Mary had terrible menstrual cramps. Even with painkillers, the first and second days of her menstruation would always negatively impact her regular daily activities. Her menstrual blood was dark and contained a lot of blood clots. Mary had an office job and a large portion of her stress came from her work. She found it difficult to have any sense of freedom at her job most likely due to her perfectionist personality, which she acknowledged. Whenever she would feel frustrated or worried, she would lose her appetite and have digestion problems. Her eyes also became easily tired and dry, making her afternoons much harder to get through.
When patients come to us with stress-related issues, there are certain questions we always ask.
The first is regarding symptoms in the chest area. We ask whether they feel any type of chest tightness or tension. Breathing is also an important factor to consider. We check for symptoms related to any deep breathing problems or shortness of breath.
Second, we ask if patients often experience mouth dryness. There is a difference between drinking a lot of water and having a dry mouth. There are many patients who suffer from a dry mouth even if they are drinking water. We also check how moist their lips are. For those that have a dry mouth, we always recommend that they apply lip balm to maintain moisture on their lips as well.
Third, we ask patients if they often get dizzy. Whether they experience motion sickness from long car rides or from sitting on SkyTrain seats that face the opposite direction from which the SkyTrain is moving are relevant questions to ask. It is also helpful to consider whether the patient suffers from tired or dry eyes.
The reason we ask these three sets of questions is to determine whether to prescribe them Radix Bupleuri. Although there are many other types of medicine to relieve stress, our experience shows that Radix Bupleuri is the most commonly used. Radix Bupleuri has the capability to restore blood circulation in the liver and facilitate secretion in the gallbladder. If patients possess all three or even two of the symptoms listed above, we consider this medication as a form of treatment.
In Mary’s case, it is quite difficult to treat her menstrual cramps by just relieving her stress levels. Because menstrual cramps result from problems in blood circulation in the uterus, other medicine is needed to solve this issue. There are many different types of medicine that helps in promoting blood circulation in the uterus, but we prefer to use Semen Persicae and Cortex Moutan. These two are easy to mix with other medicine and go well with Radix Bupleuri.
So in conclusion, we gave Mary Radix Bupleuri to relieve her stress levels, and Semen Persicae and Cortex Moutan to improve her blood circulation in the uterus. Simply relieving stress does not relieve menstrual cramps. Similarly, just improving the blood circulation in the uterus does not completely solve the issue with menstrual cramps as well. It is important to be mindful of both aspects and treat them together in order to have the best outcome.