For some reason females are lead to believe from a young age that with periods come pain, emotional upheaval and chocolate cravings.
The truth is that females are meant to bleed every month without an array of unwanted signs & symptoms. The uncomfortable “add on’s” that tag along are in fact signs of disharmony. Common symptoms females experience are
- GUT bloating
- Emotional up’s & downs from crying over a television commercial to wanting to poke a fork in someone’s eyes
- Lower back pain
- Sore/tender breasts
- Food cravings in particular sweet
- Excessive fatigue
- Skin breakouts
- Fluid retention
- Painful periods
In Chinese Medicine menstruation is initiated by the Kidneys, which are responsible for our growth, development and reproduction. The essence of the Kidneys known as ‘Jing’ is the origin for the formation menstrual blood.
Once the period comes the Spleen, Liver & Heart hold very important functions and are responsible for a healthy menstrual flow every month.
Spleen ~ Although the Heart governs blood and the Liver stores blood according to Chinese Medicine principles it is the Spleen that controls the blood. In fact it is the Spleen, which keeps blood in the vessels. The Qi (vital energy) of the Spleen is what holds organs in their position. In the case of menstruation Spleen Qi keeps the uterus in place, otherwise it would prolapse. The Spleen produces blood by extracting Qi from the food consumed (post-natal Qi) and forms blood in the Heart with the help of (original Qi) from the Kidneys.
Heart ~ Just as Western Medicine views the Heart’s function as circulating blood, Chinese Medicine also views the Heart as governing blood the same way. The Heart has a direct connection to the Uterus and along with Kidney ‘Essence’ and the Qi extracted from the food we eat the Heart forms menstrual blood too. The Heart sends its blood to the uterus in preparation for menses. If Heart Qi doesn’t descend Heart blood to the uterus menstruation does not occur.
Liver ~ The Liver stores the blood according to Chinese Medicine principles. At times of movement it moves blood from the vessels into the muscles and organs and at times of rest back into the vessels. In terms of menstruation the Uterus stores menstrual blood, which is mainly received from the liver. The Liver also represents the connection between menstrual blood and normal blood. Most importantly Liver Qi moves blood for menstruation to occur.
When looking at PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome) a disharmony in the following organs causes the preceding symptoms.
Liver Qi Stagnation –> Sore/Tender breasts, emotional up’s & down’s, constipation, headaches, GUT disturbances, skin breakout, irregular period, painful periods known as dysmenorrehea.
Spleen Deficiency –> GUT disturbances such as bloating (along with the liver), sweet cravings, fatigue, excessive blood loss known as menorrhagia (spleen not holding blood in the vessels).
Kidney Deficiency –> Lower back pain, constipation, fluid retention.
Kidney Jing ‘essence’ Deficiency –> Amenorrhea (no period)
Heart Blood Deficiency –> No period, insomnia -which heightens prior to menstruation.
Helpful PMS Tips
Acupuncture & Massage
Regular treatments are always important and essential for overall health maintenance and wellbeing. Having a treatment a week or a few days prior to menstruation really helps prepare and strengthen the body for blood loss and encourages the smooth flow of Qi to prevent PMS.
B6 ~ Helps break down inactive oestrogen. Oestrogen dominance is responsible for much of PMS (nervous tension, anxiety, mood swings, cramps etc). B6 is also a diuretic helping with fluid retention.
Evening Primrose Oil ~ Contains essential fatty acids (gamma-linolenic acid & linoleic acid) which influence prostaglandin activity leading to a reduction in cramps and other premenstrual symptoms such as breast tenderness.
Magnesium ~ Relaxes muscles hence assisting with premenstrual headaches, overall muscular tightness and menstrual cramps. This essential mineral also assists with depression, anxiety, mood swings, fatigue & increased an appetite.
Vitamin D ~ Vitamin D is not a vitamin but in fact a hormone hence essential for hormonal balance.
Vitamin E ~ Fat soluble vitamin which oxygenates tissue and protects unsaturated fatty acids, sex hormones and other fat soluble vitamins from oxidation. Improves tension, irritability, depression, headaches, insomnia & breast tenderness.
Vitex ~ A herb which has an affect on stimulating and harmonizing pituitary gland function especially progesterone function. Its main strengths are in harmonizing the female sex hormones and in correcting imbalances which present is dysmenorrhea and other premenstrual symptoms.
Dong Qui ~ Chinese herb extremely effective at regulating female hormonal imbalances, oedema, insomnia & depression. Dong Qui main function is in nourishing blood.
Rub the following essential oils on the abdomen mixed in the some base oil such as almond oil. Clary sage (balances hormones) Lavender (relieves stress, tension, pain, headaches), Peppermint (nausea, headaches) Chamomile (balances female reproductive system, assists with cramps, induces relaxation).
Exercise encourages Qi movement hence helps with the management of stress levels, and tension. By encouraging Qi movement menstrual cramps are also prevented and relieved. Gentle forms of exercise such as walking, yoga or Pilates are best, nothing heavy or strenuous!!!!
- Reduce refined sugar as too systemically inflammatory.
- Increase green leafy vegetables to support the detox function of the liver hence supporting the removal of excess ostrogen from the body.
- Reduce intake of cold, raw foods, dairy and fried greasy foods as they are too difficult for the spleen to break down and process hence leading to further spleen deficiencies.
Increase intake of good fats. avocado, olive oil, coconut oil and milk, nuts and seeds and oily fish for their anti inflammatory actions & hormonal support. Good fats also regulate mood hence great for stabilizing anxiety and depression.
- Increase intake of herbal teas such as chamomile to reduce nervous tension and abdominal cramps. Lavender tea to reduce irritation and tension. Ginger to assist with any digestive issues such as nausea and bloating and dandelion to support the liver. Fennel tea is also great to assist with flushing out excess fluid, which may be sitting in the tissues.
Cover up and protect your lower back and abdominal region from the cold weather. This is essential to support the kidneys and prevent further menstrual cramping.
Menstruation is a part of life but it doesn’t have to cause misery every month. Implementing some of the above tips can make the world of difference.