Pre-menstrual breast distention according to Chinese Medicine

Pre-menstrual breast distention 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 pre-menstrual breast distention 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 pre-menstrual breast distention is often associated with scanty periods, irritability and abdominal pain in the pattern “/tcm-education-center/patterns/liver-qi-stagnation”. As you will see below, we have in record two patterns that can cause pre-menstrual breast distention.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of pre-menstrual breast distention 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 pre-menstrual breast distention.

The two "patterns of disharmony" that can cause pre-menstrual breast distention

In Chinese Medicine pre-menstrual breast distention is a symptom for 2 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 Qi Stagnation

Pulse type(s): Wiry (Xian)

Tongue color: Normal (light red)

When Liver Qi does not flow smoothly or regularly, it becomes Stagnant and in Excess. This leads to Heat accumulating in the Liver. The feeling of ‘Distension’ (zhang 胀) is the main symptom of Liver Qi Stagnation.

In addition to pre-menstrual breast distention, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/liver-qi-stagnation include scanty periods, irritability and abdominal pain.

From a Western Medicine standpoint /tcm-education-center/patterns/liver-qi-stagnation is associated with health issues such as Low Breast Milk Supply, Mastitis or Breast Engorgement.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/liver-qi-stagnation is often treated with Xiao Yao San, a herbal formula made of 6 herbs (including Bupleurum Roots - Chai Hu - as a key herb). Xiao Yao San belongs to the category of "formulas that harmonize liver-spleen", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Harmonizes the function of Liver and Spleen".

Read more about Liver Qi Stagnation here

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

Stagnant Liver Qi turning into Fire

Pulse type(s): Wiry (Xian)

Tongue color: Red points on the sides

This pattern develops from Liver Qi Stagnation, which creates excessive amount of Heat and then turn into Liver Fire. The Heat is more intense here.

In addition to pre-menstrual breast distention, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/stagnant-liver-qi-turning-into-fire include irritability, depression and red face.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/stagnant-liver-qi-turning-into-fire is often treated with Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San, a herbal formula made of 8 herbs (including Mudan Peony Bark - Mu Dan Pi - as a key herb). Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San belongs to the category of "formulas that clear liver-heat", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Clears Liver Fire from Stagnant Liver Qi".

Read more about Stagnant Liver Qi turning into Fire here

Five herbal formulas that might help with pre-menstrual breast distention

Xiao Yao San

Source date: 1107 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Harmonizes the function of Liver and Spleen. Relieves Liver Qi stagnation. Nourishes the Blood.

Why might Xiao Yao San help with pre-menstrual breast distention?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/liver-qi-stagnation' of which premenstrual breast distension is a symptom.

Read more about Xiao Yao San here

Chai Hu Shu Gan San

Source date: 1602

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Disperses Stagnant Liver Qi and Blood. Alleviates pain. Harmonizes Blood.

Why might Chai Hu Shu Gan San help with pre-menstrual breast distention?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/liver-qi-stagnation' of which premenstrual breast distension is a symptom.

Read more about Chai Hu Shu Gan San 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 pre-menstrual breast distention?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/liver-qi-stagnation' of which premenstrual breast distension is a symptom.

Read more about Jia Wei Xiao Yao San here

Yue Ju Wan

Source date: 1481 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Promotes the movement of Qi. Releases all types of Stagnation (Qi, Blood, Phlegm, Fire, Food and Dampness).

Why might Yue Ju Wan help with pre-menstrual breast distention?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/liver-qi-stagnation' of which premenstrual breast distension is a symptom.

Read more about Yue Ju Wan here

Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San

Source date: 2002 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Clears Liver Fire from Stagnant Liver Qi.

Why might Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San help with pre-menstrual breast distention?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/stagnant-liver-qi-turning-into-fire' of which premenstrual breast distension is a symptom.

Read more about Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San here

Acupuncture points used for pre-menstrual breast distention

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat pre-menstrual breast distention

Why might White Peony Root (Bai Shao) help with pre-menstrual breast distention?

Because White Peony Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat pre-menstrual breast distention as a symptom, like Jia Wei Xiao Yao San or Xiao Yao San 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 pre-menstrual breast distention?

Because Dong Quai is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat pre-menstrual breast distention as a symptom, like Di Gu Pi Yin or Dan Zhi 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 Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with pre-menstrual breast distention?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat pre-menstrual breast distention as a symptom, like Xiao Yao San or Jia Wei Xiao Yao San 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 Atractylodes Rhizome (Bai Zhu) help with pre-menstrual breast distention?

Because Atractylodes Rhizome is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat pre-menstrual breast distention as a symptom, like Yue Ju Wan or Xiao Yao San for instance.

Atractylodes Rhizomes is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Spleen and the Stomach.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Spleen Qi. Fortifies the Spleen Yang and dispels Damp through urination. Tonifies Qi and stops sweating. Calms restless fetus when due to Deficiency of Spleen Qi.

Read more about Atractylodes Rhizomes here

Why might Mudan Peony Bark (Mu Dan Pi) help with pre-menstrual breast distention?

Because Mudan Peony Bark is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat pre-menstrual breast distention as a symptom, like Qing Jing San or Di Gu Pi Yin 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