Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine for Women's Health
Have you ever been told by your doctor to go on birth control to deal with painful periods, mood imbalances, or hormonal acne? It’s a frustrating position to be in if you don’t want to take birth control to mask your symptoms. It’s so normalized for us as women to have irregular, heavy, or painful periods, but did you know in TCM this is not considered normal? As useful as birth control may be, we’re finding in clinic more and more often that women are wanting to manage their symptoms naturally without the use of birth control or hormone replacement therapy. Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine and acupuncture can help women from the onset of menstruation, all the way to menopause.
A Normal picture of a Woman’s cycle according to TCM
A lot of us are told that it’s “normal” to have painful periods, its “normal” to have mood fluctuations, and that it’s “normal” to suffer through the symptoms of menopause. That “normal” is simply not true. Lets go through what normal is according to TCM, and then we’ll discuss how three main organ systems play a vital role in the immensely complex system that is menstruation.
TCM’s normal picture of menstruation:
Age: 11-18 years of age for the onset of menses. Typically occurs between 13-15 years old and lasts 35 years, typical menopause is around age 48-50.
Cycle time: The first day of period to first day of next period should be 28 to 32 days. The cycle must be consistent in how many days it is, or there is some sort of imbalance occurring.
Duration: 3-7 days, with the average being 5 days.
Amount: 30-80mL of blood per cycle
Texture: not clotted, sticky, or watery
Odour: should be odourless
Colour: normal colour is dull red. See the photo below for different colours of menstrual blood and what they indicate in TCM:
Pain: other than the first 1-2 hours of menstruation with some mild back and abdomen discomfort, there should be no other cramping, pain, or changes in energy levels and mood during the menstrual cycle if the yin, yang, qi, blood, and organ systems of the body are in balance.
For the menstrual cycle to function normally, there are 3 key things:
1. The correct function of the organs that direct menstruation are very important. These key players are the Liver, Spleen and Kidney in TCM.
2. We need abundance of Qi and blood : these are primarily determined from diet & lifestyle
3. There needs to be a smooth flow of qi throughout the meridians
We could deep dive into the 3 things listed above, but I won’t bore you. The main things to take away are:
- The liver ensures the smooth flow of qi and blood. If the liver qi stagnates from emotional repression, frustration, or stress, this can adversely affect the period. Some symptoms you may experience would be sharp, intense pains at time of period, blood clots in menstrual blood, darker than normal menstrual blood, mood fluctuations before/during/after, and changes in bowel movements and tender breasts prior to the period.
- The spleen creates and holds blood in the vessels. If the spleen qi is weak, you may have symptoms such as spotting outside of menses, light periods, painful periods, or lack of periods.
- The Kidneys provide “essence” for the period - this means the kidneys function to create hormone changes for the normal timing of ovulation, menstruation, and initiate the onset of puberty and menopause. If you have a kidney qi deficiency, you may have issues with ovulation or getting and staying pregnant. Our Kidney Qi naturally declines as we age, which gives rise to the onset of menopause.
So how do we regulate and nourish our organs, qi & blood?
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine, of course!
Balancing Body: Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine for Hormonal Balance and Reproductive Health
Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine is based on a complex system of herbal formulas and ingredients. Each formula is carefully crafted to address specific health concerns and restore balance within the body. It sets itself apart from any other type of herbal medical system because of it’s precision in diagnosis and tailoring a formula to an individuals unique pattern of disharmony.
Herbal formulas typically consist of a combination of primary herbs, which target the main health concern, and secondary herbs, which support the overall effectiveness of the formula.
Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine is deeply rooted in the philosophy of Yin and Yang, which represents the dualistic nature of the universe. Yin represents the feminine, dark, cool, and passive aspects, while Yang represents the masculine, bright, warm, and active aspects. In TCHM, the balance between Yin and Yang is crucial for overall well-being.
When it comes to women's health, an imbalance between Yin and Yang can manifest as hormonal irregularities, menstrual disorders, and emotional imbalances. TCHM seeks to restore this balance by using specific herbs that have Yin or Yang properties. For example, herbs with Yin properties, such as Dong Quai and Rehmannia, are often used to nourish and cool the body, while Yang herbs like Cinnamon and Ginseng are used to invigorate and warm the body.
Seeing a Registered Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner or Dr. of TCM is of utmost importance. Unlike western herbalism, we don’t use a particular herb for a particular symptom; instead we use the combination of herbs in a formula to treat the pattern of disharmony that is causing the symptoms, not just the symptom itself.
Women’s Health Issues that TCHM can treat:
- Irregular menstruation - cycles that are sporadic, too short, or too long
- Painful menstruation
- Ovulation Irregularities
- Perimenopause symptoms
- Mood fluctuations
- Energy level fluctuations at different times of the cycle
- Pregnancy Symptoms: nausea, lower back and pelvic pain
- Postpartum depression (it’s also great to get on a formula postpartum in general to nourish qi & blood your body has been through a lot)
- Mastitis, low breast milk
- & more
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine are only now getting popular and recognized by western culture. This medical system has been used effectively for thousands of years for women’s health. If you are looking for a safe, natural, and side-effect free option to balance your hormones and not suffer through symptoms, book in with our Registered Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner today:
I hope you find this blog article informative and engaging. Not sure if herbal medicine is right for you? Call us or send us an email to speak with one of our practitioners.