Premenstrual abdominal distension

TCM Education Center > Symptoms list > Premenstrual abdominal distension

Premenstrual abdominal distension 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 premenstrual abdominal distension 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 premenstrual abdominal distension is often associated with late period, scanty periods and irritability in the pattern “Qi Stagnation”.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of premenstrual abdominal distension we’ve identified two 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 premenstrual abdominal distension.

Qi Stagnation, a "pattern of disharmony" that can cause premenstrual abdominal distension

In Chinese Medicine premenstrual abdominal distension is a symptom for the pattern "Qi Stagnation". Below is a small explanation for it with links for more details.

Bupleurum Roots (Chai Hu) is the king ingredient for Xiao Yao San, a formula used for Qi Stagnation

Qi Stagnation

Pulse type(s): Tight (Jin), Wiry (Xian)

Tongue coating: Thin white coating

Tongue color: Red sides

Qi Stagnation refers to Qi becoming stuck or stagnant, a bit like a traffic jam on the freeway. This restricted flow of Qi can be body-wide or happen in any specific Organ.

In addition to premenstrual abdominal distension, other symptoms associated with Qi Stagnation include late period, scanty periods and irritability.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Qi Stagnation is associated with health issues such as Late Menstruation.

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 Qi Stagnation here

Two herbal formulas that might help with premenstrual abdominal distension

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 premenstrual abdominal distension?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Qi Stagnation' of which premenstrual abdominal distension is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Qi Stagnation can contribute to many health issues, including Late Menstruation.

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 premenstrual abdominal distension?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Qi Stagnation' of which premenstrual abdominal distension is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Qi Stagnation can contribute to many health issues, including Late Menstruation.

Read more about Chai Hu Shu Gan San here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat premenstrual abdominal distension

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with premenstrual abdominal distension?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat premenstrual abdominal distension as a symptom, like Xiao Yao San or Chai Hu Shu Gan San for instance.

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

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 Szechuan Lovage Root (Chuan Xiong) help with premenstrual abdominal distension?

Because Szechuan Lovage Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat premenstrual abdominal distension as a symptom, like Chai Hu Shu Gan San or Wu Yao Tang for instance.

Szechuan Lovage Roots is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent. It targets the Gallbladder, the Liver and the Pericardium.

Its main actions are: Regulates and moves the Blood. Relieves Wind-Cold and pain. Circulates the Qi in the Upper Burner, relieving headaches.

Read more about Szechuan Lovage Roots here

Why might White Peony Root (Bai Shao) help with premenstrual abdominal distension?

Because White Peony Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat premenstrual abdominal distension as a symptom, like Xiao Yao San or Chai Hu Shu Gan San for instance.

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

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 premenstrual abdominal distension?

Because Dong Quai is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat premenstrual abdominal distension as a symptom, like Xiao Yao San or Wu Yao Tang for instance.

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

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 Bupleurum Root (Chai Hu) help with premenstrual abdominal distension?

Because Bupleurum Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat premenstrual abdominal distension as a symptom, like Xiao Yao San or Chai Hu Shu Gan San for instance.

Bupleurum Roots is a Cool herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Gallbladder and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Harmonizes exterior and interior. Smoothes the Liver and upraises the Yang.

Read more about Bupleurum Roots here

Conditions associated with premenstrual abdominal distension

Late menstruation