In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), we say that a woman's period should come out of nowhere and end out of nowhere, without ANY symptoms before, during, or after it. Even our most skeptical patients - those with severe mood swings and menstrual cramps, for instance - are often amazed at how their symptoms subside with regular acupuncture treatments. If you're not able to receive acupuncture, or are looking for other natural ways to balance your reproductive system between treatments, these simple adjustments may help!
Limit Cold Foods
TCM believes cold foods to be hard on the digestive system, but we also say that the reproductive system shouldn't be cold either. Avoid ice cream, popsicles, and other cold foods when you're on your period to keep everything flowing well, and consider limiting cold foods throughout your cycle if you're the type that feels cold all the time.
Massage Acupressure Points
PMS often stems from energy stagnation or things not moving well, so stimulating acupoints that move your energy alleviate cramping, low back pain, breast pain, and many other symptoms. We've listed some of our favorites here; you can copy and paste the point name into a Google images search to find diagrams showing its exact location.
Large Intestine 4 (LI4): the back of the hand in the meaty spot between the thumb and index finger
Liver 3 (LV3): the top of the foot between the big toe and second toe
Spleen 6 (SP6): on the lower leg just behind the shin about three inches above the inner ankle
Spleen 10 (SP10): on the thigh about two inches above the top inner corner of the knee cap
Do not stimulate these points if there's any possibility that you may be pregnant!
Apply Heat Topically
In physics heat produces movement, and the body's reaction to the application of heat is no different. If you're feeling heaviness, cramping, or pain in the lower abdomen, applying heat to the area can get things moving. (Of course, symptoms due to Cold in the Uterus will also be improved by heat.) If you tend to run cold all of the time, you can also apply heat to the lower back or lower abdomen to harmonize your body's temperature.
When it comes to heating apparatuses, there are a few options. An electric heating pad may be the easiest, but it needs to be plugged in. If you don't have a comfortable space near an outlet a microwavable heating pad might work better for you. OR you can use a sock and put some rice in it and heat it in the microwave for a do-it-at-home solution. Or you may prefer a simple, old-fashioned hot water bottle. Don't hesitate to wrap any of them in a towel before applying them to your skin if you worry that the heat is too intense.
There are essential oil blends designed specifically for period relief, such as Young Living's Dragon Time,and single essential oils like Peppermint nd Frankincense may help as well. Some women also use essential oils to regulate their hormones, which can involve a continual application or cycling. We usually recommend cycling, or applying oils that benefit estrogen before ovulation and oils that benefit progesterone after ovulation, unless you know that you are very deficient in one or the other. Essential oils with effects on estrogen include Geranium and Clary Sage, and natural progesterone boosters like YL's Progesterone Plus Serum are often derived from wild yam.
It's very important to listen to your body's response to hormone-influencing essential oils. Always consult your doctor if you're in any doubt about a hormonal product's safety for your particular health circumstances.
Keep in mind that all of these solutions are natural so changes to your menstrual cycle will take time. You may want to track your symptoms and their severity in an app or journal so that it's easier to compare cycles to each other. Don't be discouraged if you have a "bad month" after seeing improvements - stress, diet, and other factors also influence menstruation - and don’t wait to schedule an appointment with Dr. Anne for Acupuncture because it can help you!