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Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) & Chinese medicine

Acupuncture for pms pain on the lower abdomen
Acupuncture for symptoms of pms

In Chinese medicine, PMS isn't seen as a random occurrence but rather a coherent set of symptoms that indicates imbalance in the body. Chinese medicine identifies patterns of imbalance and addresses them with acupuncture and Chinese herbs to improve not only the PMS symptoms, but overall physical and emotional health as well.

Chinese medicine operates on the principle of Qi (energy) flowing through channels called meridians. Stress, poor diet, lack of movement and poor sleep can disrupt this flow, leading to stagnation of Liver Qi which manifests as irritability, depression, breast discomfort, bloating, loose bowels or constipation, headaches and other premenstrual symptoms. Additionally, imbalances in blood quality and flow can be caused by Spleen Qi weakness leading to digestive issues, and involvement of the heart in emotional fluctuations are common in PMS.

A review registered with “PROSPERO” registration number CRD42018109724 reported an “effectiveness of acupuncture in treating PMS compared with medicine and sham acupuncture”. There is a growing body of research to show how acupuncture does improve the symptoms of PMS. Another study conducted by Gao Mingzhou 'Traditional Chinese medicine on treating premenstrual syndrome and premenstrual dysphoric disorder' concluded that their study "inform[ed] about the effectiveness and safety of TCM in PMS/PMDD management".

In order to support PMS symptoms, it's best to eat a diet rich in vegetables (especially green, leafy vegetables), whole grains and protein with every meal, and to manage stress and expectations. This might include incorporating regular exercise, even a little stroll after a meal can yield good results over time. Some form of activity that raises the heart rate a few times a week (it can even be a boogie in your lounge room!) enhances blood circulation and notably alleviates PMS symptoms.

Emotional distress and energetic disharmony are closely intertwined in Chinese medicine. Whether it's explosive outbursts or repressed emotions, they disrupt the Qi flow in channels associated with PMS. Similarly, imbalances like Liver Qi stagnation contribute to emotional tension and depression. Stress disrupts hormonal equilibrium, exacerbating PMS symptoms. Hence, it's crucial to adopt stress-reducing practices that suit individual preferences. Consistent activities like yoga, meditation, dance, bush walking in nature or simply carving out quiet time aids in restoring emotional and physical balance.

In our busy lives I personally don’t think there’s enough emphasis on non doing. I've realised that simply sitting in bed with a cup of tea and staring out the window or lying down on the carpet and just noticing how my body wants to gentle move and sway can be a good start for finding my centre again instead of rushing out the door to make it to the next yoga class. The lead up to our period can be an intensely overwhelming time, where things we were able to do with ease earlier in the month seem unfathomable and our body is protesting for rest. So, my invitation to you is to find a window and take a moment. Turn your phone off, get someone to take the kids out if that’s relevant to you and bask in the non doing...with a little acupuncture thrown into the mix for good measure :)

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