Cycles in Time
So here we are in Spring again – it’s so lovely to see the sun! I have just been out in the garden planting seeds, something I love about this time of year. It made me think of cycles…
The Liver, particularly, plays a very important role in maintaining the menstrual cycle, partly because it stores the blood and partly because it is in control of the smooth and rhythmical flow of Qi or energy.
Obviously, it is not the only organ that can have an influence in this broad and complex area, but it is one of the most commonly implicated in practice, so over the next couple of weeks I am going to provide some information on gynaecology from the perspective of Chinese Medicine – and look at the ways it can go out of sync and be restored.
One of the most significant differences between Chinese and Western Medicine is in their approach to health. In the West we are considered healthy until some discernible illness has been identified. In Chinese theory it is quite different. Here, we are always aiming towards perfect health. Much of the art of this type of medicine is in being able to identify the small and seemingly insignificant signs that indicate an imbalance. Because if balances can be restored these problems may never develop into what Western medicine understands as disease.
This is one of the great strengths of Acupuncture – by looking towards wellness, it is proactive in preventing illness.
In order to work in this way we have to have an image of perfection to aim towards. This is our benchmark that highlights those signs of imbalance. In our discussion of gynaecology then, we need to initially look at the perfect menstrual cycle…
First of all, it should be regular and although in western terms anywhere from 25-35 days is considered normal, in order to be perfect it should be either 28 or 29 days (the length of the lunar cycle.)
Ideally, the flow should begin in the night or first thing in the morning, and it should begin with full flow, not spotting. The blood should be a fresh red colour but not too bright. There should be no pain or clots and there should be no accompanying emotional liability. Blood loss should not be too heavy or too light, with a total loss of around 30-40mls. Ideally, the period should last for 5 days with a slight increase in body temperature just before and during the period.
Again, at mid-cycle there should be no discernible pain. Cervical mucus should be evident from around day 12 and should be copious by day 14 or 15, when perfect ovulation should occur…
I know it sounds a bit intimidating but don’t forget this image of perfection is what allows us to spot the patterns of imbalance that can improve our health. In reality nothing is actually static and perfect. Not so long as it is alive.
Think about a person on a unicycle. They may be balanced, but they are never still. While we are alive we have to constantly fluctuate from perfection. The skill is keeping those corrective movements small enough to stay upright!
That’s enough for today – The topic for discussion next time is Dysmenorrhoea – more commonly know as Period Pains. We will look at why we may get pain around the period and what it has to tell us…