The PMS Relief You’ve Been Looking For: Traditional Chinese Herbs and Acupuncture

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The more the scientific community learns about premenstrual syndrome (PMS), the more a hormonal imbalance is thought to be the primary culprit. TCM and acupuncture have been used for centuries to regulate the body, promote healing, and regain a proper balance of energy, blood, and biochemicals. Practitioners have identified a course of TCM that can be used to find permanent relief from PMS and bloating.

Several million women report painful periods, cramps, and PMS that can disrupt life for 7-10 days each month. The most common symptoms include bloating, headache, acne, and irritability or severe mood swings. Proper diet, exercise, medicinal herbs, and acupuncture can all be used to better regulate these hormonal fluctuations.

Practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) analyze the flow of energy, or qi, and Blood in each patient as a means of identifying imbalances that are to blame for their diseases or medical conditions. Cramping associated with the menstrual cycle or menopause is often due to the stagnation of qi. Deficiency of either qi or Blood in certain meridians can lead to pain, as can a buildup of internal Heat or Cold.

The Liver Qi is central to the overall flow of energy through our bodies. When this qi becomes blocked, Blood pools in the uterus, increasing the discomfort of monthly periods. Signs of this blockage include bloating, spotting, and irritability. According to TCM, when the Liver Qi becomes stagnant, it can make menstrual flow heavy and lead to thirst, constipation, and angry mood swings. If the qi stagnation turns to Blood stagnation, pain can become more intense and localized.

For PMS, acupuncture points should focus on the Liver Qi. Patients may find that gentle pressure, heat, and massage can also help to relax the muscles that cramp most often before and during menstruation. The herbal formula Xiao Yao Wan can be used in conjunction with the acupuncture to relieve the symptoms of Liver Qi blockage. Tao Hong Si Wu Tang should be used to address severe pain in the lower abdomen, as it will nourish the stagnant Blood and stimulate natural healing. Other herbs that may help include Ba Zhen Tang to tonify the qi, Dang Gui Jian Zhong Tang to warm the Yang, and Bai Shao for hot flashes.

Acupuncture and herbal treatments will help to relieve pain and PMS symptoms almost immediately, but the TCM treatment should be continued for at least three months in order to fully address the hormonal irregularities.

Dr. Frank Lipman, acupuncturist and promoter of homeopathy for pain relief, reports a growing number of female patients that come to him for PMS relief. Approximately 75% of these patients are able to treat their PMS successfully with acupuncture. The acupuncture needles release qi blockages, and women feel clear-headed after their 45-minute treatment sessions, with less bloating, sweating, and an improved overall mood.

While the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has no official stance on the efficacy of acupuncture on PMS, many of the professional members recognize that acupuncture helps to regulate our endorphins and other biochemistry. There are no negative health effects associated with acupuncture, and therefore no reason for patients to shy away from this form of alternative treatment.

With the relief that TCM has to offer for PMS and the symptoms of menopause, women can fully reclaim their physical and emotional strength.

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