Important notice in the beginning: Don’t use these recommendations if you are experiencing heavy bleeding during your period or if the pain worsens by heat.
I had been suffering from dysmenorrhoea for years, ever since my periods started. I had a moment of rest after giving birth, but then everything started again. Conventional methods recommended by gynaecology (hormone therapy) are unacceptable to me for many reasons. When I started to study TCM in 2007, I suddenly spotted the light at the end of the tunnel. Things started to change. Although slowly.
From the point of TCM the Liver, Penetrating Vessel and Directing Vessel are responsible for the physiology of menstruation. For a normal period to occur, Blood must be plentiful and move properly. Proper movement of blood depends on the free flow of liver Chi.
Differentiation and treatment
Although there is more than one type of dysmenorrhoea, the general principle of treatment is to regulate Chi and Blood, dissipate the cold, clearing heat and/or tonifying. The treatment method depends on the part of the menstrual cycle. I would like to concentrate on the time during the period when the most important is to move blood and stop the pain. Blood stagnation is the most important pathological condition causing dysmenorrhoea. At other times of the cycle, one should treat the root of problems. such as blood deficiency.
To get rid of menstrual pain permanently, one needs a comprehensive approach and patience. In any menstrual problems, it takes at least three cycles to expect any change. The prospects are more than good. Both acupuncture and herbs give great results. Needless to say, If you are suffering from pain during menstruation, it would be to wise to visit a practitioner of Chinese medicine in person to help you find an individual solution. However, I would like to offer you several types of immediate relief from pain. I hope they will benefit you.
Safflower Mulled Wine
As I have written in my post about wine from the TCM point of view, in China different kinds of wine are not just a beverage but also the base for various medicinal decoctions. Safflower, also known as “false saffron” (Carthamus tinctorius) revives the blood flow, removes the blood clots and stops the pain. Making of safflower wine is pretty easy.
Place approx. 30g of safflower in 200 ml of strong rice wine and slowly simmer under the lid for a few minutes. The temperature should stay slightly below the boiling point. Be sure to use non-metallic pot. Alternatively, instead of the rice wine, you can use red wine. If the pain occurs, take 50ml of warm decoction.
Another recipe contains the combination of Safflower and Angelica sinensis, commonly known as “female ginseng”.
Do not confuse it with Angelica Archangelica.
Soak 20g of Angelica sinensis root and 10g of Safflower in 150 ml of rice wine or brandy for 48 hours. Strain and take 30ml three times a day. This decoction is used not just in dysmenorrhoea but also treats menstrual irregularity and supports fertility.
What to avoid
Nobody doubts that green tea is healthy. However, if you drink it too much, you can experience abdominal pain caused by the cold nature of the tea. Excessive drinking of tea probably causes a common occurrence of menstrual pain in Japanese women. You do not have to give up drinking tea, because its beneficial effects are countless. Its cooling nature can be scaled down, for example, by slices of ginger. However, if you often feel cold in your limbs, during cold weather, in winter or during your period or if you are experiencing abdominal pain after ingesting cold foods, avoid drinking green tea. At least temporarily.
While a reasonable amount of exercise supports the movement of Chi and Blood, excessive physical exertion can make the pain worse. I remember that when I was in primary school, post-communist gym teachers thought that every pain could be endured and they didn’t have the slightest understanding. I should note that most teachers were women, though most of them did not even look like that. Even modern research in Western medicine shows that exaggerated physical activity in girls during menstruation may lead to various gynaecological diseases, such as endometriosis, in later years. It is also important to avoid unnecessary stress and emotional strain which causes cramping and sometimes kinking of liver Chi. This is often the cause of menstrual pain.
I’m aware that the menstrual pain should be treated by a combination of herbs and acupuncture. One of the most important points for dysmenorrhoea treatment is CV4 (Conception Vessel) which is located 2 cun above pubic symphysis. I don’t want to bother you with anatomy or Chinese medicine measurements. This video shows clearly where exactly you can find that point.
Acupoints should be used with needles only by acupuncturists or Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) professionals. However, anyone may use them safely for acupressure. When the pain occurs, gently massage the above-described acupuncture point.
I have a very good experience with Jasmine essential oil. It induces euphoria and optimism, acts as an antidepressant and also an aphrodisiac, supports labour contractions and relieves pain during menstruation. It helps in upper respiratory diseases, stimulates heart activity. You can put a few drops into a diffuser or you can massage the point mentioned above with essential oil diluted in a carrier oil (almond oil, St. John’s wort oil, or ordinary olive oil). It is up to your choice.
This is a list of a few useful tips I hope will at least partially help to relieve pain. However, as I have already mentioned, chronic menstrual pain is usually only mitigated and requires a systematic and long-term solution. I suggest you visit a TCM expert who will surely find the optimal solution for you. Sometimes, the treatment is pretty simple. Unfortunately, for example in the case of endometriosis, you need to be much more patient.
If you are interested in Chinese medicine’s approach to gynaecological problems or the making of other medicinal wines, check out these books.
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