Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Acupuncture have been used for thousands of years and have played a vital role in Women’s Health. One of the earliest Traditional Chinese Medicine texts dedicated to gynaecology dates back to 652 AD, this provides the basis for treatment, viewing the body individually to treat the root cause rather than the symptoms.
Now, in 2023, we use this knowledge with an integrative, research-based approach alongside many allied health practitioners, specialists, doctors, and GPs to optimise the care for each patient.
The female reproductive system is anatomically and physiologically complex with a monthly hormonal system that fluctuates and is easily influenced. Acupuncture is one of many modalities governing TCM, it is the practice of inserting fine hair-like sized needles into specific acupoints located all over the body. They are a part of the meridian system located on 12 different channels that correspond to each organ system. Acupoints are situated where groups of nerves end, this creates a response and sends messages back to the brain.
So, how can Acupuncture benefit Women’s Health?
When supporting a female body, hormones produced by the hypothalamus, pituitary, and ovaries play a vital role in whole-body regulation. Acupuncture uses specific points on the body to regulate the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) & Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Ovarian (HPO) axis, allowing the brain to effectively communicate with the Ovaries and encourage Ovulation which is the most important part of a menstrual cycle.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, we see the HPO Axis as connecting the Bao Mai & Bao Lou axis by connecting the Heart, Bao Gong (Heart & Ovaries) & Kidneys (influencing hormonal production of Oestrogen, Progesterone, Lutenising Hormone & Follicle Stimulating Hormone). You see the image below showing Zi Gong located above the Ovaries and Du20 located at the top of the head.
Acupuncture also encourages healthy uterine and ovarian blood flow through the local area, thereby supporting all menstrual health including Dysmenorrhea, Endometriosis, Adenomyosis, and Hypothalamic Amenorrhea. We like to describe these types of presentations as ‘traffic on the highway’, the blockage of Qi & Blood can cause menstrual pain and irregularities, thus selecting points to support blood flow is beneficial. This also supports women utilising Assisted Reproductive Technologies, such as IVF, and IUI, as increased blood flow supports follicular growth, allows the uterus to better accept the embryos, and encourages uterine lining thickening to support implantation.
Acupuncture is also safely used throughout pregnancy and the postpartum period. It supports through early pregnancy by aiding nausea and vomiting, fatigue, then moving through trimesters two and three to support musculoskeletal complaints, reflux, constipation, and overall quality of life. Traditional Chinese Medicine views the postpartum period as the ‘fourth trimester’ and strongly recommends adequate rest, nourishment, and warmth. We utilise Acupuncture and Moxibustion to warm the Uterus and build Qi and Blood to nourish the new mother and encourage the body to heal.
Women’s Health encompasses each chapter from Menarche to Menopause, so we too work closely with women transitioning through perimenopause and into menopause 12 months after the cessation of the menstrual bleed. During this time, Oestrogen is described to be on a bit of a rollercoaster, and this causes a rise of vasomotor symptoms such as hot flushes & night sweats, urogenital changes, mood changes, and weight fluctuations. Acupuncture regulates hormonal fluctuations and works closely through the Kidney meridian and organ system to support Yin, clear heat and support the Heart.
At The Dao Health, we not only utilise Acupuncture for Women’s Health but also Moxibustion, Chinese Herbal Medicine, Supplementation, and Chinese Dietary Therapy in an integrating setting to treat the patient as a whole. Our initial Women’s Health consultation and treatment is 2 hours in length, to allow us the time to really understand each patient as an individual, to educate, and to create a safe and inviting place to share and be heard.
If you are interested in TCM & Acupuncture, please head over to our website and our Instagram ~ @thedao. The Dao Health also has an educational podcast available on both Spotify and Apple, Integrating Chinese Medicine @integratingchinesemedicine.
By Molly Burton written for FORMode Wellness ~