Are Herbs Necessary to Add to Acupuncture for Menstrual Problems?
Does Every Hormone Imbalance or Menstrual Problem Require Herbs for Successful Treatment?
I get this question frequently enough that I thought I’d take the time to answer it in writing.
The short answer is yes.
The longer answer is usually.
Treatment of Women’s Health in China
Historically, if you were to enter a clinic in China complaining of irregular or problematic periods, you would be sent to the herbalism wing. When I lived for a short time in China doing clinical internships, for my gynecology rounds I was sent to the Herbalism clinics, not acupuncture.
In those clinics we would see women for everything from fibroids, to irregularly timed periods, to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) causing no or infrequent periods, to painful periods, PMS, heavy or light or constant bleeding — pretty much any gynecology related issue, they would see and treat with herbs. And successfully treat them.
For the next 10 years I went to study under some of the top gynecology and women’s health teachers in the US, and each of them focused primarily on herbs. Today, as my studies continue in women’s health, herbs continue to be a vital part of treatment, just as it has always been in China.
So is Acupuncture Useful for menstrual Problems?
Yes, acupuncture absolutely helps many facets of menstrual problems.
One very simple example is menstrual problems related to stress. Because acupuncture is so great with calming stress, and quickly, using acupuncture together with herbs is often the fastest way to start getting relief.
Another great example is painful periods: acupuncture, especially combined with e-stim, when performed just before or during the painful days of the cycle, typically dramatically reduces the pain.
A recent study showed that a single acupuncture session with electro-acupuncture resulted in dramatic epigenetic changes in women with PCOS, resulting “in muscle contractions and increased whole body glucose uptake in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)”. This is a FASCINATING study and I encourage you to check out the detailed findings.
The point is, acupuncture is definitely an important part of successful treatment for hormone imbalances resulting in menstrual problems. I just have rarely found it to be enough, on its own, to actually get to the root of why the problem is there in the first place, so that we can have lasting results.
The Rare Case where herbs are not needed for menstrual problems
In some cases, I’ve definitely seen patients “miraculously” recover from year’s long menstrual imbalances, with acupuncture alone, and very quickly.
Often what happens is that people will notice a dramatic improvement from the acupuncture alone, but then we’ll hit a plateau at maybe 75% improvement, and to get more progress we have to start herbs. In these cases (depending on the imbalance), when women respond to acupuncture almost immediately, I often suggest we see how far we can get with just acupuncture, but then stay closely watching for when progress slows down, so we can start herbs to get patients to their goal.
But in most cases, Chinese herbs ARE the main, and most important treatment, of women’s health related cases, and so if someone is a patient of mine, there’s almost 100% chance that they’re on herbs.
My goal is to get the most improvement we can, and the best way to do that is through combining acupuncture with herbs.
If you’d like to get started with working on your hormone or menstrual problems, you can schedule an appointment using the button below.