Saturday, April 12, 2008

Premature Ovarian Failure (POF) vs. Menopause, from the perspective of traditional Chinese medicine

[POF vs. Menopause] To begin with, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) looks at Premature Ovarian Failure (POF) from the point of view of amenorrhea, infertility and its related symptoms. Many symptoms of POF are like premature menopause, amid an abnormal one. These symptoms are hot flashes, night sweats, energy loss, vaginal dryness, low sex drive, sleeping problems, loose bladder control and etc.

[The role of Kidney-Qi] From TCM theories, kidney system is the one responsible most for POF. If the kidney-qi (energy) is strong, the Chong and Ren channels (of which acupuncture is based on) will be full of energy and menstruation will come on time every month. POF, with its absence of menstruation, therefore falls into the category. According to modern research, Chinese herbs that boost kidney-qi, by regulating kidney system, remarkably raise estrogen level, and doing so without the side effects of HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy). Modern research and traditional efficacy seem to blend in well in this case. (Pic: Visualization of qi of internal organs & systems)

[Other syndromes] Warming the kidney-qi is suitable for those who are (1) lacking of kidney-qi or warming energy. There are other syndromes manifested by patients of POF. Among them are: (2) Deficiency of kidney-yin, (3) Blood stagnation due to qi-exhaustion, (4) Stagnated liver-qi and deficiency of kidneys, (5) Accumulation of phlegm and wetness, and (6) Deficiency of blood and kidneys.

So there are at least 6 syndromes of POF. The question is: which one does a particular patient belong to?

[What type am I?] Sometimes it can be a combination of two or three syndromes in one body. It depends on which syndrome is more prominent than the others. In fact, every individual is unique. And therefore manifestation of diseases on different bodies can have different symptoms. This is a very important concept of TCM. Another woman may have POF but display quite different signs and symptoms; because of different body types and syndromes.

It's therefore important to have the correct diagnosis, both from conventional medicine and TCM diagnosis.

[TCM diagnosis of syndrome] Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), nonetheless, doesn't work by just knowing diagnosis (the name of the disease) of conventional medicine. She will need to go to a TCM physician for a complete TCM diagnosis based on methods of, among them, pulse taking, tongue reading, symptoms profile, and histology and so on. By combining all these information then only can a TCM physician diagnose your SYNDROME, a phrase describing your body and constituent and its relationship with the illnesses. After knowing the syndrome of her illness, an herbal or acupuncture (choice of acupoints and manipulation methods) prescription can then be formulated. An herbal prescription can have from 8 to 16 herbs (or more or less, depending on individual needs), ranging in different amounts. Prescription of Chinese herbs can hardly be one or two herbs. It’s the interoperability of these many herbs that works in a more complete care for the body.

[Acupuncture treatment in accordance with syndrome] The above are herbal treatments. Another treatment method worth considering is acupuncture. The kidney essence is everything before an ovulation is possible. Deficiency of kidney and its essence is thus one of the most prominent syndromes of POF. By tracking both of DU channel and kidney channel, a few acupoints such as Guan Yuan, Zhong Ji, Da He, and Zi Gong, Shen Shu, Yong Quan can be taken for acupuncture treatment. All these have been proven to be effective for symptoms related to POF. (Pic: Ren channel)

Consultation with a qualified TCM physician is for sure necessary for proper diagnosis of syndrome and the subsequent herbal or acupuncture treatment methods.


Anonymous said...

Dear John, thanks for the valuable information!
Regards, Snowhite

John J. C. Lew said...

Hi Snowhite,

I've had a few enquiries about this medical problem. Rare and not known well to the public, TCM can provide good results to some of the symptoms related to Premature Ovarian Failure, as well as that of Menopause.

International enquiries can be difficult in the sense that tongue diagnosis and pulse taking methods are missing in overall diagnosis process.

John Lew