Horse Chestnut for Hemorrhoids

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

Nobody likes to talk about hemorrhoids. Frankly, I would be a little worried if you DID like to talk about hemorrhoids. And what is worse than talking about them, is having them. And many people do. The thing about hemorrhoids is that many people suffer in silence when there are many things that can help, and that is what I want to talk about.

Hemorrhoids

Ok, lets get the gory bits out of the way. What is a hemorrhoid? A hemorrhoid is literally a varicose vein located in the anus and/or rectum. There are two types, internal and external depending on their location. It is thought that about 50% of people will have hemorrhoids by the age of fifty, some say it is 50% by the age of thirty. Because those don't sound like very good odds, the rest of this article should be very useful. :) But first, lets talk about other things that can happen in that general vicinity according to Chinese medicine so that you know the difference and can proceed with appropriate treatments. Hemorrhoids are also called piles.

Hemorrhoids : Chinese Medicine Living

Anal Prolapse

Anal prolapse (also called rectal prolapse) is defined as a condition in which the rectum, which is the lower end of the colon, just above the anus, becomes stretched out and protrudes outside of the anus. The prolapse is often due to weakening of the sphincter muscle and can result in leakage of stool and/or mucus. The condition appears to be more common in women but does occur in both sexes. In Chinese medicine, anal prolapse is often caused by a deficiency of spleen qi, causing it to "sink". The prolapse of other organs, such as the bladder, uterus and vagina are also often due to sinking of spleen qi.

Anal Fissure

Anal fissures are cracks or tears in the anus or anal canal. They can be acute of chronic. In Western medicine they are seen to be largely caused by trauma, but in Chinese medicine they are mostly a result of deficiency (deficiency of blood causing dryness in the intestines) and fire and damp heat.

Anal Fistula

An anal fistula is a small tunnel that develops between the end of the bowel (the anal canal) and the anus. In Western medicine, surgery is often needed, but in Chinese medicine they can be treated successfully with Chinese herbs and acupuncture. The causes in Western medicine are that fistula's are often the result of an abscess (a collection of puss) that has not been treated properly and has burst. Fistulas are also common in people with conditions that affect the intestines like Crohn's disease, IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) and diverticulitis. 30% of HIV patients develop anal fistula's, probably as a result of the body's immune system attacking the body. Fistula seems to be more common in women than men, although both are affected.

In Chinese medicine, anal fistula's are a result of heat, either from an excess or deficiency, or from deficiency cold.

anal fissure / fistula : Chinese Medicine Living

Anal Ulcers

These are literally ulcers located near or on the anus. In Chinese medicine, they are due to deficiency of the lungs, spleen and kidney or to toxic heat.

Horse Chestnut

For years whenever I have a patient who has varicose veins, or is suffering with hemorrhoids (and for every person who has told me they are suffering with hemorrhoids, I suspect there are ten that don't) I recommend they take horse chestnut. Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) is an herb that comes from the horse chestnut tree and is used to help build up the walls and elasticity of the veins. It also increases circulation and is an anti inflammatory. The flowers and seeds of the horse chestnut tree have been used for thousands of years in traditional medicines, and is still a common treatment for disorders of the vessels, circulation problems and arthritis for its anti-inflammatory properties.

horse chestnut for hemorrhoids

Horse Chestnut for Hemorrhoids

Horse chestnut contains several chemical compounds called saponins, the most potent of which is called aescin. Aescin has a very strong anti-inflammatory effect and is why horse chestnut is used to treat varicose veins (which is what hemorrhoids are), arthritis and rheumatic conditions and is used to reduce inflammation after trauma or surgery. Horse chestnut is used to treat hemorrhoids because it strengthens the walls of the veins, increases their elasticity, reduces inflammation and prevents the breakdown of smaller capillaries.

Horse chestnut can be taken orally or applied topically. The recommended dose for oral use of horse chestnut when treating hemorrhoids is 300mg twice a day. Horse chestnut contains esculin which is toxic when eaten raw, so be careful to look on the bottle of your horse chestnut to see that esculin has been removed. This is a standard practice to make sure it is safe.

Orally: take at least 40mg of horse chestnut three times a day (the recommended dose for treating hemorrhoids is 300mg twice a day).

Topically: Many hemorrhoid cremes and ointments contain horse chestnut extract. Although this will help, you want to make sure that there is no bleeding as the horse chestnut may increase the bleeding temporarily.

 

Hemorrhoids And The Spleen

So, what do hemorrhoids have to do with the spleen? Well, by now you should know that almost everything has to do with the spleen!! The spleen, in Chinese medicine, is responsible for the body's holding function. This means the ability to hold organs in place is determined by the spleen's energy. Things like prolapses, prolapse of uterus, bladder, vagina, hernias and yes, hemorrhoids (this is literally a prolapse of the anus) are governed by the spleen. I often see these problems with patients who have chronically deficient spleen's. There is a lot we can do to strengthen the spleen, and you can read about that here - Loving Your Spleen in Chinese Medicine. :)

Horse Chestnut Leaves : Chinese Medicine Living

The leaves of a horse chestnut tree - so pretty!

Other Helpful Things

Many people think that if you have hemorrhoids that you just have to live with them, or that surgery may be the only option. Not so! There are other things that you can do to help heal your hemorrhoids.

  • Eat a clean diet with lots of fruits and vegetables (but go easy on the fibre, as this can make hemorrhoids worse)
  • Stay away from foods that cause inflammation like processed foods and sugar
  • Exercise to keep things moving through your digestive tract - this will make sure that nothing sits in your intestines too long which will aggravate your hemorrhoids
  • Drink plenty of water - this will help with constipation which is a major cause of hemorrhoids
  • Don't rush when you poop! Take your time and relax. Don't strain, give yourself the time to poop and don't rush.
  • Using probiotics with help keep everything in the digestive tract healthy and happy.
  • Taking supplements like horse chestnut will help strengthen the walls of your veins and combat inflammation.
  • Be mindful! This is the first step to healing any problem. :)

 

Horse Chestnut Tree Flower : Chinese Medicine Living

The flowers of a horse chestnut tree - beautiful! 

Hemorrhoids are a very common problem, but you don't have to suffer. Diet, exercise and supplements can really help to improve hemorrhoids and give you a better quality of life. With these simple steps instead of dreading a bowel movement, you can have everything move freely with no discomfort, and we all deserve that. :)


Documentary - Cancer Is Curable Now

This is a very interesting documentary about curing cancer with non-conventional (non Western) treatments. Is this even possible? YES, and it has been going on all over the world for years. There are many, many alternatives to the standard Western treatments of radiation and chemotherapy. Cancer is big business, especially in the United States, so many of the other treatments available for cancer are suppressed so people don't find out about them. Most of these treatments are safer, less expensive and way less destructive than conventional treatments. If you know anyone with cancer, this is definitely something they should see. Everyone of course has the right to choose what treatment they would like, but it is important to make an informed decision and get all the information about what it out there.

Many of these treatments use the philosophy that if you rebalance the body and give it what it needs then it will heal itself. (This is also the Chinese medicine philosophy). This is so often why conventional treatments may work temporarily but the cancer inevitable returns. It is because it is dealing with the symptoms (the cancer), and not the reason the cancer developed in the first place.

There is a lot of excellent information in here, and hopefully this will introduce some of you to some treatments that you did not know about. It all seems like common sense to me, but I will let you be the judge. Knowledge is power. :)

Documentary - Cancer is Curable Now

 

Natural Laundry Soap : Chinese Medicine Living9000 Needles : Chinese Medicine LivingChinese Herbs : Chinese Medicine Living


Can You Die of a Broken Heart?

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

Can you die of a broken heart? Surprisingly perhaps, the answer is yes.

Anyone who has had their heart broken wouldn't even have to think about the answer to this. "Yes" they would say, or at least that is what it feels like. Heartbreak is like walking around with tiny shards of glass in your chest. You feel a crushing sense of sadness, and you are miserable. I suspect that most of us have had our hearts broken at least once, and it feels awful. Sometimes it is so bad that you literally feel like you want to die. But did you know that you can actually die of a broken heart? Yes, that's right. You CAN. And the medical name for it is Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy.

In Western medicine the condition has several different names; transient apical ballooning syndrome, apical ballooning cardiomyopathy, stress-induced cardiomyopathy, stress cardiomyopathy and Gebrochenes-Herz-syndrom. The syndrome is characterized by a sudden weakening of the myocardium, or heart muscle. Broken heart syndrome is a well recognized cause of acute heart failure, and the interesting thing is that there are often no structural problems in or around the heart which is why, at least to Western medicine, its cause is a bit mysterious. Broken heart syndrome symptoms mimic those of a heart attack so people report symptoms like chest pains and shortness of breath. A heart attack results from a near or almost complete blockage of a heart artery. In broken heart syndrome, there is no such blockage.

Broken Heart Syndrome : Chinese Medicine Living

Broken heart syndrome has been well documented. If the sufferer survives the initial attack (which most do), all the symptoms often resolve completely in a couple of months. But perhaps the most significant thing about broken heart syndrome is that it is usually preceded by an intense emotional event, either a sudden shock, like the death of a loved one, or an ongoing emotional stressor like the breakup of a relationship. It can also be brought about by a constant state of anxiety - for example, living in a war torn country where you have watched your family die and have been torn from your home. This kind of ongoing stress and anxiety puts a huge load on the heart, both physically, spiritually and emotionally.

Interestingly, broken heart syndrome was first documented in Japan in the 1990's, and it gets its name - Tako-tsubo - from the Japanese literally meaning "octopus pot". It gets this name because of the shape of the heart when the syndrome is present - apical ballooning, a reversible abnormality characteristic of takotsubo cardiomyopathy. During systole (when the heart contracts) the midsection and tip (apex) of the left ventricle balloon out, while the area above, called the base, contracts normally. The shape is similar to the tako-tsubo - a round bottomed vessel with a narrow neck used to catch octopuses in Japan. The syndrome also seems to occur in much higher instances in women than in men, and most reported cases are of women from ages 58-75.

The Heart in Chinese Medicine

In Chinese medicine, the heart is at the centre of the body and its activities. The heart is said to govern and be responsible for all of the bodies functions via the other organs. The heart is also the residence of a very subtle but profoundly important energy, called the Shen. The Shen has been loosely translated as "spirit", but this does not encapsulate the entirety of what Shen means. It is a difficult concept to explain, but many mental illnesses are described in Chinese medicine as disturbances of the Shen. When you look into someones eyes and they are clear and bright and full of intelligence, this is someone with healthy Shen. When you look into the eyes of someone who is depressed, deeply sad, or is going through something very difficult in their lives that is, at least at that moment, getting the better of them, their eyes have a cloudy, unfocused appearance. This points to a disturbance of the Shen. Our Shen is our ability to be in the world, deal with problems effectively, be emotionally balanced and be clear and focused in our thoughts, feelings and ability to handle life and everything is throws at us. So, having a healthy Shen is of supreme importance, and its residence is the heart.

Broken Heart Syndrome : Chinese Medicine Living

To anyone who practices Chinese medicine, dying of a broken heart isn't such a bizarre thought. A sudden shock, or prolonged emotions like worry, sadness, anger and guilt (which is a uniquely Western emotion) weaken the heart and its energies. As we know, Chinese medicine takes the emotions very seriously and they are one of the main causes of disease. Now, for those of you who this is new to, let me clarify - it is not HAVING emotions that can cause disease, emotions are a natural part of being human. But emotions that are repressed, unexpressed or experienced intensely for extended periods of time without being resolved can certainly be a cause of disease.

In Chinese medicine, the body is like a garden, and everything must be working in harmony for the garden to flourish and grow. This means that the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of a person must all be in harmony for ultimate health to be achieved. So, take care of your heart. If you are dealing with something difficult in your life, acknowledging it and either dealing with it or seeking out help to get you through it is my best advice to keep your heart, and your Shen happy and balanced for many years to come.  And if you are having symptoms of a heart attack, even if you have no prior history of heart problems, take them seriously. Especially if they occur after an intense emotional event or sudden shock. Broken heart syndrome is real, and arming yourself with information is the best way to avoid problems in the present and the future.

Broken Heart Syndrome : Chinese Medicine Living

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Can You Die of a Broken Heart? : Chinese Medicine Living


Painful Periods? Why You Don't Have To Suffer.

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

Painful periods are what got me into Chinese medicine. A strange thing to say maybe, but it is true. I hated them then, but when I look back, I am so grateful for them. It is because of my horrible cramps that I became an acupuncturist.

Horrible cramps are what led to my introduction to Chinese medicine when I was a teenager. I had been suffering with them for years, and the only thing that doctors would ever tell me was that I would have to deal with them, that this is what came with being a girl. There were also prescriptions for hard core painkillers which could knock out a horse, but that was it. This was the treatment.

period cramps : Chinese Medicine Living

I was always amazed, even then, that there was no investigation. No tests, no ultra sounds to determine what might be happening. My doctor suspected that I might have endometriosis, but said that there was really nothing they could do about it. They could do an exploratory surgery through my belly button, but there was nothing to be gained by knowing.

At one point I asked if I could please be referred to a gynaecologist. I figured, this is what she DOES, so she might have some answers, or at least ideas of what I could do for my debilitating cramps. I was excited to see her. I was hoping that she might help me. I went in and explained my situation. And this is what she told me. She said why don't you come back when you want to have children, have tried and failed to conceive, then we will know that it was probably endometriosis (which, if left untreated can lead to infertility and the eventual inability to have children). So... let me see if I get this straight... you want to wait, and see if the thing you think I might have (endometriosis) renders me infertile to get a correct diagnosis? Really? Wow. I was stunned. Nothing about how to deal with my cramps. She didn't even ask me if I ever wanted children. I walked out of there with my mouth agape, wondering how this approach could be called medicine. It got worse.

It was after it was suggested by, not one, not two, but three separate doctors that I have a hysterectomy (that is the removal of the uterus) that I knew the world had gone mad. Could this really be a viable solution? I knew then it was crazy. I was fifteen years old.

hysterectomy : Chinese Medicine Living

I feel like I have told this story many times. It was the story that I told when I applied to Chinese medicine school. I wrote an essay answering the question - "Why did I want to be a doctor of Chinese medicine?" This experience with Western medicine was profound and transformative. It was also devastating and disappointing. I was experiencing first hand how broken the system was, and I knew there had to be another way.

I am grateful to my parents for teaching me to think for myself, and to question everything. This made for some frustrating interactions with many of my teachers growing up, but I was stubborn, and always looking for the truth. I didn't take anybody's word for anything, I always wanted to figure things out for myself. Every fibre in my being told me that the "solution" that these doctors proposed was insane. This was no solution at all. So one day my mother asked me if I wanted to see an acupuncturist. One of her musician friends was seeing one and said she had helped her a lot. I didn't know anything about acupuncture but I said yes. Of course. I was open to trying anything.

I went to see this acupuncturist in her home that was incredibly quiet and peaceful. I walked into her office and felt instantly calm. It was serene. She asked me questions and listened to my answers. She was kind, compassionate and gentle. She did a very detailed intake and asked me about my entire life, going back as far as I could remember. She took my pulse. She listened for a long time. She looked at my tongue and wrote extensive notes. I remember feeling that she was really LISTENING to me. She was listening to me explain my experiences and creating an overall picture of my health.

Chinese Herbal Medicine Cabinet - Crate : Chinese Medicine LivingSilver Om Earrings : Chinese Medicine LivingThe Acupuncture Kit : Chinese Medicine Living

The acupuncturist then looked at me and told me that she would help me resolve my cramps. She said I had some imbalances but that with acupuncture and some herbs I could rebalance and my cramps would go away. It took me a minute to process this information... yes. This is what she said. I think I fell in love with her a little. She was going to help me so that I would not spend one week out of every four writhing in pain and unable to function. I was so happy I was speechless.

After a few months of acupuncture treatments and herbs my cramps went away. I went for treatments a couple of times a week and they were an enormously wonderful and healing experience. I fell asleep on the table almost every time. When the session was over I would be gently awakened and brought out to sit down and given tea.

Acupuncture : Chinese Medicine Living

I saw my lovely acupuncturist for many years. When anything came up, I would go to her. She always helped me and healed me. She told me what to eat, and what to avoid and I asked her a million questions, trying to understand.

It was after that experience that I realized that this is what medicine should be, and that this is what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. If I had had this experience with Western medicine, in theory, countless others had as well. I wanted people to know that they didn't have to suffer or have organs removed. Chinese medicine offers a tool we can use to regain health, and maintain it. It offers not just healing from illness, but a way of life. Chinese medicine looks at things in a different way. You need to be whole to be healthy. It treats the person and not the disease.

I feel very blessed to have had this experience. It bought me to Chinese medicine. Because of what happened, I am passionate about it and deeply committed to sharing its wisdom with whomever would like it. I know that there are probably many people out there who are suffering with all kinds of ailments and some have been told that nothing can be done. I believe that there is ALWAYS something that can be done, and what happened to me is proof. :)

Yin Yang : Chinese Medicine Living


Read Our Article in Chinese Medicine Digital Magazine

Chinese Medicine Living will be collaborating with Chinese Medicine Digital Magazine by contributing eight articles for the next eight issues. This month is the first article titled - Love Your Spleen. Keep a look out for the next issue and our next article. :)

The magazine is so far only available for iPad (but is coming out on android soon), you can get it here in iTunes

Chinese Medicine Digital Magazine in iTunes

Here is the cover for this issue. Awesome!! Watch out for our next article in their next issue.

CMDMag Issue 7 Cover


Let's Talk About Your Lady Parts...

A Discussion About Vaginal Health According to Chinese Medicine.

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

It may seem a bit saucy to write about something that most people don't like to think about. They like to talk about it even less, but 52% of us have them, and I think it is in our best interest to know what is going on with them and keep them healthy. And when I say "them" I mean specifically the vagina (we can cover the other lady parts later). Men, I don't want to lose you here, you need to know this too. Have a mother? A sister? Daughter? Wife or girlfriend? Then knowing some basic information about vaginal health and disease will benefit you and all the ladies in your life.

Women's Health, Vaginal Health, reproductive health

Gynaecology in Chinese Medicine

Gynaecology in Chinese medicine has a long history. The earliest writings on the subject date back to the Shang dynasty, which was between 1500-1000 BC. As a result, Chinese medicine is extremely effective for dealing with the gamut of gynaecological problems women face. It was because of terrible problems with my periods as a teenager that I found Chinese medicine and after years of being told "I would just have to deal with it", acupuncture and herbs resolved them after a few months of treatment. So, I am speaking from experience, mine and the many, many women I have seen in clinic.

The way that Chinese medicine looks at gynaecology, and really the entire body is completely different than what we are used to in the West, so this is probably a good place to start. Chinese medicine believes that puberty is a particularly important time for a young girl and problems she experiences in these years will have lasting effects throughout her life. Living in a cold, damp climate can cause cold and dampness to invade the body and cause problems, excessive physical labour as a young person, and experiencing many emotional upsets are all factors that can contribute to problems both during puberty and later in a woman's life.

The periods are considered an especially vulnerable time for a woman, as the uterus is seen to be "open" allowing menstruation to occur. There is also, because of the loss of blood, a relative blood deficiency and many problems with menstruation are influenced by these factors. Some other main factors that cause gynaecological problems are:

  • Pathogenic factors from the outside, like heat, cold, dampness and wind (viruses, bacteria, etc..)
  • Excessive physical work or exercise
  • Emotional stress (emotions like sadness and grief, worry and anger, fear, shock and guilt are a significant factor in many gynaecological problems)
  • Diet and nutrition (hugely important always, but especially for women with gynaecological issues)
  • Overwork and exhaustion (which is so common in our culture)
  • Pregnancy and childbirth (having too many pregnancies too close together does not give the body time to recover)
  • Too much or too little sexual activity (you may be wondering, really? Yes. For more info, read this: Can too much sex be bad for your health? Sex and Chinese Medicine)
  • The birth control pill
  • Surgery and hysterectomy

There is a huge emphasis for women to take care during and immediately after their periods, being sure not to become overly emotional (which may seem counterintuitive, as this seems to be the time when most women feel exactly that), not to participate in too much strenuous physical labour, especially heavy lifting, they should avoid cold food, and be careful to avoid cold, damp places as it more easily enters the body at this time.

Prevention and Hygiene

Vaginal Health, Women's Health

Without an in-depth discussion on women's physiology and the aetiology (the cause of a disease) of gynaecological diseases, there are a few simple rules that women can follow to keep all of their lady parts healthy and prevent the problems will we discuss later.

  • Don't have sex during your periods - this is seen to cause stagnation in the uterus which can lead to problems later on and heavy periods
  • Avoid cold, damp environments, especially during your periods - this will cause cold and damp to invade the uterus when it is particularly vulnerable and can lead to problems
  • Don't work too hard or for long hours during the periods - overwork easily leads to deficiency at this vulnerable time
  • Don't have sex with a full bladder - this can lead to stagnation in both the uterus and the bladder
  • No heavy lifting during or immediately after the period - this can lead to qi sinking which, if it progresses can lead to prolapse of organs
  • Refrain from being angry during the period, as it may cause the period to stop
  • Don't drink alcohol during the period - this can cause circulation problems in the limbs
  • Eat foods that nourish blood during the periods such as - Peanuts, carrots, spinach, chicken, egg yolks, wood ear mushroom and Chinese red dates (we have a lot of wonderful Chinese medicine recipes here)
  • Don't be exposed to cold after sex - as cold can easily invade the uterus at this time
  • Avoid cold foods and liquids during the periods - as these foods can cause painful periods due to invasion of cold

Vaginal Discharge

Women often wonder if vaginal discharge is normal. Yes, it is. The way Chinese medicine defines it is that a slight vaginal discharge, that increases in volume and viscosity around ovulation (mid cycle) and is thin and colourless with no smell is normal. Therefore, discharge that is a colour (white, yellow, red, brown, green), thick with a strong smell is considered pathological. Some of the reasons to be having excessive vaginal discharge are below.

Diet

Chinese medicine puts a huge emphasis on what we eat, and how that can contribute to imbalances. This is especially true with gynaecological problems and the big three are greasy foods, dairy, and overconsumption of sugar. Now, in an ancient Chinese diet, these would not be things you would eat a lot of anyways, but we certainly do now, especially in the West. My best advice would always be to eat food that is as close as possible to how it has grown in (or on) the earth. Fresh fruits and vegetables are best. Organic if possible. As little sugar, refined oils, flours and salts as possible and if you must eat processed foods, do so sparingly. This advice goes double if you are healing from an illness.

Connected to diet is also eating at regular times. Chinese medicine theory states that the regularity with which we eat is almost as important as what we eat. The body likes routine, especially when it comes to food, and eating at random hours which change constantly puts stress on the Spleen and can lead to dampness which can lead to excessive vaginal discharge.

Excessive Physical Labour and Overwork

People who have very physically demanding jobs like people who work construction, or are firefighters or orderlies can be prone to Spleen deficiency. The same is true if you work long hours without adequate rest, eating properly and not getting enough sleep. Does this sound like everyone you know? This is a prevalent problem in our culture and many illnesses are a result of this stressful, fast-paced lifestyle. This overwork with lack of rest to recuperate easily leads to Spleen deficiency which in turn leads to dampness, and... excessive vaginal discharge.

Emotions

The emotions of the Liver - anger, frustration, and resentment, and the emotions of the Spleen - worry and over thinking can cause Liver Qi to become "stuck" or stagnant, and stagnant Liver Qi leads to many gynaecological problems. Worry and over thinking (which we do so much in our culture) cause Spleen Qi deficiency which leads to dampness. The combination of dampness and Liver Qi stagnation (which left untreated leads to heat) settles in the Liver channel which happens to wind around the genitals and causes excessive vaginal discharge.

diet and vaginal health

Diet is a very important part of vaginal health

Vaginal Itching

Vaginal itching is defined as persistent itching of the vagina which may also be accompanied by excessive vaginal discharge. To see a definition of excessive vaginal discharge, see the section above.

There are many factors that contribute to gynaecological problems in Chinese medicine. Often the Liver and Spleen are involved, so trying to keep both these organs healthy is a good first step in preventing imbalance in those organs which may lead to gynaecological problems down the road. Below is a list of factors that can lead to vaginal itching in Chinese medicine.

Emotional Problems

Chinese medicine sees the emotions are being an important part of health.  They become pathological when they are either felt intensely, as in a sudden death which can lead to shock; felt in a prolonged way without easing, such as after the death of a loved one; or not felt at all because they are being repressed or unexpressed. Each organ in Chinese medicine has an emotion that is associated with it, and the two most common organs that contribute to gynaecological problems are the Liver and the Spleen. The Liver is associated with anger - which may manifest as resentment, frustration or when extreme, rage. The Spleen is associated with worry and over thinking, two things that as a culture, we tend to do a lot. The Liver, in particular, is at the root of many gynaecological problems. If Liver Qi stagnates or becomes "stuck" it can, over time, turn to heat and that heat affects the Liver meridian which happens to run through the external genitalia, leading to itching. The more heat there is, the more intense the itching becomes.

Diet

We all know how Chinese medicine uses food to keep the body in balance and help to cure it if diseased. As a result, food can also be the cause of a problem and certainly contribute to it if an imbalance is already present. Diet is a big contributor to gynaecological problems in the West because the foods that cause the problems are a huge part of our diet. The main culprits are greasy foods and dairy products. If you are prone to gynaecological problems like yeast infections (candida infections) then take a look at your diet and try to cut back on greasy foods and dairy as they are a prominent factor. When it comes to diet, the regularity of eating is also important in Chinese medicine. The body likes routine, and we live such hectic lives, it is pretty normal for people to go all day without eating and then have a huge meal in the evenings. This puts a huge burden on the Spleen and can lead to problems like dampness. When combined with emotional issues, heat in the Liver combines with the dampness in the lower burner and forms damp heat which causes vaginal itching. The more heat there is, the more intense the itching becomes. So, express those emotions, and try to limit dairy and greasy foods.

Excess Physical Labour

Excess physical work can manifest as vaginal itching in a couple of ways. People with very physical jobs or people who train intensely can, over time, deplete their Spleen. If this physical work is carried out without sufficient rest the Spleen becomes deficient and is prone to dampness which can cause vaginal itching. The other way is if people work very long hours without eating properly or getting adequate sleep it will injure Liver and Kidney Yin. A Yin deficiency will ultimately lead to a blood deficiency which can lead to vaginal itching.

Vulvar Sores

The vulva refers to the external vagina including the labia, clitoris, and entrance to the vagina. Sores on the vulva can be painful, hot, itchy and/or have a discharge of pus. Vulvar sores may be categorized as itching, swelling, pain, lumps, pus and excessive vaginal discharge. These symptoms may also be accompanied by systemic symptoms such as shivers, fever, weakness, constipation, thirst, dark urine and abdominal distension.

In Chinese medicine, vulvar sores can arise for many reasons. The main ones are poor and irregular diet, emotional strain and stress, or an invasion of dampness and cold (especially during or immediately after the periods, or after childbirth).

Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are very effective for treating vulvar sores, but it is important to obtain a correct diagnosis to ascertain the reason for the sores so that it can be corrected and therefore will not return. It is also important to determine if the vulvar sores may be due to certain sexually transmitted diseases or neoplasms. The vulva is the fourth most common site of gynaecological neoplasia. The majority of gynaecological neoplasms are diagnosed in women in their sixties and seventies, and 15%  occur in women under forty. Gynaecological neoplasms have been associated with the HPV virus (human papilloma virus). The symptoms of vulvar neoplasm are pruritus, erythema, and swelling. If you suspect an STD or neoplasm, be sure to see your doctor.

And last but not least, some basics to keep the lady parts clean and in good health. Wear cotton underwear which will keep all those bits clean and dry (other synthetic fabrics don't breathe and can cause problems especially in damp, hot weather). If you can, don't wear anything (on those parts anyways) to bed so that they get a chance to breathe. When bathing be sure to dry the lady parts very well as they tend to heat and heat and sweat can brew into a less than awesome situation. Most of all, be mindful of your lady parts and pay attention to what is happening down there. This article lists some of the more common issues, but if there is anything that you are worried about, go see a doctor, homeopath, naturopath or acupuncturist - the one you feel most comfortable talking to about these things and make sure you get it sorted out. Peace of mind is a good thing, for any of our parts.

 

Vaginal Health

Vaginal Health - Women's Health in Chinese medicine


References
Obstetrics and Gynecology in Chinese Medicine by Giovanni Maciocia