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

Updated June 1, 2003








Modern Chinese Herbal Formulas for Menopause
by Brian Benjamin Carter
With Philippe Sionneau
and Jean-Claude Brézillon

I've gone back and forth about putting actual herbal formulas and their ingredients in the Pulse of Oriental Medicine. This is because, number one, the Pulse is for regular people, not practitioners. However, seeing what real herbal formulas look like might be educational for the layperson. And number two, people love to do self-care with alternative medicine, but it's too difficult to do with Chinese herbal medicine, because it takes years to learn to apply it correctly. Using the wrong formula could make you worse.

Plus, I'd like to make the point that there is a Chinese herbal tradition, but it's not frozen in time. Chinese practitioners write new formulas for new and old diseases. They are also innovating by combining knowledge from scientific studies with the principles of traditional Chinese herbal medicine. In this way, they've created formulas for serious modern diseases like cancer, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, glaucoma, diabetes, and sciatica.

Philippe Sionneau has been graceful enough to allow me to publish some formulas from a new book he's writing about these modern Chinese herbal formulas.

Note: These are not the only formulas for menopause. Every formula is not good for everyone. See a trained Chinese medicine herbalist, and let them diagnose you and choose the formulas according to the principles of Chinese herbal medicine. That way, you'll get the best healing with the least side effects.

A Formula For Perimenopausal Psychological Disturbances

Chai Fu Tao Hong Si Wu Tang
(Bupleurum, Cyperus, Persica and Carthamus Four Substance Decoction)

Radix Bupleuri (chaihu) 10g
Rhizoma Cyperi Rotundi (xiangfu) 12g
Uncooked Radix Rehmanniae (shengdihuang) 20g
prepared Radix Rehmanniae (shudihuang) 20g
Radix Rubrus Paeoniae Lactiflorae (chishao) 12g
Radix Albus Paeoniae Lactiflorae (baishao) 12g
Radix Angelicae Sinensis (danggui) 10g
Radix Ligustici Wallichii (chuanxiong) 10g
Semen Pruni Persicae (taoren) 10g
Flos Carthami Tinctorii (honghua) 12g
Uncooked Os Draconis (longgu) 30g
Uncooked Radix Glycyrrhizae (gancao) 6g

Directions for use: Decoction. Make two decoctions per day with the same medicinals.

1. Dredges the Liver and regulates the menses
2. Nourishes and invigorates the blood
3. Moistens the zang organs and quiets the spirit

Indications: Perimenopause with marked emotional disturbances (e.g. restlessness, irritability, tears, insomnia) and menstrual irregularities (e.g. long, short, erratic cycles, temporary amenorrhea, menses that alternate between scanty and profuse) caused by Liver constraint and Kidney yin deficiency.

· For severe irritability and restlessness, add Fructus Gardeniae Jasminoidis (zhizi) 10g, and Rhizoma Coptidis Chinensis (huanglian) 3-6g.
· For chest oppression with frequent sighing, add Fructus Citri Sacrodactylis (foshou) 12g, and Tuber Curcumae (yujin) 12g.
· For Heart palpitations and insomnia, add Sclerotium Pararadicis Poriae Cocos (fushen) 12g, and stir-fried Semen Zizyphi Spinosae (suanzaoren) 12g.
· For shortness of breath and fatigue, add Radix Astragali Membranacei (huangqi) 15g, and Radix Codonopsitis Pilosulae (dangshen) 10g.
· For severe Kidney deficiency with low back pain, add Radix Dipsaci (xuduan) 10g, and Ramulus Loranthi Seu Visci (sangjisheng) 10g.
· For abundant vaginal discharge, add Rhizoma Atractylodis Macrocephalae (baizhu) 12g, Sclerotium Poriae Cocos (fuling) 12g, and Os Sepiae Seu Sepiellae (haipiaoxiao) 10g.

Commentary by Philippe Sionneau:
This formula focuses on perimenopausal psychological disturbances. The starting point is usually Liver depression due to Liver blood deficiency and Kidney yin deficiency that develops in this age range. Chaihu and xiangfu relieve constraint, baishao, danggui and shudihuang nourish the Liver blood, and shengdihuang and shudihuang to supplement the Kidney yin.

Qi stagnation often causes blood stasis, particularly if the condition is located at the level of the sea of blood. This explains the use of chishao, chuanxiong, taoren and honghua.

Here, the actions of dredging and nourishing the Liver and supplementing the Kidneys to root the yang do somewhat quiet the spirit. To increase that effect, the clinician adds longgu.

Source: article published in the Bei Jing College of Chinese Medicine Academic Journal (Bei Jing Zhong Yi Xue Yuan Xue Bao) - 1984, # 4. Author: Dr Wu Yong Fu.


Menopause Formula for Kidney yin and yang deficiency, Liver blood deficiency, Liver constraint and deficient heat

Fu Geng Yin (Menopause Beverage)

Uncooked Radix Rehmanniae (shengdihuang) 15g
Radix Lithospermi Seu Arnebiae (zicao) 15g
Ramulus Loranthi Seu Visci (sangjisheng) 15g
Ramulus Uncariae Cum Uncis (gouteng) 15g
Uncooked Fructus Germinatus Hordei Vulgaris (maiya) 15g
Herba Epimedii (yinyanghuo) 10g
Radix Angelicae Sinensis (danggui) 10g
Rhizoma Cyperi Rotundi (xiangfu) 10g

Directions for use: Decoction. Make two decoctions per day with the same medicinals.

1. Supplements Kidney yin and yang
2. Dredges the Liver and anchors the yang
3. Nourishes the blood and clears deficient heat

Indications: Menopause syndrome caused by Kidney yin and yang deficiency, Liver blood deficiency, Liver constraint and deficient heat.

· For severe sweating, add Semen Levis Tritici Aestivi (Fu Xiao Mai) 30g.
· For fatigue, add Radix Codonopsitis Pilosulae (Dang Shen) 12g.
· For insomnia, add stir-fried Semen Zizyphi Spinosae (Suan Zao Ren) 15g.
· For hot flashes, add Rhizoma Anemarrhenae Asphodeloidis (Zhi Mu) 12g.

Commentary by Philippe Sionneau:
This simple formula is actually quite comprehensive and demonstrates how clever modern Chinese medicine can be. First, clinical observation indicates that menopause is generally a complex mixture of Kidney yin and yang deficiency (one may cause or aggravate the other), and Liver blood deficiency causing liver constraint. Second, ascendant Liver yang and/or deficient heat result from both of the aforementioned patterns. Third, Spleen qi and yang often are involved because of the special relationships between the Liver qi and Spleen qi, and the Spleen yang and Kidney yang. Thus, Spleen deficiency commonly complicates the entire picture.

This prescription solves all of these problems, and not just in any old way; it elegantly combines only the most appropriate medicinals into an intelligent and simple prescription. Shengdihuang and sangjisheng nourish the Kidneys' yin. Shudihuang might have been chosen instead of shengdihuang (both nourish the Kidney), but shengdihuang also clears the heat common to menopause. Sangjisheng, is often chosen for modern formulas that treat Kidney deficiency menstrual disorders because of its hormonal action. It also treats high blood pressure and rheumatic pain, both of which are common during menopause.

There are dozens of medicinals that warm the Kidney yang. Among them, yinynghuo is a key medicinal for gonadal and menopausal disorders caused by Kidney yang deficiency. Like its yin counterpart sangjisheng, yinyanghuo treats hypertension and rheumatic pain.

Xiangfu dredges the Liver and relieves constraint. Why not use the famous Radix Bupleurum (chaihu)? For one thing, its ascending nature could worsen the already ascendant yang and heat, plus xiangfu's menses-regulating action is more pronounced. Xiangfu remains a major medicinal for regulating the menses because it harmonizes the cycle and regulates female hormones when there is Liver constraint.

Danggui is another major menses-regulating medicinal, and especially appropriate in blood deficiency. Furthermore, it supplements Liver blood to prevent Liver depression. Lastly, it invigorates the blood and dispels the stasis that is common when yin and blood are temporarily depleted.

Zicao is traditionally used to cool the blood in dermatological disorders. Here, it is used to treat hot flashes. Its hot flash-cooling and hypotensive effects are based on clinical observation.

Gouteng drains Liver heat (which here comes from the Liver constraint) and anchors the yang. This further controls the irritability and hot flashes.

Maiya strengthens the Spleen's functions of transportation andtransformation in order to aid in the production of postnatal essence. Here again, numerous medicinals could have been prescribed, but Maiya is best for two reasons: First, it aids in the digestion and the assimilation of fruits, vegetables, grains, and herbs. This prevents digestive side effects from the long-term ingestion of rich supplementing medicinals like shengdihuang. Second, according to modern clinical data, maiya regulates female hormones. Just as it traditionally is said to painlessly stop lactation, it also painlessly stops the menses during menopause. Very few women are not helped by this wholesome, health-promoting formula.

Source: formula quoted by Gu Miao Zhen in " Zhong Yi Zhi Liao Xian Dai Nan Bing Ji Cheng " (Synthesis of Chinese Medicine Treatments for Difficult Diseases of our Modern Times).

More resources:
· An Interview with Philippe Sionneau
· Menopause Herbs Don't Work?
· Natural HRT Alternatives

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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.

Copyright 1999-2074, Pulse Media International, Brian Carter, MSci, LAc, Editor