Have you ever noticed the week leading up to your menstrual cycle that your body and emotions start over reacting causing your immune system to take a dive?  Maybe you can’t sleep well, you toss and turn or you wake frequently to urinate?  Or perhaps, you feel on edge or hypersensitive to those around you?  With the body undergoing hormone dips and changes, this can often effect how well your immune system stays intact.
In Chinese Medicine, there are different forms of “Qi” (life-force) that flows within the meridians and supplies blood to organs, tissues and muscles.  There are even different times that the qi flows through the meridians which play an important role in discovering where your body is off balance.
I am going to talk you specifically about the immune system and the role it plays prior to menstruation and how you can protect yourself from getting sick or feeling drained with Chinese medicine.  Chinese medicine does wonders for the immune system, by increasing the production of WBC’s or white blood cells in the body.  During acupuncture, neurotransmitters are released which strengthen the immune function in the body.  “Norepinephrine, acetylcholine and several types of opiods, affecting changes in their turnover rate, normalizing the autonomic nervous system, and reducing pain.” Dr. J. Wong writes in the Anatomy of Neuro-Anatomical Acupuncture, Volume 1.  Therefore, making the body more resistant to pms, painful periods, restless sleep or the feeling of getting sick right before your cycle begins.
The flow of qi moves inward to the (yin) or inner pathways prior to menstruation, gearing the body up for the release of the blood flow that happens during a cycle.  The outermost qi, the “Wei qi” is the external most part of the qi on the body.  The defensive qi is left open to external forces, weather, and susceptible to invasion which causes the immune system to crash if you have a weak wei qi.  You may be blood deficient in terms of Chinese medicine, not western, big difference.  An acupuncturist will be able to make the correct diagnosis for each individual and provide an appropriate herbal formula to help the immune system stay strong and the cycle to flow smooth, making life more manageable.
So what can you do besides regular acupuncture to enhance your chances of a smooth periods and a strong immune system?   Chinese herbal medicine can prevent the body from break down and stress.  Formulas like Xiao Yao Wan, Yu Ping Feng San or Ba Zhen San for example will help.  Ask your acupuncturist what is right for you..
I would recommend building up the immune system two weeks prior to menstruation either with acupuncture, herbs or foods that help the immune system.  Some immune building foods are: cinnamon, ginger, mushrooms ( maitake, reishi, shitake).  Building up blood flow will also help, so add foods like: apples, grapes, cherries, spinach, green vegetables, chicken and rice.
Acupuncture works only if you stick with it.  So come in and speak with your acupuncturist about how many visits you may need.  In the meantime, eat some of the foods mentioned above and stay healthy all year long!

Ignacia Genco