Menstrual Pain, Acupuncture and Aromatherapy


15 Feb
15Feb

This Blog is about the Menarche and how acupuncture and essential oils can help to alleviate pain within the menstrual cycle.

It's is a collaboration with myself and Arwen Webb of @theawenaromatherapy www.theawen.co.uk who, I’m pleased to say has happily come on board to share her expert knowledge and tips on how the use of essential oils can help with period pain in and around the menstrual cycle.

In Chinese Medicine, the life cycle of women is broken into seven-year sections which see women experience life changes, and that includes the menstrual cycle.

Kidney Jing in TCM is the source of Tian Gui (menstruation). The Ren and Chong vessels fill with Blood and Qi and this,  for women, is when their periods begin at age fourteen. 7x2 = 14

The release of the hormones progesterone and oestrogen and the fluctuation of these hormones in puberty, can mean the period itself may be irregular and unpredictable to begin with.

When Is Pain Not Acceptable?

We’ve all at some point I’m sure,  uttered the words: “Oh! its only period pain, it’s normal” “I’m dreading my period it’s so painful it wipes me out every month”. “It feels like my insides are burning”

I could go on but, I’m sure for some of you reading this you can empathise. As women, society has us believing from a young age that our menstrual cycles are simply a dirty, painful, inconvenient curse that we should put up with (I disagree).  This is saddening as the menstrual cycle is a tool to be used positively if we allow ourselves to see it as one of the reasons our bodies are so incredible, rather than a painful reminder that we feel crappy every month.

I remember as a young woman I dreaded “that time of the month.”

Irregular periods that were often heavy and so painful I would be bent over or under a blanket with pain killers and a hot water bottle that had me wiped out for days.

Over half of women have experienced Dysmenorrhea (painful periods), and for some, it may be diagnosed as endometriosis or other uterine conditions. Primary Dysmenorrhea is shown to be more common in women under the age of twenty-five and is often so severe it can lead to absence from school, college, university, and work.

In the western medical field this often results in prescriptions of NSAIDS (Ibuprofen or paracetamol) for pain relief or the option of the Pill.  

With that in mind, women appear to be seeking a more natural route and Acupuncture, amongst other therapies, is being used to help with this problem.

Chinese medicine looks at pain as a problem that shouldn’t be happening, and below are a couple of possibilities as to why menstrual pain occurs.

Cold

Cold is a common gynaecological issue and is one of the main issues treated in the clinic when working to regulate the menstrual cycle.

What Does It Mean?

Kidney yang and Qi is lacking, both are needed to move and generate fluids around the body and when they are lacking blood (yin) doesn’t move efficiently.

  • Lower back pain before the period begins.
  • Period pain relieved by applying heat.
  • Chronic cold feet
  • Loose bowels when the period begins
  • Cramps during the period alleviated with heat
  • Low BBT readings.

When we talk about yang we are referring to the warming/ moving energy that helps blood to circulate freely without issue.

If there is not enough yang energy then the blood may move less efficiently, accumulating unable to move which causes discomfort and pain.

As a clinical and traditional Chinese acupuncturist, I will apply points to the body, often on the lower leg and abdomen area.

One that I often use is St 29.

It’s a lovely point to use as part of a point selection. Found on the lower abdomen this point helps to promote healthy blood flow to the local area, and warming to the lower abdomen.

Blood Stasis

At the time of menstruation, the uterus sheds its lining.  If blood stasis occurs, the menstrual cycle blood doesn’t move efficiently and becomes stuck, stagnant, and begins to congeal, creating thicker blood with clots and pain.

  • Stabbing, fixed painful periods,
  • Dark blood with dark clots
  • Mid-cycle pain
  • Irregular periods
  • Endometriosis
  • Brown discharge at the beginning and end of the period.

Blood stasis formulating due to cold can also benefit from application of warmth to the pelvic area, along with a healthy diet.

What Can You Do In-Between Treatments?

  • Keep your feet warm
  • Avoid icy cold drinks
  • Drink warming drinks (herbal tea/hot water)
  • Keep the lower tummy area warm
  • Warm bath
  • Use a hot water bottle with Arwen’s recommended oil blend
  • Warming foods rather than cold, raw foods.

How Can Aromatherapy Help When Trying To Alleviate Menstrual Pain?

Arwen blends essential oils to address a range of issues, including period pain, before and during the menstrual cycle.

Each essential oil has therapeutic actions which bring a relaxing, stimulating, or balancing effect upon use, depending on the blend used and the patients’ needs.

Arwen has chosen some oils to help regulate the menstrual cycle, and help to alleviate period pain.

Chamomile Roman (Chamaemelum nobile)

Is rich in esters, gentle and safe in nature, is antispasmodic, calming, healing, and helps to alleviate painful menstrual cramps and tension, as well as balancing the menstrual cycle.

**Do not use in pregnancy **

Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens)

Is a floral oil with citrus aromas containing linalool, which acts on the adrenal cortex to help regulate hormone function and is good for painful periods.

As a decongestant it helps eliminates water retention and eases breast pain.

Ylang ylang (Canaga ordorata)

Is a calming oil rich in terpenes, and can be a tonic for the womb when helping to relieve painful menstrual cramps.

** use in small amounts if you suffer from low blood pressure**

Seek professional advice before using.

Blend:

  • 2-3 drops of Chamomile
  • 2-3 drops of Geranium
  • 1 drop of Ylang-Ylang

You can use this blend in a diffuser or add to a cup of Epsom salts (100g) and blend into a warm bath.

My favourite is combining the blend above with a hot water bottle. I often inform patients who are cold and experience painful menstrual cramps to use a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel to place over the lower abdomen.

Fill a bowl with warm water and add the blend above.

Dip a pillowcase or thin towel onto the water to absorb the oil. Wring out excess water then turn the pillowcase inside out, wrapping around the hot water bottle so the oil side is on the outside and closest to the skin.

**safety advice when using oils**

  • Do NOT use oils if pregnant as many can bring on menstruation such as basil.
  • If you get a rash, feel faint, or unwell, stop using them immediately and should symptoms persist, contact the GP. 
  • If taking prescribed medications then contact Arwen to discuss further before you use oils

For more information on essential oil use, contact:

Helen

www.mcqueacupuncture.co.uk

Instagram @mcqueacupuncture

Facebook @HelenMcQueAcupuncture

Arwen 

@theawenaromatherapy on Instagram and Facebook.

www.theawen.co.uk

Reference:

The yellow emperor’s classic of medicine.

Peter Deadman Manual of Acupuncture

The efficacy and safety of acupuncture in women with primary dysmenorrhea: A systematic review and meta-analysis - PubMed (nih.gov)

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