Written By: Christopher Buller, DTCM, R.Ac
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been addressing women’s issues since its early beginnings. For thousands of years, the practice has been rooted firmly in our relationship to the natural environment. Through these humble beginnings and to this day, it is accepted that our state of being is necessarily linked to and can be understood in qualities on display in the natural world. What we observe in our environment outwardly is in fact a reflection of the workings of our inner selves. The cyclical movements of nature teach us about who we are and how we should live. Such knowledge has led us to identify both patterns that reflect health and patterns that reflect dis-ease. TCM is a system of medicine that serves to characterize these patterns and guide us toward treatments that nurture them accordingly. Therapies such as acupuncture, herbal medicines, massage, cupping, and moxibustion were developed to serve as tools to use towards balancing patterns reflecting ill health.
Importantly, women have an inherent connection to natural cycles. While there are many human physiological experiences that are clearly cyclical (sleep and digestion, for example), there is nothing more sacred to the human experience than the nature of a woman’s reproductive cycle. The evolution of this cycle was discussed in the earliest writings of Chinese Medicine, The Nei Jing, a classic that dates back more than two millenia. Here the language used to describe the phases of the female experience connect with the sacred. Since ancient times the onset of menses has been referred to as Tian Gui, or the coming of Heavenly Water. Implied in this is the understanding and knowledge that menstrual blood is more than just blood. The end of the fertile phase of a woman’s life is referred to as Second Spring, a term that implies new beginnings. What is most interesting about these terms through TCM is not that not only are they are beautiful and optimistic, but that this beauty and optimism exists within a larger framework of knowledge. TCM as a practice is the application of this knowledge.
A visit to your acupuncturist trained in Traditional Chinese Medicine will involve treatments that take into account many subtle symptoms to help establish patterns of treatment. Treatments are relatively gentle; indeed, most people experience a deep sense of relaxation and a tension release in both specific and general areas of the body. Acupuncture helps to increase blood circulation, decrease inflammation, reduce pain and muscle tension, calm the nervous system, stimulate hypo-active physiology and calm hyper-active physiology. All of this makes acupuncture extremely effective for treating a wide variety of systemic and local imbalances in the body.
The use of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture to treat women’s issues has a long history. Here is a list of some of those treatable imbalances:
1. Irregularities in the Menstrual Cycle: This includes heavy, light, inconsistent or painful periods. Spotting, amennhorea and PMS.
2. Issues during pregnancy: Morning Sickness, hip pain, headaches, anxiety, edema, high risk pregnancy and more
3. Issues after childbirth: Depression, joint pain, decreased milk flow, sweating and more
4. Fertility Issues: Whether used as a primary treatment or in conjunction with modern western treatment, there is undeniable evidence that acupuncture significantly increases the likelihood of conception. This has become a very popular treatment in recent years.