Go with the Flow! Balance Your Hormones with Herbs and Acupuncture
When your hormones are balanced and happy, it is visible on your face, which appears more relaxed and content. However, painful, heavy or irregular periods, PMS, fertility challenges, mood swings, and menopausal hot flashes are just some of the problems that can occur when hormones go haywire. These imbalances can be corrected with a series of acupuncture treatments and/or a personalized herbal formula, and by following some lifestyle guidelines according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
What does acupuncture do to your hormones in scientific terms? Current research shows that acupuncture treatment influences the production and circulation of hormones in the body. It also has an effect on endorphins (the ‘feel good’ chemicals in the brain), which are heavily linked to hormones and thus mood changes at different times in our cycle or different phases of our lives, such as pregnancy and menopause. In TCM terms, acupuncture regulates the flow of energy and substances in the body.
Herbal medicine is an equally important component of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is very effective in helping to resolve some hormonal and gynecological complaints. A personalized formula based on your diagnosis will have an elegant combination of anywhere between 2 and 12 herbs. Your formula can be taken as a liquid herb, tablet form, or external cream form. Depending on the TCM diagnosis and treatment plan, Acupuncture and herbal treatment can be used separately, each being effective in their own way. However, by combining the two often the greatest results are achieved. You may ask, what causes a hormonal imbalance? A number of factors can disrupt the delicate balance of the female hormonal system. Some of these factors include: medical, emotional stress, improper diet, inadequate rest, excessive physical or mental work, surgery, or exposure to the elements (cold, heat, dampness). All of these are taken into consideration when determining a correct diagnosis and treatment plan.
The following list is some general self-care advice to address a gynecological issue:
• Decrease or eliminate the following: sugar, alcohol, coffee, tea, chocolate, and salt. I know, all the ‘fun’ things, but everyone is different and some women can do okay with small amounts. For others, giving up these things entirely is worth not having the symptoms that trouble them. For most of us, moderation is the key.
• Avoid meats and dairy products with added growth hormones, antibiotics and chemicals, which often disrupt the body’s hormonal balance.
• Some supplements that may be helpful: vitamin B6, Calcium, Magnesium, EFAs (Essential Fatty Acids found in fish, flax, evening primrose oils). Low levels of EFAs are associated with hormone imbalances. EFA’s play an active role in the regulation of hormone production. Plus, they keep our skin soft and glowing!
• Avoid extremely cold foods or iced beverages during menses.
• Avoid exposure to cold during your menses. The uterus is particularly vulnerable to invasion of cold which can cause imbalances or problems with painful cramps, or fertility.
• Avoid using tampons if you have painful periods. This can disrupt the normal flow of menstrual discharge.
• Exercise is important, however avoid vigorous exercise during the first few days of your period. Stick with gentle walking and stretching. More intense exercise can be helpful in the pre-menstrual phase to help soothe the emotions.
• Long term use of oral contraceptives can disrupt the hormonal cycle, especially once you go off of them. Consider a different form of birth control if at all possible.
• Plan life accordingly. Menses is a time for rest, it’s okay to take it easy for a few days. If you can, don’t plan too many activities and give yourself time for adequate rest and rejuvenation during your menses.