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A Guide to healthy menstruation with Chinese herbal medicine

As mentioned in Lara Briden’s book Period Repair Manual, your period is not just your period; it is an expression of your underlying health. Many holistic health practitioners would probably agree that if you fix your health, you will fix your period. So instead of crouching in bed every month questioning why, let’s take a step ahead using natural remedies to answer how?

Recently, we have been told by a few customers that how acupuncture has helped with their menstruation, reduced their period cramp, and pre-menstrual syndromes. Chinese herbs have also been the essential go-to method for regulating menstruation and the “hormonal imbalance” for centuries.

In this article, we will discuss two types of imbalances (Deficiency type and Excess type) to demonstrate how Chinese herbs and food remedies can invite a pain-free and easy flowing period.

Note: Before you choose an herbal remedy, it is IMPORTANT to match your conditions with the symptoms associated with each TCM patterns. If possible, consult a professional TCM practitioner. This is the only way to find the suitable remedies that can help you.

 

Deficiency Pattern

Blood deficiency

TCM patterns
Symptoms
Menstrual conditions
Single Herb
Formula
Blood
deficiency
Scanty period, weakness, tiredness, dull complexion, dizziness, blurred vision, numbness tingling of the limbs, weak pulses, pale tongue
- Pain and cramps
- Amenorrhea (complete loss of menstrual bleeding)
- Irregular cycle
 
 
 
 

Food suggestions: Avoid raw, cold-temperature foods and cooling fruits. Choose more warming food such as basil, onion, cardamon, cinnamon, leek, scallion, sweet rice, etc.  Small amount of animal products, eggs, fish may be necessary. Women with deficiency amenorrhea should avoid consuming large amounts of green and yellow vegetables, such as dark leafy greens, micro-algae, and vegetables containing carotene[1].

 

Spleen Deficiency

TCM patterns

Symptoms

Menstrual conditions

Single Herb

Formula

Spleen deficiency;

Deficient digestive fire 

Poor appetite, weakness and tiredness, loose stools, slight depression, pale complexion, bearing down sensation in the abdomen

- Pain and cramps

- Menstrual hemorrhage (excessive and extended bleeding)

Ginseng

Dang Shen

Huang Qi

Bai Zhu

Zhi Gan Cao

Chen Pi

Gui Pi Tang

Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang

Fu Zi Li Zhong Wan

Si Shen Tang


Food Suggestions: Avoid foods with cooling properties because they weaken the digestion. Take sweet and/or pungent food such as oats, spelt, sweet rice; onion, leek, ginger, fennel, garlic. Food must be chewed well and at least moderately well-cooked.

 

Coldness 

TCM patterns

Symptoms

Menstrual conditions

Single Herb

Formula

Coldness

Scanty, purplish-black menses, cramps that are eased by hot compresses, clear and abundant urine, attraction to warmth

- Pain and cramps

- Menstrual hemorrhage (excessive and extended bleeding)

Gui Zhi

Gan Jiang

Xiao Hui Xiang

Rou Gui

Ai Ye

Dang Gui

Warm Uterus Capsules

Shao Fu Zhu Yu Wan

Fu Zi Li Zhong Wan

Fu Fang Yi Mu Cao Capsules

Food Suggestions: Avoid raw, cold-temperature foods and cooling fruits. Choose more warming food such as basil, onion, cardamon, cinnamon, leek, scallion, sweet rice, etc. Add pungent food such as onion, leek, black pepper, ginger, cinnamon, fennel, garlic, nutmeg. When using ginger, the dried form is better than fresh ginger for warming purpose.

 

Yin deficiency

TCM patterns
Symptoms
Menstrual conditions
Single Herb
Formula
Yin deficiency
Hot flashes, night sweating, dizziness, tinnitus, tiredness, insomnia, irritability, feeling hot in the night, scanty dark urine, dry stools, red tongue
-Menopausal syndromes

Food Suggestions: Add foods that “build the yin”, such as mung bean, bean sprouts, string bean, seaweed, spirulina, millet, black bean, tofu, kidney bean, barley, and black sesame seed. Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, coffee, excessive and poor-quality meat, etc.

 

Excess Pattern

Liver Qi Stagnation

TCM patterns
Symptoms
Menstrual conditions
Single Herb
Formula
Liver Qi stagnation
Pain under ribs, irritability, depression, moodiness, premenstrual breast distension, abdominal distension
- Pain and cramps
- Irregular cycle
- Menstrual hemorrhage (excessive and extended bleeding)
- Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

Food Suggestions: If you tend to overeat, eat less to reduce stagnancy. Moderately pungent food to stimulate the Liver out of stagnancy, such as onions, mustard greens and spices.

 

Blood Stasis

TCM patterns
Symptoms
Menstrual conditions
Single Herb
Formula
Blood stasis
Stabbing pain in the lower abdomen, purple-clotted menses, dark purple tongue with red spots
-Pain and cramps
- Amenorrhea (complete loss of menstrual bleeding)
- Irregular cycle
- Menstrual hemorrhage (excessive and extended bleeding)  

Food Suggestions: Food that disperses stagnant blood, such as Aduki beans, peach-seed, scallion, chives, cayenne and other red peppers, ginger, turmeric, vinegar, etc. Avoid cold, very sweet and highly mucus-forming foods including meat, dairy, eggs and ice cream.

 

Excessive Heat 

TCM patterns
Symptoms
Menstrual conditions
Single Herb
Formula
Excessive Heat
Heavy menstruation, abundant blood, red face, irritability, dry mouth, dizziness, feeling hot, insomnia, red tongue with yellow coat
- Menstrual hemorrhage (excessive and extended bleeding)   

Food Suggestions: Cooling food such as spinach, Swiss chard, seaweed, celery, cucumber, and red raspberry tea. Restrict red meat, alcohol, coffee, and warming food in general.

The holistic view of our body, mind and soul is what makes Chinese medicine a beautiful healing tradition. This means that the healing of Chinese medicine is not merely focused on the end of a singular symptom (e.g. pain) but to rebuild the homeostasis of the body.

Usually once the whole-body system is running in balance again, the pain will automatically disappear, as well as other untold conditions. This process does not necessarily need to be long, and often can take place in a few treatment sessions with acupuncture and herbal medicines.

All of the products mentioned in the article can be found here: 

https://theherbdepot.ca/collections/healthy-menstruation

 

 

Reference:

  1. https://www.americandragon.com/
  2. Pitchford, P. (2002). Healing with whole foods: Asian traditions and modern nutrition. North Atlantic Books.p.400

 

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