Introductory Article to the Arc of Health and Life in Chinese Medicine

Chinese medicine, specifically acupuncture and herbal medicine, have a great deal to offer in the treatment of menstrual disorders. If you can imagine any specific issue with menstruation, be it long, heavy, short, scanty, painful, irregular, we have got you covered.

Diagnosis and treatment of these various manifestations are described and outlined in great detail in our medical texts. Symptoms are explained and practitioners are offered understanding into the physiological (normal) function of the body. Does the category of menstrual irregularity seem somewhat general?

Fret not, specific manifestations of irregular menstruation are also detailed – someone who menstruates every other month, every two months, twice a year? All of these things are discussed in the materials that guide us in the art & science of East Asian medicine!

It’s remarkable how much specific information is provided to practitioners to help assist in ‘adjusting the menses’ in Chinese medicine.

In the west today, many folks are rather disconnected from menstruation (or their period). In ancient China menstruation was viewed as an inroad to understanding the a great deal about the health of the individual. Today, people think something to the effect of “ah, the shorter the better.” I hear, over and over, “my menstruation is great, I barely bleed on my first day, and then by day two and three it’s over.”

In our busy and often tumultuous lives, it can seem like not having the “inconvenience” of much menstruation is a blessing. Chinese medicine would likely share a different story.

What we are exposed to during menstruation actually matters and can greatly affect our health – which sort of begs the question, why do folks often feel like retreating or report irritability before menstruation? Could it be that our tendency for retreat is in fact in alignment with our needs?

Patients describe frustration that at the beginning of their menstruation that they “didn’t feel like doing anything,” or “didn’t make it to the gym.” When this comes up in the treatment room, we’ll often have a conversation about why they could be feeling that way and what the body could be trying to tell us.

It seems almost too simple, but we often forget to foster a dialogue with our bodies rather than just attempting to tell them what to do.

The same is true for folks that are nearing menopause, the frustration at the body for changing it’s pace and course is ubiquitous. Historically, at least in the west, the shift toward the pathologized perception of menopause is profound. Yes, menopause is an incredibly big shift in the body – but we certainly don’t need to avoid it at every cost. Chinese medicine has an incredible way of working with different organ systems to assist in these transitions.

No one needs to be equating the threat of menopause as a deathblow, or thinking that they will shrivel up, or deteriorate.

What I find so enriching about Chinese medicine is that every single time, the opportunity to engage in a deeper way with your own knowing is present. What I mean to say is, Chinese medicine affords us physiological explanations into the many processes that are happening in our body – and often provides an inroad to understanding our lived experience. This is very true for menstrual disorders, issues related to menstruation, hormonal regulation, and much more.

There are many explanations and approaches to the topics discussed in this introductory article. During this series I will attempt to go into various manifestations of these kinds of experiences and explain them from the perspective of Chinese medicine.

I’ll discuss different hormones associated with the arc of a person’s life and explore how Chinese medicine understands these – the bridges between east and west exist. In fact it is striking how for someone who has studied Chinese medicine, to see the overlap in terms and functions within the body.

I am very much looking forward to this exploration myself and I hope you will join me. If there are any specific issues related to menstruation, menopause, and the arc of health of an individual in general that you’d like to see written, please consider commenting or sending us an email. I’d love to know what you want to hear.

Written by Melinda Wheeler, LAc


My care is personalized and tailored to each individual. Through my studies and training, I have developed many techniques and tools to treat anyone, no matter their ailment or injury. Whether you have identified symptoms of physical pain, emotional instability, or you aren’t quite able to put your finger on any form of dis-ease, but you want to try acupuncture and/or Chinese medicine, come and see what we can accomplish together for the betterment and evolution of your well being!