Menstrual Health by Titsa Costalas
As a mother, I nurture, guide, and hopefully empower my own daughter to cultivate self-awareness for the health of her body. My daughter suffers from debilitating period pains every menstrual cycle. We discovered the contributing factors were extreme stress and resulted in stagnant Qi of the Liver and Spleen. So, how do we address this?
Firstly, it is important to understand the function of the Liver, Spleen, and Kidney as all three are responsible for the regulation of the menstrual cycle. Once we have gained knowledge of how these organs work we have a clear picture that we can work with to alleviate these cramps once and for all.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine principles, the Liver is responsible for the yin action of storing Qi blood and the yang action of releasing or dispersing the blood. This process of regulation determines the quality and pressure of the blood in the physical body and the evenness and balance of the emotions in the feeling body. Through this action, the liver supplies the heart and the spleen to nourish the body with nutritive essence. The gall bladder which is the partner of the Liver is responsible for the movement of Qi in the muscles, ligaments, and viscera. In Western medicine, this can be correlated with the sympathetic nervous system. The liver also commands the immune system, known as Wei Qi in Chinese. As we know, the organs hold emotions, and many times we may have trapped emotions that cause us stress and can create stagnant Qi. Headaches, blurry vision, indigestion, and menstrual pain are some of the symptoms of stagnant Qi. Headaches (gall bladder issue) occur when blood is hot and congested, it rises up to the head, eyes, and ears, while the hands and feet become cold. In the discharge of the blood, the liver cannot release blood easily that is why the uterus will cramp. The same pattern of poor circulation also causes spasms in the muscle. The prescription for this is to cool the head and warm the lower part of the body with the breath and intention. We guide the Qi from the head to the feet and feel like we are letting go.
The regulation of the menstrual cycle is the main responsibility of the spleen as it harmonizes the liver and kidneys. The kidneys are connected to the Urinary bladder which works with the Vagus nerve (a long nerve reaching through the spine and connects to the spirit of all the organs). It also promotes digestion and regulates the intestines.
Our body as an organic whole is interconnected with pathways or meridians of Qi and blood that are circulated interiorly and extend over the body exteriorly forming a network that links tissues and organs. If an organ has a disease (stagnant deficient qi or excess qi) it will be reflected in the meridian.
With this information, we now understand that we need to target the Kidney/urinary bladder, Liver/gall bladder, and Spleen meridians. Therefore, some of the prescriptive forms to use within the White Tiger Qigong framework is as follows:
Throwing the Trash from 8 Trigram Qigong, as a warm-up and to dispel dirty Qi to the earth with the up and down movements of the arms and front and back movements of the torso. The healing sounds create an internal vibration that brings the organ network into homeostasis.
Eagle Spreads its Wings (part of the 14 Meridian warm-up), is good for activated the gall bladder and liver meridians followed by Squeezing out the Liver and Spleen Meridian warm-up. These can be done as a series or as stand-alone exercises that are repeated consecutive times. The Diamond Meridian exercises are also highly beneficial as it targets the kidneys and urinary bladder which is spot on for what we want. This exercise releases the stagnant, pent-up Qi especially when spiral bending around as we squeeze out toxins from the liver on the right and the spleen on the left. It also gets the kidneys when we spiral bend backward. The Kidneys, Liver, and Spleen are covered in one exercise, as these are the main organs responsible for the female menstruation cycle. So, this is a good all in one exercise to do pretty much daily for us women.
There are many more White Tiger Qigong forms that help with energizing and nourishing these meridians which I will discuss further in my next article. However, I will briefly touch on balancing the fire and water elements in our body as this influences the quality of qi that we are cultivating for good health.
A really good breathing practice to do at the end is the Triple Warmer breath with the sound “Heeeee”. I would recommend doing this breath lying down, relaxing the body completely. The warm energy in the upper part of the body circulates down to warm the lower part of the body. If you can bring the hot energy from the Head and Heart down to warm up the kidney and sexual organs and continue to expel all the cold energy out of the tips of your toes, you will have achieved a balance of Fire and Water. When you do this breath, your head will be cooled and your feet will be warmer. Good for people who suffer from cold hands and feet. It is also good to alleviate headaches and migraines. According to Mantak Chia, this is also the secret to good sleep.
It is important to relax at the end of any exercise as this allows our nervous system to consolidate the actions. Our cells and tissues integrate and imprint the program we intend for ourselves. We can delete and release what doesn’t serve and install a healing initiative as mentioned above.
My daughter has since, self-regulated through some of the Qigong practices and with vitamins and herbal supplements, like Milk Thistle and Vitamin D3, B12, and kelp (for the thyroid and immunity).
To all mothers and daughters with love.