The MENSTRUAL CYCLE
Updated: Nov 17, 2021
Several hormones within the female body closely work together to create the complex female cycle. The intricate interplay between estrogen, FSH (follicle stimulating hormone), LH (luteinizing hormone), progesterone and other hormones lays the groundwork needed for the smooth transition of the cycle’s different phases.
Chinese medicine differentiates these phases as follows:
PHASE 1 (Menstruation): Start of Yin Phase
The temperature of the body has dropped, Yang slowly transforms into Yin; Qi (Energy) and Blood are descending;
Problems like period cramps, heavy flow/ no flow, headaches, irritability are usually linked to Qi & Blood Stagnation, Heat in the Blood or not enough lood;
Acupuncture & Herbs typically focus on gently invigorating & regulating Qi & Blood;
Recommended foods: Comfort foods such as casseroles, stews, whole grains and root vegetables;
PHASE 2 (up until Ovulation- Follicular Phase): Yin & Blood Building Time
The time of abundance of Yin & Blood is the time of nourishing and creating; Deficiency of Yin and/or Blood can cause feelings of exhaustion.
Acupuncture & herbs that build up Yin and Blood are optimal;
Recommended foods: Protein-rich foods in order to build yin and blood, such as fish, beans, eggs and meat. Cooked leafy greens and shellfish such as mussels or oysters (to re-mineralize the body after bleeding);
PHASE 3 (Ovulation): Yin changes into Yang
The body basal temperature spikes and the body moves from Yin into Yang; Yang embodies warmth and energy;
During this time Yin & Blood need to still be nourished, while Qi & Blood are regulated; some women feel their ovulation; if ovulation creates pain and/or cramps, then the Qi got stagnant and needs to be moved;
Recommended foods: Lighter foods such as fish, quinoa and salads. As raw foods have a cold nature and can be difficult to digest, it is best to balance with cooked foods.
PHASE 4 (after Ovulation until Menstruation – Luteal Phase): Qi & Yang Building Time
Yang is at its peak; the uterus is warmed;
Deficiencies or stagnation of Qi & Yang may cause PMS; The Qi needs to be moved and the Yang supported;
Recommended foods: Warming foods help the Yang. Increase protein intake, brown rice, cooked vegetables;