Your liver is responsible for the smooth flow of blood and qi (energy) throughout your body. Because the Liver controls the tendons of the body it is the liver/gallbladder system that keeps the body relaxed at rest and strong and active at work. The liver opens to the eyes and manifests on the finger nails. The energy of the liver is most active in the spring time, wind is its pathogen, and anger is its emotion. In Chinese Medicine we are always looking at relationships and so it is also important to note that the kidney is the mother of the liver and the liver controls the spleen. If the liver is out of balance chances are the kidneys and spleen also have disharmony as well.
Many western women believe that PMS and Menopausal symptoms like hot flashes come with the territory of being a women when in fact these are simply your body's way of telling you that there is disharmony that needs to be corrected. When circulation of blood and qi does not flow smoothly it becomes stagnated causing a variety of physical ailments. When it comes to a woman's cycle it should be aligned with nature, ideally following the rhythms of the moon cycles. Most people know that when women live together their cycles come at the same time. A healthy period would follow a regular cycle with NO PMS symptoms such as bloating, cramps, breast tenderness, fatigue, depression, low back pain or cravings. Most times paying attention to a women's cycle can give an acupuncturist all the data they need for how the rest of the body is functioning.
Signs that liver qi stagnation are impacting your cycle might include scanty, sticky dark red or purple menses with a delayed cycle, distending pain in the abdomen, depression and/or irritability, stuffiness in the chest and tender breasts.
Acupuncture looks to free course the liver qi to improve the over all circulation of qi and blood in the body. What is most important to look at when bringing the body back to harmony is that these imbalances probably didn't happen over night and some women start their period like this from having liver qi stagnation as a constitutional factor from childhood. It may take several cycles of acupuncture and herbs until the root cause of the imbalance is corrected. Especially when it comes to imbalances of a women's cycle it is important to remain consistent or old habits will creep back quickly.
In our fast paced, high stress society we are used to instant results, acupuncture offers lasting results while cultivating patience. If you go through 1 round of treatments and your period is corrected that is great but if you discontinue treatments too soon the stagnation will not have been cleared away on the deepest level, allowing it simply to come back, making that first round of treatment ineffective. Most people who don't find results from acupuncture are not consistent with their treatment or do not come enough times. Think of acupuncture like you would an advil or an antibiotic. If you take the recommended dosage of advil for an ailment it will only last for so long and then that ailment will likely return and you will take another advil or increase the dosage, you probably wouldn't take one advil and discontinue use because it didn't give the results you wanted on the first try. You also wouldn't complete a course of antibiotics prescribed by your doctor because the infection would either come back (most likely even worse) or you would become immune to the drug. Bob Flaws explains how acupuncture has been practiced over the last 5000 years in this article.
We like to think of health like a savings and checking account. If you are overdrawn in your account you are not in harmony. If you come for acupuncture and resolve the superficial issue you might have put a little money in the bank, but how long will that last you until your in the negative again? Just like any good financial advisor would encourage you to have a hearty safety net in your savings account, you acupuncturist will encourage you to build up your reserves so that you can stay healthy. When your child bearing years flow smoothly and you are healthy your next life transition will be a natural smooth crossing as well.
While most of us have a busy life and health concerns that don't seem serious this is exactly when they should be addressed. We'd much rather keep you healthy then work through years and years worth of layered dis-ease. The saying goes, "if you don't make time for your health today, you will make time for illness later."
Sarah Zender LAc
Whole Health Acupuncture 50 Turner Ave Elk Grove Village IL 60007 www.wholehealthprograms.com