External Remedies for Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
The use of external remedies plays an important part in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). They have a long history and are commonly used in Chinese families as home treatments for simple conditions. However, they are not frequently used for menstrual problems, only for menstrual pain and heavy menses problems.
1. Medicinal Plasters
This kind of external plaster is made by simmering the ingredients in a vegetable oil (usually sesame), discarding the residue and adding beeswax. It is then spread on paper or cloth.A medicinal plaster called "cinnamon plaster" is used to paste on the lower abdomen; it can relieve diarrhea and pain associated with PMS.
A medicinal plaster
2. Medicated Compresses
For external application, a medicated compress consists of repeatedly pressing a pad of moistened linen or other material over the body surface. There are two types: either using wet dressings saturated with a herbal decoction or a topical compress of steam-heated herbs packed in a bag. The dry type use either wax, mud, salt, ginger or electrical tools to apply the heat-compress effects.
Sample of a compress: prepared argy wormwood leaf (30g), Chinese wild ginger (3g) and cumin seed (6g), stir-fry the ingredients to heat them, pack in a yarn bag and apply to the lower abdomen. Leave the compress for 20 to 40 minutes or longer. If the bag turns cool, reheat it and apply again. The ingredients warm the lower burner to stop pain and help the body to expel the coldness and dampness to relieve edema.
3. Herbal Wash/bath
Herbal decoctions are made for washing or bathing. This can be used to relieve skin problems during the premenstrual period. Apply daily until the arrival of the menses.
Twigs and leaves of camphor (200g); boil with 1000ml water for 20 minutes. Use the decoction to wash the skin rash, once daily.
Fleece flower stem (ye jiao teng) 100g; boil with 1000ml water for 20 minutes. Use the decoction to wash the skin rash, once daily.
4. Medicinal Pillows
In ancient China, pillows were made with various materials, besides the ordinary ones likes cotton and silk, stone, jade, crystals and wood were also popular. Some pillows were specially stuffed with herbs for healing and wellness purposes.
The theory behind is that the head is regarded as "the house of essential substance" in TCM, essence from the organs are gathered there, and blood and qi (vital energy) always flow through it. Thus, the head serves as the highest center for regulating functions inside the body. Since we spend one third a day sleeping on a pillow, medicinal pillows can make the effects of herbs enter through the head. The selected herbs are mostly aromatic, which help to tranquilize, refresh and dilate the local blood vessels leading to harmonize the internal environment.
Various herbs are stuffed in the pillows and are applicable for headache, dizziness, insomnia, forgetfulness, ear ringing, blurred version, anxiety, facial paralysis due to strokes, shoulder pain and jaw pain. It also has been reported that these pillows are also effective for headache, insomnia, hypertension and neck problems.
PMS individuals can choose pillows stuffed with herbal ingredients like rehmannia root, mulberry fruit and kudzuvine root (Ge-gen).