Menstruation that does not literally flow smoothly and is instead characterized by cramping, bloating, clotting, and perhaps heavy bleeding is known as dysmennorhea clinically. In Chinese medicine, this condition is considered to be stagnant qi and blood, and may be compounded by blood deficiency. Herbal medicine, and several specific Chinese formulas can greatly alleviate this condition and lend greater vitality in general.
“Free and Easy Wanderer” is one such formula used for menstrual irregularity. This ancient formula combines donq quai and other herbs to build the blood, and help the blood flow more smoothly, thus reducing pain and clotting. Smooth flowing blood can be likened to a nicely running stream- when the stream is full of water and unclogged by debris it flows in the intended path. When congested with debris, or waterlogged, the stream overflows, or may veer off course. These visual analogies often help the patient identify with their condition, and make wiser choices in their diet. Eating too many refined foods, overindulgence in alcohol or prescription drugs, a diet lacking in vegetables, will all aggravate this condition. Dark leafy greens, healthy fats, and lemon juice, garlic, and apple cider vinegar will all help decongest the liver and build healthy blood, thus alleviating this condition.
Ba Zhen Wan is another dong quai based formula used for over 800 years to build the blood. Women who experience heavy bleeding may suffer from dizziness, dry hair or eyes, memory loss, or a generalized itching of the skin. This formula helps vitalize the blood and nourish both the skin surfaces and normalize the circulation so that clotting and pain is diminished during menstruation.
While these formulas are mentioned to highlight the potential of herbal medicine when seeing an herbalist or acupuncturist, other simple remedies can provide much relief. Consider raspberry leaf as a general blood tonic, shephards purse for heavy bleeding, and white peony and cramp bark for cramping.