By Charles Yarborough, L.Ac. (Live Well Acupuncturist)
No one ever said being a woman was easy. And for many women, one of the chief biological challenges is PMS. Recognizing this fact centuries ago, the Chinese developed a highly specialized tradition of women’s medicine. In fact, an often-repeated maxim of Chinese medicine is, “To treat one woman equals treating five men.” This is not to suggest that treating men is necessarily a simple matter but rather that the added dimension of menstrual function serves to clarify a diagnosis. Because it presents an additional set of signs and symptoms, the menstrual cycle shows how the patient is doing and what direction her acupuncture therapy should take.
When diagnosing a woman, the acupuncturist will consider tongue color and coating, volume and color of flow and the quality of any discomforts she may feel, as well as the times those discomforts occur. Diet, digestion and lifestyle are also considered, along with mental and emotional factors. The acupuncturist also evaluates six pulses along the radial artery. Men and women are further differentiated in Chinese medicine by these pulses. Says the ancient text, The Huang Ti Nei Jing: “A woman’s right pulse indicates disorder and her left indicates order: a man’s left pulse indicates disorder and his right indicates order.”
The acupuncturist may recommend laboratory tests to rule out disorders such as anemia or hypothyroidism, that might resemble PMS. Endometriosis and fibroids should also be considered, as they may cause pelvic discomfort. Ultimately, while the term, PMS, is a convenient catch-all to describe what a woman may be experiencing, the acupuncturist may decide a particular patient suffers from “Liver Depression with Qi Stagnation” or “Disharmony Between the Chong and the Ren” or one of many other conditions. While such diagnoses may sound poetic, they are practical, precise and they set the groundwork for treatment strategies.
While the acupuncturist’s art may be rooted in the distant past, he or she now has the advantage of combining other effective therapies for even richer results. At Live Well, the combining of acupuncture with chiropractic, Pilates and with specially tailored forms of massage creates an added advantage that can bring relief, comfort and increased vitality. No one ever said it’s easy being a woman but the practitioners at Live Well can help you meet the challenge.