All too familiar with painful period and menstrual cramps, aka dysmenorrhea? Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), your period is a reflection of your blood and qi (the circulating life force). According to TCM, a pain-free period requires abundant blood to flow freely throughout your body. Your TCM practitioner will go through your medical history with you and determine the cause and remedy for your painful cramps and menstrual pain.
We spoke to TCM practitioner, Dr. Michelle Law Pui Man 羅佩雯中醫師, about the common causes and remedies for painful menstrual cycles (dysmenorrhea).
Menstrual pain (dysmenorrhea) symptom #1: a dull, achy pain in the days before and during menstruation
Cause: qi stagnation occurs when qi is under stress because of a dysfunction of the liver.
Possible treatment: some practitioners treating women experiencing period pain due to qi stagnation will prescribe Xiao Yau San, known in English as Rambling Powder, for the week prior to and during menstruation to relieve their symptoms.
Menstrual pain (dysmenorrhea) symptom #2: sharp stabbing pain and heavy, dark blood with clots during menstruation
Cause: blood stagnation means your blood is not moving through your body as it should.
Possible treatment: women suffering from blood stagnation may respond well to drinking tea called Tao Hong Si Wu Tang, known in English as Four Substance Tea with Safflower and Peach Pit, for the first 3 days of their period. It’s also likely your practitioner will recommend you avoid eating lot of cold foods (e.g. raw fruits and vegetables and anything cold or frozen). It’s believed that over-eating cold foods contributes to blood stasis.
Menstrual pain (dysmenorrhea) symptom #3: a dull pain appearing at the end or after menstruation
Cause: with a blood deficiency, your blood is not providing your organs with enough nutrients to function effectively.
Possible treatment: women with blood deficiency may respond well to Ba Zhen Tang or Eight Treasure Tea.
Painful menstruation is often addressed using several TCM techniques. Below are a few additional techniques your TCM practitioner may recommend.
How can Acupuncture help relieve dysmenorrhea
Either in conjunction with your TCM practitioner or on their own, an acupuncturist will work with you to determine the root cause of your menstrual cramping. The root cause will determine where they focus their treatment. Generally speaking, acupuncture increases blood flow and relaxes the uterine muscles.
Acupuncture will likely be prescribed for at least two sessions per cycle with an aim of discontinuing the treatment once the symptoms have gone.
How can Moxibustion help relieve dysmenorrhea
Moxibustion, which is the smoking of moxa stick made of Chinese herbal medicine known as Artemisia argyi, right above the lower abdominal area. It may improve the menstrual cramps symptoms due to blood stagnation by warming up the lower abdomen and improving the blood flow to the female organs. Generally speaking, treatment could start 3 days prior to the period until the second day of the menstruation.
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Dr. Michelle Law Pui Man 羅佩雯 B.C.M. (CUHK), PhD in Public Health (Family Medicine) (CUHK), was born in Hong Kong and studied Traditional Chinese Medicine in the School of Chinese Medicine at Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). After obtaining her Bachelor Degree she pursued further postgraduate study at the Faculty of Medicine of the CUHK. She graduated from PhD (Family Medicine) study and her thesis is focused on acne vulgaris induced by hormone imbalance. Clinically, she has special interest in reproductive medicine and has extensive experience in treating patients with infertility or its associated problems. She is the Director of L&L Wellness Centre, the practitioner in Vitality Centre, as well as the Honorary Assistant Professor of The Centre for Health Education and Health Promotion, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.
This article was independently written by Healthy Matters and not sponsored. It is informative only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.