 out of 5 stars) 1 review, 29 likes
Thanks as usual for your so informative and detailed articles. I always learn a lot from them.