Treating Painful Periods with Chinese Medicine

While chocolate cravings and moderate abdominal cramps on a the first day of bleeding are a minor annoyance, many of us know women who really suffer during their periods, with various combinations of abdominal, low back and leg cramps; headaches; mood swings; bloating; heavy bleeding; diarrhea; constipation and even nausea, vomiting and light-headedness.

Thankfully, Chinese Medicine provides natural and effective relief that addresses the root of the problem rather than just the symptoms.

What Causes Painful Periods?

Menstrual cramps are often caused by muscle contractions in the uterus. However, they can also be caused by other reproductive organ issues such as endometriosis, fibroids, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, or uterine polyps. While Chinese Medicine can help with all of these, it is important to see your gynecologist if you experience unusually severe pain or cramps, heavy bleeding or frequent spotting. Occasionally these symptoms can point to more serious problems and it is always good to rule things out so you know how to proceed forward.

How Does Chinese Medicine Help?

Chinese medicine relieves the symptoms of difficult periods by strengthening and rebalancing your body’s energy to relieve pain and discomfort. For example, the Liver system is very closely related to the menses in Chinese medicine. The Liver system is responsible for the smooth flow of energy in the body; it stores the blood, and the Liver’s acupuncture channel travels through the pelvic region and the breasts. When the Liver system is out of balance, the result can be uterine cramping, “blood stagnation” (which can cause sharp or gripping pain and menstrual blood clots), moodiness, breast distension and headaches. An imbalanced Liver system can also affect the Spleen and Stomach systems, leading to abdominal bloating, diarrhea, constipation, or nausea and vomiting.

Treatment with acupuncture and Chinese herbs, along with some possible lifestyle and dietary changes help to smooth the Liver qi/energy so that the menses can flow smoothly again and the digestion and emotions can calm down.

What You Can Do Now

Diet, exercise and stress levels can all have a big impact on your menses. Eating a balanced diet with a lot of veggies, some fruit, and healthy fats, such as those found in coconuts, avocados, olive, flaxseed and fatty fish such as salmon or sardines, can help. Cutting back on carbs, sweets, caffeine, alcohol, dairy and gluten can also be very helpful for some women. Regular exercise, plenty of sleep and relaxation techniques such as meditation, tai chi or qi gong are beneficial as well.

Please contact me if you have any questions or would like to know how acupuncture and Chinese medicine might be helpful for you.


Natural Treatments for Menopause

Have you been experiencing hot flashes? Night sweats? Insomnia? Anxiety or mood swings? These and other symptoms may be due to hormonal imbalances and can occur during menopause or peri-menopause, which is the ten to fifteen year period that leads up to menopause. These symptoms can make you feel desperate, or at least annoyed. Know that you are not alone with your symptoms and that relief is possible.

Chinese Medicine and Menopause

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine offer wonderful natural treatments for menopause.  One common herbal remedy for hot flashes and night sweats, for example, is Zhi Bai Di Huang Wan (ZBDHW). This formula tonifies kidney yin and cools the body. It often helps with insomnia, dry skin, irritability and other problems as well.  However, since sweating, insomnia and the other symptoms discussed above are not always caused by kidney yin deficiency, ZBDHW is not the right formula for everyone, and shouldn't be self-prescribed.

What is Yin Deficiency?

Yin, in Chinese Medicine, is the cooling and moistening element in the body.  It helps make our skin supple, lubricates our joints and keeps our mucous membranes moist.  The kidneys, and in particular, kidney yin, strongly influences birth, growth and reproduction. As we age, the yin of the kidneys declines, and so does it's ability to support a woman’s reproductive cycle.  Yin deficiency makes women more prone to dry skin, hair, eyes; day and night sweats; bone loss; stress; and other symptoms that arise during the peri-menopausal and post-menopausal years. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can help support our bodies as we go through these changes by smoothing our energy or qi, building our yin, and strengthening our bodies.

During menopause, and ideally before, women can also ease this transition by eating a balanced diet with plenty of fresh vegetables, fruits and healthy fats, such as those found in olive oil, avocados, fish oil and flaxseeds. Getting regular exercise and practicing relaxation techniques such as meditation, qi gong or tai chi can also be very beneficial.

Please contact me if you have any questions or would like to know how acupuncture and Chinese medicine might be helpful for you.