Heavy menstruation according to Chinese Medicine

Home > List of conditions > Heavy menstruation

Menorrhagia, Heavy periods, Profuse menstruation, Profuse periods, Excessive periods and Excessive menstruation redirect here

Heavy menstruation factsheet

Chinese name: 月经过多

Pinyin name: Yuè Jīng Guò Duō

Possible causes and remedies:

Heavy menstruation is different from abnormal uterine bleeding (also called "flooding and trickling") even though the pathology behind these two conditions is fairly similar. The latter is much more severe and requests a much longer time to cure. 

Heavy menstruation simply suggests that the volume of blood discharge is heavier than it should be in "normal" periods, but the periods happen on time and last more or less 5 days (as is normal). Abnormal uterine bleeding on the other hand refers to sudden and very profuse bleeding that often starts ahead of schedule and then continues trickling for a long time after the periods end.

As you can see below we've detailed for you the three "patterns of disharmony" associated with heavy 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 heavy menstruation can be explained by three 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 six formulas that can help treat the various patterns that cause heavy menstruation, depending on which pattern fits your profile.

The three "patterns of disharmony" associated with heavy menstruation

Milkvetch Roots (Huang Qi) is the key herb for Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang, a formula used for Qi Deficiency

Qi Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Weak (Ruo)

Tongue color: Pale

Recommended herbal formulas: Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang, Gui Pi Tang, Ju Yuan Jian

Symptoms: Tiredness Weak Limbs Palpitations Shortness of breath Pale menstrual blood Thin and watery periods

Qi Deficiency is a key cause of heavy menstruation and abnormal uterine bleeding. The way it works is that Qi is not firm enough to hold Blood in the vessels and it therefore flows out unwantedly. The Directing and Penetrating Vessels are also too weak to contain Blood. 

The Spleen is the major Organ involved in this pattern because its role is to 'transform and transport' food and drinks, extracting Grain Qi (Gu Qi) out of them, and distributing it to other Organs and Blood vessels. Malfunction of the Spleen causes general Qi Deficiency. It also controls the raising of Qi in the body. A key underlying cause for this is excessive physical work or sport which can harm the Spleen.

The treatment principle is to tonify and raise Qi, strengthen the Spleen, the Directing and Penetrating Vessels as well as contain Blood. Our three recommended formulas all follow these principles.

Read more about Qi Deficiency here

Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di huang) is the key herb for Si Wu Tang, a formula used for Blood Stagnation

Blood Stagnation

Pulse type(s): Wiry (Xian)

Tongue color: Purple in the centre

Recommended herbal formulas: Si Wu Tang, Shi Xiao San

Symptoms: Painful period Abdominal pain Dark colored blood Dark clots in menstrual blood

Emotional stress can cause Liver Qi Stagnation which can develop into Heat in the Blood or, alternatively, Blood Stagnation. A difficult childbirth or abdominal surgery may also be causes of Blood Stagnation. No matter what the original cause, the Directing and Penetrating Vessels as well the Uterus will become blocked and newly created Blood has no place to go and thus spills out of Vessels, hence the excessive amount of blood during menstruation. 

The treatment principle is to invigorate Blood, eliminate Stagnation, stop bleeding and regulate the periods.

Read more about Blood Stagnation here

Pagoda Tree Pods (Huai jiao) is the key herb for Huai Jiao Wan, a formula used for Heat in the Blood

Heat in the Blood

Pulse type(s): Overflowing (Hong), Rapid (Shu)

Tongue color: Red

Recommended herbal formula: Huai Jiao Wan

Symptoms: Thirst Anxiety Headaches Dark Urine Restlessness Feeling of heat Dark colored blood Thick menstrual blood

Long term emotional stress such as anger, frustration and resentment, or a sudden emotional upset can lead to Liver Qi stagnation. If untreated for a while, it can then develops to Liver Fire or Heat, which agitates the Blood. As a result an excessive amount of Blood leaks out of vessels, hence the heavy menstruation. External factors such as an excessive consumption of spicy & hot food or alcohol as well as overexposure to hot environment can also cause Heat in the Blood. 

The treatment principle is to clear Heat, cool Blood and stop bleeding. Huai Jiao Wan is a good herbal formula for this.

Read more about Heat in the Blood here

The six herbal formulas that might help with heavy menstruation

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 heavy menstruation?

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

Read more about Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang here

Si Wu Tang

Source date: 846 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Restores and nourishes Blood. Stimulates Blood circulation.

Why might Si Wu Tang help with heavy menstruation?

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

Read more about Si Wu Tang here

Huai Jiao Wan

Source date: 1107 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Clears heat from the Intestines. Stops bleeding. Disperses wind. Regulates Qi.

Why might Huai Jiao Wan help with heavy menstruation?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Heat in the Blood, a pattern sometimes associated with heavy 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 Huai Jiao Wan 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 heavy menstruation?

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

Read more about Gui Pi Tang here

Ju Yuan Jian

Source date: 1624 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Qi and Blood.

Why might Ju Yuan Jian help with heavy menstruation?

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

Read more about Ju Yuan Jian here

Shi Xiao San

Source date: 1108 AD

Number of ingredients: 2 herbs

Key actions: Invigorates Blood. Dispels Blood Stagnation. Eases pain.

Why might Shi Xiao San help with heavy menstruation?

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

Read more about Shi Xiao San here