Meet Jennifer. Jennifer is lucky. She doesn’t have menstrual cycle problems. No painful cramps. No excessive bloating. Jennifer’s flow is normal, and her energy and mood is stable.
Meet Stacy. Her experience is the opposite. Almost every menstrual cycle involves painful cramps, belly bloating and either scant or excessive bleeding. Sometimes, Stacy even experiences clotting. As expected, suffering through irregular and painful periods causes Stacy to be fatigued and dispirited.
Both Jennifer and Stacy regularly exercise. Jennifer is particularly fond of yoga and Tai Chi while Stacy enjoys CrossFit classes. They also both eat relatively healthy. Jennifer cooks lots of soup and stew while Stacy eats lots of salad; both Jennifer and Stacy try to avoid fast food and snacks with added sugars.
The monthly cycle should always be painless
Why do Jennifer and Stacy have drastically different menstrual cycles? Is it merely fate that Jennifer experiences mostly problem-free menstruation? Is Stacy the victim of bad menstrual luck?
Without doubt, constitution (for example, if you run hot or cold) does play some part. But regardless of your constitution, there are things you can do to support yourself during your menstrual cycle and be more like Jennifer.
What Does Chinese Medicine Say About The Menstrual Cycle?
Painful cramps might be a common experience for many women. But that doesn’t mean it’s normal. Same goes for headaches. Whether related to menstruation or not, millions of people get headaches, but headaches are not normal. When there is perfect Yin-Yang harmony (or ‘homeostasis’ in western medicine), there is an absence of symptoms.
However, because of lifestyle choices and stress (financial, work, environmental, emotional, physical), many women lack Yin-Yang balance. The monthly cycle should always be problem-free, accompanied by a healthy, rich flow of blood, without any clots.
Problem Periods: A TCM Explanation
Stress management is vital for every person’s health. And for women like Stacy, it’s even more important. That’s because according to Chinese medicine theory, stress and its associated negative emotions such as anger and irritability causes Liver depression.
The Liver is the Chinese medicine organ that’s strongly influenced during the monthly cycle. In fact, the physiological function of the uterus is quite affected by the Liver. This is because Liver controls energy and smooth blood flow. It also stores blood. But stress of any kind can cause Qi stagnation. When Qi stagnates, vital energy is impeded and can’t reach other organs and tissues.
And not only is energy negatively impacted, so is blood flow. That’s because Qi moves Blood.
For some women, a simple change of diet may greatly improve the monthly cycle. In the west, salads are considered very healthy. With the ever-increasing popularity of vegetarian and vegan diets, more people are consuming raw vegetables.
However, from a traditional Chinese medicine perspective, raw vegetables have a cooling effect. They have the potential to obstruct Qi flow, especially in the Spleen, which is the system responsible for transforming nutrients into Qi, according to TCM. The meridians of Spleen, along with those of Liver run through the pelvis. When Qi is stuck or insufficient, pain can result. (Spleen dysfunction can result in excess menstrual blood flow.)
Thus, try to avoid eating lots of raw veggies in the couple days leading up to menstruation and at least the first couple days of menstruation. It’s also important to relax during this time. One reason Jennifer may not have problem cycles is because she engages in renewing activities such as Tai Chi. Stacy on the other hand prefers much more strenuous exercise, which is stressful to the body; the body does not distinguish between types of stress … stress is stress.
Chinese Medicine for Menstrual Cycle Support
In addition to diet and stress management, Chinese herbs may also help support the cycle.
MensesEase regulates Qi, thereby resolving Blood stagnation and “cold accumulation” in the lower abdomen. MensesEase warms the abdomen and disperses cold.
If during your cycle you experience occasional tiredness, sweating, or need respiratory support, our formula, LadiesTonic may help. Based on a centuries-old traditional Chinese medicine that was once accessible only by the rich and famous of ancient China, LadiesTonic builds Qi, which in turn, nourishes the Blood.
Some Chinese medicine formulas have a few herbs. But LadiesTonic is one of the most complex—it contains 20 different herbs. It’s a tonic for the Liver, Spleen and Kidney organs (the latter of which also contains meridians that are located in the pelvis).
For feeling cold
As mentioned, constitutional type may have a part to play in experiencing challenging cycles. If you’re the type that runs cold, you may benefit from WarmMenses. This formula also contains lots of unique herbal ingredients (18). WarmMenses may be especially beneficial if you have cold sensation and discomfort in the lower abdomen as well as other symptoms.
For abdominal support
Abdo StasisClear may help if during your cycle to support your abdominal area and digestion.
For Pre-Cycle Stress Management
And to help manage stress and prevent premenstrual tension, which to reiterate, is very important in not having problem periods, our formula EaseTonic or EaseTonic Plus may help.
For more information on our menstrual formulas, visit activeherb.com/menstrual