Acupuncture and Moxabustion for Menstrual Bleeding, Menopause, and Fibroids
Acupuncture, Moxabustion, and Chinese Herbal Medicine are first line treatments for a wide range of Woman’s Health/Gynecological health issues. Acupuncture and Moxabustion are specifically helpful for the heavy menstrual bleeding associated with painful or irregular menstrual periods in young women. Along with Chinese herbs they are also fantastic for the excessive heavy flow that can occur in menopause or with uterine fibroids.
Moxabustion on Yin Bai (Spleen 1) to Raise the Zhong/Upright or Central Qi
When using Acupuncture and Moxabustion for menstrual bleeding associated with painful periods, Uterine Fibroids, and/or Menopause, we like to use direct moxa on a specific points in the body that “raises the central, or Zhong Qi”. This point, Yin Bai or “Spleen 1” is also used for uterine prolapse, rectal prolapse, and hemorrhoids, so you can understand that its job is to reenfoce the lifting energy of the body. You ask, what’s he talking about? This is so hocus pocusy! What’s the “lifting energy” or “central Qi”
Central Zhong Qi, Hocus Pocus or Reality?
Well, let me ask you this…When you are exhausted from exercise, or illness, or simply at night when its time for bed and you feel like you just have to lie down, what is it you are feeling? You dont want to jump up and down just then, do you?
When you see marathoners collapse at the end of the run, what is that? Those are normal exhaustions or collapses of the central Qi.
In the case of what we feel at night when we just need to lie down, that is the normal biorhythm in which our Zhong Qi weakens at night as a result of expenditure during the day, and peaks again around noon, assuming good sleep. (This is why sleep has such importanat restorative value and is considered a source of energy, akin to food).
Zhong Qi Weakened by Overuse
When you collapse after running the marathon, that is an exhaustion due to an overconsumption of energy (an energy you replenish with what? Energy drinks, energy bars, carbohydrates that can be quickly turned into energy….
Zhong Qi Damaged by Illness
But when you have fatigue from the flu, or pneumonia, this is an attack on the central Qi by a pathogen. Your central Qi weakens and you need to lie down, because your Qi is busy fighting off an invader… And if that progresses and you are this side of death, well that is a profound weakness of the Qi as a result of the attack.
Death and the Cessation of Qi
When my mother was on her death bed, dying from bone cancer, why was she unable to get up even to use the toilet? You can describe her body at that point in purely biochemical terms, but you can also describe it in ways that analyze energies as found in the body. And what is death if not the cessation of energy production by the human body? Qi is movement. At the point of death all movement stops. There is no more circulation of Qi in the body or brain, hence the flat line we all know from movies and shows. The Qi of the body is now only what’s stored in the flesh, but there is no new manufacture of Qi, and no more functional Zhong or upright Qi; the body lies flat, heavy, and still.
Chinese Medicine: A Premodern Science or A Way of Seeing and Describing
In modern physics, energy is the capacity to do work. In ancient Chinese medicine, the capacity to do work in an animal is called Qi. Its nearly a question of semantic or just language, two ways of describing the same reality.
The Language of Love: On the Street, in Chinese Medicine, through the Microscope.
For example, when we fall in love, we use language rich in poetic metaphor. “I am crazy about her” for example. Are you really crazy? Temporarily, sometimes. In Chinese Medicine, clinically, we describe that same temporary madness as a kind of fire inflaming the Qi of the heart, or shen (also the word for consciousness). And so do the Sufi mystics of Iran and India, and so do the troubadours and Shakespeare
What neither you nor I do when we have “fallen in love” (again, a metaphor of instability, which is what heart fire describes in people with actual mania or severe insomnnia), is describe being in love with the language of Biochemistry. Nobody texts their girlfriend, “omg, I just saw Justin. I can feel my oxytocin pumping out of my hypothalamus and releasing from my pituitary gland!”
What Chinese Medicine Describes
What you and I do is describe what can be seen, heard, touched, smelled, tasted, and intuited. In the case of Chinese Medicine we do the same thing in the context of an elaborate paradyme that developed over 2000 years that describes all the mechanisms of the human organism and her experience. And its no less accurate or untrue than what modern Science describes with the tools of the microscope, just a view from a different angle, a macro one.
Over a very long time, the very smart people who developed Medicine in China, observed and commented on all the different ways a body expresses energy, from the manufacture of energy from food, drink, air, and sleep, to the specifics on how energy moves through the body in illness and health.
Zhong Upright Central Qi in Health and Disease
Chinese Medicine describes the upward flow of Qi that’s at its maximum in excitable youth who jump and down with abandon all the time…to its loss with ageing, to the point when old people want to sit down a lot and no longer jump up and down with joy. Likewise Chinese Medicine describe the downward flow of Menstrual Blood, and digestate as urine and feces. These flows should be appropriate. Not too much, not too little.
When a woman is in menopause, one of the predictable results of weakened upright Qi, and of pathological heat, is extremely heavy blood flow that can last for days. We use moxabustion for menstrual bleeding urgently in cases like these, because chronic heavy bleeding, besides being very inconvenient, it can also lead to anemia and fatigue. Anemia and Fatigue were called “Qi and Blood emptiness” in ancient Chinese Medicine, and the rub is that this is the last thing you want just at a time of life where your Qi and Blood are naturally emptying with age. Its richness of blood that gives the radiant skin of youth, and its that same blood emptying that leads to the dry thin skin of old age. Blood in Chinese medicine includes the actual blood that flows in our veins, as well as the nourishment we receive from the nutrients flowing in our blood.
In Old Age our Central Qi naturally weakens. Again, its why we don’t have the same amount of energy at 75 we did at 15…This is also why our skin and breasts sag with age. Natural weakening of the Zhong Qi. One way we can preserve this Zhong Qi is to use acupuncture, moxabustion, and Chinese Herbs to reenforce it, to supplement it, and to treat heavy menstrual flow at any age.
Pathological Heat Makes the Blood Run Wild
In the case of heavy menstrual bleeding due to fibroids, there are other mechanisms at play, such as Qi and Blood stasis, and also pathalogical heat. Just as in nature, heat creates movement. It makes the blood “run wild.” We see this easily in the kind of serious infectious diseases most of us done easily encounter, for example the bleeding that occurs with Tuberculosis, when the person has fever and coughs up blood or gets spontaneous nose bleed. In Bubonic plague, a bacterial infection, people bleed from any orifice and from the pores.
Pathological Heat Symptoms in Addition to Heavy Bleeding
The heat that causes heavy menstrual bleeding in young women is often the perfect storm of constitutional type plus excessive stressors. In the case of fibroids we see bleeding due to obstruction AND heat..People with pathological heat will often have PreMenstural symptoms of excessive hunger, irritability, loss of temper, acne, and constipation that resolves once the bleeding starts.
People with pathological heat will typically have either a red tongue body or red points/dots on the tongue (which also happens with fever and emotional upset or insomnia, all issues of heat). They will typically have a racing pulse..
Treatment of Excessive Bleeding from Heat
We release pathological heat from the body with specific acupuncture points, such as Spleen 10, Large Intestine 11, and the ting well points. If severe enough we may do blood-letting on the jing well points. We also use herbal prescriptions that stop bleeding. My favorite, in the case of menorrhagia, excessive menstrual bleeding, whether from menopause, fibroids, or as part of an irregular menstrual cycle in a young woman, is Long Life brand Meno-stat. I have been able to stop cases of extreme heavy bleeding with that formula that contains various Chiense herbs to stop bleeding, and also to cool and nourish the blood.
Treatment of Excessive Bleeding from Weakness of the Zhong/Upright/Central Qi
While we treat bleeding from heat by “attacking the evil” or clearing heat and stopping bleeding, in cases of weakness or emptiness, we replace what was loss. Acupuncture can only do that indirectly, by stregnthening the internal mechanism of the body that produces energy from food, air, and sleep.
But Moxabustion for menstrual bleeding, because it is heat, is an energy source. We can actually add energy into the acupucture channel with moxabustion, in the same way we add energy from food nutrients into the blood stream. Here we choose points on the spleen channel which is most closely related to the Zhong Qi mechanism.
At the same time the acupuncture with direct moxabustion on point Spleen 1 has a such a powerful effect on boosting the Zhong Qi that it can actually stop heavy menstrual bleeding within hours, and sometimes even immediately. I always combine this with Dr. Huang’s wonderful Meno-stat Chinese Herb formula. Moxabustion for menstural bleeding plus herbs is better than either one alone
The Proof Is in the Pudding–Patient Successes
One of my favorite teachers, Alex Tiberi, who was a very practical fellow, was very fond of saying, “there is theory, and then there is the clinic.” We can read and learn all the theory we want, but in the end, we still have to see what works in the clinic..As Reagan said to Gorbachov, “trust, but verify.” I can say that the above information I have verified again again over 30 years of practice.
Verbatim Email from Patient on whom i did Moxabustion for Menstrual Bleeding
Here is a verbatim email recently from a patient of mine, T., who benefitted from moxabustion for menstrual bleeding. T is a menopausal aged woman who suffers from Uterine fibroids, heavy bleeding, and PMS. She is the perfect storm, because of her age, plus fibroids, plus super high levels of work and emotional stress.
On T’s previous visit she was having such heavy bleeding on Day 2 of her period that she had to stay home and change her pad every hour. I had her come that afternoon, on Day 2, and I did direct thread moxa on Yin Bai (Spleen 1), at the corner of the toe nail of the big toes, 3 x on each foot. This is a treatment for any kind of abnormal bleeding due to “Spleen Vacuity causing weakness of Zhong Qi,” which is a technical term in Chinese Medicine, used to describe a set group of biological patterns.
She called me that night, to tell me with great excitement that her bleeding had slowed down dramatically. I had also placed her on Meno-stat, and then when her period ended had her take a different Chinese herbal formula from Blue Poppy herbs called Phoenix Rising, to address the Qi Stagnation symptoms causing her PMS along with her heavy heavy bleeding and pain. She also took a fomula Gui Zhi Fu Ling Wan for her fibroids. On day two of her next period I received this email:
Amazing…. I awoke with my period this morning and had no idea it was coming! No swelling/bloating, no growth of the fibroids with the hormone flow, no irritability, no cramps or back ache! Just a slow, deep deep brick red flow right now! TCM and herbs………….wow! Im always so damn impressed!…
Feel free to contact me for any questions on how I use Acupuncture, Chinese Herbs and Moxabustion for Menstrual Bleeding in young women with painful periods, women with Uterine fibroids, and women with heavy bleeding due to the hormonal fluctuations of menopause….
Ayurveda, Acupuncture, and Chinese Medicine in San Diego
and how long do you practise this?
It will vary from case to case, depending on severity of symptoms, length of time of disorder, age and health of patient, and other variables. But in general, it might be done, in case like the above, on day one and two of the bleeding. Really there are almost too many variables to generalize. Best is to have it done by a professional who can do an evaluation first.
I recently came across your post and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that it caught my interest and you've provided informative points. I will visit this blog often.
Acupuncture treatments definitely helps to manage pre-menstrual periods. I have tried them in several patients and they work great.
I have had the same experience, with all the various problems of the various phases of the cycle….