Early menstruation according to Chinese Medicine

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Early menstruation factsheet

Chinese name: 月经先期

Pinyin name: Yuè Jīng Xiān Qí

Possible causes and remedies:

For two consequent cycles if the menstruation comes seven or more days before schedule and there is therefore less than 21 days in between periods, it can be considered a condition called Early Menstruation. In some severe cases, periods may come twice or three times within a month. The blood flow can be normal, scanty or heavy. 

As you can see below we've detailed for you the two "patterns of disharmony" associated with early menstruation. Chinese Medicine sees the body as a system, not a sum of isolated parts. A "pattern" is when the system's harmony is disrupted. It is not equivalent to a Western condition, as a matter of fact here early menstruation can be explained by two different patterns.

Each of those patterns can be treated with one or several herbal formulas. Drinking herbal infusions is the most common remedy in Chinese Medicine, together with acupuncture. It is the Chinese Medicine equivalent to drugs, apart that it's 100% natural!

In total we detail below eight formulas that can help treat the various patterns that cause early menstruation, depending on which pattern fits your profile.

The two "patterns of disharmony" associated with early menstruation

Goji Tree Root Bark (Di Gu Pi) is the key herb for Qing Jing San, a formula used for Heat in the Blood

Heat in the Blood

When early menstruation is caused by Heat in the Blood, the excessive Heat agitates the Blood and it leaks out of the vessels and therefore, periods come before the right time. There are two types of Blood Heat: Full or Empty. 

Full Heat in Blood has two sub-patterns: external 'Heat/Fire Evil invasion' or 'Stagnant Liver Qi turning into Fire".

For the first one, living or working in a hot environment may accumulate Heat in the body. Also, excessive amount of hot-spicy foods or alcohol can also be sources of external Heat invading the body. Typical symptoms are heavy periods with bright or dark red color, anxiety, mental restlessness, red-face, thirst, dark urine and dry stool. The treatment principle is to clear Heat, cool the Blood  and regulate the periods. Formulas such as Qing Jing San are recommended.

As for the pattern of  'Stagnant Liver Qi turning into Fire", emotional stress is typically the main cause. Feelings such as frustration, hatred, anger or resentment causes Liver Qi Stagnation. If untreated for a long time, it turns into Liver Fire. Since the Liver stores Blood, the Fire enters the vessels and push out the Blood before the normal schedule. Typical symptoms include heavy periods with dark red color and clots, abdominal pain, premenstrual breast distension, irritability, bitter taste in the mouth or dry throat. The treatment principle is to clear and pacify the Liver, move Qi, clear Heat, cool Blood and regulate the period. Formulas such as Jia Wei Xiao Yao Wan are recommended. It is derived from Xiao Yao Wan which moves Qi and pacifies the Liver. Mudan peony bark and Cape jasmine fruits are added on top to clear Heat.

As for the category of Empty Heat in Blood, the 'Empty' here refers to the 'Heat' caused by lacking of Kidney or Liver Yin which is a natural cooling material.  Chronic illness, overwork or having too many children too close together may cause Liver and Kidney Yin Deficiency which eventually results in Empty Heat. It is more likely to occur in older women. The treatment principle is to nourish Yin and for this formulas like Liang Di Tang are recommended. 

Read more about Heat in the Blood here

The Spleen is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Spleen in Chinese Medicine

Spleen or Kidney Qi Deficiency

Qi Deficiency is one of the main causes of early menstruation according to Chinese Medicine. Looking into the details it can be further divided into Spleen Qi and Kidney Qi Deficiency. Concretely the issue is that Qi is deficient and therefore not firm enough to hold Blood inside the vessels. The most common underlying causes are lack of physical exercise, overwork, excessive worry or too much consumption of chilled or uncooked foods. 

Spleen Qi plays a major role in containing the Blood within its vessels. The Spleen Qi can be weakened by excessive amount of work or an unbalanced diet. If this situation lasts for a long period of time, the Kidneys will eventually fail to sustain and consolidate the Directing Vessel (Ren Mai 任脉), the Penetrating Vessel (Chong Mai 冲脉)and Kidney Essence. Then the Blood leaks out and the periods come before time.

The treatment principle is to strengthen the Spleen and Kidneys, tonify and raise Qi and consolidate the Penetrating Vessel. To tonify Spleen, Gui Pi Tan and Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang are recommended herbal formulas. As for Kidney Deficiency, formulas like He Che Da Zao Wan are recommended. 

Read more about Spleen or Kidney Qi Deficiency here

The eight herbal formulas that might help with early menstruation

Qing Jing San

Source date: 1826 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Clears Blood-Heat. Stops bleeding.

Why might Qing Jing San help with early menstruation?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Heat in the Blood, a pattern sometimes associated with early menstruation. If it looks like you might suffer from Heat in the Blood, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Qing Jing San here

Gui Pi Tang

Source date: 1529 AD

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies and nourish Qi and Blood. Tonifies Heart and Spleen.

Why might Gui Pi Tang help with early menstruation?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Spleen or Kidney Qi Deficiency, a pattern sometimes associated with early menstruation. If it looks like you might suffer from Spleen or Kidney Qi Deficiency, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Gui Pi Tang here

Long Dan Xie Gan Tang

Source date: 1682 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Clears Heat and Fire from the Liver and Gallbladder. Clears and drains Damp-Heat from the Lower Burner.

Why might Long Dan Xie Gan Tang help with early menstruation?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Heat in the Blood, a pattern sometimes associated with early menstruation. If it looks like you might suffer from Heat in the Blood, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Long Dan Xie Gan Tang here

Jia Wei Xiao Yao San

Source date: Ming dynasty

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Clears Liver and Spleen Qi Stagnation. Tonifies Spleen. Clears Deficient Heat. Nourishes the blood.

Why might Jia Wei Xiao Yao San help with early menstruation?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Heat in the Blood, a pattern sometimes associated with early menstruation. If it looks like you might suffer from Heat in the Blood, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Jia Wei Xiao Yao San here

Liang Di Tang

Source date: 1826 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes Yin. Cools Blood. Stop bleeding.

Why might Liang Di Tang help with early menstruation?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Heat in the Blood, a pattern sometimes associated with early menstruation. If it looks like you might suffer from Heat in the Blood, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Liang Di Tang here

Di Gu Pi Yin

Source date: 1742 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Clears Heat. Stops bleeding.

Why might Di Gu Pi Yin help with early menstruation?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Heat in the Blood, a pattern sometimes associated with early menstruation. If it looks like you might suffer from Heat in the Blood, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Di Gu Pi Yin here

Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang

Source date: 1247

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Qi of the Spleen and Stomach (Middle Burner). Raises the Yang. Detoxifies. Lifts what has sunken.

Why might Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang help with early menstruation?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Spleen or Kidney Qi Deficiency, a pattern sometimes associated with early menstruation. If it looks like you might suffer from Spleen or Kidney Qi Deficiency, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang here

He Che Da Zao Wan

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies the Kidneys. Strengthens the Directing and Penetrating Vessels. Regulates the periods.

Why might He Che Da Zao Wan help with early menstruation?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Spleen or Kidney Qi Deficiency, a pattern sometimes associated with early menstruation. If it looks like you might suffer from Spleen or Kidney Qi Deficiency, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about He Che Da Zao Wan here