So I decided to try a traditional chinese formula this month. It seems like magnesium and fish oil really help my hormonally moody PMS symptoms, and removing gluten from my diet reduced my cramping during the first day of my menses, but it isn't gone, and still requires a very diligent regimen of antispasmodics (I find teas are working MUCH better than tinctures overall) and some homeopathic remedies to just manage. But they dont ever quite go away. So, I'm trying another approach, in addition to the nutrition and dietary changes I've made, I'll try a traditional tonic herb formula.
The Women's Four Things Decoction is a traditional chinese formula used for all sorts of menstrual problems stemming from deficient, stagnant blood, yin deficiency. I am in NO way a TCM herbal expert, and really need to do more research on the formula and chinese herbs in the formula, but will save that for another post.
It contains peony root, dong quai root, prepared rehmannia, and chuan xiong otherwise known as liguisticum wallachi. I'm more familiar with peony and dong quai, since I've used both quite a bit. But the rehmannia, a blood tonic, and the liguisticum ( related to our Osha) is a potent blood mover are new herbs to me. Prepared rehmannia, if you have never seen it is a big black circular chunk of root. And I mean BLACK!
So I made a decoction of equal parts of all four herbs this weekend, and had a quart and a half in the fridge for the week. I just pop about 8 oz of tea into a pan to warm it up and have it with breakfast. It is a rather bracing drink, dark and rooty, slightly bittersweet. I can't say I enjoy it, but it isn't really that bad either. Sweetened with a touch of molasses it goes down just fine.
I've taken it 4 times this week, with one more dose for tomorrow. And what I've noticed this week, is some major digestive blahs. I wonder if perhaps it is too tonifying, or dampening? I seem to get a bit naseaus after eating breakfast (including the decoction) and have been experiencing frequent, loose bowel movements, and a LOT of painful gas. I haven't really pinpointed if it is the herbs, one herb in particular, or some other factor. We'll see what happens when I run out of my tea this week, and go several days without. Perhaps I need to adjust the dose? A cup every other day? Once a week?
I guess the real test will be in 3 weeks when I have another period. I'll try it pre and during, to see what sort of antispasmodic and pain relieving properties it has for acute situations.
It's an interesting experiment, as I'm considering herbs like these for a particular client, but hesitate to reccomend anything without having tried it myself. But I don't know if I'll come to rely on this formula or these herbs as a practice. I perfer to stick to local herbs I can grow or wildcraft myself.
I'll post more as I further experiement with the formula.