PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome), Dang Gui and "blood"
A 30 years old client came in for consultation on PMS.
History: five years.
Symptoms: anxiety, difficulty with sleep, tired, mood swing, constipation, abdominal bloating and cramp, clot in blood.
Although acupuncture works well for the condition, the client is afraid of needles. A 45 min acupressure session was given and five days of Chinese herbs were prescribed instead. The herbs were consumed five days and on a daily basis before the menstrual cycle. To the patient's surprise, the above symptoms significantly improved. She described it was the best period over the last five years. Also, on the same night and next morning after the acupressure treatment, the client had two consecutive bowel movements (She had been constipated for 5 days).
Although response of any treatment could vary greatly from one to another, Chinese herbs are generally effective for PMS without adverse reactions or discomforts, given a correct diagnosis and the properly selected herbs.
Chinese herbs are gentler comparing to the modern way of treatments for PMS, which may involve intake of antidepressants and/or hormonal medications. There are often known or unknown side effects associated with pharmaceutical drugs.
One of the herbal ingredients I use is Dang Gui. Dang Gui literally means "time to come home" in Chinese. In the ancient time, men would go to work or war while women would stay at home thinking or worrying about their partners. Such longing may lead to different kinds of gynecological issues (PMS used to be thought of as an imaginary condition). Therefore, the herb is given the name Dang Gui to comfort the women psychologically, besides its actual physiological benefits to women's health. Dang Gui is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to nourish and invigorate the blood (increase blood count and promote circulation), regulate menses and relieves pain, moisten the intestines and move the bowels. This herb is known as the number one blood tonic in TCM and is often used for blood deficient conditions, with possible symptoms such as dry and itchy skin, flaking and dandruff, pale nail and facial complexion, brittle hair or nail, dry stool or constipation, dizziness, headache, insomnia, hair thinning or loss, dull hair color, palpitation and blurry vision.
In TCM philosophy, men is mainly made of Yang and Qi, and women is mainly made of Yin and blood. Therefore, women are more prone to blood conditions. However, on the other hand, women are also richer in blood than man. Therefore, women in general live longer and have more and longer lasting hair than men (as blood and Yin is more of a physical existence than Qi and Yang and hair is considered the physical manifestation of blood).
As you may probably tell now the concept of "blood" doesn't just mean blood cell count, but also refer to a complex network of different systems, mainly the cardiovascular, digestive and reproductive ones. In Chinese medicine terms, blood is closely connected to the liver, heart, spleen, kidney and their associated channels.