Delayed Menstrual Cycles: Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Treatments

Menstrual Cycle

In addition to pregnancy, there are many reasons why a menstrual cycle may be delayed. These include conditions like chronic illness, excessive physical work, chronic bleeding disorders, too many children too close together, and excessive breastfeeding. The common denominator among all these conditions is that they are depleting in nature, using up the chi, blood, and nutrients that otherwise would have contributed to the building of the endometrial lining in the uterus. Other causes of delayed menstrual cycles include travel, emotional upsets, irregular diet, and long-standing emotional stress, all of which disrupt our natural rhythms and interfere with the smooth flow of chi and blood in the body.

The main treatment principle for delayed periods due to depletion is tonification via the use of acupuncture points and herbs that are nourishing, supportive, and replenishing. For example, if someone has a pale complexion, a pale tongue, and a history of light periods, we will choose points and herbs that tonify blood. These include points on the channels for the digestive organs, the system responsible for extracting the nutrients needed to make blood from food, and herbs like dong quai, which is naturally high in iron, a nutrient that is necessary for the oxygenation of blood. However, if someone has abdominal distention and breast tenderness, is feeling frustrated or stuck in their lives, and has a history of menstrual clots, then the main treatment principle would be to unblock the flow of chi and blood. Points used in these cases include Spleen 4, Pericardium 6, Liver 3, Liver 14, Snajiao 6, Kidney 14, Spleen 6, and Ren 4 and 6, all of which either move chi or invigorate blood in the lower abdomen. Formulas that are often prescribed for this pattern include xiao yao, a classical formula for PMS that moves chi and nourishes blood, chai hu shu gan, which moves chi and eliminates blood stagnation, or qi zhi xiang fu, which moves chi and strongly invigorates blood.

  • CAUTION: If there is a chance that your menstrual cycle is delayed due to pregnancy the following acupuncture points are contraindicated as they can induce labor: Large Intestine 4, Gall Bladder 21, Urinary Bladder 60 and 67, and Spleen 6. All of the points in the lower abdomen and lumbar area are also contraindicated because they can invigorate blood in the local area.
  • CAUTION: If there is a chance that your menstrual cycle is delayed due to pregnancy, herbs that invigorate blood are contraindicated. This includes dan shen (salvia root) jiang huang (turmeric rhizome), yi mu cao (Chinese motherwort), and yue ji hua (Chinese tea rose), hu zhang (knotweed rhizome), tao ren (peach kernel), hong hua (safflower), and fan hong hua (saffron). This also includes formulas like tao he cheng qi (Peach Pit to Order the Chi), sheng hua (Generating and Transforming), gui zhi fu ling (Cinnamon Twig and Poria), dang gui shao yao (Dong Gui and Peony), shi xiao (Sudden Smile), or huo luo xiao ling (Fantastically Effective to Invigorate the Collaterals).
 
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2007-2024