By Dr Nicole Glathe
So you took our online health questionnaire. Or you didn’t, but you may have checked it out and saw that it asks almost 50 in-depth questions about your health. And you may be wondering “why?!” and “how is this info being used?!” and “is it really necessary?!”. B/c afterall, pain killers are a one-stop shop solution that avoids all this hassle, right?! WRONG. Did you know that long-term use of aspirin and ibuprofen leads to 25% chance of developing an ulcer or gastrointestinal disease?! (Along with a host of other issues). That’s why those of us in the health industry are beginning to see this as a band-aid for a bullet hole, and we're out for blood (menstrual blood) to find a better solution. This blog explains the “why” and “how” behind our personalized herbal formulas.
To create a personalized treatment, we must get to know you and your underlying state of health. This differs from Western medicine which simply takes one symptom and treats it. In contrast, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) takes a large grouping of signs and symptoms around the body and treats everything at once. When you only treat one symptom, you lose sight of the bigger picture. This can lead to more problems than when you started. And nobody wants that!
Chinese medicine uses a system called Pattern Diagnosis to identify and treat problems in the human body. Pattern Diagnosis groups symptoms, and, altogether, these groups make a pattern. The first step is to establish a baseline pattern (or patterns.) Then we use the patient's unique symptoms to design a personalized treatment. This personalization is the foundation of TCM.
When we look at the patterns in the answers you’ve provided in your online health questionnaire, we begin to see a common thread. We not only see this in you, we see this between the countless individuals observed and evaluated by TCM practitioners through the last 2,500 years. We like to think of this thread of commonality as the root of the disorder. When one small thing changes, it can throw off an entire, interconnected system. Treating this way focuses on the disharmony of the whole body over a specific organ or body region. We take the entire person, every symptom, and the biggest signs into consideration, which allows for individualized treatments and fewer side effects.
We don't want to lose sight of the whole person or their bigger picture of health. If we use a medication that only subdues one symptom, rather than treats the whole person, it allows the symptom to resurface once the medication wears off. Sound familiar?! When holistically treating, we aim to restore proper function. We treat those symptoms from where they begin, so they not only stop manifesting, they fail to exist.
When it comes to period pains or other cycle related symptoms, western medicine has one solution: hormonal birth control. In TCM we have hundreds of diagnoses and treatment options for the same condition. To decide which one to use, we ask (thorough) questions to get the best picture of how to treat.
Let’s look at an example of a typical TCM pattern, known has Blood Deficiency. It has the following signs and symptoms:
- Irregular and/or painful periods
- Dry mouth/throat
- Changes in appetite or cravings
- Tender breasts
- Changes in bowel movements
- Pale tongue
This pattern involves a wide range of symptoms and areas of the body. And not each person who falls into this pattern displays every single one of these symptoms. Which is why we ask the questions we do. Once we match the patient to the pattern, we determine the treatment strategy. Example strategies include:
- Moving Qi (the Chinese medicine concept of energy)
- Building new blood
- Draining toxins
- And much more
We can then determine the patient's individual needs within the pattern. Using the above example, maybe Ashley has headaches and dry mouth, where Mary Kate has dizziness and irritability. Even though they fall into the same pattern, we can combine some of the same herbs with some different herbs in order to make unique formulas for each parson. We can create infinite combinations of herbs and the conditions they treat.
Blood deficiency is only one example of many identifiable patterns. It's possible to add or subtract a symptom or combine different patterns. This makes for infinite combinations to match the patient’s presentation. This is why practitioners study for many years, learning the delicate world of TCM diagnosis. And why having a licensed practitioner analyze not just your cycle-related symptoms, but also the general state of your body’s balance, can lead to the most success in managing any state of disease.
Our goal is to make this type of personalized formula accessible to all women. We want to create a new wave of options to help women understand and regulate their menstrual cycles. So all women can live #periodpainfree. Click here to take our online health questionnaire today!
Nicole Glathe is a Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, California board certified licensed acupuncturist and herbalist, Diplomate of Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM), Certified Classical Five Elements Practitioner and Instructor, and co-founder of #periodpainfree. Her passion is women's health and her mission is to empower women to live their healthiest and happiest life. She is always delighted to talk to women on their health journey - shoot her a note: firstname.lastname@example.org.