What are the Three Golden Opportunities?

What are the three golden opportunities? ~

26 March, 2024

Elizabeth Cullen

 

 

 

 

 

In Traditional Chinese Medicine and Traditional Chinese culture, there is a rich history in Menstrual, Postpartum and Menopausal healthcare. There are three golden opportunities for Women’s Health which are considered monumental times in a woman’s life where comprehensive, women’s health-focused healthcare can greatly improve one’s quality of life now and in the future.

These monumental chapters in a woman’s life offer a golden opportunity in their life when undergoing significant physiological and hormonal changes, to be cared for and supported to actively improve their long-term health with regard to future fertility, menstrual cycle health and Menopause. It is important to note that these life chapters in a Woman’s reproductive life can also bring the potential for a weakness in Traditional Chinese Medicine that can arise in both the emotional and physical body. When signs and symptoms of disharmony arise, they need to be listened to and attended to rather than ignored to restore balance and preserve Jing.

What is Jing and why is it so important in Women’s Health?

Jing is a Traditional Chinese Medicine concept that can be translated in English to Essence or Vitality. Jing is closely linked to a female’s hormones throughout her menstrual life. Jing directly impacts and is affected by Ovulation, Menstruation, Fertility, Pregnancy, Postpartum and Menopause. Jing is stored in the Energetic Kidney organ and Reproductive organs of both females and males in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is responsible for our genetic inheritance and the strength of our constitution.

Through the three most significant hormonal transitions a female will go through in their life, one is at risk of losing Jing. Jing is one of the three treasures in Traditional Chinese Medicine along with Qi and Shen and it is imperative that the Jing is nourished and preserved for a long, quality life.

 

 

The three golden opportunities are:

 

The Menstrual Cycle

 

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the menstrual cycle is considered as a diagnostic tool to assess the general state of a woman’s health. I like to call the period, the monthly report card. A healthy menstrual cycle is a reflection of adequate Qi, Yang, Blood and Yin, and that there is a free flow of Blood and Qi. A regular cycle and efficient Ovulation, the main event of the cycle, is a reflection of Jing.

By understanding the seasons of the cycle and implementing menstrual care practices throughout the season of Winter also known as the menstrual bleed, this will support the preservation of Jing and prepare the body for the next cycle.

Read here to learn more about the major events in your menstrual cycle:
What happens in your menstrual cycle?

 

 

5 menstrual care practices to implement during your menstrual bleed:

 

1. Schedule Downtime and Extra Sleep
When planning your social schedule around your period, schedule downtime for compassionate care for yourself and ensure you have 8 hours of sleep.

 

2. Eat warm foods
By eating warming foods you are supporting a warm uterus, think 80% cooked, 20% raw on your plate.

 

3. Avoid chilled drinks
Drink room-temperature water, and avoid Iced coffees.

 

4. Try The Dao Health’s Period Porridge
A warming bowl of oats will support your digestion and energy throughout your period. By implementing Chinese Herbs such as Ground Cinnamon ( Rou Gui ), Black Sesame Seeds ( Hei Zhi Ma ) and Goji Berries ( Gou Qi Zi ), this will support your menstrual cycle and hormonal balance.
See the recipe here ~ Period Porridge 

 

5. Keep your feet warm
Wear socks, your Kidney meridian begins on your foot and supports your Jing

Learn more here with the Integrating Chinese Medicine podcast episode:

Understanding the seasons of the Menstrual Cycle

Postpartum

 

The first forty days of Postpartum practice is traditionally known as ‘sitting the month’, also known as Zuo Yue Zi. Originally, sitting for a month was what a mother in China would do post-birth. She would be confined inside her home, away from the wind and cold, limiting socialising and encouraged to rest.

Traditionally, the new mother would be supported 24 hours a day with meals, massage and abundant support with the baby. Her mother or mother-in-law would observe her to ensure she is following these guidelines and therefore ensure her recovery and future longevity. Sitting the month is still encouraged culturally in China, with fourth-trimester support available in a confinement hotel.

From a TCM perspective, childbirth causes significant depletion in a mother’s body with a loss of Qi, Blood and Jing. The body and mind need time to be cared for, to enable healing and replenish what has been lost. Breastmilk in TCM comes from the foundation of Blood and Qi responsible for breastmilk to flow smoothly and to function efficiently. When there is not enough Qi or if the Qi is unable to circulate properly, breastfeeding will be affected.

From a physiological perspective, a female will experience the most significant changes hormonally and physically from birth into the postpartum period. As the body adjusts to restore to a pre-pregnancy state, rest is vital to ensure she feels supported through this time to heal.

During the phase from childbirth to postpartum, the new mother will experience the highest levels of the hormone oxytocin, which is produced for a prolonged period. Creating an oxytocin-rich environment through nurturing and caring for the new mother provides space for her to rest, heal, and connect with the baby through spending time together and through breastfeeding or bottle feeding.

5 Traditional Chinese Medicine practices to implement during Zuo Yue Zi:

 

1. Make an Acupuncture appointment for Postpartum Support

 

2. Eat The Dao Health’s Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine Postpartum Soup
The Dao Health’s postpartum soup supports the mother’s recovery from birth, either vaginal or C-section, and supports the breast milk supply by restoring Blood, Qi and Yin that has been lost from birth and pregnancy through the use of traditional Chinese herbs.

See the Recipe here: Postpartum TCM Broth 

 

3. Avoiding Swimming until you finish the fourth trimester

To support the uterus and the body’s warmth to aid postpartum recovery in the first forty days, swimming is not recommended, even after getting the all-clear from your midwife/ obstetrician at your 6-week check-up. The first swim after the first forty days is worth the wait.

 

4. Eat Warm Foods and Avoid Chilled Drinks

A practical way to implement TCM to reduce postnatal depletion is to follow the postpartum Chinese dietary therapy principles to replenish the mother post-birth by strengthening Qi and building Blood.

This includes considering the way that the food is prepared, and consuming warm, cooked foods to support digestion and blood circulation to keep the body temperature warm and strengthen Qi to support recovery.

In postpartum reality, this can be slow-cooked, boiled and roasted foods and soups, adding cinnamon and goji berries to your oats, eating regularly and avoiding frozen foods. An 80/20 rule works well here – support yourself with a plate of 80% cooked foods and 20% raw foods.

To support Postpartum recovery and warming the uterus, avoid chilled water and say no to adding ice cubes to fresh juices or table water at your local cafe. The focus on keeping the uterus and body warm in the first forty days extends to what you drink. This also means that iced coffees are not recommended.

 

5. Mother Warming

‘Mother warming’ is a treatment using moxibustion to support the new mother post-birth. This treatment is focused on the lower abdomen area where the moxibustion, in the form of a stick, is used about two fingerbreadths above the skin to provide a warming sensation on the conception channel meridian, specifically from the pubic symphysis to the navel.

The purpose of mother warming treatment is to warm the local uterus area and support the Blood and Qi flow in the local area to encourage circulation and reduce any pain. Mother warming is a calming treatment that also supports the central nervous system.

At The Dao Health, the mother warming technique is used as part of the postpartum Acupuncture treatment. However, it can also be done at home following specific instructions from a Chinese medicine practitioner.

Important: The mother warming technique on the local abdomen area should be avoided at home for a mother who has had a c-section during the first forty days and alternative Acupuncture points can be used to support recovery

I share more about the benefits of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture for Postpartum with The INNARA here:

Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture during Pregnancy & Postpartum

Learn more here with the Integrating Chinese Medicine podcast episode:

What is the Fourth Trimester? Supporting the mother post-birth.

Menopause

 

In the ancient Chinese Medical text, the Huangdi Neijing also known as the Yellow Emperor’s Inner Cannon, describes the cycles of Jing which for a woman, change every 7 years. The fifth cycle of Jing begins at the age of 35 for a woman and this marks the decline of Jing which I prefer to view as the time to become aware of preparing the body for Perimenopause and Menopause. It is at this point in life, that how a woman looks after herself will directly affect her experience as she transitions through Menopause.

Preparing for Perimenopause and during Menopause is focused on strengthening the Kidney Jing as well as nourishing the Kidney Yin. If a woman has not had the opportunity to recover from Pregnancy, Birth and Postpartum, this can directly affect one’s experience of Menopause like a domino effect. For women who have not had children, if they have menstrual cycle imbalances that have not been addressed, this can also affect their Menopausal experience. Previous hormonal imbalances before menopause can be viewed as heading into the next hormonal event already deficient, with a lack of Jing not sufficient to be support through this phase which can then lead to disharmony in Traditional Chinese Medicine arising as symptoms associated with Menopause such as hot flushes, night sweats and hormonal mood changes.

I recommend to women that after preparing for pregnancy through preconception care, this is the next significant chapter to prepare for. I say to my patients that you want to aim to be your strongest and most balanced version of yourself heading into Menopause and the earlier you start looking after yourself as a priority, the better.

Traditional Chinese Medicine practices to implement during Perimenopause and Menopause:

 

1. Reduce Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol in Traditional Chinese Medicine is seen as having a thermal temperature of hot. The gradual reduction of Oestrogen is seen as a decrease of Yin which means the body is more prone to being warm. By reducing Alcohol consumption throughout the chapter of Perimenopause and Menopause not only benefits the body from a health perspective but also reduces hot flushes and night sweats.

For practical tips to reduce Alcohol consumption read more here: Drinking Consciously

2. Avoid Chilli and Spicy Foods

Chilli and spicy foods also have a hot thermal temperature in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Avoid these to reduce excess heat in the body.

 

3. Minimise Coffee intake

Caffeine also has a hot thermal temperature in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Avoid these to reduce excess heat in the body.

 

4. Introduce resistance and strength training

Whether you are in your twenties, thirties, forties or fifties reading this journal entry, begin to incorporate resistance and strength training to support muscle strength and Bone Density preservation to reduce the risk of Osteopenia and Osteoporosis as you age.

 

5. Consider Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine

Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine are both beneficial treatments in Traditional Chinese Medicine to manage Perimenopausal and Menopausal symptoms including irregular periods, heavy periods, insomnia, mood changes, hot flushes and night sweats.

Learn more here with the Integrating Chinese Medicine podcast episode:

Becoming the wise woman, understanding the transition into Menopause

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#thedaodoes