Why Chinese Women Don’t Use Tampons—Its About Qi

The reason why Chinese Women Don’t Use Tampons has to do both with the lack of a tampon ‘culture’ which, in the USA was created by marketing from tampon companies, but also because of the shared cultural context between Chinese culture and Chinese medicine. Chinese people have basic notions of hot, cold, Qi and Blood, that come from Chinese medicine and philosophy. It is why they want their food fresh and hot with lots of vegetables. What a Chinese chef once called “wok Qi.”

Remember Toxic Shock Syndrome? Where super bacteria grew under conditions of excessive heat and dampness with obstruction of Qi flow?

While I can for sure appreciate and value how much more convenient tampons must be, on the other hand there is the simple reality of bacterial overgrowth. Chinese medicine, and not for any sexist reasons, does not recommend keeping a blood and fluid soaked cotton close to delicate mucus membranes for long periods of time. Obviously if you do use them, change them more than you “need” to. Because waterlogging anywhere in the body obstructs the flow of Qi, whether it is the fatigue that results from the fat of obesity, to the collection of fluids in the ankles that makes it hard to move your legs at first after sitting for 8 hours on a plane, dampness hinders the flow of Qi and its the healthy flow of Qi to any area of the body that makes it healthy.

Why Chinese Medicine Opposes Tampons–What is Qi?

Does the uterus “know’ that the blood is collecting in rather than out of the vaginal canal? Its possible.We do know that different internal organs have different electrical frequencies, and that food digested in the stomach is at 101, not 98.6 degrees. So who knows. I, for sure, trust Chinese medicine way more than I trust capitalist marketing by tampon companies.

Chinese medicine believes that tampons, in addition to creating physical conditions ripe for bacterial and yeast overgrowth,  also obstruct the free flow of blood out of the uterus and vaginal canal. Its a Qi thing.  Qi is not metaphysical. Its life force. The difference between your body while alive and healthy, while ill, and immediately after death. Qi is warm. Lose too much blood as in an accident, and your body goes into shock and the temperature drops. You turn cold.  Qi is  warm, delicate, and light. This is why our moods can change on a dime. Qi is fast and light. Qi is the organiztional force within the body. Nerves send impulses–that is Qi moving. Neurotransmitters fire in the brain–that is Qi moving. Food moves in the gut–that is Qi moving. You body sags with age–that is Qi weakening and failing in its “upright” function. A uterus prolapses, or an organ herniates and that is Qi failing to hold things in its place. Your face turns red with anger–that is Qi, which is warm, rushing upwards. Your child vomits when sick–that is rebellious Qi, because the gut Qi flows down, not up. A new police detective vomits when seeing his first dead body–that is also rebellious Qi in the gut, but this time clearly due to an emotional factor. The mind leads the Qi and shock, especially mixed with a bad odor, causes the stomach Qi to rebel. Fear causes the Qi to descend. Someone puts a gun to your head, god forbid, and you pee in your pants. Children, whose bladder Qi is immature and therefore weak, urinate with fear very easily. Especially at night when conscious control disappears. A fearful dream or generalized anxiety can lead to bed wetting. This is all about Qi and I could give 500 more examples, easily.

Qi is the Commander of Blood

And Qi is the “commander of blood”. Its the force of the Qi that moves blood and fluids around the body…in the case of blood its the heart Qi especially, but in the case of fluids, just sitting for too long at middle age, when your Qi is naturally a bit weaker, and your ankles might swell a bit, because Qi needs to move and being sedentary inhibits Qi movement and so, because its Qi force that moves fluids, fluids collect, and since dampness moves downward, it collects in your ankles. Just as if you were to lay in bed for a weak you might have fluid collect in your lungs.

External attackers, like pneumonia viruses, inhibit the normal flow of Qi in the lungs, and fluids collect. Bacterial dysentery does the same thing to the gut. And unprocessed or excessive emotions damage Qi “flow” just as profoundly, and you see that over and over again with functional disorders like IBS, functional dyspepsia, hiatal hernia, IC, tension headaches. Its how our nervous systems work and intereact with the other physiological systems, what science, for example now calls “the gut-brain connection” or how they describe the immune systems sophisticated multiple mechanisms, are all interpretations of how Qi moves physiologically and pathologically.

Life is a Process of Warm Transformation–Qi is the Fundamental Force

We are warm blooded animals. Life is a warm process of transformation of food, air, and experiences, and Qi is the fundamental force behind all transformations in the body, from moving food through the gut, to the mitochondrial activities in the cell.. Sleep washes the brain which is one element in the process of recovery from experience that allows us to process and grow from it. Another is quiet reflection, the opposite of activity. Meditation even. We are born with 100% of our inherited Qi from our parents. DNA is part of that. Vigorous strong mares and dames more often produce vigorous strong progeny. But regardless, at death you are left with zero % of your Qi. We can even say that the cause of death, ultimately, is the total loss of Qi. One of our sources of Qi is air. Can’t breathe, and your body is starved of Qi. We all die when our breath stops. We are also born with zero% wisdom (though some of us have more common sense and wisdom or maturity, naturally, than others, as it turns out) If, when our Qi runs out completely, we will have 100% wisdom, then like will have had rich meaning.

Does the uterus “know’ that the blood is collecting in rather than out of the vaginal canal? Its possible. And it possible that it does not. We do know that different internal organs have different electrical frequencies, and that food digested in the stomach is at 101, not 98.6 degrees. So who knows? I, for sure, trust Chinese medicine way more than I trust capitalist marketing by tampon companies. This is not an anti-feminist position at all. It may be that you choose to use a tampon only when you absolutely have to, like you have to swim in a race. But, as life in general is a warm process Chinese medicine does not recommend swimming in cold water when menstruating, just as it does not recommend drinking cold beverages and eating cold foods, when menstruating, or actually for anyone in excess. Because Qi movement and transformation is a warm process, cold inhibits it, just as in nature cold freezes water  and heat melts ice by causing its molecules to move. Heat creates healthy movement. Exercise warms you up because it makes your Qi move. Overexercise exhausts your Qi and leaves you cold and hungry. But pathological heat, such as in fever or anger creates excessive movement. You toss and turn and can not sleep. Your skin turns read. Your acne or eczema worsens, or with febrile disease your get red lesions on the skin.

Good Health Begins With Free Flow of Qi

So Chinese medicine is all about maintaining free flow of Qi so that it can lead the blood and fluids all over the body and create health and wellness. Anything that obstructs this Qi flow, from too much salad to too much anger will cause disease. Tie a rubber band really hard around your finger and see what happens. Emotional tension in the middle of the body makes it hard to breathe deeply just as a tight belt would, and can be a big factor in PMS and menstrual disorders, just like tense shoulders, neck, scalp, and jaw are a primary immediate factor in migraine and tension headache. Treatment with acupuncture for these problems works by unblocking stuck Qi and leading it to the proper place.

The proper place for menstrual discharge is out of the body. Does using a tampon inhibit the flow of Qi and Blood out of the uterus. I am not positive. I do know women who say they like how it feels to have no obstruction in the vaginal canal during menstruation.  It may well be that tampon use is one of the perfect storm of multiple factors responsible for such high rates of PMS and menstrual disorders in the west, the other two factors being emotional imbalances from our cultural characteristics and the standard American diet high in very cold food from freezing smoothies to excessive amounts of raw food.

Its your body, your choice. But just to know there is a third option between tampon and napkin. And that option is the menstrual cup. Please see here for more info on the menstrual cup. And here for a link to menstrual cup reviews. Most of my patients and friends who use the menstrual cup like the Diva product. But there are others that some people prefer.

There is an interesting article about this subject in today’s Guardian, Why Chinese Women Don’t Use Tampons, which is not a bad article.

copyright eyton shalom, san diego ca august 2016 allrights reserved, use with permission


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