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Menstrual Cramps Got You Down? A Personal Story of Hope!

by DA Wiley, L.Ac.

If you know someone who would benefit from this article, pass it on!

I remember some years ago, before I found Chinese Medicine, scheduling my life around my menstrual cycle. I dreaded the day I would wake up in the middle of the night and know that the next 24 hours were going to be filled with stabbing, abdominal cramps. Mine were so bad that I took medication every month, which helped some, but I still found myself re-scheduling events in my life around my period. Getting frustrated, hopeless and seeing many more periods in the years ahead, I followed a friend's advice to try acupuncture. My acupuncturist was knowledgeable and reassuring, putting me at ease, and I found the treatments fairly pain free and relaxing.

She told me about Chinese medicine and the Five Elements, and how for me the energy of the Wood Element became stuck and twisted, unable to bend, creating pain. Just like the bamboo in the forest, we need to stay flexible and fluid. In my case, the Wood meridians were a bit knotted up in the uterus and the treatments focused on moving out that stagnation. AND – IT WORKED! What a huge change it made in my life to be rid of all that monthly pain!

Have you ever made plans to go out hiking only to find that you wake up with horrible menstrual cramps? You check the calendar and sure enough, there's that black X marking the first day of menses. After finding your meds and the hot water bottle, you sink back into bed, depressed and grumpy. All of a sudden your world has gotten very small and will stay that way for a day or two, until the pain goes away just in time to go back to work on Monday.

As you heard in my personal story this magical medicine called acupuncture has helped lots of people find relief from that monthly pain. In understanding what makes this medicine so effective is that it goes to the source of why people have cramps. In my case, my acupuncturist related it to the Wood being bound up. In Five Element Theory, sometimes there is not enough Water to keep things flowing, or there may be too little Fire and everything has gone cold and contracted. Chinese Medicine practitioners look at how your body is related to nature, and also how you are responding as an individual. The good news is that menstrual pain is often easy to treat and the benefits are lasting!

Patients with horrible cramps need to focus on getting movement in their lower abdomen. Here are some good tips to keep in mind from the Chinese Elders:

-Keep your belly warm just before you menstruate. First, it helps to keep track of your start dates as closely as you can. Several days prior to the discomfort, keep a heating pad available at your desk when working. Take warm baths before you go to bed. Avoid being out in cold weather unless you are wrapped up in plenty of layers or are going to exercise enough to stay warm while out.

-Apply a castor oil pack to move out any stuckness in the lower abdomen.

-Self massage techniques, breathing qi gong meditation and diet recommendations will help move out the pain, rebuild the strength of the digestion and balance out the hormones.

In Chinese medicine, there are several different syndromes that are associated with this imbalance and a simple interview with tongue and pulse diagnosis will reveal the one that fits you best. Once the detective work is done, you would have a treatment to help you relax and to relieve the stagnation. You'll also get advice on the best formula to take and recommendations on how to proceed with treatment frequency over the next few months.

You will enjoy retrieving all that time lost when you were feeling rotten. Remember all those black Xs that plagued you in the past? Start filling up your calendar with all your important work tasks as well as marking some long overdue time for play on your days off.

I invite you to come in for a free 15-minute evaluation or to schedule an appointment. From my own personal success and my love of helping people, it is a personal pleasure to be of service to women in this way!

You can reach me at (503) 701-8766, and our front office managers can get you scheduled.

Hiking Suggestion – Go out and walk along the bamboo trail at the Hoyt Arboretum. When you're there notice how flexible the bamboo is and envision your cycle being that way also.