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How Acupuncture and TCM Can Help PMS and Irregular Menstrual Cycles

Ladies, how many of you experience these symptoms each month?

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is a group of physical and emotional symptoms linked to a woman's menstrual cycle. PMS symptoms usually occur during the ten days before menses and disappear shortly before or after the start of menstrual flow. Symptoms vary from woman to woman, but each woman's symptoms are typically predictable.

Changes in hormones during the menstrual cycle are an essential contributor. These changing hormone levels may affect some women more than others. Chemical changes in the brain may also be involved. Other factors such as stress, a nutritionally inadequate diet, lack of exercise and sleep, and a hectic or demanding lifestyle may exacerbate the symptoms.

Ladies, how many of you experience these symptoms during your menstrual cycle? Acne and skin disorders, anxiety and mood swings, changes in your appetite, backaches, bloating, breast tenderness and swelling, constipation and diarrhea, cramps, depression, edema, headaches and migraines, heart palpitations, impaired memory and foggy thinking, irritability, joint pain, low libido, lower abdominal distention, nausea and vomiting, night sweats, cravings, vaginitis, water retention, and weight gain? That sure is a lot to go through each month!

For some women, especially those who exhibit as many as four to ten of the above symptoms, many aspects of their lives may be diminished during one to two weeks before menstruation. This can include relationships with family and friends, work productivity, mood, emotional stability, and the ability to appreciate their bodies and feminine identity.

Women may be at increased risk for PMS if:

  • They are over 30 years old.

  • They are experiencing significant amounts of stress.

  • Their nutritional habits are poor.

  • They have suffered side effects from birth control pills.

  • They have difficulty maintaining a stable weight.

  • They do not get enough exercise.

  • They've had a pregnancy complicated by toxemia.

  • They have had children (the more children, the more severe the symptoms).

  • They have a family history of depression.

In treating PMS, Western medicine recommends diet and lifestyle changes coupled with medications that manipulate the levels of progesterone and estrogen (i.e., birth control pills) and antidepressants (for nervousness, anxiety, and depression) that affect mood and emotions. Although prescription medications can sometimes bring immediate relief, they do not address the underlying cause of PMS, and they can cause unwanted side effects that may mimic PMS symptoms.

In 1997, the National Institute of Health (NIH) issued a consensus report that suggested acupuncture is effective in treating menstrual cramps and other symptoms associated with PMS. Acupuncture can address PMS symptoms naturally, without medication, by restoring balance and harmony, both physically and emotionally. In Chinese medicine, the root cause of PMS is usually an imbalance or blockage of Qi (pronounced "chee") or our body's "vital energy" and blood within specific organs and meridian systems. When Qi and blood become imbalanced or blocked, symptoms and signs associated with PMS will appear.

Dr. Shipe will investigate the underlying causes leading to PMS symptoms. After a thorough diagnostic evaluation to determine which organ and meridian systems are out of balance, he'll treat PMS symptoms according to each patient's individual imbalances and overall health concerns. One modality that Dr. Shipe will often use is acupuncture. By inserting fine, hair-thin needles into specific acupuncture points along the body, Dr. Shipe can stimulate and activate the movement of Qi and blood. When Qi and blood travel freely throughout the body, balance and normal function are restored, and PMS symptoms are alleviated. Acupuncture also restores hormonal balance and provides deep relaxation to help reduce stress, ultimately encouraging and supporting greater health and well-being of both body and mind.

Dr. Shipe may also recommend personalized lifestyle changes such as eating a nourishing, organic, whole foods diet, regular aerobic exercise and adequate sleep, enjoying warm baths, supplementing the diet with vitamins and herbs, and practicing deep relaxation and exercises such as meditation, breathing exercises, QiGong, or yoga.

Whether you suffer from PMS symptoms on an occasional or a monthly basis, acupuncture and Chinese medicine can offer a safe, natural, and effective approach to alleviating these symptoms. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine are key to a healthier, balanced, PMS-free life.

Let's get to the root causes of your PMS symptoms. Listen to my latest podcast about irregular menstrual cycles and PMS, and when you're ready, book your appointment with us. To schedule, please call our office at 772.398.4550, email us at, or book online here.

In good health,

Dr. Shipe


Board Certified Acupuncture & Herbology, Pharmacist

Founder & Lead Physician at Women's Traditional Chinese Healing

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