According to traditional Chinese medicine, reproductive function is governed by the
kidneys. Sufficient energy in a woman's kidneys is necessary for fertility, libido,
regeneration of the entire body, and tissue elasticity and strength.
At puberty, a woman's kidney energy increases, sending excess blood to the uterus.
During her reproductive years, the kidneys supply enough blood for fertility, but as a
woman matures, the blood flow from her kidneys diminishes, leading to menopause.
Menopausal problems occur when kidney energy is depleted and cannot sustain the rest of
the body. In other words, the body's vital life energy, or qi, (in particular the kidney
energy) is out of balance.
During the perimenopausal years the Chinese believe that there is an increase in the
active, dry, hot element called yang energy. Before thirty-five, a woman is more yin
(moist, receptive, passive) but during the change of life her yang begins to express
itself She becomes more passionate about ideas, quicker to anger, faster to defend herself
or others. As more "hot" yang energy begins to move through the acupuncture
meridians, at first the flow is kind of jerky as we get accustomed to using the new
energy. Those jerky manifestations of rising yang give rise to hot flashes. But as the
meridians open to the yang energy and we get used to using it, so the theory goes, the
According to the forty-nine different cultural traditions that base their medicine on
life-force energy, when we have a lot of stress, either through poor diet and lack of
exercise, or because of poor coping skills, the life-force energy can't flow smoothly
through the meridians. In that case the flow of energy would have a hard time stabilizing
and hot flashes would persist.
This imbalance may be corrected by any combination of herbal therapy, acupuncture,
moxibustion, dietary changes, and qigong. Hot flashes and anxiety are considered a
weakness of the heart; irregular menstrual flow and irritability a weakness of the liver;
heavy menstrual bleeding and food cravings a weakness of the spleen.
In traditional Chinese medicine, numerous herbal formulas reportedly can alleviate hot
flashes and other menopausal symptoms such as fatigue, headache, and menstrual
irregularities. In TCM, herbal formulas resorted to for hot flash relief- such as Two
Immortal Decoction, Rehmannia Six Formula, and Geng Nian Formula-aren't employed simply
for the relief of an isolated symptom, it is used to treat the whole person.
Traditionally, the prescribing of these formulas is based on a constellation of signs and
symptoms that a person presents. For a woman complaining of hot flashes, a recommended
formula might depend upon whether she also displayed an agitated or subdued manner, a pale
or pink tongue, robustness or weakness, and numerous other features that indicate her
Most Chinese formulas are available in pill form and contain natural ingredients such
as rehmannia (a yam species), dong quai, oyster shell mineral, white peony (from the
tree), and ophiopogon (a variety of asparagus root). Their mixtures have been handed down,
generation to generation, for centuries, but they have received little scrutiny from
Chinese herbs commonly used for menopause include:
|Bao shao yao for thinning hair|
|Chi shao yao and Di fu zi for dry, itchy skin|
|Fo ti, an endocrine system tonic, rejuvenates, strengthens, and energizes. Used to treat
premature aging, weakness, vaginal discharges, numerous infectious diseases, angina
pectoris, and impotence.|
|Nuo dao gen for night sweats|
|Qing huo for hot flashes|
|Sang shen zi for thinning hair|
|She chaung zi and Tu fu ling for sore, dry vagina|
|Dong quai for menstrual disorders (dysmenorrhea, PMS, irregular menstruation),
|Ginseng as an adaptogen (improving resistance to stress), enhance immunity and mental
|Rehmannia (shu di huang) for night sweats, irregular menses, dizziness, premature
graying of the hair. Nourishes essence.|