When you’re on a quest to heal and balance your hormones, there are many points of view you can use to understand the body more fully. One point of view, in particular, can help you become aware of and make sense of things about your body that you otherwise might not...I’m talking about Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)!
TCM and hormone health go together like avocado and toast because the foundation of TCM is all about identifying patterns of organ system dysfunction and addressing them to rectify an energetic imbalance. In other words, learning to look beyond the downstream effects (symptoms) of hormone imbalance like irregular periods, acne, and mood swings to the actual root cause, which may be an overburdened liver, dysfunctional digestion, lack of circulation of energy (qi) and blood, deficient kidney organ system function, or some combination of the above.
TCM looks at the organ systems in the body as interconnected and interdependent, which beautifully explains why hormones affect everything AND everything affects hormones.
One of the most important things to consider when working on healing and balancing hormones, according to TCM, is how well qi (energy) and blood are flowing through the body. We can all understand and can visualize blood flow in the body. Qi or energy flow is a bit more foreign in modern Western cultures, but one might equate this in modern western terms to the unobstructed flow of electrical impulses that are required for the brain, nervous system and various organs, tissue, and muscles to communicate.
When qi & blood flow is smooth and harmonious, the body is free from disease and symptoms. When that flow becomes sluggish, imbalanced, or obstructed, we start to see symptoms like cramps, irregular cycles, and mood swings popping up left and right. Stagnation of qi and blood will affect the function of every single organ system in the body in some way. . . just like we know that our hormones do.
So, how do qi and blood flow become sluggish? One of the biggest culprits is external OR internal exposure to cold. External exposure to cold could look like wearing a crop top on a chilly day, sitting on cold bleachers to watch a football game, or walking barefoot on tile floor in the winter. Internal exposure to cold could be habitually drinking ice water, drinking lots of smoothies, or eating lots of raw veggies, salads, and smoothie bowls. Your digestive organs and reproductive organs are neighbors, so what happens to one affects the other. Cold causes things to contract, constrict, and slow down — the opposite of what we want happening in the digestive system OR the uterus. Consistent exposure to cold in the abdomen can lead to what TCM calls qi and blood stagnation in the uterus...AKA period clots, period pain, bloating, irregular cycles, and even the formation of cysts and fibroids. On top of that, it messes with your digestion too!
Here's what you can try instead:
- Eat mostly warm and cooked foods: oatmeal/congee, stir fry meals, steamed veggies, soups, casseroles (don’t forget to spice them up with Agni’s Cinnamon Maca and Sesame Nori Seasonings)
- Drink room temp & warm beverages: hot lemon water, herbal tea, mushroom coffee, and of course, good old plain water
- Keep abdomen & feet warm: wear socks or slippers in the house, soak your feet in hot Epsom salt water, and wear layers that cover your belly
Pro tip: All of these are especially important while on your period when your reproductive system is most vulnerable to cold exposure.
These simple strategies pack a major punch for preventative cyclical & hormone health over time. Implement them consistently, and you can expect to see improvements to your cycle in no time!