My name is Dr Alice Morgan and I am a registered Acupuncturist. I grew up with naturopathic appointments being the norm and my mum used aromatherapy all around the house and on myself and my sister, but it wasn’t until I was a flight attendant that I experienced Acupuncture for the first time. I was suffering from ear problems with all the flying and my period pain was excruciating. My dad was seeing a Chinese Medicine doctor for hay-fever and suggested I went. Her name was also Dr Alice and she was an acupuncturist who worked with her husband, who was a Chinese herbalist. Their clinic was at their home and the walls were covered in small wooden draws containing hundreds of Chinese herbs. I had my treatment and I was instantly drawn to the Zen like feeling I had during and after the treatment and my following treatments were just as amazing. I was hooked. So I signed up with the Endeavour College of Natural Health and started studying.
I am currently working at Zhong Centre with my mentor Dr Abbie Cloherty. I practice Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine with a focus on Women’s health, menstrual health, and Cosmetic Acupuncture. Not only do I thrive when I am helping people look their best and feel balanced, but also thrive when I can educate my patients on how to form new habits, allowing them to ground themselves and reach their full potential. I generally see more women than men (although I find that men’s skin reacts so well to the Cosmetic Acupuncture that I have gained some long term male fans) and I see a full range of ages, from teens all the way up to women in their prime after menopause. As Acupuncture is still getting its foot in the door of the medical world (we are registered allied health practitioners with AHPRA and are deemed an essential service), many of my patients come to me as a last resort when all other modalities of medicine may have failed them. So I deal with a lot of chronic illness and chronic issues.
Although Acupuncture can work wonders, small lifestyle and dietary changes may need to happen to get the best out of my treatments. Chinese Medicine philosophy is very different to the Western ways we know. Diet is seen in a completely different way and lifestyle advice is simple and easy to follow. So when I get patients who are experiencing period pain, I give them the following advice.
5 Traditional Chinese Medicine Hacks That Are Used To Help Lessen Period Pain
Period pain can be a common monthly occurrence for so many people. Some can pinpoint why they are suffering, they may have endometriosis, fibroids, or cysts, but for a majority of people, period pain comes with no explanation and can only be offered band aid solutions, like medicines that will mask the pain. And while it is so common, it is not normal. But what are other options that can be explored? Que Chinese Medicine.
Chinese Medicine is developed around a 5000 year old system that sees a healthy body as having a proper balance of Yin and Yang, free flowing Xue (Blood), as well as strong, vital energy, known as Qi (pronounced chee), filling the channels of the body. When there is an imbalance of Yin, Yang, Blood, or Qi, illness can occur. Women’s health and conditions were first compiled into classic texts in the Han Dynasty (206BCE - 220CE) and discussed everything from menstruating to fertility issues, pregnancy to menopause. Needless to say, Chinese Medicine has had a grasp on Women’s health for a very long time.
Your period in Chinese Medicine is known as Tian Gui which translates to Heavenly Water and it is made from your ‘Essence’ - the substance which makes you, you - your life force. When you are bleeding, we say that your ‘Uterus doors are open’ and it is during this time in your cycle where Yang energy falls, Yin energy rises, and your Blood and Qi are ready to move. To ensure you have a healthy period, your Yin, Blood, and Qi must be bountiful, Yang must be able to give way to Yin, Blood and Qi must be able to move without being blocked or constricted, and your Heavenly Water must leave your body. It is during this time that rest is preferred over hard work, you are bleeding, it is totally ok to take it easy!
There are many different ways your period could be causing you pain. Your Yin may not be strong enough to take over from your Yang, your Blood energy may be low, your Qi might be stuck or stagnant, your ‘Essence’ may not have been preserved throughout life and so it is weak and cannot produce enough Heavenly Water. How can all of this happen? Through diet, overworking, from recurring illness, stress (oh boy, stress is a big one), not staying warm enough, but sometimes it can just come down to your constitution,
Since period pain can be caused by so many different issues, treatments for my patients are completely different. Diagnosis is made after feeling your pulses, looking at your tongue, and diving into a deep and thorough chat about your health history. I then use fine acupuncture needles placed into points all over the body to help harmonise the cycle and rebalance Yin, Yang, Qi, and Blood. Between treatments, I give my patients homework to do to help them get the most out of their sessions.
Keep Warm and Stay Away From All Things Cold
Chinese Medicine is all about staying warm. This is because Cold is seen as a pathogen that can penetrate your channels and delve deep into your organs. The Uterus is one organ that can suffer from Cold very easily. Period pain caused by Cold can be a strong ache rather than stabbing pain, period blood is darker purple or brown, and there may be clots present. If heat packs are your best friend through your period time, then you may have Cold in your Uterus. Cold congeals and blocks Blood and Qi from moving.
Keeping away Cold can be easy. Avoid foods that are cooler than your body temperature while you are bleeding. That includes smoothies, ice-cream, salads, cold water, and fruit juices. If you wash your hair, dry it off rather than letting it dry itself. Don’t sit on super cold surfaces like concrete steps or cold yoga mats. Wear extra layers, slap on those heat packs, consume warm food and drinks.
Keep Those Feet Covered
Your Heavenly Water is derived from your Essence and your Essence is a part of the Water Element which comprises the Kidney channel. The Kidney channel starts on the sole of your foot. To protect and preserve your Essence you must (once again) keep this point warm. Walking around barefoot on cold tiles, concrete, floorboards will allow Cold to penetrate this channel, weakening your Essence. Socks and slippers on at all times! Especially through Winter. Sandals can wait till Summer. If you are practicing yoga or pilates, wear socks. Keep those feet warm!!
Use Period Products That Allow Free Flow
For a period to be healthy, Blood and Qi must flow out of the Uterus freely. Due to this, if I have a patient who is suffering from lots of pain, I get them to ditch tampons. Tampons stop the natural downwards flow, they soak the blood up, and then press and hold the blood in the vagina, allowing for slight reabsorption from the body. Pads and period panties are great. But if you need to use something internally, swap the tampon for a menstrual cup. The blood will still have the chance to naturally flow downwards into the cup and there is no blood being pressed against the vaginal wall. Plus, they are great for the environment and so easy to use!
Don’t Shy Away From The Big ‘O’
I’m talking about orgasms. Sexual desire can be seen as a build up of Yang energy. This Yang energy will grow and affect the Heart channel. The Heart is connected to the Uterus internally. Having an orgasm will help the Heart disperse the Yang energy and allow for the free movement of Qi around the body! Now, we don’t want to disrupt the natural downwards flow of the period, so no penetrative sex or toys. Clitoral orgasms all the way!
Once again, it is about staying warm. Do a hot foot bath before you go to bed. Foot baths bring the Qi down away from the head and into the feet. Many of the points we use to help with hormones and menstrual issues are located on the ankle and on the feet. Doing this nightly will help with sleep, stress, period pain, night sweats, digestive issues, overthinking, over-worrying, and it will bring you calmness. Go grab a bucket from a hardware store, fill with hot water (be careful not to scald yourself), and stick those feet in for 10-15 minutes. You can read (books but no screens - TV, laptops, and phones get put away), meditate, do some deep breathing, and then once you are done, dry your feet off, pop socks on, and jump straight into bed. Add salts and nice smelly things if you feel, but I like to keep it simple.
I absolutely love my work. I feel so grateful for being able to study and work in a field that I am so interested in. I adore watching my clients grow and change, and see them blossom into their true selves. Education is always key and to teach people what a normal cycle looks like, feels like, and how to maintain that, is a highlight of my career. I regularly practice a lot of Chinese dietary therapy, exercise therapy, and lifestyle therapy, and just find it keeps me grounded and whole.
You can find Dr. Alice Morgan at @acupuncture.ally on Instagram for more Chinese Medicine lifestyle hacks and for bookings you can go to zhongcentre.com for more information @zhongcentre is the clinic’s Insta.