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Dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation) is defined as a condition of severe uterine pain during menstruation. Some women may experience periodic pains during or prior to, or after menstrual periods in the lower abdomen as resulting of over production of certain hormones in the prostaglandins family. In traditional Chinese medicine, dysmenorrhea is defined as a pain in the lower abdomen, appearing with menstrual cycle that can spread over to the whole abdomen and lumbosacral region, depending to diagnosis.
Types of dysmenorrhea
1. Primary dysmenorrhea
Primary dysmenorrhea is defined as no underlying cause for menstrual cramps or difficult menstruation occurring just before or during menstruation. It occurs about 90% in the girls in the first 2 years of menstruation. Some researchers suggested that it may be caused immature of the reproductive organs.
2. Secondary dysmenorrhea
Secondary dysmenorrhea is caused by gynecological diseases. including hormone imbalance, endometriosis, fibromas, pelvic immflammatory disease, etc.
C. In Traditional Chinese Medicine Perspective
A. Formula Herbs
A.1. Xiao Chai Hu Tang (Minor Bupleurum Decoction)
According to the study of Xiao Chai Hu Tang & Dysmenorrhea, abstracted & translated by Bob Flaws, Dipl. Ac. & C.H., Lic. Ac., FNAAOM, FRCHM, researchers found that Xiao Chai Hu Tang treats all of the above disease mechanisms and it can treat all the various evolved patterns of dysmenorrhea, such as cold congelation, heat stasis, and hot and cold, vacuity and repletion painful menstruation.
A.2. Ingredients of Xiao Chai Hu Tang Jia Jian include
1. Chai Hu (Bupleurum Root)
Main uses; Regulates Heat, Clears Heat and Resolves depression, Raises Yang Qi.
2. Huang Qin (Skullcap Root)
Main uses; Clears Heat, Dries Dampness, Disperses Fire, Stops bleeding.
3. Dang Shen (Codonopsis Root)
Main uses; Tonifies the Middle, Strengthens Qi, Generation of Body Fluids, Nourishes Blood.
4. Ban Xia (Pinellia Tuber)
Main uses; Dries Dampness, Transforms Phlegm, Stops vomiting, Resolves masses.
5. Chuan Xiong (Szechuan Lovage Root)
Main uses; Moves Blood and Qi, Expels Wind, Calms pain.
6. Dang Gui (Angelica Root)
Main uses; Tonifies Blood, Moves Blood, Calms pain, Moistens the Intestines.
7. Pao Jiang (Blast-fried Ginger)
Main uses; Warms the Middle and Lung, Rescues Yang, Transforms Phlegm.
8. Gan Cao (Licorice Root)
Main uses; Tonifies the Spleen, Benefits the Qi, Moistens the Lungs; Calms cough.
9. Tao Ren (Peach Seed)
Main uses; Moves Blood, Eliminates accumulations, Moistens the Intestines to promote bowel movement.
10. Chuan Niu Xi (Cyathula Root)
Main uses; Expels Wind, Disperses Dampness, Soothes the joints.
B. Individual herbs
1 Dang qui (Chinese angelica root)
Chinese angelica root has been used in Chinese medicine for women's health in treating menstrual cramps, regulating menstrual periods, and lessening menopausal symptoms. Study shows that dang qui can help to reduce pain, dilate blood vessels, and stimulate the relaxation of uterine muscles.
2. Peach kernel
Peach kernel besides helping to enhance blood circulation and remove toxins from our blood, it also helps in moistening the bowels and relieving constipation. It is most often used in treating dysmenorrhea due to pathological blockage in blood circulation and abdominal pain before and after menstruation.
3. Curcuma Root
Chinese doctors believe that menstrual cramps and pain are due to stagnation of the liver-qi and retention of blood stasis in the interior. Curcuma root has been used to relieve pain by promoting blood circulation, restoring depressed liver by invigorating the flow of qi, and clearing away heat in the blood and heart.
4. Corydalis tuber
Corydalis tuber contains powerful alkaloids that have been used in postpartum abdominal pain due to pathological blockage in blood circulation and depressed liver causing qi stagnation. It is an important Chinese herb that has been used for hundreds of years to help relieve almost any painful condition especially for menstrual cramps, and chest and abdominal pains.
Safflower is one of the many Chinese medicines used to treat difficult and painful menstruation by promoting blood circulation, and by removing any blood blockage substance and regulating blood flow.
6. Nutgrass flatsedge Rhizome
Nutgrass flatsedge rhizome is a Chinese herb that is used to sooth and regulate liver qi promote blood circulation, regulate menstruation, and alleviate pain as well as irregular menstruation and dysmenorrhea.
7. Chuan Niu Xi (Cyathula Root)
Chuan Niu Xi is a liver and kidney tonic herb that has been used in Chinese medicine to strengthen blood circulation, stimulate menstrual discharge, and promote urination.
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