Useful Chinese Medicine Modalities to Treat Dysmenorrhea

Pertaining to a recurring stomach pain, dysmenorrhea is oftentimes felt before or during menstruation. It is experienced mostly by young women around the 2nd or 3rd year after the onset of their menstruation. Dysmenorrhea is marked by menstrual pain accompanied by a pulling sensation in the inner thighs or pain in the lower back, lower stomach pain, and cramping. These symptoms may be accompanied by constipation, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and headaches. Dysmenorrhea is a common menstrual condition that affects tens of millions of young women all over the globe.

Acupuncturists can treat patients who may have suffered dysmenorrhea for the whole part of their adult life. Oftentimes the pain becomes so unbearable that sufferers go absent for work for three days each month whenever the symptoms become too severe. A lot of these people have used different types of prescription and over-the-counter pain medications to relieve them of their discomfort. A lot of them have tried acupuncture as a last resort and have found prompt relief even after only one session of treatment. Usually the acupuncturist will recommend a couple of treatments every month before the beginning of a patient’s period. An herbal remedy known as Hsue Fu, Shu Yu Tang and acupuncture treatment for three months can help to not only relieve the symptoms but completely cure the condition as well.

In Western medicine, primary dysmenorrhea refers to pain in the pelvic region that is felt due to the onset of menses. Secondary dysmenorrhea, on the other hand, refers to pain during menses that is the result of pelvic inflammatory disease, fibroids, endometriosis, or any other abnormal condition. The most commonly doctor-recommended medications for this condition are Naproxen and Ibuprofen. Stronger prescription drugs and birth-control pills can help lessen menstrual pain but they come with nasty side effects. The objectives of Western conventional modes of treatment for dysmenorrhea are to inhibit the production of prostaglandin, a hormone that is abundantly manufactured by the body during a woman’s period and to control menstrual pain.

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM, considers menstrual pain to be the result of a single or multiple factors: Liver and Kidney disharmony; Wind or Dampness; Heat retention; Blood and Qi depletion; and Obstruction of Blood and Qi. For both herbal therapy and acupuncture, treatment is designed to normalize the function of the internal organs, eliminate the excess, clear the obstruction, and tonify the depletions.

Controlling Dysmenorrhea with TCM

In TCM, pain is often a sign of a deeper root problem. This underlying cause may be a Deficiency/Depletion or an Excess. Liver and Kidney imbalance/disharmony and Qi and Blood deficiency are considered patterns of Deficiency while Wind, Dampness, and Heat Retention as well as Blockage of Qi and Blood are Excess patterns.

Obstruction of the meridians results in pain, and so does organ system imbalances/disharmony and Blood and Qi obstructions. To properly diagnose and treat the condition, the acupuncturist needs to figure out the source of the pain. If the pain is not fixed in one area, it may be an indication of a Wind pattern. A cold pattern usually generates a “Chilly” type of pain. Swollen and heavy pain denotes a pattern of Dampness. A pattern of blood Stasis would generate a sharp form of pain. Back and stomach pain can be due to Cold retention in the middle part of the body. Blood Depletion/Deficiency pattern may lead to dull pain. A pattern of heat is related to pain accompanied by redness, heat, and swelling. Leg soreness and joint pain may be due to a Depleted Kidney.

Acupuncturists usually combine herbal medicine and acupuncture to alleviate pain to accomplish these objectives:

-Tonifying the Kidneys
-Clearing the Heat
-Nourishing the Blood
-Invigorating Blood
-Moving Qi
-Removing Dampness
-Clearing cold
-Banishing Wind

Knowing the patterns that generate menstrual pain may be achieved by observing the pulse and tongue and other related symptoms and by evaluating the quality, volume, color, intensity, location, nature, and timing of the discharge and the menstrual cycle of the patient.

Basically, a sore back and pale-red and thin menses means a pattern of Liver Kidney Deficiency. Passing of dark small blood clots, stomach pain and a cold sensation means a pattern of Cold. Pain felt after the period combined with pale, red and thin menses shows a Blood and Qi pattern of Deficiency. A sensation of distention combined with stomach pain shows Qi Stagnation. Relief after menstrual blood clots have been passed means a pattern of Blood Stasis. Dark red and sticky menses indicates a pattern of Excess. Sticky menses with dark-red color indicates an Excess pattern. Relief felt when pressure is applied to the stomach shows a Deficiency pattern. Dislike to stomach pressure may means a pattern of Excess. Pain after the period ends indicates a pattern of Deficiency while a pattern of Excess is shown when pain is felt before the period begins.

Herbal Therapy for Dysmenorrhea

Acupuncture is often combined with Chinese herbal medicine for the treatment of dysmenorrhea. Herbs such as corydalis tuber and angelica may be combined with other herbs to treat menstrual pain. Listed below are the patterns most commonly diagnosed for dysmenorrhea and the herbs prescribed to resolve them:

Pattern of Kidney Liver Depletion

Signs and Symptoms: A thin but deep pulse, tongue that is dark red in color, hot flashes, a flushed face, insomnia, poor memory, tinnitus, dizziness, scarce and pale menses, sore back, and dull stomach pain after the period.

Treatment: Liver Tonic, Cronus fruit, root of white peony, and angelica (to nourish the Liver and Blood).

Pattern of Blood Qi Deficiency

Signs and Symptoms: A thin weak pulse, pale tongue, pale complexion, loose stools, tiredness, scarce and thin menses that is pale in color, and dull stomach pain that is felt after the period.

Treatment: “Qi blood Tonic” used to treat Blood Qi Depletion, rehmannia, angelica, astralagus and ginseng for tonifying Blood and Qi.

Pattern of Damp Heat

Signs and Symptoms: A rapid slippery pulse or rapid wiry pulse, yellow and sticky tongue coating, red tongue, scanty urine, sticky and yellow vaginal discharge, menses flow accompanied by a burning sensation, dark red sticky menses accompanied by blood clots, low grade fever, heat sensation in the stomach, distention and soreness in the lower back, dislike to heat, and menstruation accompanied by stomach pain.

Treatment: Damp Heat pattern requires the use of a tonic known as “Heat-Clearing Blood-Regulating Decoction.” To remove Damp Heat, peony bark and coptis herbs are used.

Pattern of Cold Dampness

Signs and Symptoms: A slippery and wiry pulse or wiry and tight pulse, white sticky or white tongue coating, cold limbs, dislike to cold, blood clots that come with dark colored menses, relief of pain with the application of warmth, and stomach pain felt during or prior to periods.

Treatment: Stagnation Ease is used to remove this type of pathological pattern. To remove Dampness from the body dry ginger, fennel seed, and bark of cinnamon are the most effective herbs since they all have warming attributes.

Pattern Deficiency Cold

Signs and Symptoms: A deep pulse, white coating in the tongue, urination that is thin, streamed and drawn out, soreness felt on the legs and lower back, scarce and pale watery menses, relief upon the application of warmth and/or pressure on the stomach, stomach pain felt during or post menstruation.

Treatment: An herbal tonic known as “Warming Menses Formula” is commonly used to treat this type of condition as well as bark of evodia and bark of cinnamon to warm the uterus and the other pelvic regions.

Pattern of Blood Stasis Pattern and Qi Stagnation

Signs and Symptoms: A strong choppy wiry pulse, purple spots on the tongue, lessened pain felt after passing blood clots, scarce, dark purple menses accompanied by blood clots, and stomach pain during and past menstruation.

Treatment: BlockageEASE tonic as well as safflower, persica seed, cinidium to nourish Blood. Tuber of cyperus, root of lindera, and fruit of aurantium are used to normalize Qi.

Using Acupuncture to Treat Dysmenorrhea in

Apart from the aforementioned herbs that can help to treat the symptoms of dysmenorrhea, acupuncture is also a very good way to resolve menstrual pain. This ancient Chinese healing art can open up the obstructions to Blood and Qi flow as well as clear the meridians and balance the affected organ systems.

Studies have revealed that acupuncture is helpful for the removal of pain. This treatment activates the production and release of natural painkilling chemicals known as endorphins. These endorphins have the ability to block the sending of pain signals to the brain and also add to the level of adrenocorticotropic hormone in the body.

Eastern Healing Solutions, LLC
10875 Grandview St #2200
Overland Park, KS 66210
(913) 549-4322

Overland Park Acupuncturist