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What’s With Those Mood Swings Before Your Period? Our Herbalist Explains Your PMS Mood Changes.

Pictured: Marco Chung-Shu Lam in his acupuncture clinic in Boulder, Colorado.

Do your moods start changing 7-14 days before your period? We know it can feel like a rollercoaster. While it’s difficult to avoid these hormonal mood changes entirely, you can help yourself feel better by knowing what’s coming and why. 

Here, our consulting acupuncturist and herbalist, Marco Chung-Shu Lam, LAc, MSOM, will explain mood swings from the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Marco has practiced Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture for over 20 years. He is eager to answer your questions about Chica, TCM, and herbalism.

This month your question is:

Why do my moods change so much before my period? I go from feeling great to being sensitive and sad about my everyday life. I’m even angry at people I spend a lot of time around, like my partner, whose company I usually enjoy. Is this normal? How can I stop it from happening?

Mood changes are a normal part of life, for both men and women. Moods change like the weather, and just like the weather, we can not stop it from happening.

That said, if it is raining, we can bring an umbrella and a rain jacket. When your body realizes it is not pregnant, it takes the resources that would have gone toward the fertilized uterus and resets the system toward menstruation.

In Chinese medicine, the Yang energy toward reproduction switches to the yin energy of going inward, and shedding. If the liver Qi is free flowing, this move toward our interior can bring wisdom and help us tap into the deeper knowing of our bodies and emotions. If the liver Qi is stagnated and blocked, often one may experience frustration, overwhelm and physical discomfort. (Hello, PMS!)

Biochemically, the corpus luteum stops producing progesterone and usually the body temperature lowers. This switch can be a tender one as we go inward. We may find emotional blocks that are unaddressed as the energy moves inward. This can be a healthy part of the process if we learn to accept it and have the internal resources to meet the feelings from a grounded place.

Sometimes the increased energy going inward makes the emotions seem more powerful and it is a good time to get support. Usually, your PMS anger or sadness does show that there something in your life worth paying attention to and attending.

A good acupuncturist can help address the intensity and help you address your emotions from a resourced place. A good therapist can help you understand your anger, and that underneath your anger is something worth caring about.

(Please note this is not medical advice and if you have health concerns beyond healthy regulation of your natural cycles, I highly recommend contacting your local Chinese Medicine practitioner and seek professional support. Beyond necessary caveats of our bureaucratic age, a good acupuncturist is highly recommended and can make a world of difference!!)

Best,

Marco Chung-Shu Lam

Poria

Fungus & Root

Scierotium Poriae Cocos / Fu Ling / 茯苓 Scierotium Pararadicis Poriae Cocos / Fu Shen / 茯神

Poria calms the heart and soothes nerves, helping with anxiety and insomnia. Additionally, Poria drains dampness, an excess of moisture that the body collects in the wrong places and makes us feel heavy and fatigued (hello moodiness).

Chinese Salvia

Root

Radix Salviae Miltiorrhizae / Dan Shen / 丹參

Salvia root nourishes the blood and heart, and calms the spirit. Salvia works with Schisandra and Zizyphus in Chica Chill to help relieve insomnia.

Rehmannia

Root

Radix Rehmanniae Preparata / Sheng Di Huang / 熟地黄

Rehmannia root is your Yin nourisher, supporting calm and cold in your system. With its additional ability to help cool blood, increase fluids, and clear heart fire; Rehmannia is a star herb for soothing and preventing heat flashes.

Polygala / Thin-Leaf Milkwort

Root

Radix Polygalae Tenuifoliae / Yuan Zhi / 元志

Polygala root nourishes the Heart, and helps soothe nerves and restlessness.

Schisandra / Chinese Magnolia

Berry

Fructus Schisandrae Chinensis / Wu Wei Zi / 五味子

Schisandra berry is famous for featuring all five flavors of Traditional Chinese Medicine: bitter, sweet, salty, sour, hot. This means that Schisandra is completely energetically balanced, promoting overall health and vitality. Schisandra helps relieve night sweats, insomnia, and hormonal imbalances. Schisandra is also rich in antioxidants that are thought to protect from free radicals and other toxins in the environment that may cause cellular damage. 

Platycodon / Balloon Flower

Root

Radix Platycodi / Jie Geng / 桔梗

Platycodon root is a neutral balancing herb, meaning it is not especially Yin or Yang. Platycodon is nourishing for the lungs, which in TCM, is the organ that supports Qi and fluid flow throughout the body.

Scrophularia / Figwort

Root

Radix Scrophulariae / Xuan Shen / 玄參

Scrophularia root nourishes Yin, drains fire, and cools the blood. Scrophularia is particularly soothing for irritability.

Ophiopogon / Dwarf Lilyturf

Tuber

Tuber Ophiopogonis Japonici / Mai Men Dong / 麦门冬

Ophiopogon tuber works with Asparagus to nourish Yin and clear heat throughout the system. These plants also provide moisture and relieve restlessness.

Stemona

Root

Radix Stemonae / Bai Bu / 百部

Stemona root is a balancing herb in the Chica Chill formula. Stemona is nourishing for the lungs, which in Traditional Chinese Medicine, is the organ that supports Qi and fluid flow throughout the body.

Licorice

Root

Radix Glycyrrhizae / Gan Cao / 甘草

Licorice acts as a unifier, balancing the formula and amplifying the properties of the other herbs.

Zizyphus / Sour Jujube

Seed

Semen Zizyphi Spinosae / Suan Zao Ren / 酸枣仁

Zizyphus seed nourishes the heart and calms the spirit. Zizyphus helps relieve insomnia, irritability, and anxiety.

Ginseng

Root

Radix Ginseng / Ren Shen / 人参

Ginseng root, one of the most famous herbs in Traditional Chinese Medicine, is known for its ability to strengthen Qi and support life vitality. Ginseng nourishes the Heart and calms the spirit, helping reduce anxiety and insomnia.

Acorus / Grassleaf Sweetflag

Rhizome

Rhizoma Acori Tatarinowii / Shi Chang Pu / 石菖蒲

Acorus helps relieve internal heat and is a favorite herb for reducing frequent insomnia.

Eucommia / Chinese Rubber Tree

Bark

Cortex Eucommiae Ulmoidis / Du Zhong / 杜仲

Eucommia bark balances the Chica Chill formula by offering Yang properties. Eucommia is also nourishing for the heart, and has been featured in research in Western medicine for its ability to help lower blood pressure.

Angelica / Dong Quai

Root

Radix Angelicae Sinensis / Dong Quai / 当归

Angelica root is sometimes described as the “female ginseng,” due to its fame for supporting a healthy and regular menstrual cycle. Angelica root strengthens blood and energizes circulation. In Chica Chill, Angelica root balances the herbal formula with its Yang properties.

Biota / Arborvitae

Seed

Semen Platycladi / Bai Zi Ren / 柏子仁

Biota seed benefits memory and promotes restful sleep by nourishing the heart and calming the spirit.

Chinese Asparagus

Tuber

Tuber Asparagi Cochinensis / Tian Men Dong / 天门冬

Asparagus root works with Ophiopogon to nourish Yin and clear heat throughout the system. These plants also provide moisture and relieve restlessness.

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