The Runny Tummy

Riley Coules
September 6, 2016

Not my best work, but informative nonetheless…


One question I raise throughout my website as a reflection of every thought process I’ve had in the past ten months involves the source: the source of my sickness, both physically and spiritually, the source of negativity, in my thought processes and beyond, the source of my symptoms, why and how they are…

This inquiry often begins with one word that in its simplicity encompasses oh so much: why?


Like a curious child, I ask myself this question, well, just about everyday. But especially in regards to my health.

Why won’t any of my cuts heal?

Why do my gums bleed constantly?

Why does my stomach gurgle after I take my herbs like we’re having a one-sided conversation (what is it you’re trying to convey??)?

Why do I wake up at at 3am every night during die-off (because parasites are pure evil)?

Why can’t I get full off of a jar of peanut butter (silly, silly December Riley- you’re feeding your yeast!)?

Why does this healing crisis make me so crazy (am I crazy??)?

Why can’t I have normal problems like everyone else?

Why is this happening to me (don’t be a cry baby john john, Riley)?


Yes, it seems I ask myself many a question (many a time) as I can’t seem to escape my mind. I have spent a great deal of time analyzing my condition, connecting behaviors to their after-effects (both positive and negative) in order to uncover the means to true healing. Because my body has been through the ringer, with each predicament encompassing a wide array of symptoms, I am now quite knowledgeable in matters of the digestive tract. My journey is abnormal at the very least; my symptoms are equally peculiar. The “runny tummy” phenomenon has proven rather puzzling, thought-provoking, and especially alarming when accompanied by severe hypoglycemia. In December, I noticed this symptom first (along with my old friend constipation); it would become fundamental to the cleansing process, an indication of the battle my body engaged in for nearly two years.


I enjoy going out; while lost Riley of 2015 suffered from malaise, I have always had a great desire to throw myself into life (hence my frustration when I struggled to understand the newfound insecurities that drove me to isolation). Even in my curious mental state, I willed myself to overcome these boundaries, which afflicted me by my own accord but did not derive from my true nature. By November of that year I felt pretty fed up with myself, so I decided enough was enough; I resolved to start living my life again (which I did half-ass). One night in December called for real “living”: I would drink for once, despite my strict adherence to “health”- an ironic resolution considering how I could not comprehend how unhealthy I looked. Because I did not actively perpetuate my malnourishment, I rationalized “listening to my body” as a justification for control, which itself manifested out of the physical and mental disorder that consumed me… anyone in their right mind would find such extreme weight loss alarming. Clearly, then, I was not in my right mind. I had gained roughly five pounds by mid-December since a doctor’s visit the month prior indicated 88; I felt mildly better, but continued to lack gumption due to adrenal fatigue. My steady decline throughout 2015, as well as my body’s desperate grasp to hold on, would suggest that just the right conditions- lowered immunity and an impaired gut- provided the grounds for an unprompted healing crisis. My escapade in 2015 did just that: I drank heavily that night, took a drug I have no interest in, and downed a few energy drinks. My body already desperately fought a losing battle; I basically threw a grenade in my own territory.


I woke up the next morning with no recollection of the night before- just aching hunger, which I was used to. I felt quite out of it, which I of course attributed to a certain amount of partying my body had not endured in months. I drove home and began to eat, at which time I noticed a peculiar sensation in my stomach: goneness. “Hmm, that’s interesting”, I thought. And so I ate another bite: gone. I can only describe this feeling (which I would try so hard to do for the next month with each new doctor) as substance morphing into air as soon as it hit the bottom of my stomach.


Other descriptions I attempted to convey to medical professionals:

I feel like everything I eat goes right through me. (Right through you, like you eat and then it comes out as diarrhea?). No, like it goes right through my stomach and then I’m constipated.

My food won’t stick in me. (What do you mean “stick” in you?). Like as soon as I eat I’m hungry again because the food leaves my stomach. (Eye roll, suspicion of bulimia).

I can’t eat enough; everything is gone as soon as it hits my stomach. (More suspicions of bulimia; the resident psychiatrist is called).

I think I have rapid dumping syndrome. (Why didn’t you eat your breakfast of high fructose corn syrup and genetically-modified raisin bran?? Riley, your behavior is a clear indication of an eating disorder). Okay, I’m leaving and scared shitless… literally. (Constipation jokes heh).


Hold the applause, hold the applause.


I finally settled on runny tummy, or “diarrhea” of the stomach. In its earliest stages, this symptom solely concerned simple carbohydrates; for the next week, before I left for Michigan to visit my family during the holidays, I managed my hypoglycemia with complex carbohydrates and nut butters, which felt like they “stuck”. When I arrived in Michigan- that night, actually- I got a taste of the full-fledged symptom that would leave me aghast for months, warping my view of food as well as my relationship with it.


I remember very distinctly:

I had just gotten ready for bed, and now prepared my nightly snack of medjool dates (those evil little fruits) and peanut butter. As I sat down and began to eat, I expected the feeling of goneness to accompany my simple carbohydrate consumption, but not with my beloved nut butter. I ate a tiny teaspoon of PB, as any more would normally leave me full for hours. Nothing. I tried again… nothing. Soon, I had ingested five or six spoonfuls, equivalent to the amount of calories I consumed in a day at that point; panic settled in. I feared my hypoglycemia, I feared the abnormality of my symptom, and I feared the unknown. Finally, I felt like I was satiated enough to sleep. I went to bed with the hope of waking up in the morning to a new stomach… but the purge had only just begun. (poor, poor December Riley. So scared and so, so lost).


I went to a holistic doctor the following day; my mother had already made the appointment before my state had worsened exponentially. He diagnosed me with parasites, gave me Para-Dysbio-Zyme, a probiotic, and a supplement to support my gallbladder. This regimen gave me my first taste of an herbal protocol.


I spent the next four weeks in a state of dismay. My inklings of anxiety management would also come into fruition during the course of the month. Intense hypoglycemia accompanied my runny tummy, which meant that I could not stop eating. I cannot convey what an impression this factor made on me in and of itself; the sheer amount of food I had to eat to feel like I could breathe left me scared shitless. I consumed nearly 6000 calories a day. I could only lie in bed, a complete wreck; I barely wanted to move, for any exertion worsened my symptoms, and months of malnourishment had already left me fatigued. In fact, stress amplified all of my symptoms, setting me back more than a few times… I would work very hard in the coming months to manage my response to outside pressures in order to abate the strain such a heavy detox already placed on my body.


It amazes me that just ten months ago I knew nothing about parasites, Candida, or any gut problems for that matter; now I’m a storehouse of information. In December, skepticism clouded my belief that parasites truly lied at the heart of my condition due their supposed exoticism; in reality, their proliferation merely reflects a hindered digestive tract and the imbalances in gut flora that results. Because pathogens already dwell within us, actually aiding in digestion when we’re functioning optimally, they only turn virulent under the right conditions- i.e. when trauma permanently impresses disorder upon the body. Ignorance to this rather taboo and obscure illness, as well as how it arises, sustained my skepticism. My symptoms worsened as I began taking the herbs prescribed to me, a classic Herxheimer Reaction; but because I feared the elusive nature of my plight, and possessed no prior knowledge regarding the mechanisms of detoxification, I went to the emergency room 3 times that week. The abovementioned scenarios indicated to me that I would not find relief in a traditional hospital setting. I explicated my diet at the time:

A jar and a half of peanut butter/almond butter/cashew butter a day.

At least a loaf of bread.

Bowls upon bowls upon bowls of quinoa and brown rice.

Beans, beans, and more beans.

Avacado to mention I ate lots of avocado. (Get it? “I forgot to” mention…).

Nutritional yeast by the bowl-fulls.

Enough vegan protein shakes to create a make-shift bowl of ice cream that resembled vomit and nearly tasted like it.


I stuffed my face every hour, shoveling food in by the mouth-full, trying to get the whole thing over with as quickly as possible- which in retrospect put my digestion under even more stress. I hadn’t eaten fatty foods in a year because they had left me so satiated; no wonder I developed the gallbladder of a 50 year-old in such a short period of time. I had this idea in my head that simple carbohydrates perpetuated my runny stomach, so I avoided them at all costs, opting instead for the most complex vegan foods I could find. In reality, because my adrenals already played a major role in the immune response, consuming predominantly simple carbohydrates only weakened their ability to regulate my blood sugar and reduce inflammation via the production of cortisol. This scenario only proves problematic in individuals with compromised immune systems; a healthy human being is stronger than his/her/hir inhabitants and can consume a high simple-carbohydrate diet.


I began to realize the same symptoms that now afflicted me mirrored my phantom illness upon going vegan February of that year, which initiated my decline throughout 2015 after a drawn out period of intense stress. I ran beyond my limits for months, hypoglycemic and in an utter state of disarray; I could never figure out my excessive hunger or runny stomach… in fact, I began to believe I was pregnant when my symptoms persisted despite the negatives I received from multiple pregnancy tests. I gratefully put the whole experience behind me when I thought it was over.. My stomach had “returned to normal”, but I chose to ignore the other obvious ramifications of a failed healing crisis. I lost myself, refusing to acknowledge the awry because I feared how off my personality had become.


I prevailed through December, eventually feeling better by early January. For the first time in nearly a year, hypoglycemia no longer ruled my life. My energy surged; I even ran on an empty stomach. My symptoms returned when I ceased my herbal regimen, however. I naively thought I had made it out on top when I gained a few pounds, still barely resembling the Riley in physicality and mentality of years prior… By the full moon in January, my symptoms returned with even greater vehemence than before. Within a week’s time after constipation settled in, runny stomach returned. I ate a falafel wrap with pita, hummus, and veggies. Gone.


Diarrhea of the stomach finally concluded in June along with the easing of my other symptoms (although it returned again with my homeopathic treatment), leaving a legacy of unconventionality. What exactly is the purpose of the runny tummy? I cannot find literature regarding this topic in holistic healing books, nor on the internet; I must speculate and develop my own philosophies. The runny tummy does not necessarily correlate with hypoglycemia or excessive food consumption; I know this to be true because it manifested near the end of my journey when anxiety no longer compelled me to eat. Rather, runny tummy seems to stand alone; even when I became strong, certain days of die-off- the worst days of die-off, wherein all of my symptoms intensified- would present this symptom after weeks of absenteeism. Consequently, I believe my body clears out dead matter via the rapid evacuation of my stomach’s contents, much like diarrhea. Actually, this condition repeatedly accompanied diarrhea; I owe my constipation in part to an exhausted liver and the consequent dry colon that resulted from it, making expelling even loose stools difficult. Any time the “war” waging in my stomach became especially noticeable, as exemplified by excessive rumbling and abdominal cramping, my stomach evacuated the next meal I ate in record time. My body eradicated dead matter the only way it could- through peristalsis. Perhaps my runny stomach even cleared out living matter; as my inhabitants feasted, my body cleared them from my abdominal walls in their compromised state. These are my speculations…