According to Chinese Medicine, one of the main reasons why a woman would experience period pain is due to ‘Stagnant’ Liver energy or ‘Qi”.
According to the philosophy of Chinese medicine, the liver is responsible for the smooth flow of Qi (energy) throughout the body, freeing up pain and smoothing out our reactions and emotions under stressful conditions. Painful periods, irregular periods, PMS, anger, irritability, and frustration are all signs that our Qi is not flowing smoothly.
Liver Qi stagnation is one of the most common conditions treated by Traditional Chinese Medicine in developed countries, like Australia.
Some of the symptoms commonly associated with Liver Qi stagnation are:
• Pain or discomfort anywhere along the sides of the body, or during menstruation
• Irregular periods
• Mood swings
• PMS with irritability and swollen breasts
• Inappropriate anger
• Sensation of a lump in throat
• Difficulty swallowing
• Bitter taste in mouth
• Abdominal pain and discomfort
• Stomachache that improves after massage
• Stomachache that worsens with anger
• Poor appetite
• Churning sensation in stomach
The health of your liver reflects your overall health and well-being. The Liver is responsible for:
Converting carbohydrates into glucose, thus an important organ for energy production.
Filtering and neutralising drugs, including alcohol, and hormones such as estrogen.
The liver also filters over a liter of blood every minute. It is responsible for detoxifying, nourishing, replenishing, and storing blood.
It also recombines amino acids to create the protein our bodies need to grow and repair tissue, and aiding in the production of body proteins such as hormones.
Changing ammonia (a toxic by-product of protein metabolism) into urea, which is then excreted in urine.
Bile production, which is then stored in the gall bladder and used to help break down dietary fats. This is crucial also for weight loss. Fat soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, D, E and K need bile in order to be absorbed by the body.
If the Liver becomes over loaded it becomes toxic, or what is known as ‘Stagnant’. The liver can become overloaded with dietary and environmental toxins, or hormone may build up like estrogen. When this happens the condition is known as Estrogen dominance.
Recommendations to Improve Liver Qi Stagnation:
Eat less processed foods, and more freshly cooked meals. When eating out, choose meals that are prepared with less oil, sugar and salt. The best cooking methods are stir frying, poaching and steaming. Schedule main, heavier meals for the earlier part of the day where possible. Simplify your meals, don’t have too many food groups in one meal.
Up your intake of vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables and red vegetables. Aim for 3 cups of vegetables each day, and minimum of 2 pieces of fruit each day. 6-8 glasses of water each day as a target, more in summer. A high protein diet will contribute to “qi stagnation”; it is best to focus on the quality of protein consumed rather than the quantity.
Check packaging for additives, sugar and salt. Try to choose brands without preservatives, and with sugar and salt lower on the list. Remember that ingredients are listed from highest to lowest content. Avoid MSG (and related additives) wherever possible. Look for numbers 620-640 (flavour enhancers). Number 621 is MSG. Artificial sweeteners should also be avoided where possible.
Reduce caffeine, carbonated drinks, alcohol, cigarettes, recreational drugs, fatty foods, sugar and salt. Replace with herbal tea or coffee substitute, water or diluted fresh juice, freshly cooked meals.
Turbulent or volatile emotions at meal times are especially detrimental; meals should be eaten in a calm and relaxed environment. Relax whilst you’re eating and enjoy your food, and avoid eating whilst working, reading or watching TV. Ensure to leave adequate time each day to relax, whether meditating, listening to music, gardening etc. or some other form of activity that doesn’t involve reading or watching TV.
Reducing your workload and the amount of time you spend at work, spending time at least once each week doing something you enjoy. Where possible, get to bed before 11pm, try to avoid burning the candle at both ends. Remain conscious of where your true energy levels are and avoid “running on empty”.
Avoid eating too late in the evening, try to have your final meal by 7pm. Your body needs to rest at night, not spending all night digesting your dinner. Your energy levels can be quite low in the morning if you’ve had a large meal before going to bed.
Recommended Foods (Eat More)
Vegetables: artichoke, asparagus, beet, beet leaves, brussels sprouts, carrot, celery, cucumber, green leafy vegetables rich with chlorophyll, a small amount of lemon with warm water on an empty stomach, lettuce (cos), mung bean sprouts, mushroom, rhubarb, seaweeds
Fruit: apple, coconut, mango, mulberries, passion fruit, pear, persimmon, plum, watermelon
Grains: millet, pearl barley, rice
Meat: Small amounts of organic beef, turkey, chicken
Nuts, seeds, legumes: flaxseed (linseed), flaxseed oil, mung beans, pine nuts, soy beans, tofu, yellow beans, yellow bean sprouts,
Fish: tuna, anchovy, halibut
Herbs: basil, dill, fennel, rosemary
Spices: cardamom, cumin,
Beverages: cow’s milk, soy milk, peppermint tea, green tea
Restrict/Avoid (Eat Less)
Foods that upset the Liver such as: Alcohol, coffee, spicy food, sugar, fried foods, fatty red meat, sweets, preservatives, additives, recreational drugs.
Heating foods: cinnamon, garlic, ginger, onion, shallots, leek, basil, cloves, wasabi, lamb, prawns, veal, pigeon, game birds, vinegar, citrus, pickles, coffee, tea, cigarettes, alcohol and recreational stimulants (amphetamines, cocaine, ecstasy).
Foods that are bad for the skin/skin disorders: chili, coriander, shellfish (including crayfish, lobster, mussels, oysters, prawns, shrimp)
Acupressure Points for Moving Qi
A popular treatment for the stress, anger, and frustration associated with Liver Qi Stagnation is known as the “four gates.” The four gates are the right and left side acupuncture points Lv 3–Liver 3 and Large Intestine 4.
Liver 3 is at the top of your foot, in the valley between your big toe and second toe.
Large Intestine 4 is found between the bones of the thumb and first finger). It lies at the highest point formed when the thumb is brought to rest against the index finger.
This can also be combined with LV13, located on the end of the 11th floating rib.
Castor Oil Pack Instructions
Indications: To remove blockages from any part of the body –Endometriosis, PCOS, infertility, blocked tubes, phlegm cysts, lumpy breast, prostate blockage.
You will need:
An old towel
Hot water bottle (optional)
Warm ½ cup of Castor Oil on the stove.
Soak an old towel with the warmed oil
Whilst the oil is still warm on the towel, place the towel on your abdomen from the base of your ribs to pubic bone. (If using the castor oil pack for lumpy breast of cysyts in the body, place in that area.
Then wrap yourself in glad wrap, so the towel is unable to come off and you can protect your sheets from stains..
Place a Hot water bottle over you’re the wrap (optional, but for best results use the heat)
Go to bed and take it off in the morning.