Delayed menstruation according to Chinese Medicine

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Delayed menstruation can be the consequence of several so-called “patterns of disharmony” in Chinese Medicine.

Chinese Medicine sees the body as a system, not a sum of isolated parts. A "pattern" is when the system's harmony is disrupted, leading to symptoms or signs that something is wrong (like delayed menstruation here). It is similar to the concept of disease in Western Medicine but not quite: a Western disease can often be explained by several Chinese patterns and vice-versa.

A pattern often manifests itself in a combination of symptoms that, at first glance, do not seem necessarily related to each others. For instance here delayed menstruation is often associated with scanty periods, dizziness and sore back in the pattern “Kidney Yin Deficiency”. As you will see below, we have in record five patterns that can cause delayed menstruation.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of delayed menstruation we’ve identified five herbal formulas that may help treat patterns behind the symptom.

We’ve also selected below the five medicinal herbs that we think are most likely to help treat delayed menstruation.

The five "patterns of disharmony" that can cause delayed menstruation

In Chinese Medicine delayed menstruation is a symptom for 5 patterns that we have on record. Below is a small explanation for each of them with links for more details.

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

Kidney Yin Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Empty (Xu), Floating (Fu)

Tongue coating: Complete absence of coating

Tongue color: Red

Tongue shape: Cracked

Kidney Yin Deficiency causes false Heat symptoms, such as night sweats, thirst and five palm heat. These signs are from a depletion of Body Fluids and Essence. It can be caused by prolonged overwork, excessive sexual activity, chronic long term illnesses, consumption of Body Fluids by Heat, prolonged blood loss, overdosage of Kidney Yang tonics herbs, smoking and Kidney depleting foods such as coffee, alcohol, sugar, and fruit juices.

In addition to delayed menstruation, other symptoms associated with Kidney Yin Deficiency include scanty periods, dizziness and sore back.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Kidney Yin Deficiency is associated with health issues such as Menopausal Syndrome, Prolonged Periods or Irregular Menstruation.

Kidney Yin Deficiency is often treated with Liu Wei Di Huang Wan, a herbal formula made of 6 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Liu Wei Di Huang Wan belongs to the category of "formulas that nourish yin and tonify", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Nutritive tonic for the Liver and Kidney Yin Essence (nourishes the parasympathetic nervous system)".

Read more about Kidney Yin Deficiency here

Coco-Grass Rhizomes (Xiang Fu) is the king ingredient for Cang Fu Dao Tan Wan, a formula used for Damp-Phlegm in the Uterus

Damp-Phlegm in the Uterus

Pulse type(s): Slippery (Hua)

In addition to delayed menstruation, other symptoms associated with Damp-Phlegm in the Uterus include scanty periods, dizziness and lower abdominal pain.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Damp-Phlegm in the Uterus is associated with health issues such as Late Menstruation, Scanty Menstruation or Absence Of Menstruation.

Damp-Phlegm in the Uterus is often treated with Cang Fu Dao Tan Wan, a herbal formula made of 8 herbs (including Coco-Grass Rhizomes - Xiang Fu - as a key herb). Cang Fu Dao Tan Wan belongs to the category of "formulas that dry dampness and transform phlegm", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Resolves Dampness and Phlegm".

Read more about Damp-Phlegm in the Uterus here

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

Liver Blood and Kidney Yin Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Empty (Xu), Floating (Fu)

Tongue coating: Complete absence of coating

Tongue color: Red

In addition to delayed menstruation, other symptoms associated with Liver Blood and Kidney Yin Deficiency include scanty periods, dizziness and sore back.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Liver Blood and Kidney Yin Deficiency is associated with health issues such as Menstrual Cramps.

Liver Blood and Kidney Yin Deficiency is often treated with Tiao Gan Tang, a herbal formula made of 7 herbs (including Dong Quai - Dang Gui - as a key herb). Tiao Gan Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that nourish yin and tonify", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Nourishes Kidney and Liver Yin".

Read more about Liver Blood and Kidney Yin Deficiency here

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

Kidney Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), Empty (Xu), Weak (Ruo), Floating (Fu)

Tongue color: Pale, Red

In addition to delayed menstruation, other symptoms associated with Kidney Deficiency include dizziness, sore back and feeling of cold.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Kidney Deficiency is associated with health issues such as Abnormal Uterine Bleeding.

Kidney Deficiency is often treated with You Gui Wan, a herbal formula made of 10 herbs (including Prepared Aconite - Zhi Fu Zi - as a key herb). You Gui Wan belongs to the category of "formulas that warm yang and tonify", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Warms and tonifies Kidney Yang".

Read more about Kidney Deficiency here

Dong Quai (Dang Gui) is the king ingredient for Sheng Yu Tang, a formula used for Blood and Qi Deficiency

Blood and Qi Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Fine (Xi), Weak (Ruo)

Tongue coating: Partial absence of coating

Tongue color: Pale

In addition to delayed menstruation, other symptoms associated with Blood and Qi Deficiency include scanty periods, dizziness and sore back.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Blood and Qi Deficiency is associated with health issues such as Low Breast Milk Supply, Menstrual Cramps or Absence Of Menstruation.

Blood and Qi Deficiency is often treated with Sheng Yu Tang, a herbal formula made of 6 herbs (including Dong Quai - Dang Gui - as a key herb). Sheng Yu Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that tonify blood", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Tonifies Qi and Blood".

Read more about Blood and Qi Deficiency here

Five herbal formulas that might help with delayed menstruation

Qi Ju Di Huang Wan

Source date: 1350 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes Kidney and Liver Yin. Improves vision.

Why might Qi Ju Di Huang Wan help with delayed menstruation?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Kidney Yin Deficiency' of which delayed menstruation is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Kidney Yin Deficiency can contribute to many health issues, including Abnormal Vaginal Discharge.

Read more about Qi Ju Di Huang Wan here

Liu Wei Di Huang Wan

Source date: 1119 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Nutritive tonic for the Liver and Kidney Yin Essence (nourishes the parasympathetic nervous system).

Why might Liu Wei Di Huang Wan help with delayed menstruation?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Liver Blood and Kidney Yin Deficiency' of which delayed menstruation is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Liver Blood and Kidney Yin Deficiency can contribute to many health issues, including Menstrual Cramps.

Read more about Liu Wei Di Huang Wan here

Zuo Gui Wan

Source date: 1624 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes the Yin. Strengthens the Kidneys. Fills the Essence. Augments the marrow.

Why might Zuo Gui Wan help with delayed menstruation?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Kidney Deficiency' of which delayed menstruation is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Kidney Deficiency can contribute to many health issues, including Abnormal Uterine Bleeding.

Read more about Zuo Gui 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 delayed menstruation?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Blood and Qi Deficiency' of which delayed menstruation is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Blood and Qi Deficiency can contribute to many health issues, including Menstrual Cramps.

Read more about Gui Pi Tang here

Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang

Source date: 1675 AD

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Spleen and Stomach Qi. Removes Dampness. Moves Qi. Alleviates pain.

Why might Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang help with delayed menstruation?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Damp-Phlegm in the Uterus' of which delayed menstruation is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Damp-Phlegm in the Uterus can contribute to many health issues, including Late Menstruation.

Read more about Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat delayed menstruation

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with delayed menstruation?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat delayed menstruation as a symptom, like Gui Pi Tang or Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang for instance.

Liquorice is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Lung, the Spleen and the Stomach.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Basal Qi and nourishes the Spleen Qi. Clears Heat and dispels toxicity. Moistens the Lungsexpel phlegm and stop coughing. Relieves spasms and alleviates pain. Harmonizes and moderates the effects of other herbs.

Read more about Liquorice here

Why might Dong Quai (Dang Gui) help with delayed menstruation?

Because Dong Quai is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat delayed menstruation as a symptom, like Xiong Gui Er Chen Tang or Xiao Yao San for instance.

Dong Quai is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent and Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Liver and the Spleen.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Blood. Lubricates the Intestines. Relieve constipation. Promotes circulation and dispels Bi Pain. Reduce Dysmenorrhea and help with irregular menstruation.

Read more about Dong Quai here

Why might Poria-Cocos Mushroom (Fu Ling) help with delayed menstruation?

Because Poria-Cocos Mushroom is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat delayed menstruation as a symptom, like Wen Qi Hua Shi Tang or Cang Fu Dao Tan Wan for instance.

Poria-Cocos Mushrooms is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Kidney, the Lung and the Spleen.

Its main actions are: Encourages urination and drains Dampness. Tonic to the Spleen/Stomach. Assists the Heart and calms the Spirit.

Read more about Poria-Cocos Mushrooms here

Why might Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di Huang) help with delayed menstruation?

Because Prepared Rehmannia is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat delayed menstruation as a symptom, like Zuo Gui Wan or Qi Ju Di Huang Wan for instance.

Prepared Rehmannia is a Warm herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Blood. Tonifies the Yin of the Kidneys.

Read more about Prepared Rehmannia here

Why might Yam (Shan Yao) help with delayed menstruation?

Because Yam is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat delayed menstruation as a symptom, like Yi Huang Tang or Wan Dai Tang for instance.

Yam is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Kidney, the Lung and the Spleen.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Spleen and Stomach. Tonifies the Lung Qi and nourishes the Lung Yin. Nourishes the Kidneys and consolidates Jing.

Read more about Yam here