In my private practice, PMS and dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps) are certainly common reasons for seeking treatment with acupuncture with herbs, as these holistic methods tend to be very effective and safe options for most women. Chinese medicine and acupuncture have enjoyed a rich history in treating gynecological issues. Even today, many women turn to this style of treatment for numerous female health concerns. PMS and cramping usually respond very well to treatment. The key is to give it sufficient time before discerning if it is working for you. My experience has been that women younger than 25 typically respond very quickly to acupuncture and herbs, while women in their 30’s and 40’s may need to be a bit more patient. This is because the time frame of progress is usually based on how long one’s symptoms have been present. The longer they have been there, the longer treatment tends to take. Even in worst case scenarios (long-term and severe symptoms), I still expect that the woman’s overall health should improve greatly within 2 months of weekly treatment.
Both PMS and cramping are generally attributed to an underlying liver imbalance that is based on qi (energy) and blood stagnation. The liver is responsible for balanced circulation throughout the body; cramping pain and PMS are signs that the blood has congealed and qi has become stuck. The primary cause of liver qi and blood stagnation is emotional in nature and is specifically related to the suppression of anger and frustration. When you feel stuck in your life and your creative resources are thwarted, the natural byproducts are anger and frustration. The continued attachment to these emotions makes us feel stuck on all levels. Thus, the body will mirror to us this stagnation by impairing the circulation of qi and blood through the liver meridian. This, in turn, causes pain, mood swings, and further emotional upset.
Liver blood stagnation that causes cramping can also be caused by abuse at the onset of menses. Whether it is sexual, physical, or verbal abuse, such external reinforcements can easily cause our blood circulation to shut down as a protective mechanism against the injurious circumstance. In my practice, many women with severe and prolonged cramping have confided in me that they were once abused. When I tell them that their menstrual imbalances are probably related to this, many of them intuitively recognize this as true, which is the first step in initiating the healing process.
Many women have resigned themselves to simply putting up with these uncomfortable symptoms every month. They simply think that this is normal and that there is no treatment available for it. When I tell women that acupuncture and herbs work very well, many do not believe me until they start to see miraculous changes in their cycles. They no longer feel like the world is ending and they are no longer doubled over in pain for 3 days; How could this be? Well, this is actually one of the easier conditions to treat since acupuncture excels at moving stuck qi and blood. Needles disperse energy and promote circulation. That is their primary function. By harmonizing the flow of qi in the liver meridian, order is restored the woman’s body and mind. Along with acupuncture, here are a few herbs and supplements that I recommend. It is always best to pursue natural treatments under the guidance of a skilled practitioner. With that said, consider the following:
Nutritional therapy can go a long way toward healing PMS and cramping. The standard Canadian diet is certainly enough to create a host of problems for female health, including hormonal imbalances, various side effects of holding excess weight, low serotonin levels, and poor metabolism. Here are a few basic tips to consider if you want to use food to heal yourself:
Lastly, make sure you get plenty of exercise. This is an important consideration for healing ourselves in general. Try to get at least 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Find ways to manage your stress level. Yoga and meditation are incredibly helpful for this purpose (along with many others). Hopefully after reading this brief article, you feel more encouraged that there are steps you can take for PMS and cramping that you might not have known about. Don’t forget, it is common that natural therapies take time, as they have a cumulative effect over a few weeks. Be consistent and accurate in your treatment (which is difficult without some professional guidance) and you should make vast improvements.