Chinese Medicine and Women's Health
The vast majority of patients in my clinic are women, and 95% of them report a gynaecological issue as their primary or accompanying concern. Do these women tend to resort to alternative medicine because they are more open to natural treatment? Only partially. The main reason is, sadly, the poor management of chronic women’s health issues by conventional medicine.
In biomedicine, many of the gynaecological issues are understood to be linked to 1) infections or 2) hormonal imbalances. It is logical then that the treatment is the medication to either kill the pathogen (candida, bacteria, virus) or alter the hormones. The former approach works well with acute infections, but fails to address recurring issues. Hormonal medication can relieve some symptoms, but often creates new ones. Painkillers or other pills are usually prescribed to ease the symptoms.
What’s important to mention the problem is not the drugs, but the whole approach. If you take the same strategy but use natural treatment, the long-term result will be the same. Natural modulation of hormones with herbs, e.g. vitex, will do very little to solve chronic systemic disorders like endometriosis or PCOS. The same goes for herbs that help get rid of the pathogen - they will provide a fix, but it will only be temporary if the treatment stops here.
That’s why when I introduce myself as a Chinese medicine physician one of the first things I mention that it is not about using herbs and acupuncture in place of drugs. The value of such medicine would be limited (primarily demonstrated by fewer side effects, which of course is preferable). What makes Chinese medicine unique is its fundamental principles of life, health and disease which in turn dictate the diagnosis and the treatment in the clinic.
Symptoms are not seen in isolation, each of them is viewed as representing the whole. By taking time to listen and understand various aspects of the woman’s health and life, the practitioner pieces together the signs and symptoms into a pattern of disharmony. The treatment then is aimed at restoring harmony. It is achieved by applying one or a few methods offered by Chinese medicine - herbs, acupuncture, food therapy, exercise, self-care practices, and life-style adjustments. Because we work with the body’s innate ability to heal itself, it is a gentle measured process. For the same reason, it is hard to view it as a “medical treatment”. We are not fighting a disease but rather introducing steps to give the body what it needs the most, short-, medium- and long-term.
Results to expect? Steady gradual improvement across functions, reduction of the intensity and frequency of the main symptoms, and potentially meaningful shift in your physical and emotional wellbeing.