Chinese Medicine and Women’s Health
Chinese Medicine’s greatest diagnostic tool is observation, particularly that of the tongue and pulses, to understand what is taking place inside of the body. Keeping the circulation of blood and energy flowing smoothly through out the body is what allows the body to function most optimally. Deficiency or stagnation of energy or blood can cause a break down in the body’s ability to maintain health. If energy or blood is not moving properly it can cause a break down in the body’s ability to function properly, leading often times to pain. Chinese Medicine is so profound at treating women’s issues because of this intention of balance. Symptoms that present before or during menstruation like cramps, breast tenderness, and irritability that many women consider normal is actually the body’s way of trying to send a message that an imbalance is taking place. Later in life when menopause begins hot flashes and insomnia are other so called normal processes in the eyes and bodies of western women. These experiences are not necessary and when balanced can bring about a higher quality of life without side effects or the risk of increase in getting cancer.
It is my personal experience and belief that stress impacts a women’s cycle very intimately. I don’t know one woman not impacted by stress. Women are most family’s caregivers and most women put the needs of the family before their own needs.
While going through graduate school and working full time my body began to fatigue more and more easily. I did not get quality sleep yet slept more and more because my body never got the opportunity to recover from my long days. Then my period started doing a strange thing, it would start for 10 days and then stop for 10 days and start again. I started to sleep more and function less over a 2 month period. My gynecologist did a routine exam and gave me a clean bill of health. This left me confused and frustrated because I knew I did not feel well. Fortunately, I was studying Chinese Medicine and had access to an Acupuncturist. I received weekly acupuncture treatments and took an herbal formula prescribed by my acupuncturist for a full menstrual cycle. I continued my herbs for another month after this. My bleeding stopped after my first acupuncture treatment and at the end of my month of treatment I resumed back to my normal period with no PMS symptoms before or during my cycle. This meant no breast tenderness, no cramps, no cravings, no bloating, or constipation. My sleep cycle also returned back to normal and I was able to make it through my days without napping and had energy to do more then just make it through my day; my life began to thrive again. I no longer had dizziness or fatigue and feelings of depression lifted in the first 2 weeks.
This experience also gave me a greater awareness of myself. When I am in a period of life where I have more stress I know my sleep is the first thing that is affected and leaps directly into my menstrual cycle function. Chinese Medicine is a gift that offers one the time to pay attention to what the body is saying. Everyday your body subtly tells you what it needs; the problem is if you don’t listen then your body has to start yelling for you to pay attention. The quicker you can recognize what your body is trying to say, the quicker you can return back to health. Illness starts with a single cell that is out of balance and then starts to grow quickly affecting every aspect of your body and life. The quicker the attempt of balance is made the faster the recovery process.
Acupuncture is not a silver bullet that can cure all. It is, however, a tool that can assist in the process of healing. Because the process of acupuncture takes time what can happen often times is that people slowly make other lifestyle changes. In my case I organically took some time to evaluate my diet and made it a priority to eat more mindfully. I also restarted my yoga practice that had fallen by the wayside as my life became busier and made it a point to recognize when my body was telling me I was moving past what my “best” was.
As women we are often taught to put our needs last, however if we are not functioning optimally we won’t be able to take care of everything else that needs our attention optimally either. Chinese Medicine offers a tool of empowerment where suffering in any capacity is optional.
Sarah Zender LAc
Whole Health Acupuncture
50 E Turner Ave