Heavy menstruation according to Chinese Medicine

excessive menstrual discharge, heavy periods, menorrhagia, excessive menstruation, excessive periods, profuse menstruation and profuse periods redirect here

Heavy 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 heavy 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 heavy menstruation is often associated with feeling of heat, dark clots in menstrual blood and restlessness in the pattern “Heat in the Blood”. As you will see below, we have in record four patterns that can cause heavy menstruation.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of heavy 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 heavy menstruation.

The four "patterns of disharmony" that can cause heavy menstruation

In Chinese Medicine heavy menstruation is a symptom for 4 patterns that we have on record. Below is a small explanation for each of them with links for more details.

Water Buffalo Horns (Shui Niu Jiao) is the king ingredient for Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang, a formula used for Heat in the Blood

Heat in the Blood

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu)

Tongue color: Red

Heat in the Blood (or Blood-Heat) refers to a condition whereby Heat, as a so-called "Pernicious Influence", entered the Blood. This invasion tends to accelerate Blood flow (leading to a faster pulse) and to manifest itself in various types of bleeding as well as other symptoms.

In addition to heavy menstruation, other symptoms associated with Heat in the Blood include feeling of heat, dark clots in menstrual blood and restlessness.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Heat in the Blood is associated with health issues such as Early Menstruation or Abnormal Uterine Bleeding.

Heat in the Blood is often treated with Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Water Buffalo Horns - Shui Niu Jiao - as a key herb). Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that clear nutritive-level heat", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Treats severe fevers and Heat in the Blood system".

Read more about Heat in the Blood here

Ginseng (Ren Shen) is the king ingredient for Si Jun Zi Tang, a formula used for Qi Deficiency

Qi Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Empty (Xu), Weak (Ruo)

Tongue color: Pale

Qi Deficiency simply means lack of Qi. It includes the lack of Original Qi, Nutritive Qi, Defensive Qi or the Qi that resides in Organs or Channels. It mainly manifests itself in a weakened function of Organs and a declining ability of the body to resist diseases.

In addition to heavy menstruation, other symptoms associated with Qi Deficiency include palpitations, thin and watery periods and dizziness.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Qi Deficiency is associated with health issues such as Abnormal Uterine Bleeding or Heavy Menstruation.

Qi Deficiency is often treated with Si Jun Zi Tang, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Ginseng - Ren Shen - as a key herb). Si Jun Zi Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that tonify qi", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Tonifies Qi".

Read more about Qi Deficiency here

Peach Kernels (Tao Ren) is the king ingredient for Tao He Cheng Qi Tang, a formula used for Blood Stagnation

Blood Stagnation

Pulse type(s): Choppy (Se), Firm (Lao), Wiry (Xian)

Tongue color: Reddish-Purple

Blood Stagnation, like the name indicates, is when Blood flow becomes Stagnant. It can happen in the whole body or in specific Organs. It is one of the most important diagnostic conditions in Chinese Medicine because it is frequently the cause of intractable pain syndromes anywhere in the body.

In addition to heavy menstruation, other symptoms associated with Blood Stagnation include dark clots in menstrual blood, restlessness and dizziness.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Blood Stagnation is associated with health issues such as Scanty Menstruation, Abnormal Uterine Bleeding or Heavy Menstruation.

Blood Stagnation is often treated with Tao He Cheng Qi Tang, a herbal formula made of 5 herbs (including Peach Kernels - Tao Ren - as a key herb). Tao He Cheng Qi Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that invigorate blood and dispel blood stagnation", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Dispels Heat and".

Read more about Blood Stagnation here

Baikal Skullcap Roots (Huang Qin) is the king ingredient for Qing Re Gu Jing Tang, a formula used for Heat in Uterus Blood

Heat in Uterus Blood

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Wiry (Xian)

In addition to heavy menstruation, other symptoms associated with Heat in Uterus Blood include feeling of heat, restlessness and anxiety.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Heat in Uterus Blood is associated with health issues such as Heavy Menstruation.

Heat in Uterus Blood is often treated with Qing Re Gu Jing Tang, a herbal formula made of 11 herbs (including Baikal Skullcap Roots - Huang Qin - as a key herb). Qing Re Gu Jing Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that clear heat from deficiency", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Clears Empty Heat".

Read more about Heat in Uterus Blood here

Five herbal formulas that might help with heavy menstruation

Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang

Source date: 650 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Treats severe fevers and Heat in the Blood system. Removes Blood Stagnation.

Why might Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang help with heavy menstruation?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Heat in the Blood' of which heavy periods is a symptom.

Read more about Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang here

Si Jun Zi Tang

Source date: 1107 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Qi. Strengthens the Spleen and Stomach.

Why might Si Jun Zi Tang help with heavy menstruation?

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

Read more about Si Jun Zi Tang here

Tao He Cheng Qi Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Dispels Heat and. Eliminates Blood Stagnation.

Why might Tao He Cheng Qi Tang help with heavy menstruation?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Blood Stagnation' of which heavy menstruation is a symptom.

Read more about Tao He Cheng Qi Tang here

Qing Re Gu Jing Tang

Source date: 1988

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Key actions: Clears Empty Heat. Tonifies the Kidney Yin. Stops bleeding. Supplies Body Fluids.

Why might Qing Re Gu Jing Tang help with heavy menstruation?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Heat in Uterus Blood' of which heavy periods is a symptom.

Read more about Qing Re Gu Jing 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 treat the pattern 'Heat in Uterus Blood' of which heavy periods is a symptom.

Read more about Huai Jiao Wan here

Acupuncture points used for heavy menstruation

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

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

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat heavy menstruation as a symptom, like Si Jun Zi Tang or Tao He Cheng Qi 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 White Peony Root (Bai Shao) help with heavy menstruation?

Because White Peony Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat heavy menstruation as a symptom, like Xuan Yu Tong Jing Tang or Bu Gan Tang for instance.

White Peony Roots is a Neutral herb that tastes Bitter and Sour. It targets the Liver and the Spleen.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Blood and preserves the Yin. Nourishes the Liver and assists in the smooth flow of Qi. Regulates the meridians and eases the pain.

Read more about White Peony Roots here

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

Because Dong Quai is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat heavy menstruation as a symptom, like Xiao Yao San or Jia Wei 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 Mudan Peony Bark (Mu Dan Pi) help with heavy menstruation?

Because Mudan Peony Bark is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat heavy menstruation as a symptom, like Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San or Qing Re Tiao Xue Tang for instance.

Mudan Peony Bark is a Cool herb that tastes Bitter and Pungent. It targets the Heart, the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Cools the Blood, activates Blood circulation and resolves Blood stasis.

Read more about Mudan Peony Bark here

Why might Unprepared Rehmannia (Di Huang) help with heavy menstruation?

Because Unprepared Rehmannia is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat heavy menstruation as a symptom, like Liang Di Tang or Qing Re Tiao Xue Tang for instance.

Unprepared Rehmannia is a Cold herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Expels Heat by Cooling Blood. Tonifies Yin by promoting Fluid production. Soothes the Heart by calming Blazing Fire. Cools and nourishes.

Read more about Unprepared Rehmannia here