Pulse of Oriental Medicine: Alternative Medicine That Works for Regular Folks
Alternative Medicine That Works for Regular Folks







Hey, this is Brian Carter, founder of PulseMed.org.  I've been writing to regular folks about alternative medicine solutions for the last 5 years now, and we've reached more than 300,000 people around the world.  
My first book, Powerful Body, Peaceful Mind: How to Heal Yourself with Foods, Herbs, and Acupressure will be published by the end of November.  I literally can't wait to talk to you about it and answer your questions!  That's why I'm starting a series of Teleseminars.  These are phone conference presentations that everyone calls into.  I'll speak on a topic like 'Boosting Your Energy' or 'Introduction to Acupuncture', and then, answer questions from the audience.
Right now you can help me decide which topics to do first - just fill out the survey on this page.  Then, if you want us to contact you later, click on the email link under my black and white photo to tell us.  I look forward to meeting you and working with you!
Healing Teleseminars with
Brian Carter, MS, LAc, PulseMed.org Founder
and Author of
Powerful Body, Peaceful Mind





Natural HRT Alternatives

By Lynda Harvey-Carter, OMD, LAc


Perimenopause is the interval between the last regular menstruation and menopause. Irregular cycles with decreased frequency, quantity and duration of flow can last from 2-7 years.

An estimated 75-98% women develop symptoms (hypoestrogenism) and for 15-25% they are severe and disruptive enough to require medical assistance.

The definition according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a bit more complex... symptoms are grouped into "zang fu" syndromes. These syndromes are defined by groups of the wide range of perimenopause symptoms.

Perimenopausal Symptoms

Menopausal symptoms fall into a number of categories:

  • Menstrual: irregular menses, changes in bleeding pattern, pain, PMS changes, duration, severity, breast distention
  • Temperature: hot flashes, perspiration
  • Psychological: cognitive changes, memory loss, concentration, mood changes, anxiety, depression, irritability, insomnia, sensitivity, instability, agitation, suspiciousness
  • Digestive: indigestion, diarrhea, gas, constipation, bloating, weight gain, nausea, loss of appetite, loose stool
  • Pain: myalgias and arthralgia, headaches and brain buzz
  • Head: dizziness, vertigo, hot flashes, flushed cheeks, tinnitus (ear ringing)
  • Heart: palpitations, chest oppression
  • Skin: formications, dryness, rashes, itching prickly skin
  • Urinary: frequent urination and incontinence
  • Body Fluids: muscosal changes, bitter taste, dry mouth, bad breath, dry nostrils, eyes, vaginal dryness, edema of face and lower limbs
  • Sexual: libido loss, energy loss

What Else Could Those Symptoms Mean?

It is important to consider what other diseases or conditions might be confused for perimenopause. After all, we don't want to treat the wrong thing! The differential diagnosis includes:

  • Dysthymia or cyclothymia
  • Insomnia
  • The full range of endocrine disease, for example:
    • anterior hypothalamus disease
    • hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism
    • diabetes
    • hypoadrenalism or hyperadrenalism
  • Anemia
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • MS
  • Lupus
  • Early hepatitis C or D

This is exactly why we need primary care doctors. Someone needs to consider your symptoms, and then order the relevant labs tests to make sure of the cause. In California, acupuncturists can order lab tests and can be your primary care physician.

Regardless, it's best to have a health care team at your disposal- MD/DO, L.Ac., D.C., Massage therapist, etc. Whatever your pocketbook and coverage will allow

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Types of Perimenopause

I'd like to present 4 general ways that perimenopause can show up. I'll go into detail about each one in further articles. The 4 types are:

  1. Early Perimenopausal Syndrome, Physiological Type
  2. Early Perimenopausal Syndrome, Psychological Type
  3. Later Perimenopausal Syndrome, Hormonal Imbalance with both Physiological & Psychological Presentation
  4. The Traditional Menopausal Syndrome

In future articles, I will cover each of these types. As they are finished, you will be able to click above for more info.

For TCM Practitioners, here are the zang-fu patterns, distinctive symptoms, and recommended herbal formulas for these 4 types:

Zang Fu Patterns
Distinctive Symptoms
Herbal Formula and Vitamins
1. Early Perimenopausal Syndrome, Physiological Type Liver qi stagnation, general qi and blood stagnation, with damp phlegm accumulation due to underlying Sp qi deficiency
  • Epigastric distention, gas, abdominal bloating
  • Headaches usually with a muzzy or heavy quality
  • Fibrocystic breasts
  • Tongue: lateral redness, body may be pale, possible dusky purplish, may be swollen with a thick coating

Healthy Breast Formula


  • Minor Bupleurum Formula
  • Carth Persic Comb

Vitamins & Minerals:

  • Vitamin E 400-800IU daily at bedtime
  • Pyridoxine (B6) promotes
  • Folic acid 5 mg daily
2. Early Perimenopausal Syndrome, Psychological Type Liver Qi Stagnation leading to Fire Flaring to Heart and Deficiency Kidney qi and yang.
  • Anxiety, instability, tension, uncertainty, angry, depression, irritability, lability, uncontrolled crying, inability to manage stress,
  • Migraine headache, tension headache
  • Swelling, water retention in extremeties, great fluctuation in weight
  • Tongue: Red, yellowish coating
  • Pulse: rapid
OB-GYN PMS Formula
3. Later Perimenopausal Syndrome, Hormonal Imbalance with both Physical & Psychological Presentation
  • Occurs later in perimenopause
  • Combination of the physiologic and psychological symptoms above
Hormonal Balance Formula
4. Traditional Menopausal Syndrome Kidney Yin and Qi Xu with Rising Liver Yang.
  • Libido loss, energy loss, insomnia, cognitive changes, memory loss, concentration, etc.
  • Irregular menses, changes is bleeding pattern
  • Muscosal changes-bitter taste, dry mouth, bad breath, dry nostrils, eyes, vaginal dryness
  • Mood changes-anxiety, depression, irritability, headaches and brain buzz, dizziness
  • Constipation, bloating

Menopause Formula


  • Rehmannia Six Formula
  • Anem-Phello & Rehmannia Formula
  • Lycium & Rehmannia Formula

Obviously, there is some overlap in the symptoms... diagnosis of zang fu patterns for herbal treatment is very complex and requires years of education and practice. Your Chinese Medicine (CM) practitioner will also take your pulse, examine your tongue, and may conduct other physical examinations to verify your diagnosis.

If you don't have a CM practitioner, read the Pulse article, "Finding an Acupuncturist."

More detail on these 4 types and the herbal formulas next time!

Lynda Harvey, OMD, LAc, PhD(c) is a doctor of oriental medicine, licensed acupuncturist, chinese herbalist, clinical nutritionist, and Ph.D. candidate in clinical psychology and with over 18 years experience in women's health.

You can reach her at in the San Diego area at 619-322-9200.

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All information herein provided is for educational use only and not meant to substitute for the advice of appropriate local experts and authorities.
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