Remedy for Period Pain

While period pain and many menstrual problems are associated with blood stagnation, deficiency of Qi and blood is another common cause. Differential diagnosis is important as it would be inappropriate to nourish the blood if a remedy to encourage its circulation is needed.

Period pain associated with deficiency are characterized by a delayed start to menstruation, a dull ache rather than cramping pains, and a light-coloured discharge without clots. The patient is likely to feel weak, tired, and may also suffer from palpitations and dizziness.

One of the classic remedies for period pain is the "decoction of eight precious ingredients" (Ba Zhen Tang), which is often marketed in tablet form as "Women's Precious Pills". This remedy can contain Ren Shen, but Dang Shen is often preferred as it is more yin in character, so is more appropriate for blood deficiency. Other herbs generally used are: Bai Zhu, Shu Di Huang, Dang Gui, Bai Shao Yao, Chuan Xiong, and Gan Cao.

For blood and Oi deficiency, Huang Qi is often added with Rou Gui or Sheng Jiang if a warming ingredient is appropriate. Chinese motherwort (Yi Mu Cao, Leonurus heterophyllus) is another optional ingredient if irregular menstruation and back pains are involved, or a little Du Zhong.

Deficient blood syndromes

Deficient blood syndromes are characterized by pallor, dizziness, vertigo, poor eyesight, fatigue, palpitations, menstrual irregularities, deafness or tinnitus, and dry skin.

A Western practitioner might blame some of these symptoms on anaemia - an iron deficiency common in women of child-bearing age - although they can also suggest heart weakness or possibly chronic liver disease.

In Chinese medicine theory, deficient blood symptoms almost always suggest problems with the liver (which stores the blood), or the heart (which directs and circulates the blood). Treatment uses tonifying herbs to "nourish the blood". These herbs are often rich in nutrients, so they supply the essential minerals or vitamins that the body needs to build more blood. They are usually combined with yin remedies, as blood is a yin substance, so any deficiency is seen as yin weakness. Many remedies are used to tonify Oi and blood together since these deficiencies are often linked.

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