Acupuncture and the treatment of PMS
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is the cyclic recurrence of a group of symptoms that peak 7 to 10 days before menstruation and disappear a few hours after the onset of the menstrual flow. This condition is characterized by multiple and diverse symptoms including, but not limited to: breast tenderness, transient weight gain, bloating, constipation, insomnia, acne, headache, pelvic pain, irritability, depression, mood swings, poor concentration, confusion, social withdrawal, impulsiveness and appetite changes. While many women experience mild symptoms of short duration, other women have more severe symptoms that last for many days and temporarily disturb their normal functioning.
There can also be painful menstrual issues that can mean that in some cases the woman may only feel well for one week at a time, each cycle. Estimations state that up to 80% of women suffer with some issues and only 5% suffering severe life disrupting symptoms.
PMS is due to unbalanced hormonal fluctuations. A mixture of correct diet, adequate exercise, and emotional clarity, along with acupuncture and Chinese medicinal herbs can correct imbalances and bring long-term relief.
What is clear here is that PMT symptoms only occur when there is ovarian function. Therefore any woman who is pregnant or has gone through the menopause or had her ovaries removed does not suffer with any symptoms. So it is quite clearly a disharmony of the hormones and the second half of the cycle, i.e. an imbalance of estrogen and progesterone levels that can be also exacerbated today by poor nutrition, stress and poor sleeping patterns.
From a TCM point of view a balanced woman should not suffer any abnormal issues coming up to her period. Her periods will be regular (24-35 day cycles) and she should feel comfortable. When the body is in balance, a woman will have periods on a regular basis, they also don’t complain about issues such as pain, water retention, emotional upheaval or PMS-related fatigue. So, many of the symptoms associated with PMS (breast tenderness, irritability, cramps, headaches), from a Chinese medical perspective, are simply symptoms of blocked energy. Acupuncture helps to open those blockages thus allowing the energy to flow without restriction. This brings the body back to balance by eliminating PMS altogether by working on the liver qi in particular, and the blood in the spleen. These are all energetics that are central to a healthy reproductive system.
Lots of women attend me for lots of reasons. What is interesting is that whatever the case in front me is, I always ask about the health of the woman’s menstrual cycle. A few women have often looked surprised when I ask them about about their menstrual health and PMS. They say that they thought PMS was normal.
What is always interesting is the woman who comes for help, for say skin issues for example, and they mention while having acupuncture treatments that this was the first month that they didn’t have PMS coming up to their period. This is because TCM looks at the overall woman and treats the root which can be causing layer after layer of very different symptoms.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are wonderful for helping and should be something to consider if looking for natural solutions. A herbal formula to help smooth out the energy of the liver is Xiao Yao Wan/Free and Easy Wanderer. The name suggests the ideal state. However, I would also recommend various lifestyle suggestions including adequate rest, nutrition and exercise.
Balanced nutrition is crucial for overcoming PMS. Certain foods such as alcohol, caffeine, cold temperature foods, sugar, salt, and animal fats exacerbate symptoms of PMS and should be avoided. In addition, commercial red meats and poultry, which have a residue of steroids composed of female animal sex hormones, should be eliminated from the diet. Food necessary for a harmonious menstrual cycle include: plenty of organic vegetables, small amounts of fruit, whole grains, legumes (especially soy), seaweed, small amounts of lean hormone-free meats, and fish (especially salmon, tuna, trout, and mackerel).
Exercise plays an important role in the treatment of PMS. Thirty to forty-five minutes of cardiovascular exercise at least three times per week improves blood circulation and significantly helps reduce symptoms. Exercises like Tai Chi not only give a good workout to all the muscles but it is also good for reducing stress.
In addition to diet and exercise, some form of meditation can be very helpful. Our emotions and hormones influence each other, since they are registered in the same part of our brain. Stress can cause hormonal imbalances and therefore worsen the symptoms of PMS. Some quiet time everyday helps bring emotional and physical equilibrium.
Chinese medicine offers even more tools to address premenstrual syndrome. Acupuncture removes energy blockages and in turn stabilizes hormonal fluctuations. It also provides deep relaxation that helps to calm the mind. Chinese herbs work together with acupuncture to regulate the flow of energy and substances in the body. Together they stimulate the body’s natural functions and encourage it to establish optimum balance.
Women do not have to accept and live with premenstrual syndrome. When the symptoms of PMS are reduced or eliminated, women feel more energetic — physically, mentally and emotionally.
The use contraceptives such as pills and patches (all of which inhibit ovulation) may be of value as regards contraceptives. But, they reduce the hormonal variability of the natural menstrual cycle and may cxontribute to PMS and Fertility problems. . For those women wishing to conceive, relief from PMS symptoms and regulating their monthly clcle can ultimately lead to improved fertility.
Acupuncture and the treatment of PMS.
Chinese medicine has developed treatment for the many complaints of PMS over the past two thousand years, and recently, the National Institute of Health in America endorsed acupuncture for the relief of premenstrual pain and discomfort. Treatment and prevention involve the use of acupuncture and Chinese herbs, along with nutritional guidance and lifestyle counseling. For the highest success rate and to bring long-term relief, Chinese medical treatment should ideally be received consistently for a sufficient period of time, traditionally considered to be at least weekly, over the duration of three menstrual cycles, in order to bring the body back in to a state of balance.
I have been treating women for the symptoms of PMS for twenty years. If you would like any more information, or would like to contact me for an appointment, please send an email to email@example.com