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Meno means moon, arche means beginning, pause means ending, and menses means monthly. These words used to describe a women’s monthly and life cycles come from Greek. They conger up an image of a smooth cyclical flow from month to month and from one stage of life to another. It is this natural monthly cycle that is central to every woman’s life.
The traditional medicine of China is one of the world’s oldest systems of natural and holistic healthcare. Chinese Medicine arose out of an intimate study of nature, and the way nature manifests within the human being. Nature is in constant change: day and night, the different seasons, the ebb and flow of the tides, the phases of the moon. Chinese Medicine refers to these natural cycles as the “cycles of yin and yang.” Within each woman, the menstrual cycle is a macrocosm of nature’s cycles because every month her womb regenerates the fertile ground for conception.
A key component of Chinese Medicine is the ability to create health and well-being by balancing the cycles of yin and yang within the body, mind, and spirit. Yin and yang are not two static qualities but two aspects of all of existence that are flowing into and out of each other constantly and smoothly, changing one into the other again and again, creating and recreating life. Through the ability to harmonize and balance these natural cycles within our bodies, Traditional Chinese Medicine has been treating menstrual conditions, infertility, and menopause effectively and naturally for hundreds of years.
How does Chinese Medicine treat menstrual disorders?
For women who have peaceful menstrual periods, it is a blessing. However, for many women, the stresses of our modern lifestyles have had a negative impact on the internal systems that regulate their natural cycles. For many women in this modern world, the menstrual cycle is plagued with pain, headaches, cramps, heavy bleeding, etc. and this is considered to be normal. However, a healthy and peaceful menstrual cycle is what nature intended. Chinese Medicine, which is based on the philosophy of harmonious cyclical change, views creating harmony within the menstrual cycle as a key component for the health of every woman. Through creating harmony and balance within each individual, Chinese Medicine seeks to create harmony and balance within society, and the natural world in which we live.
It is the activities of hypothalamic, pituitary, and ovarian endocrine axis that produce the hormones that generate menstruation and govern fertility. Modern medicine considers this process to be largely governed by the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Modern medicine primarily treats female disorders by prescribing hormones, as is the case in menopausal hormone replacement therapy, many menstrual conditions, birth control, and infertility treatment.
The holistic paradigm of Traditional Chinese Medicine regards treatment with synthetic hormones to be detrimental in all but the most severe cases. This is because anything that is added to the body in amounts in excess of what the body can naturally produce and/or tolerate, will become toxic and cause complications. This can result in unwanted side effects, such as those often seen in Hormone Replacement Therapy.
Chinese Medicine considers estrogen to be the physical expression of yin, and progesterone to be the physical expression of yang, and recognizes that both of these substances are produced by a complex process that ultimately involves the whole body. In order to produce healthy hormones in the proper amounts that YOUR body requires, all of the systems of your body need to be operating at an optimum level. When this occurs, your body will naturally do what is necessary to create health and well-being.
In Traditional Chinese Gynecology, the treatments are often designed to work with the different phases of the menstrual cycle. By identifying which phase of the cycle is out of balance, specific treatments are given at different times of the cycle. In this way, the treatment can be tailored to address the needs of each woman, balancing “hypothalamic - pituitary - ovarian axis”, and returning her body to its own natural rhythm.
How does Chinese Medicine do this?
Chinese Medicine is grounded in the understanding that all of the body’s physiological systems, organs, tissues, cells, etc, must work together in harmony. In this way, the body is able to produce the substances needed for nourishment and to promote the functional activities of our body, mind, emotions, and spirit. Chinese Medicine works to balance, tune, and harmonize the various individual parts, as well as the whole system so that the body will function at a more optimum state. Consequently, the body which is brought into a state of optimal health, will be able to discern on its own, just what it needs and when it is needed. Rather than forcing the body to react, Chinese Medicine stimulates the natural and inherent healing qualities within, to re-establish health and well being. This process can be compared to a well organized symphonic orchestra. When the orchestra is well tuned and conducted, it will manifest beautiful music. If there is disharmony in any component of the orchestra, the whole sound will be negatively affected. By tuning the various aspects of the orchestra to their optimum potential, you achieve a magnificence that is greater than the sum of the parts. And this is the same with our human body, mind, and spirit. It is this holistic view that differentiates Chinese Medicine from modern western medicine.
Chinese Medicine brings harmony and balance to the flow of yin and yang, estrogen and progesterone, within a woman’s body. In this way, the body can return balance and harmony to the natural flow of blood into and out of the uterus, as well as the hormonal changes, which are necessary for a healthy menstrual cycle. It is this fundamental nature of healing through creating balance and harmony which makes Chinese Medicine so effective for treating disorders of the menstrual cycle and other gynecological conditions such as endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, leukorrhea, and dysfunctional uterine bleeding, and restoring the menstrual cycle to a peaceful and harmonious rhythm.
How does Chinese Medicine treat menopause?
From menarche to menopause, the menstrual cycle creates fertility in the womb. When this process stops at menopause, the menstrual blood is now able to nourish the body. In Chinese Medicine this blood is considered to contain subtle, life giving Essence. Following menopause, a woman is now able to conserve and store this Vital Essence which nourishes her Heart and Spirit for a long and healthy life. It is the nourishment of the Heart and Spirit by this life giving Essence that supports the arrival of the “Wise Woman” archetype, which now empowers a woman to give to her community in new and creative ways as well as support and sustain her natural, inherent radiance.
Menopause is also affected by our modern, hectic, and stressful life style. As a consequence, this transition is often not as smooth as it could be. Chinese Medicine has a lot to offer at this stage of life as well. With its fundamental nature of producing balance and harmony in the hormonal and endocrine dynamics within a woman’s body, Chinese Medicine treats such symptoms as hot flashes, mood swings, and headaches, reduces stress and increases inner peace. With the strength and confidence that comes from a healthy, harmonious menopause, a woman can connect with her inner spirit and vitality, and emanate this radiance into the world around her.
In contrast to modern western medicine, Chinese Medicine nourishes the body’s hormonal, endocrine and organ systems, so that the natural wisdom of the body can express itself. For many years, the medical community in China has been using modern methods to research and improve the treatment of menstrual disorders, infertility, and menopause with Traditional Chinese Medicine. As a consequence, there are scores of published research reports demonstrating that Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine are very effective for regulating the menstrual cycle, treating infertility, and smoothing the transition through menopause. Unlike modern medicine, Chinese Medicine, having few negative side affects, provides a safe and natural treatment for many menstrual disorders.
In my work with women's health, I treat young women who are just beginning their menstrual cyle, to post menopausal women, treating conditions such as PMS, painful periods, irregular periods, infertility, and menopausal hot flashes, irritability and fatigue. I have found Chinese Medicine to be very effective for treating menstrual disorders and menopausal symptoms. Chinese Medicine works by supporting the natural wisdom of the body to manifest optimum health, well-being, and happiness. Chinese Medicine accomplishes this through natural means, which harness and focus the bountiful vitality which is inherent within every woman's body, mind and spirit.
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