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TCM series #5: Chinese dietary tips for menstrual problems

Posted Feb 14 2010 12:00am

Diet is a causal factor in premenstrual syndrome (PMS); women can alleviate many symptoms by changing their diets. Reducing or eliminating alcohol, caffeine, refined sugar, salt, dairy products and animal fats may be beneficial.

In the Chinese diet (and that includes herbs), one looks not only for vitamins and minerals but also the energetic properties of food like energy, flavor and movement. Other less important aspects include the meridian entered and organic actions; these refer to specific internal organs or the meridians on which the foods can act. Foods just like herbs possess specific functions to tonify, cleanse and regulate the body.

Certain foods can modulate the menstrual cycle in women. Below are the popular ingredients in Chinese dishes.

Name of the foods Beneficial effects Indications
Blackbone chicken Nourish the liver and kidneys; replenish blood and qi (vital energy) Heavy menses and excessive vaginal discharge
Sea cucumber Nourish the kidneys, enrich the essence and replenish the blood Heavy or scanty menses, excessive vaginal discharge and menopause
Cuttlefish Nourish the yin and replenish the blood Menopause due to blood deficiency
Chinese chives Warm the middle burner, activate qi and dissolve stasis Menstrual pain and irregular menses
Lamb Replenish qi, warm middle burner and relax the bowels Irregular menses and menstrual pain
Cumin Warm kidneys and the uterus. Menstrual pain and menopause
Cinnamon Warm and smooth the meridians, expel coldness and warm the uterus Menstrual pain and menopause
Red sugar Warm the stomach, fortify the spleen, pacify the liver, dissolve stasis, activate the blood and lubricate the bowels Menstrual pain, irregular menses after delivery
Hawthorn Activate the blood and qi, dissolve stasis and stop pain Menstrual pain and menopause
Mango Regulate menses Scanty menses and menopause
Clams Nourish yin and clear heat Heavy menses
Black fungus Stop bleeding Heavy menses
Lotus leaves Stop bleeding Heavy menses
Lotus root Clear heat, cool blood, dissolve stasis and stop bleeding Heavy menses

In order to have a smooth menstrual cycle, TCM always advises warm and cooked foods, and avoid too much food and drinks that are raw, frozen, not easily digested or spicy.

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