Acupuncture + Chinese Medicine for Hormonal Balance
Acupuncture for Hormones? Plus other Tips and Tricks.
In today’s world, we are seeing a steady rise in female patients struggling with hormonal imbalance and dysfunction. These issues are common, but not NORMAL. Meaning, you don’t have to live like this!! These are some of the most common complaints we see here at Centered: Richmond. There are many potential causes for these issues, which can include:
- Difficult, Painful Periods
- Heavy Periods
- Ovarian Cysts
- Hot Flashes
Let’s talk about common causes we see for these conditions and what you can do about them. fibroids, ovarian cysts, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, and infertility. This may ring true for some of you who already have one or more of these conditions in your lives. You are certainly not alone. But what many women don’t know is that the holistic practices of acupuncture and Chinese herbalism (among other lifestyle practices and modalities) play a vital role in helping to bring hormones back into balance.
Here at the clinic, we tend to see mainly four primary causes of hormonal dysfunction, inflammation, hormonal imbalance, poor circulation in the pelvis, and lack of hormonal production from various deficiencies (calories, vitamins and minerals, etc.).
Let’s face it. Our lives are filled with stress and inflammation. When inflammation levels and stress levels run rampant, I can do a number on our hormones. A healthy diet, and developing methods to reduce the impacts of stress on your body can be very helpful. Acupuncture can be a very effective tool to help your body manage stress better. Chinese herbs can help rebalance the gut, which can be an extremely effective way to reduce your overall inflammation levels when combined with stress reduction techniques.
Hormonal Imbalance/Environmental Hormone Disruptors
Estrogen and progesterone are the two primary hormones in females. During a normal, healthy menstrual cycle, estrogen rises in the first half of the cycle, peaks during ovulation, and then falls in the second half (while progesterone rises). As mentioned before, genetics does play a role here, however, estrogen dominance is dramatically affected by how many xenoestrogens (environmental estrogens) we are exposed to, as well as how good we are at breaking down and excreting all that estrogen. Symptoms of estrogen dominance usually include:
- Irregular or abnormal menstrual periods
- Bloating and water retention
- Breast swelling and tenderness
- Mood swings such as irritability and depression
- Weight gain, especially around the abdomen and hips
- A sluggish metabolism
- Thyroid dysfunction
- Extreme fatigue
- Insomnia and trouble sleeping
This pattern can best be addressed by using Chinese medicine and other holistic modalities to support healthy hormone production and elimination. Specifically, the liver acts as a filter in metabolizing excess estrogen and harmful environmental toxins in our bodies. When the liver is overburdened with these xenoestrogens, its ability to metabolize estrogen effectively is compromised. Support your detox organs with proper foods and limit the amount of xenoestrogens that you’re exposed to.
Here are a few helpful tips for doing so:
- Reduce your consumption of commercially-raised meat and dairy products (such as beef, pork, chicken, milk, cheese) and consume hormone-free products.
- Eat local and organic foods whenever possible, as non-organic products contain the most pesticide residues.
- Drink filtered water (in glass or BPA-free bottles)
- Toss out personal care products (shampoo, soaps, cosmetics) that contain paraben or phenoxyethanol chemical compounds.
- Avoid soft plastics (which contain phthalates) and store and consume liquids and foods in glass containers; especially avoid heating plastic-wrapped foods in the microwave.
- Reduce your consumption of soy (especially those containing soy protein and soy protein isolates), which contains an unusually high amount of plant estrogens.
- Avoid conventional tampons and sanitary products that contain chlorine, fragrance, rayon, etc. and instead use products made of organic cotton or other natural materials (and, they’re better for the environment!).
Poor Circulation in the Pelvis
Unfortunately, the pelvis is at a natural disadvantage when it comes to stagnation. While poor systematic circulation is already a common problem, sitting too much over extended periods of time (hey, sedentary desk job) is usually the main culprit. Poor circulation and stagnation can result in painful, heavy periods and cramping accompanied by blood clots, perhaps without other indicators of estrogen dominance. You may also experience lower abdominal bloating, constipation, and even ovarian cysts or uterine fibroids. Poor diet and environmental toxins (as mentioned above) may also contribute to pelvic congestion, as they compromise our liver’s ability to properly eliminate excess estrogen and toxins from circulation, and excess estrogen contributes to bloating and constipation.
With the support of acupuncture and Chinese herbs, menstrual issues can resolve due to improved circulation in pelvic tissue. Fertility challenges may also decrease as a result of improved circulation in the ovaries.
Additionally, the uterus prefers a warm environment for optimal circulation and blood flow, so be sure to incorporate warming foods and drinks into your diet. The consumption of too many cooling foods can cause a damp environment, which can exacerbate issues. If you have a heating pad at home, that’s also a nice tool to place over your pelvic area to encourage circulation (while also alleviating painful cramps). Also, try a standing desk at work and get the body moving to help encourage blood flow, especially exercises that utilize your legs and core area.
Deficiency Type Hormonal Imbalance
This particular type of imbalance relates to women who are unable to effectively produce enough hormones often as a result of having a high metabolism, over-exercising, or having experienced a life event that drained the body of its resources (especially during intense periods of high stress). Since one of the first systems to willingly take a hit during times of stress is the endocrine system, hormones tend to fall out of whack. Women with this deficiency type tend to endure very long or very short menstrual cycles (3 weeks, or 6 weeks), and periods are usually short and light. Alternatively, some women may not have a period at all (known as amenorrhea). Ovulation may also be absent, therefore affecting fertility and the ability to become pregnant.
In our experience, the best tool for these women is to conduct a review of their current nutrition, lifestyle, and exercise habits to see where they can make improvements toward optimal health and hormonal balance. Incorporating less intense exercises (such as yoga) may be beneficial in helping to lower cortisol levels, especially if they live in stressful environments or circumstances. Chinese herbs often manifest healthier menstrual and ovulatory cycles within a few months by essentially putting energy back into the battery.
So What About Acupuncture For Hormones?
If you are looking for help, and are considering acupuncture for hormones, find out if you are a good candidate for services. We offer COMPLIMENTARY consultations.
Working with an acupuncturist is not about acupuncture alone! It is often about working with somebody who is trained to examine the health problems you are facing holistically. This can provide you with an efficient and effective path to health.