Several years ago I worked with a realtor who set the combination to every lock box (like a hidden key) she had to P-M-S. Clearly PMS was on her mind, and subsequently that of the realtors and clients with whom she worked. If you suffer from monthly moods swings, food cravings, homicidal urges, and the like, you can understand the single mindedness of my realtor.
PMS has been studied for decades and has been categorized according to symptom clusters. It’s called a syndrome (Pre Menstrual Syndrome, right?) because the symptoms of PMS are broad and are wildly different for every woman.
In Chinese medicine, PMS has to do with the Liver and the movement of energy, or Qi. The Chinese organs such as the Liver, Kidney, or Spleen are terms to describe symbolic systems of functioning in your body—not the real organs themselves. Anyhow, the Liver is the organ system that is responsible for the smooth movement of everything in your body, including digestion, periods, bladder and bowel, and even your emotions. While there may be other patterns present at the same time, if you suffer from PMS, or if you have any health conditions that are worse right before your period, there is always some element of a Liver energy blockage.
I think we can all agree that if you’re suffering from severe PMS, things aren’t moving too well. Think about it; you have symptoms, they build up, get worse, then you get your period (stuff starts moving), and your symptoms go away. Hmmm…things could be moving a little better.
So, how can acupuncture help your PMS? Well, in a couple of ways. First, acupuncture can get stuff moving—energy, Qi, blood, emotions, whatever—acupuncture will help it move better. Second, acupuncture is great for calming your emotions, and let’s face it; at little bit of calming is a good thing when you’re PMSing. Third, your acupuncturist will get to the bottom of why you’re having symptoms in the first place. Maybe you never had PMS until you got this new job, or some of the foods you’ve been eating lately have been making it worse. Finally, your acupuncturist will also uncover any other patterns that may be making you feel less than stellar, and treat those as well.
In the meantime, some things you can do yourself include incorporating movement into your life, and reducing stress and strong emotions. Movement—whether it’s taking a long walk, changing an annoying habit, or trying something new, creates movement in turn, both energetic and physical movement.
Also, strong emotions and a stressful life are prime causes of Liver stagnation. So, calm down, take a Yoga class, meditate, slow down, go fishing, and help your Liver move and your PMS will follow.