Menopausal syndrome according to Chinese Medicine

climacteric syndrome, menopausal symptoms, menopause and perimenopausal syndrome redirect here

Menopausal syndrome 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 menopausal syndrome 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 menopausal syndrome is often associated with dizziness, night sweats and depression in the pattern “Liver Yin Deficiency”. As you will see below, we have in record three patterns that can cause menopausal syndrome.

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

The three "patterns of disharmony" that can cause menopausal syndrome

In Chinese Medicine menopausal syndrome is a symptom for 3 patterns that we have on record. Below is a small explanation for each of them with links for more details.

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

Liver Yin Deficiency

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

Tongue coating: Complete absence of coating

Tongue color: Red points on the sides

This is a type of empty Fire pattern arising out of Liver Blood Deficiency or Kidney Yin Deficiency. It shares similar symptoms as Liver Blood Deficiency, but with extra signs of Dryness and Yin-Deficient Heat. It can be caused by excessive activity, overwork, 'burning the candle at both ends' without sufficient rest, and poor and irregular diet.

In addition to menopausal syndrome, other symptoms associated with Liver Yin Deficiency include dizziness, night sweats and depression.

Liver Yin Deficiency is often treated with Qi Ju Di Huang Wan, a herbal formula made of 8 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Qi Ju 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: "Nourishes Kidney and Liver Yin".

Read more about Liver Yin Deficiency here

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 menopausal syndrome, other symptoms associated with Kidney Yin Deficiency include dizziness, night sweats and tinnitus.

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

Crow-Dipper Rhizomes (Ban Xia) is the king ingredient for Er Chen Tang, a formula used for Phlegm

Phlegm

Pulse type(s): Slippery (Hua), Wiry (Xian)

Tongue coating: Sticky coating, Thick coating

Tongue shape: Swollen

The concept of Phlegm is much wider and important in Chinese Medicine than in the West. Broadly speaking, Phlegm is a substance produced when the body fails to handle Body Fluids properly.

In addition to menopausal syndrome, other symptoms associated with Phlegm include dizziness, irritability and depression.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Phlegm is associated with health issues such as Low Breast Milk Supply, Menopausal Syndrome or Morning Sickness.

Phlegm is often treated with Er Chen Tang, a herbal formula made of 5 herbs (including Crow-Dipper Rhizomes - Ban Xia - as a key herb). Er Chen Tang 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: "Dries Damp and dispels Phlegm".

Read more about Phlegm here

Five herbal formulas that might help with menopausal syndrome

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 menopausal syndrome?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Liver Yin Deficiency' of which menopausal is a symptom.

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 menopausal syndrome?

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

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 menopausal syndrome?

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

Read more about Zuo Gui Wan here

Zhi Bo Di Huang Wan

Source date: 1584 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Yin. Drains Fire.

Why might Zhi Bo Di Huang Wan help with menopausal syndrome?

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

Read more about Zhi Bo Di Huang Wan here

Er Chen Tang

Source date: 1148 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Dries Damp and dispels Phlegm. Regulates Qi and harmonizes the Middle Burner (Stomach and Spleen).

Why might Er Chen Tang help with menopausal syndrome?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Phlegm' of which menopausal syndrome is a symptom.

Read more about Er Chen Tang here

Acupuncture points used for menopausal syndrome

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat menopausal syndrome

Why might Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di Huang) help with menopausal syndrome?

Because Prepared Rehmannia is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat menopausal syndrome as a symptom, like Liu Wei Di Huang Wan or Zuo Gui 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 menopausal syndrome?

Because it is a key herb in Liu Wei Di Huang Wan, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Kidney Yin Deficiency' (a pattern with menopausal syndrome as a symptom)

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

Why might Water Plantain (Ze Xie) help with menopausal syndrome?

Because it is a key herb in Liu Wei Di Huang Wan, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Kidney Yin Deficiency' (a pattern with menopausal syndrome as a symptom)

Water Plantain is a Cold herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Bladder and the Kidney.

Its main actions are: Causes urination and removes Damp-Heat

Read more about Water Plantain here

Why might White Peony Root (Bai Shao) help with menopausal syndrome?

Because it is a key herb in Bu Gan Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Liver Yin Deficiency' (a pattern with menopausal syndrome as a symptom)

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 Curculigo Rhizome (Xian Mao) help with menopausal syndrome?

Because it is a key herb in Er Xian Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern '' (a pattern with menopausal syndrome as a symptom)

Curculigo Rhizomes is a Hot herb that tastes Pungent. It targets the Spleen, the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Tonifies Kidney Yang and treats Kidney Yang Deficiency patterns. Strengthens the bones and sinews. Clears Cold and Dampness.

Read more about Curculigo Rhizomes here

Other symptoms often associated with menopausal syndrome

Dizziness Night sweats Hot flushes Tinnitus Dry throat Irritability Depression Dry mouth Insomnia Poor appetite