Hormones and Health
Hormones are secreted and released by the glands in your body and control nearly all physiological processes from metabolism to growth and development, emotions, mood, sexual function and even sleep.
Women’s Health differs from that of men in many unique ways. The female reproductive system was considered by Su Si Miao (Chinese physician considered China's King of Medicine) to be ten times more complicated than the male.
Photo: Bruce Petty
According to Nicky Thomas (Acupuncturist and Teacher of The Northern College of Acupuncture) a woman’s body experiences many different hormonal changes beginning at puberty, through menstruation, pregnancy, menopause and beyond. This ever-changing hormonal environment is closely associated with our emotions, nutrition, home & work life balance, relationships, genetics and stress levels, which can all impact women in different ways not only throughout these natural cycles, but during other seasons of a woman’s life too. Hormonal changes happen in the body all the time but they are often more strongly felt at the above times.
Good sexual and reproductive health is important for women’s general health and wellbeing
The Menstrual Cycle
The menses cycle is at the center of reproduction. A menstrual cycle that is considered normal can vary from 25 to 35 days.
“Western physiology describes the Menstrual Cycle in terms of hormones which influence the ovaries and the uterus.
Traditional Chinese Medicines (TCM) instead describes the effects of Qi, Blood, Yin and Yang on the Uterus.” (Jane Lyttleton)
In TCM, the Kidneys store Essence and therefore are directly involved in the formation and maturation of the eggs.
Moreover there are 3 organs involved with the Blood: the Heart, the Liver and the Spleen.
The heart rules the blood. The liver stores the blood. The spleen governs the blood.
Only when the organs and meridians function well can the uterus work normally.
I hear from many women who consider it normal to have PMS, pain on the first day of the period and headaches.
The uterus working normally means that the cycle should be within 25 to 35 days and that there is no pain, no PMS, no headaches or breast tenderness and that ovulation is happening.
Acupuncture, along with nutrition, is able to restore hormonal and emotional balance. It does this by influencing the body's hormonal, the nervous system and its self-regulating mechanisms, thus promoting physical and emotional well-being.
Tips on Nutrition:
Good ways to nutritionally improve the health of your reproductive system (even if you are not trying to conceive, maintaining a good reproductive system health is essential in terms of general health):
- Eat vegetables, preferably organic. Make a colorful plate everyday and make sure to include the cruciferous vegetables.
-Eat fish 2 to 3 times a week and/or take an omega 3 (EPA and DHA) supplement.
-Put probiotics (friendly bacteria) into your routine (fermented food/beverages or supplements)
-Eat a rotation of seeds:
From day 1 to day 14 of the cycle (day 1 is the first day of your period, day 14 or day of your middle cycle) :
Flax seed: a handful.
Pumpkin seeds: a handful.
From Day 15 to menstruation:
Sunflower seeds: a handful.
Sesame seeds: a handful.
-Include a variety of nuts in your diet.
-Incorporate herbs into your daily diet: as seasonings and as warm tea drinks.
Tips on lifestyle:
-Do not keep your feet on a cold floor constantly, especially near the date and during your period.
-Do not overeat raw food or drink cold drinks, particularly during the winter/ cold seasons.
-Use a scarf on windy days and/or in the winter season.
-Go to bed between 9pm and 11pm.
Lyttleton J. Treatment of Infertility with Chinese Medicine, 2013