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TCM's view on menstrual cramps

Many women experience menstrual cramps, ranging from mild discomfort to severe pain, during their monthly cycle. While over-the-counter pain medications can provide temporary relief, they do not address the root cause of the issue.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offers a natural alternative for managing menstrual cramps by targeting the underlying causes of the pain.

TCM can effectively relieve menstrual cramps and promote overall wellness, offering women the opportunity to enjoy a higher quality of life.

TCM considers menstrual cramps a result of Qi and Blood imbalance, affecting vital organs like Kidney, Liver, and Spleen.

Qi and Blood deficiency

The Chong and Ren meridians are two important channels in the female body responsible for regulating the menstrual cycle and nourishing the reproductive system. The Chong meridian nourishes the uterus, while the Ren meridian regulates the menstrual cycle. When Qi and Blood are deficient, they are unable to provide proper nourishment to the Chong and Ren meridians, compromising their functions and leading to menstrual cramps. The Spleen is also an important organ in TCM, as it helps digest food and produce Qi and Blood for vital body functions. Irregular meals and overconsumption of cold drinks or cooling foods can lead to Spleen deficiency. This affects the Spleen's function in producing Qi and Blood for the body, resulting in insufficient Blood for menstruation, leading to light flow, irregular periods, and menstrual cramps.

Liver Qi stagnation

In TCM, the liver plays a crucial role in regulating the female menstrual cycle. It is responsible for controlling the flow of Qi and Blood throughout the body, including the Chong and Ren meridians, which nourish and regulate the reproductive system. When Liver Qi becomes stagnant, it can lead to imbalances that result in painful periods, irregular periods, and blood clots, which can hinder a healthy menstrual cycle.

Cold and Dampness

Cold and Dampness are common pathogenic factors that can affect the body and cause various health issues, including menstrual cramps, according to TCM. They obstruct the flow of Qi in the body and compromise the circulation of blood, leading to the formation of blood clots and other menstrual irregularities.

Kidney Qi deficiency

The kidney organ system plays a critical role in regulating the menstrual cycle and promoting reproductive health in women. When kidney Qi is deficient, it can lead to imbalances that result in irregular periods, painful periods, and heavy bleeding. Kidney Qi deficiency can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetic predisposition and chronic illness. However, traditional Chinese medicine also recognizes the role of lifestyle factors in the development of Kidney Qi deficiency. Chronic stress and a poor diet are some contributing factors.

Our holistic advice

  • Regular exercise - exercise moves blood and qi in Chinese medicine and so helps to counteract blood and qi stagnation. In more conventional terms exercise increases endorphins which are your body’s natural pain killer.

  • An acupuncture and moxibustion treatment can really help your cramps. The most important point we use is Spleen 6, which is on the inner calf. In Chinese medicine, this point moves blood and relieves pain.

  • Taking the correct Chinese herbs for your pattern can bring relief.

  • There have been several studies into Omega 3 fatty acids which have been shown to improve menstrual cramping.

  • Magnesium, which helps with blood flow and relaxes muscles, has been shown in at least one study to help relieve dysmenorrhea.

  • Taking Vitamin E (200g) for 3 days before the period is due until the 3rd day of the period helped to relieve cramps in a large Iranian study. This is because the cramps result from the release of substances called prostaglandins. Their purpose is to make the uterus contract in order to expel the uterine lining. Vitamin E can inhibit the formation of prostaglandins and therefore help menstrual cramps.

  • Massage may be helpful. You can massage yourself by placing your hands over your navel. Begin making small circles in a clockwise direction. This should be done slowly with moderate pressure for about a minute, and then gradually increase the size of the circling until you are rubbing the entire abdomen.

  • A hot pack or hot water bottle on the lower abdomen can soothe cramps.

  • A warm bath with aromatherapy oils such as lavender, chamomile, and clary sage is soothing and these oils are known for their ability to relieve cramps.



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