Premenstrual syndrome according to Chinese Medicine

premenstrual depression, pre-menstrual irritability and pre-menstrual tension redirect here

Premenstrual 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 premenstrual 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 premenstrual syndrome is often associated with scanty periods, dizziness and lower abdominal pain in the pattern “/tcm-education-center/patterns/qi-and-blood-stagnation”. As you will see below, we have in record three patterns that can cause premenstrual syndrome.

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

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

In Chinese Medicine premenstrual 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.

Peach Kernels (Tao Ren) is the king ingredient for Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang, a formula used for /tcm-education-center/patterns/qi-and-blood-stagnation

Qi And Blood Stagnation

Pulse type(s): Choppy (Se), Deep (Chen), Fine (Xi)

In addition to premenstrual syndrome, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/qi-and-blood-stagnation include scanty periods, dizziness and lower abdominal pain.

From a Western Medicine standpoint /tcm-education-center/patterns/qi-and-blood-stagnation is associated with health issues such as Menstrual Cramps, Absence Of Menstruation or Menopausal Syndrome.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/qi-and-blood-stagnation is often treated with Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang, a herbal formula made of 11 herbs (including Peach Kernels - Tao Ren - as a key herb). Xue Fu Zhu Yu 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: "Invigorates the Blood".

Read more about Qi And Blood Stagnation here

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 premenstrual syndrome, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/liver-qi-stagnation include scanty periods, lower abdominal pain and irritability.

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 premenstrual syndrome, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/stagnant-liver-qi-turning-into-fire include feeling of heat, heavy periods and irritability.

/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 premenstrual syndrome

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 syndrome?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/qi-and-blood-stagnation' of which pre-menstrual irritability is a symptom.

Read more about Chai Hu Shu Gan San here

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 syndrome?

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

Read more about Xiao Yao 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 premenstrual syndrome?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/liver-qi-stagnation' of which premenstrual tension 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 premenstrual syndrome?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/liver-qi-stagnation' of which premenstrual tension 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 premenstrual syndrome?

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

Read more about Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San here

Acupuncture points used for premenstrual syndrome

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

Why might Dong Quai (Dang Gui) help with premenstrual syndrome?

Because Dong Quai is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat premenstrual syndrome 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 Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with premenstrual syndrome?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat premenstrual syndrome 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 premenstrual syndrome?

Because Atractylodes Rhizome is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat premenstrual syndrome 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 Cape Jasmine Fruit (Zhi Zi) help with premenstrual syndrome?

Because Cape Jasmine Fruit is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat premenstrual syndrome as a symptom, like Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San or Yue Ju Wan for instance.

Cape Jasmine Fruits is a Cold herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Gallbladder, the Heart, the Lung and the Sanjiao.

Its main actions are: Clears Heat and calms spirit. Drains Damp-Heat affecting the Liver and Gallbladder. Clears Heat in the Blood and stops bleeding. Anti-inflammatory.

Read more about Cape Jasmine Fruits here

Why might Szechuan Lovage Root (Chuan Xiong) help with premenstrual syndrome?

Because Szechuan Lovage Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat premenstrual syndrome as a symptom, like Ge Xia Zhu Yu Tang or Tao Hong Si Wu 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