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The Bristol Stool Scale Explained

Published on , Last Updated on June 3, 2013

Originally developed in 1997 by a small team of gastroenterologists at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, the Bristol Stool Scale was designed to be a general measurement system for health care professionals to evaluate stool consistency and form. Simply put, the Bristol Stool Scale is a medical tool for classifying bowel movements (as they appear in toilet water) into seven distinct categories.

A direct correlation exists between the form/consistency of the stool and the amount of time it has spent in the colon (due to many factors such as hydration, constipation or lack thereof, diet, etc). You don’t have to be a digestive health expert to benefit from knowing how to use the Bristol Stool Scale.

It can easily be used at home to analyze everyday bowel movements and provide some insight one your health. The scale can also be a useful tool for noting sudden changes in your digestive habits and determining if your colon is functioning as it should.

Analyzing Your Stool Using The Bristol Stool Scale

Illustration of Bristol Stool Scale Type 1 Type 1: Stools appear in separate, hard lumps, similar to nuts. Type 1 stools have spent the longest amount of time in the intestinal tract and are generally much more difficult to pass. Type 1 stools are also a sure sign that you’re constipated, dehydrated, full of toxins, and in need of an intestinal cleansing. These are the most common stools among individuals with an unhealthy lifestyle.
Illustration of Bristol Stool Scale Type 2 Type 2: These stools are “sausage-like” in appearance, but also very lumpy. Type 2 stools indicate you are constipated and dehydrated. You would benefit from an intestinal cleansing.
Illustration of Bristol Stool Scale Type 3 Type 3 (Normal): These stools are also “sausage-like,” but also appear to have cracks in the surface. Type 3 stools are considered normal and healthy. More water intake would help make your stool softer, and have no “surface cracks”.
Illustration of Bristol Stool Scale Type 4 Type 4 (Normal): Stools in this category are usually soft and smooth, and come out in the form of a snake. Type 4 stools are also considered normal and healthy.
Illustration of Bristol Stool Scale Type 5 Type 5: This category of stools form soft blobs with clear-cut edges, that are easily passed through the digestive system. Type 5 stools are classified as soft diarrhea and is also a possible risk for bowel disease. These stools also indicate you could benefit from an intestinal cleansing.
Illustration of Bristol Stool Scale Type 6 Type 6: Stools appear as fluffy pieces with ragged edges. Type 6 stools are considered mushy stools and indicates diarrhea. If you are experiencing this kind of bowel movement, you will benefit from an intestinal cleansing.
Illustration of Bristol Stool Scale Type 7 Type 7: This type of stool is mostly liquid with zero solid pieces. Type 7 stools have spent the least amount of time in the colon. This may be because of severe diarrhea due to cholera or a bacterial or viral infection. It would be wise for you to see a doctor as soon as possible.

Note: If you are experiencing Type 1, 2, 5, 6, or 7 stools, I recommend you see your natural health care provider to assist you with optimizing your health.

What’s a “Normal” Bowel Movement Look Like?

According to current medical science, Types 3 and 4 stools (if passed once every three days) qualify as “normal.” I strongly disagree with this as I firmly believe you should have at least two Type 3 or 4 bowel movements every single day. In general, constipated people produce stools that are categorized as either Type 1 or Type 2. Research indicates over sixty million people live with the daily discomfort of passing unhealthy bowel movements. People suffering from diarrhea pass Type 5, 6, or 7 stools on an uncomfortably frequent basis. Every year, over twenty-one million Americans experience diarrhea at some point.

Stools with a really foul odor may result from an imbalance of intestinal bacteria or from consuming too much animal protein. Taking probiotic supplements will also help restore the proper balance of beneficial intestinal flora.

A putrid foul-smelling odor lurking for more than three minutes in the bathroom after evacuation is a definite sign you need to cleanse your colon and body. Your body is trying to get your attention with the foul-odor. This is all indicating that something is wrong inside of you!

The longer you ignore this, the more damage you will have. Your colon is practically screaming at you to change your dietary habits! Most people are not taught these critical signs and therefore do not listen to their bodies. So listening to your colon and analyzing your stool can give you warning signals and may prevent future disease.

If you need help with cleansing we always offer free phone support at 713-476-0016.

-Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DABFM

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