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Chinese Materia Medica(2)

1. Herbs for Relieving Exterior Syndromes (Pungent and Warm)

1) ephedra

2) cinnamon twig

3) schizonepeta

4) ledebouriella root

5) perilla leaf

6) fresh ginger

7) notopterygium root

8) dahurian angelica root

9) chinese lovage root

10) spring onion

11) magnolia flower

2. Herbs for Relieving Exterior Syndromes (Pungent and Cool)

(to be continued)



Menstrual cramps is not an illness!! 

Overcoming Menstrual Cramps using TCM

Chapter 1


Menstrual cramps is not an illness. But why are they so terrible?


Masako, a 30 - year old musician, has been coping with menstrual cramps almost every month for nearly twenty years. She has been taken to the hospital more than once by ambulance. In her diagnosis, she was told she had retrocession of the uterus. The doctor, however, did not offer her a cure. She wanted to have a careful examination but the doctor dismissed her concerns saying, "This is something you were born with. The cramps will decrease when you have children." She almost exploded thinking, "Is this the way a doctor treats his patient!?" But then she remembered menstrual cramps was not an illness and therefore she was not really a patient. Even now Masako cannot forget how upset she felt at that time. She could not help thinking "Who does the doctor think he is to tell me to have children to decrease the cramps??"

The sharp pain in the lower abdomen, which attacks Masako every month, comes to its peak two or three days after her menstruation begins. When she was twelve years old she got her first period. Her period has always been accompanied by severe cramps. So she could not help being absent from school or work repeatedly. She always prayed, "Please for pity's sake, not the pain again!"

In Masako’s case, her premenstrual symptoms are as follows: unstable emotions, dull abdominal cramps, jumpiness, light depression, urges to clean something, a strong appetite, unusual cravings for sweets, and last but not least, premonitions.

When her menstruation begins, the light abdominal ache changes into an unbearably sharp pain, while all other symptoms disappear. In their place, the following symptoms appear during menstruation: anemia, blurred vision, lower back pain, fatigue, drowsiness, and swollen eyes. No particular gynecological illnesses could be found, however.

During the first three days after menstruation begins, Masako takes Voltaren tablets; these are tablets used for lowering body temperature and relieving pain and inflammation. This allows her to get through her daily routine.

Masako, who had been experiencing this for twenty years, finally discovered Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) a couple of years ago.


Out of all women, about 50% are said to suffer from lower back pain during menstruation, 40% from fatigue, and nearly 70% from menstrual cramps.


The data is a little old, but let's look at the report of the study session on womens’ lifetime health policy(*1), compiled in November, 1999.


Surveys about menstruationwere conducted in 1990 by the MSG Study Group on 27,106 women aged 8 to 64 across the nation:

45.5% suffer from abdominal pain

31.6% suffer from lower back pains before menstruation.

15.4% feel more breast tension before menstruation than during menstruation.


As for symptoms during menstruation,

67.3% suffer from abdominal pain

46.3% suffer from lower back pains

36.3% suffer from fatigue.

22.6% suffer from severe pains (especially those aged 16-18).

Only 11.8% suffer no pain at all.


As for changes in mood before and during menstruation,

Before menstruation,

40.3% feel irritated,

39.7% feel no change in mood,

28.3% feel they become upset more easily


During menstruation,

35.5% feel irritated,

30.8% feel depressed,

24.8% feel no change in mood.


In dealing with the pain,

Most people deal with it passively;

48.9% lie down and rest

43.3% just endure it.

Only a few people actively deal with the pain by warming up their body, doing acupressure and massages, and exercising.

30.2% take pain killers,

Only 0.7% consult their doctors.


(*1) Commissioned by the Maternal and Child Health Section of the Children and Families Bureau, the Ministry of Health and Welfare (currently the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare),


- Next Chapter -

Based on the data presented thus far, the next chapter will explain menstrual cramps in more detail.