Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture can dramatically help lower the severity of Premenstrual Syndrome, better known as simply PMS. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) helps normalize hormonal cycle irregularities and improves relaxation to overcome PMS symptoms exacerbated by stress. Premenstrual Syndrome also called Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder or PMDD, usually develops about a week prior to onset of a woman’s menstrual flow. It may come about due to a number of reasons. Symptoms of PMS include sleeping difficulties, pelvic pain, menstrual cramping, breast swelling and tenderness, changes in weight, irritability, food cravings, digestive upset, crying, moodiness, acne, and bloating. These symptoms may differ in severity; they can range from light to very extreme that they affect the woman’s life in a significant way.
From the viewpoint of traditional Chinese medicine, PMDD and PMS are the result of stagnation or an obstruction of vital energy (known as qi) in certain parts of a woman’s body. The slow movement of blood and qi leads to poor nourishment and inadequate energy in the reproductive system causing a build-up of symptoms and irregular hormonal fluctuations that are released when menstruation starts. Menstrual cramping is often accompanied by digestive problems and headaches prior to the woman’s period. This indicates a stagnation of qi of the liver system which impacts the circulation of blood and energy to the body’s muscles and organs. Tension and stress can also contribute to the stagnation, ensnaring qi via the development of obstructions in the energy vessels which retards qi and blood flow resulting in body pain.
Acupuncturists work with each patient to restore normal blood and qi flow and to restore balance in the body in order for the patient to experience a menstrual cycle sans the emotional stress, discomfort, and pain that are related to PMS. Because TCM views the body as a whole, the acupuncturist makes sure that during initial consultation, a comprehensive evaluation of the patient’s body’s systems are taken into account. This will ensure the practitioner of treating each patient’s unique case addressing her specific issues in a unique and customized manner that leads to guaranteed results. Usually, Chinese herbal medicine is included in the plan of treatment to help boost the efficacy of acupuncture and to address the underlying cause of the problem. The herbal formula to be prescribed depends on the patient’s unique body composition and her symptoms. They can be in the form of teas or powder that can be mixed with water and drunk, or they can come in the form of gels, capsules or pills.
The needling process that defines acupuncture is a very effective treatment. It can bring about the alleviation of pain even during the first treatment session. With regular treatment, however, the frequency and magnitude of the symptoms decreases until they disappear completely. A recommended plan of treatment is always contingent on the patient’s schedule and willingness to be cured. Usually a good plan involves weekly session lasting a month to a month and a half. Then the number of visits tapers off to every two weeks, which gradually decreases to a point when the patient is completely cured and no treatment is anymore required.
Emily Farish is a licensed acupuncturist in Spokane, WA and the founder of Emily Farish Acupuncture.