Research Centre

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

Records shown Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) began to discuss Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) and other menstrual symptoms dates back to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD). In The Appendix of Dan-Xi's Experiential Methods, Fang advised that to diagnose cases of feverish sensation in women's diseases, one should ascertain whether it occurred during menstruation or also at other times. In Ye Tianshi's Gynaecological Records, premenstrual symptoms such as edema, feverish sensation, pain in the hypochondrium, diarrhea, body aches, abdominal cramps, and reduced appetite were recorded.

Researchers from different disciples, including law, have argued that PMS is a culture-specific syndrome limited to Western countries. In 2002, Joan Christler, a professor of psychology at Connecticut College noted that much of the research been conducted by scientists in a few Western countries, including Australia, given its European heritage, Canada, Germany, the Britain, Sweden, and the United States. Surveys by the Health Organization also indicate that women in Western Australia, and North America are the most likely to report menstrual cycle–related complaints (except cramps). In contrast, women in Asia are not only less likely to report their symptoms as severe if at all, their symptoms differ those reported by women in Western countries. 

So, what are the fundamental differences between Eastern and Western cultures? One of them is TCM, namely acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine. Females in Asia commonly take Chinese herbal medicine such as Wu Ji Bai Feng Wan since the first period, which may be one of the factor to explain why Asia women have a lower prevalence of menopausal symptoms than Western women at later age.

PMS is a collection of differing signs and symptoms which occur only in the premenstruum, physical and psychological influences can all be the cause. PMS symptoms vary from one woman to another, but the most common symptoms include:

  • Anxiety, irritability, mood swings and nervous tension,
  • Depression, insomnia, lethargy and confusion,
  • Bloating, weight gain, headaches and breast tenderness,
  • Increase in appetite, cravings for sugar and/or salt and fatigue.

As it does for most health conditions, Traditional Chinese Medicine believes PMS is also a product of imbalance and disharmony in the body’s energy (“chi” or ‘qi’). In general the cause can be categorized by:

  • Liver Qi Stagnation
  • Spleen and Kidney Yang Deficiency
  • Heart and Spleen Qi Deficiency
  • Phlegm blocking energy channels
  • Blood Deficiency
  • Liver and Kidney Yin Deficiency

At Alberta College of Acupuncture & Traditional Chinese Medicine, our interns and doctors use both acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine to treat PMS, during and off the PMS cycle. Contact us at 403-286-8788 to schedule an appointment for a comprehensive assessment.


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