The word is out: Acupuncture is incredibly helpful for treating pain.
The best kept secret that should be let out? Chinese herbal formulas are incredibly helpful for women’s reproductive issues.
I know. It’s a pretty big claim. I say it with the caveat that I do not believe there is one thing that works for everyone. In some cases, conventional hormone therapy is and should remain the gold standard of care. I’m talking about the 90% of other cases where Chinese herbal formulas could be used to mitigate or resolve symptoms.
This post is a succinct look at the use of Chinese herbs clinically, what to expect while taking them, and what issues often benefit the most from herbal formulas.
First off, the issue of safety. Several years ago, a big press break declared Chinese herbs to be harmful. This large-scale expose revealed toxic processes and contaminants in the mass production of Chinese herbs. While this does happen in some large-scale distributors, it is not the norm and there are many farmers and producers that do not grow in large-scale, toxic ways. In truth, Chinese herbs are food grade, meaning they are more like a superfood (ex; ginger, blueberries, dandelion root, maca, algae, etc), than a vitamin. Looking for quality herbs is a bit like knowing your farmer or buying organic. Herbs that are safe to consume are labeled GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice). Are Chinese herbs safe to take with pharmaceuticals? Yes. Your practitioner knows what combinations to avoid.
Thompson Family Acupuncture Clinic uses the highest grade of quality herbs to make custom herbal formulas. We use granules, meaning the individual herbs have been cooked properly in large vats and then are dehydrated with a potato starch. Often there are between 8-15 herbs mixed together in each formula. They are blended in advance at specific ratios and are presented to you in a cute little bottle with a tiny spoon that tucks inside the bottle once you open it. You simply scoop a set number spoonfuls into a mug, add hot water, stir and drink.
What to expect while taking herbs? Expect to drink a cup of strange tasting tea twice a day. The taste will change over time because your taste buds will change and also because the herbs in your tea will likely change. As symptoms begin to disappear, your formula will shift to address what still remains. Eventually, herbal formulas are no longer needed. While it varies for each individual, in general, you can expect to be on herbs for 3-12 months for most reproductive health issues.
The following is a short list of common women’s reproductive health issues that Chinese herbs often treat very effectively:
- hot flashes
- all other menopausal symptoms
- excessive, heavy periods
- painful periods
- irregular periods
- migraines & headaches related to periods
- mood fluctutations
- PMS symptoms
- post-natal depression
Thompson Family Acupuncture has an herbal consultation appointment option available for patients interested in herbal medicine alone. If you or your daughter or mother has been interested in acupuncture for a women’s health concern but is leery of needles, rest easy. Herbal consultation appointments are available here in Walla Walla. If you are reading from another area, ask your local acupuncturist if they offer something similar.
There are so many women out there suffering from reproductive issues that could be easily resolved by using Chinese herbs. It’s worth calling and asking your local acupuncturist about your specific concern. I’m not saying you will fall in love with your period, but you certainly may fall in love with life again.
Julie Baron is an East Asian Medicine Practitioner at the Thompson Family Acupuncture Clinic in Walla Walla, WA. Julie seeks to empower individuals and communities. As a movement and mindfulness educator, she has a penchant for functional anatomy. As an EAMP, she has also has a passion for herbal medicine.