Menopause is a natural event that normally occurs between the ages of 45 and 55. Many health problems occur around this age because the declining and fluctuating level of sex hormones makes it difficult for the body adapting itself properly. The severity of health problems may be dependent on overall health, diet and lifestyle, and may last from months to years. About 10-15% of women will experience severe symptoms and seek medical attention.
In TCM theory, menopause problems involve a natural decline of kidney functioning, and blood and essence depletions as well as blockage of the Conception Vessel and Thoroughfare Vessel in the pelvic region. Acupuncture and moxibustion therapies can invigorate the kidney functioning, boost the production of blood and essence, and remove blockages in the meridians, so that the body can rebuild a new balance smoothly. Clinically, acupuncture and moxibustion form the important parts of TCM menopause treatment, and they work on particular acupoints to create comprehensive regulating effects that benefit the whole body. For example, acupuncture stimulates certain points to activate the ovaries, to promote hormonal secretions, and to enhance the immune system. With appropriate point selection and stimulating techniques, they can also address specific health needs. Acupuncture and moxibustion therapies are not only effective in alleviating many menopause symptoms, but also help slow down the degeneration of the ovaries so as to let the body adjust itself properly.
In application, the acupoints are usually selected along the liver, kidney, spleen, stomach, Conception Vessel and Governor Vessel meridians. Besides selecting each individual point carefully, TCM practitioners also combine them according to their particular syndrome differentiation. For example:
- Kidney yin deficiency: menstrual irregularities, hot flashes, night sweating, mouth dryness, constipation, hot sensations in the palms and soles, yellowish urine, red tongue, and thready, rapid pulse. Suggested acupoints: shen shu (Bl 23), gan shu (Bl 18) and san yin jiao (Sp 6).
- Kidney yang deficiency: menstrual irregularities, a dull complexion, lumbar weakness, joint soreness, limb coldness, pale tongue, and deep pulse. Suggested acupoints: shen shu (Bl 23), ming men (Gv 4) and zhi shi (Bl 52).
- Kidney yin and yang deficiencies: alternative hot flashes and chills, night sweats, hot sensation in the palms and soles, fatigue, red tongue and rapid, thready pulse. Suggested acupoints: zhi shi (Bl 52), qi hai (Cv 6) and tai xi (Ki 3).
Some of the important acupoints for menopause
|Bai hui (GV 20)
||Located on the top of the head and belonging to the Governor Vessel meridian, this acupoint is also at the crossing point of the six yang meridians. Stimulating this acupoint helps clear the spirit and rebalance the yin and yang elements of the body.
|Guan yuan (Cv 4)
||Belongs to the Conception Vessel, it helps boost primordial energy and harmonizes the Conception Vessel and Thoroughfare Vessel.
|Shen shu (Bl 23), tai xi (Ki 3)
||Shen shu (Bl 23) is the back transport point of the kidney, while tai xi (Ki 3) belongs to the source point of the kidney. Stimulating these two points together can invigorate the kidney, enrich the brain marrow and strengthen the lumbar region and the knees.
|Ming men (Gv 4)
||Belongs to the Governor Vessel and is located on the lumbar region. It can reinforce kidney yang and consolidate the meridians, which is an important point for diseases in the lumbar region as well as the urinary and reproductive systems. Warming the acupoint with moxa will help relieve menstrual pain.
|San yin jiao (Sp 6)
||Belongs to the spleen meridian, but the liver meridian and kidney meridian intersect with the spleen meridian at this location. This acupoint can be used to treat meridian diseases of these three meridians. This is an essential acupoint for treating health problems in women.
|Xin shu (Bl 15), shen men (Ht 7), lao gong (Pc 8), nei guan (Pc 6)
||Promotes communication between the heart and kidney, helps ease a restless mind, and promotes sleeping.
|Feng chi (Gb 20), tai chong (Lr 3), yong quan (Ki 1)
||Promotes harmony between the liver and kidney, relieves vasomotor problems like palpitations, dizziness and unstable blood pressure.
|Qi hai (Cv 6), pi shu (Bl 21), zu san li (St 36)
||Promotes both spleen and kidney functioning.
|Zhong wan (Cv 12), yin ling quan (Sp 9), feng long (St 40),
||Resolves phlegm and qi stagnation.
|Fu liu (Ki 7), zhao hai (Ki 6), he gu (li 4),
||Relieves hot flashes in the upper body.
|Yin tang (Ex-Hn3), shen ting (Gv 24), tai chong (Lr 3)
||Relieves mental problems like absentmindedness, fatigue, poor memory and sleeping difficulties.
When there are cold signs such as limb coldness, chills, and cold pain in the lower abdomen, moxibustion is applied in conjunction with acupuncture, such as the kidney yang deficiency syndrome described above. For general health promotion, moxa sticks can be applied for warming the uterus and smoothing the Conception Vessel and Thoroughfare Vessel; suggested points are Guan yuan (Cv 4), zhong wan (Cv 12), qi hai (Cv 6) and san yin jiao (Sp 6), every night warm for three to five minutes in each point.