Menstruation
324 Case Studies
148 Member Stories
47 Research

How does Acupuncture view menstruation issues?

How does acupuncture work to help menstrual pain?

According to the journal Human Reproduction Update, period pain, or dysmenorrhea, affects up to 95 percent of menstruating women. Acupuncture promotes optimal blood circulation for the reproductive organs, enhances hormone balance, reduces chronic inflammation, and reduces stress. When an acupuncture practitioner inserts needles into your skin, your brain releases endorphins. These are naturally-produced compounds that play a huge role in relieving pain, anxiety, and depression. Researchers have also discovered that acupuncture works to stimulate the vagus nerve and causes a rise in dopamine (a neurotransmitter linked to pleasure). Consequently, this reduces inflammation, which a 2016 study discovered to be a root cause of period pain and cramping.

Stress management is critical for every individual's health. According to Chinese medicine theory, anxiety and related negative emotions like anger and irritability trigger Liver depression. The liver is the Chinese medicine organ that is strongly influenced during the monthly cycle. In actuality, the physiological function of the uterus is significantly affected by the liver. This is because the liver controls energy and smooth blood circulation. Additionally, it stores blood. But the stress of any type can cause Qi stagnation. When Qi stagnates, vital energy is impeded and can not reach other organs and cells. Not only is energy negatively affected, so is blood circulation. That is because Qi moves.

For many women, changing diet may significantly enhance the monthly cycle. From the west, salads are considered very healthy. With the ever-increasing prevalence of vegetarian and vegetarian diets, more people are consuming uncooked vegetables.

However, from a traditional Chinese medicine perspective, raw vegetables have a cooling effect. They can block Qi flow, particularly in the Spleen, that's the system responsible for altering nutrients into Qi, based on TCM. The meridians of Spleen, combined with those of the liver, run throughout the pelvis. When Qi is stuck or inadequate, pain can result. (Spleen dysfunction can lead to excess menstrual blood circulation.) Try to avoid eating many raw veggies in the few days leading up to menstruation and the first few days after menstruation. Additionally, it is essential to relax during this period. 

During childbirth, a mature ovum (egg) is released from the gut. At the moment, the kidney will change its temperament to promotional energy to make sure that the ovum reaches the fallopian tube and matches with the sperm. TCM regards it as a transitional stage where the kidney yin transforms into kidney yang.

In the secretion interval, active blood supply ensures additional ripening of the discharged follicle within the ovary and eases a fertilized egg's implantation in the uterus's thickened lining. TCM views this as the gearing of the kidney yin and kidney yang; the tian gui stays at the maximum level; the Conception Vessel and Thoroughfare Vessel are correctly merged. All these are ready for conception. The liver is involved actively in redistributing the blood and qi (vital energy). In this stage, women who suffer from premenstrual syndrome (PMS) may experience their symptoms. Later, once the ovum isn't fertilized, tian gui can be consumed quickly. There's inadequate kidney yin to change to kidney yang, so the uterine lining and blood are shed.

See: 23 year old Female Finds Relief with her Menstruation with Acupuncture

Acupuncture for menstruation cramps & pain

TCM physicians identify these changes and incorporate exceptional skills for individual sections of the four-phase period surrounding menstruation. When each phase occurs easily, the body is in its very best condition and doesn't experience menstrual issues.

All herbal remedies are customized based on different requirements, and countless herbs can be found in the technique. It applies to all sorts of menstrual difficulties, especially for women who suffer from functional uterine bleeding, menstrual pain, endometriosis, and practical infertility. Unlike traditional drug therapies, herbal remedies have little adverse results and reveal no inhibited effect on ovary functioning after long-term usage. Additionally, there's also an overall improvement in overall health.

Why suffer when you might be living pain-free? While NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications) can temporarily mask the pain, Chinese herbal medicine has been used for centuries using well-documented outcomes.

A global nonprofit organization, called the Cochrane Collaboration, analyzed the effectiveness of Chinese herbal medication in relieving menstrual pain compared to western drugs. Their conclusion was that Chinese herbal medicine for primary dysmenorrhea offers about triple pain relief and improvement in overall symptoms compared to traditional Western pharmaceuticals.

See: Ayurvedic Treatment For Menstrual Cycle Pain & Cramps

Chinese herbs for menstrual cramps & pain

Chinese herbal medicine can be somewhat intimidating.  Asian pharmacies have herbal teas and pills prescriptions, and Asian cultures have used herbs for centuries. By substituting NSAIDs with Chinese herbs, women receive an additional advantage of avoiding the nasty NSAIDs unwanted effects like upset stomach, heartburn, ulcers, and migraines, and liver damage, to name a few. You may use Chinese herb supplements to be pain-free and PMS symptom-free all month long. Listed below are a few common Chinese herbs used for painful menstrual cramps:

- Dong Gui (Chinese Angelica)

Also called the"female ginseng," it is usually utilized to regulate the menstrual cycle and relieve menstrual cramps. Additionally, it helps alleviate menopausal symptoms, reduce PMS and nausea, and reestablish a menstrual cycle following cessation of birth control pills. It's often sold as a single herb tea, bagged or loose. It's thought to be a king herb or premier herb in Chinese gynecological disease due to its ability to harmonize TCM blood. Dong Gui can be considered antispasmodic. The coumarin compounds present in this herb may help relax the uterus' smooth muscles by dilating blood vessels. It can relieve menstrual cramping.

- Bai Shao (White Peony Root)

This root nourishes the blood and improves circulation. Additionally, it is used for a vast array of gynecological issues. The peony root is thought to be a liver tonic in Chinese medicine. Strengthening the liver will help improve fat and protein metabolism's efficiency, thus inhibiting the excessive synthesis of prostaglandins, which might result in an overactive uterus and endometrial pain.

- Chuan Xiong (Chuanxiong Rhizoma)

Chuan Xiong is a crucial medicinal herb for treating pain. It helps in improving blood flow and promotes the flow of "qi" or vital energy. Chinese women, dating back to the Song Dynasty, used to take this Chinese herb in the kind of soup. The soup is known as a Four Substance Decoction and contains three additional herbs: angelica, red peony, and Chinese foxglove. The tea and soup are still used today as a blood tonic to stop menstrual pain, relieve PMS, and enhance overall wellness, especially after giving birth.

- Yan Hu Suo (Corydalis Rhizome)

There are two chief functions of the Chinese herb: to fortify blood flow and to relieve pain. In combination with chuan xiong, it's known to assist both body aches and headaches. Corydalis is regarding the opium poppy. Although only 1 percent in strength compared to opium, it's a very effective pain reliever. The active chemical constituent di-tetrahydropalmatine (THP) is a neuroactive alkaloid with analgesic action that relieves cramping pain.

- Yi Mu Cao (Chinese Motherwort)

This herb leaves are used to treat menstrual issues. They've been proven to enhance blood flow and clear blood clots that occur in menstrual disorders and after childbirth. The leaves also relieve edema and promote diuresis. Studies on the alkaloid leonurine revealed that this chemical stimulates the uterus of rabbits, cats, dogs, and guinea pigs.

Combining groups of Chinese herbs, also called formulas, are more advantageous than single herb remedies since the herbs work synergistically for conditions like menstrual cramps. The Cochran study also said the herbal remedies were also significantly better in relieving debilitating cramps and other symptoms than a hot water bottle. With promising overall findings, Chinese herbs overall, whether tailored, yielded better pain relief than traditional pharmaceutical therapies.

See: Prevent Menstrual Migraines & Hormonal Headaches

Studies in Acupuncture for period pain & cramps

Research is confirming what Chinese medicine has known all along.

- A 2015 study's findings have shown that the intensity and duration of period pain can be decreased by up to 50 percent by administering the acupuncture.  Dysmenorrhea is categorized into two types: primary, wherein no known health conditions can account for the debilitating cramps, and secondary, during which the pain occurs because of a diagnosed disorder, such as endometriosis or esophageal fibroids. The study headed by Australian researchers tests the effectiveness of acupuncture treatments in relieving period pain. The acupuncture treatment decreased menstrual pain intensity and duration after three months of therapy and lasted for up to a year. The effect of changing the mode of stimulation or frequency of treatment on menstrual pain was not significant.

- In another 2018 study, acupuncture and herbs outperform pain killers such as ibuprofen for menstrual pain relief. Jiangxi Maternal Health Hospital researchers conducted a controlled clinical trial comparing the effects of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine versus aspirin to relieve menstrual-related abdominal and lumbosacral pain. Acupuncture, combined with Chinese herbal medicine, produced a 91.7% total effective rate. Herbal medication monotherapy had an 86.7% total effective rate. Ibuprofen monotherapy produced a 73.3% total effective rate. The findings suggest that acupuncture combined with Chinese herbal medicine is more effective than ibuprofen to relieve dysmenorrhea.

See: Effect of Ginger (Zingiber officinale) on Heavy Menstrual Bleeding: A Placebo-Controlled, Randomized Clinical Trial.

References

1.  Zhu X, Proctor M, Bensoussan A, Wu E, Smith CA. Chinese herbal medicine for primary dysmenorrhoea. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2008 Apr 16;(2): CD005288. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD005288.pub3. PMID: 18425916.

2. Chinese Medicine Program at the University of Western Sydney.1 (fourth issue for 2007 of The Cochrane Library).

3.  Yin, J. Modern Research and Clinical Application of Chinese  Materia Medica (2) pp 218-219 Beijing: Chinese  Medical Classic Press.

4. Iacovides S, Avidon I, Baker FC. What we know about primary dysmenorrhea today: a critical review. Hum Reprod Update. 2015 Nov-Dec;21(6):762-78. doi: 10.1093/humupd/dmv039. Epub 2015 Sep 7. PMID: 26346058.

5. Peng Yao (2018) “Clinical Study on the Treatment of Primary Dysmenorrhea with Acupuncture Combined with Huo Xue Hua Yu Decoction” Jiangxi Traditional Chinese Medicine Vol.49 (430) pp.53-55.


See: I am pain free after 3-4 months of Acupuncture sessions for menstrual cramps

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