Hormones act upon every single cell in our bodies. For women, the impact of hormonal balance is significantly real. They affect our skin, our moods, our menstrual cycle, our libido, our reproductive system, our vitality. When hormones are out of sync, our health suffers in many ways.
One of the very fundamental views in TCM concerning hormone balance is the duality of “Yin” and “Yang” - the opposite forces that relate to each other. In TCM, pure “Yin” is substance, nourishment, yumminess, gooey, stabilizing, grounding, building and cooling. Pure “Yang” is motivating, stimulating, drying, heating and lightening. However, nothing that exists is pure Yin or pure Yang. Ultimately, it is the balance of “Yin” and “Yang” that keeps your body function at the optimal level and achieves sustained health, beauty and happiness.
When Yin and Yang, and the hormones that represent them, are out of balance, our bodies suffer, in the same way that adding or subtracting even a few degrees to our normal body temperature causes problems.
In fact hormonal imbalance symptoms can be classified into many other different diagnostic patterns:
Depleted Energy (Qi) – This will show up in many ways: being sick all the time, waking frequently to pee or peeing a lot in the day, hot flashes but also feelings of cold, a period that starts early, watery menstrual blood, heavy for foggy headed a lot, slow to heal from colds or scrapes and bruises, loose and frequent bowel movements, hard to focus or concentrate (tired mind). You might also be prone to over-thinking or worrying.
Stuck (stagnation) – PMS (breast tenderness or mood changes), period cramps and clots in your period, headaches particularly at the nape of your neck or in your temples, sighing a lot, feeling a tightness in your shoulders or around your ribcage, short tempered or irritable.
Blood deficiency (could show up as anemia but not necessarily)– dry eyes or nails and cuticles, a scanty period or a period that is very short (2 days), dull dry hair, floaters (little spots) in your eyes, muscle cramps or spasms.
Yin deficiency (low estrogen can be one cause)– hot flash/hot at night, red peeled tongue, burned out, constantly thirsty and feeling like a desert inside (vaginal dryness, heat in cheeks, hands or feet often at night or in the evening), ‘wired’ feeling and have a hard time calming down. Can often include anxiety or nervousness and often shows up in adrenal burnout.
Yang Deficiency (low progesterone can be one cause) – cold, lethargic, waking to pee throughout night, weight gain, swelling or edema (particularly around the eyes when you wake in the morning), sore or weak low back or knees that feels better with heat. Looser bowels that may wake you up first thing in the morning. A pale face and tongue and lack of energy or enthusiasm to get going.
Acupuncture is a natural method of restoring balance to the hormones. Acupuncture has none of the side-effects or toxicity found with Western medicinal approaches. For example, the synthetic hormones used for menopause in women are believed to result in the elevated risk of stroke, heart attacks, and certain types of cancer. Some individuals simply cannot take the medication prescribed for their hormonal imbalances. Acupuncture, on the other hand, is extremely safe, and some researchers report that it is more effective that Western hormone replacement therapies. By placing needles at key channels of energy, certain organs (including glands) can be stimulated and a person’s qi redirected. A skilled, licensed acupuncturist will evaluate an individual’s condition and qi flow, then select the appropriate meridians and points for the imbalances uncovered. This evaluation can be accomplished through a variety of methods, including the detection of changes in the pulses for a more direct measure of hormonal imbalances.
Once the main issues have been determined, the acupuncturist will formulate a treatment plan involving the correct meridians and points to encourage your body to balance itself. Again, keep in mind that acupuncture does not force the body to do anything, but rather redirects energy so that it is able to heal itself. This is a particularly powerful method when it comes to hormonal problems.