Bodily Urges

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Latest Edit: Iva 2012-08-04 (EDT)

Bodily urges are natural movements that the body initiates in order to rid itself of unwanted substances or toxins. Bodily urges are a way for the body to deal with internal irritation and to quickly rid itself of a build-up, which effectively returns the body to a state of homeostasis.



Homeostasis means maintaining healthy balance. The body’s urges are a type of internal release valve that allows the body the opportunity to quickly release an irritation and rebalance itself. Suppression of urges hinders the body’s opportunity to expel, or rid itself of any excess which can lead to accumulation. Suppression causes the body’s innate rebalancing mechanisms to shut down. The natural expression of urges is a necessary component of maintaining health and homeostasis.

Release of Toxins

A sneeze or cough releases any offending agent from the respiratory tract. Passing gas and belching allows the body to release toxins created in the digestive tract. Bodily urges allow the body to quickly and effectively remove a toxin or irritation substance of the system. Proper expression of a natural amount of bodily urges is essential to maintain health.

Impact of Suppression

Suppression of bodily urges does not allow the body the opportunity to return to homeostasis and release toxins. Prolonged suppression can result in:

  • Belching suppression can lead to: loss of taste, hiccough and tightness in the abdomen.
  • Passing gas suppression can lead to: constipation, abdominal distension and retention of urine.
  • Coughing suppression can lead to: difficult respiration, more coughing, loss of taste and

back pain.



Is the passage or removal of gas from the digestive tract through the mouth. Typically following belching there is relief of abdominal discomfort and distension. If swallowing of air occurs while eating or drinking distension of the stomach can occur. This distension causes relaxation of the sphincter at the top of the stomach. Air then travels to the esophagus and up to the oral cavity to be released from the body.

  • Diet: Consumption carbonated drinks increases the amount of gas in the esophagus and stomach leading to the production of a burp. Rich, heavy or spicy foods all increase the likelihood of gas production in the stomach. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables decreases the incidence of belching.
  • Emotions: Eating while worrying impedes the flow of qi or energy within the stomach impairing digestion and function. Worry causes the retention of food within the stomach leading to the generation of belching. Clearing the mind, taking time for meals is an essential part of healthy digestion.
  • Regular mealtimes: As each organ works optimally at different times of the day in accordance with the natural rhythm of qi or energy, eating at regular meal times allows the body the opportunity to work at its peak performance time. Eating at various times throughout the day does not allow the body time to prepare for meals and be able to adequately digest, leading to the generation of gas and belching. Eating slowly at set times aids in proper digestion.
  • Talking while eating: The ingestion of air through the mouth while eating forces the body to want to expel it. Enjoying a social meal, while eating slowly decreases the ingestion of gas in the digestive tract leading to less belching.


Gas or flatulence, is produced by the bacteria in the digestive tract and involves the removal of gas from the digestive tract via the rectum to the anus. During this metabolic process gas is the by-product which must then exit the digestive tract. gas is moved through the intestines by peristalsis, the same mechanism by which stool is moved through the tract. Sound is created by vibrations of the anal sphincter as gas passes through. There are many causes of gas such as a food intolerance, infection or disruption of the flora (good bacteria) in the digestive tract and medications. Although, socially taboo for our culture, the creation of gas and passing gas is a natural process for the digestive tract. Excessive gas however, is a sign of an imbalance and can be corrected with proper identification of the underlying cause.

  • 'Bacterial imbalance: The large intestine is home to millions of micro-organisms which aid digestion. Balance between the multitudes of bacterial organisms in the digestive tract is essential to good health. An imbalance in the micro-flora leads to excess gas production which requires passing.
  • Disease: Improper breakdown and digestion of food is associated with some conditions such as celiac disease or irritable bowel disease. In these conditions the micro-flora, which usually aids digestion, is forced to breakdown more food than it normally is required to. This leads to excess gas

Foods: Lactose intolerance leads to the inability to breakdown lactose a sugar found in milk. This leads to cramping, abdominal bloating and gas. Foods high in fibre or high carbohydrate foods such as breads and starches can cause gas in sensitive individuals. Elimination of foods sensitivities takes stress off of the digestive tract and leads to less production and passing of gas.

  • Medications: Certain medication can impair digestion leading to excess gas production. The use of antibiotics eliminates the good bacteria in the digestive tract, eliminating one of the essential components of digestion which can lead to excess gas production.


The main function of coughing is to expel irritants, foreign bodies, secretions or bacteria from the airways. Cough can be stimulated by food, environment, toxins, infections, and physiological restrictions. Cough is a reflex response which can be mimicked or suppressed. Coughing involves 3 phases. The first phase is the inspiratory, in which air is inhaled into the lungs. The second phase is the compressive phase where the throat closes temporarily to increase pressure in the lungs and the third phase is the expulsive phase which produces the audible cough sound. There are also two types of cough, an acute cough and a chronic cough. An acute cough represents a bodily urge, whereas a chronic cough is still an urge from the body, yet the causal factor is different.

  • Pathogens: Exposure to bacteria or virus may force the body to mount a response and stimulate a cough in an attempt to rid the body of the harmful organism.
  • Allergies: For those with seasonal allergies, coughing is typically a concurrent symptom along with watery itchy eyes, and sneezing.
  • Emotional Stress: Emotions can impede the internal movement of energy within the body which can be responsible for the generation of a cough.
Sadness and grief directly influence the movement of energy within the lungs causing an upward movement of Qi leading to a weak cough.
Worry, knots Qi in the body preventing the normal internal and downward movement of energy within the lungs. This leads to the generation of a dry and irritating cough.
Anger and frustration can also impair movement within the body. Qi becomes stagnant and impede the downward movement of energy within the lungs leading to the generation of a cough.
  • Diet: Foods that are known to cause phlegm in the body, such as sweets, greasy foods and dairy, can lead to the generation of a cough, especially if an individual is intolerant to these foods. Phlegm accumulates in the lungs and the body attempts to expectorate it through the generation of a wet cough. Hot foods, alcohol and fried greasy foods can also cause a cough. These foods generate heat and phlegm in the body which leads to a cough with thick expectorations.
  • Chronic Illness: Chronic illness can affects the lungs causing dryness within the lungs tissue. This can lead to a weak chronic cough.


Sneezing, or sternuation, is typically caused by a foreign substance irritating the nasal mucosa. Once the irritating substance reaches the nasal mucosa histamine is released which sends a signal to the nerves to be transmitted to the brain. This signal then descends from the brain to the facial muscles and oropharynx to initiate a sneeze. This causes the body to expel air from the lungs through the nose in an attempt to remove the irritating substance.

  • Allergies: A known sensitivity to an allergic factor causes the body to rid itself to the irritating substance. Grass, pollen, dust, mold, animal etc. can irritate the nasal mucosa in sensitive individuals triggering a sneeze
  • Food sensitivity: Allergies to certain foods, or spices such as pepper or other spices cause a histamine response triggering a sneeze. Proper identification of food triggers and prompt removal decreases sneezing.
  • Pathogens In an attempt to rid the body of a viral or bacterial substance the body mounts a sneeze. This is the body’s way to protect itself and not allow the virus or bacterial to seed deeper into the respiratory tract.


Treatment for the expression of bodily urges requires the identification of the root cause. Elimination of the offending agent allows the body the opportunity to naturally rebalance itself without the need for suppression.


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Mehta, A. G. 2003 Health Harmony Through Ayurveda. New Delhi: J.J. Offset Printers.