New Perspective on PCOS is Actually an Old TCM Remedy
If you read the old texts on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and gynecology, you won't find a single thing about "PCOS" because it wasn't what they called it hundreds of years ago. Back then it was Stagnant Blood caused by Cold, Damp, and Phlegm.
So what do we do about "cold, damp, phlegm stagnation?" And what the heck is it?!
"Cold damage" is something we see all the time in the clinic.
It's from things like
* eating too much cold and raw food (smoothies, salads, iced drinks, food straight from the fridge, etc.)
* in cold environments (lots of AC blowing, wintertime), not keeping your feet or base of your neck warm and covered
* blood loss (after childbirth is a huge one, or after an injury, internal bleeding, or heavy periods)
If you have cold damage, you feel cold, literally, to the touch. We check this around your belly button. If your belly button feels cool to the touch (it shouldn't), we need to cup it and apply moxa there.
Damp and phlegm are common conditions as well.
They're both part of the concept of "unformed Qi." Ideally, when you eat food, part of the food goes to forming Qi (energy, basically) and blood. The other part is waste.
BUT, in people who tend to get DAMP (which turns to phlegm), part of this food energy doesn't transform or transport. It just hangs out gunking up your channels.
Signs of damp / phlegm include: sinus congestion, diarrhea or loose stools, bloating, edema, heavy sensations, arthritis, weight gain, or headaches that feel like a band around your head.
How can we prevent or clear up damp?
Prevention includes eating foods that agree with our constitution, that aren't too cold for what our digestive energy can tolerate, and that can transform into Qi.
Tolerance for cold and raw foods, including healthy foods like sprouts and raw lettuce, depends on the person's constitution (over-heated individuals can stand to have a little more), the environment (hot climate = more cooling foods are natural), and the person's activity level (more activity = more heat = more tolerance for cold).
Green light foods (good for clearing damp/phlegm): soup, stews, stir-frys, lightly roasted or baked veggies, small amounts of healthy proteins
Yellow light foods (don't overdo these if you have damp/phlegm): salad, sushi, smoothies, raw and unsweetened dairy products, eggs (depends on the person!), peanuts, honey
Red light foods (avoid if you have damp/phlegm): iced drinks, refined wheat ("white" breads, tortillas, etc.) products, sugars, sugary drinks and sweet foods, sweetened or pasteurized dairy products, fruit juices, alcohol, ice cream (Possibly the worst offender on the list! Sorry for the bad news.)
PCOS is fix-able, but it takes time, persistence, and the willingness to change your eating patterns.
Foods that help DRY damp and phlegm include: rye, amaranth, corn, aduki beans, celery, lettuce, pumpkin, scallion, alfalfa, turnip, kohlrabi, white pepper, bitter herbs like chamomile and pau d-arco, micro-algae and blue-green algae.
One of my favorite food remedies for drying damp, clearing phlegm, and actually DISSOLVING the C's (Cysts, that is), is SEAWEED.
Kelp is an herb in TCM that we use for thyroid nodules, low thyroid, and any sort of "nodule" or cyst in general. Plus, it's calming.
So, we have COLD and DAMP/PHLEGM. What about the stagnation?
Cold causes contraction, and contraction causes loss of blood flow. Damp or phlegm also restricts blood circulation due to their blocking action. Put them together and you'll definitely have stagnation.
To improve the stagnant condition, getting rid of the cold and damp/phlegm is part of it, then using acupuncture, exercise, and herbs should help the rest.
Some herbs that we use for improving circulation to the uterus include White Peony, Dong Gui, Cinnamon, Ginger, Motherwort, and Bupleurum.
Overall, for PCOS, the treatment includes:
1. Optimizing your diet and nutrition
2. Check for cold damage - and treat with lifestyle changes, nutrition, moxa, and cupping
3. Move the Qi - with acupuncture, abdominal-specific exercises like foam rolling the psoas muscle, or hula or belly dance, and herbs
4. Dissolve the cysts with seaweed and other herbs
Cold/damp/stagnation isn't just about PCOS. It's the underlying cause of other things too.
* male and female infertility
* painful periods
* prostate and urination problems
* chronic pain
* certain types of headaches
* vaginal discharge
* edema (fluid retention)
* weight gain
* mental illness
can usually be improved by following similar guidelines for treating PCOS.
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