Headaches, PMS & Hormone Imbalance

Rob Weingeist, LAcwomenLeave a Comment

How to relieve headaches, PMS and hormone imbalance with Chinese Medicine

Why do you get Headaches, PMS & Hormone Imbalance? Here is the perspective in Chinese Medicine.

Imagine you are stuck in traffic. Even if you are a patient person, you will eventually get irritated. Your face will turn red, you will start feeling hot, even start to sweat. Your pent up frustration and energy has no outlet to escape; you can’t move around and let it out!

That’s what liver stagnation feels like to your body — except instead of being stuck in traffic, the triggers could be any one of these (or a combination):

  • poor diet (lack of plant fiber, fried or processed foods)
  • overeating at meal time
  • chronic prolonged stress (perhaps a difficult job, stressful relationship)
  • unresolved anger
  • childhood trauma that hasn’t been talked about or dealt with
  • over-consumption of alcohol or exposure to other toxins (such as environmental toxins in the workplace, heavy metals in tap water, etc.)
  • lack of exercise

Due to our fast-paced lifestyles, poor diets, environmental toxins, poor sleeping patterns, and excessive sitting all day, our Qi as a society has become stagnant. Our livers are overwhelmed by emotions and worries, unfulfilled desires (“keeping up wit the joneses”), and physical stagnation.


Cyclical headaches associated with your period become a problem when liver stagnation goes unresolved for too long. Over time, like friction, stagnation turns to heat – or what TCM calls “liver fire.” This may manifest as burning eyes, irritability, angry outbursts, tinnitus, throbbing headaches, red face, bitter taste in the mouth, or constipation.

Emotions / Anxiety & Depression / PMS

Liver Qi Stagnation is responsible for many emotional troubles that come with or without PMS! In TCM, the liver stores the “Hun,” which represents the spirit or psyche. When the liver becomes congested, the Hun becomes agitated due to the abundance of heat with no way to disperse it. This leads to anger, feeling ‘stuck,’ crying easily, and having a hard time letting go of thoughts or worries.

How to Resolve Liver Qi Stagnation & Balance Your Hormones

Stagnation in any part of the body is not something that gets resolved overnight. It takes slow and steady changes that happen little by little. Because this is a condition that builds up over time (and can be triggered so easily due to stress), you want to come at this from several angles: diet, stress management techniques, targeted exercise and stretches, etc.

a. Diet to resolve headaches, and hormone imbalance

  1. Cut out (or cut down on) coffee and energy drinks or soda that contain caffeine. Exogenous stimulants put stress on the body and the liver to has to overcompensate/work harder.
  2. Cut out (or cut down on) creamy, cheesy sauces. Any pasteurized dairy, especially cheese, is best to avoid completely. The thickness and richness of milk and cheese gives us a clue as to how it may slow us down (including our liver meridian).
  3. Cut out (or cut down on) refined sugar. Fruit is excellent.
  4. Nix the fried and oily food completely. Only consume a moderate amount of fat. The closer the fat is to its whole form (avocado, olives, coconut) the better.
  5. Don’t consume too much in one sitting, and keep your meals simple. Over-complicating flavors and ingredients creates congestion as your body tries to identify all the components.
  6. Don’t eat too late; leave at least 3 hours before bed.
  7. Do eat: green foods. Green is the color associated with the liver meridian and green vegetables have an astringent quality that helps to tonify the liver.
  8. Do eat: cruciferous vegetables. Try to eat these at least twice a day (i.e. with lunch and dinner). Cabbage and broccoli are excellent. These contain sulfur and activate liver phase II detoxification.
  9. Eat one large raw carrot each day. Carrots contain a special indigestible fiber that binds to excess hormones/toxins and helps remove them from your body. This takes a huge burden off your liver and moves your bowels/Qi.
  10. If you consume meat, limit to small servings (especially animal fat). Fish is more ideal for this condition.
  11. Other helpful foods include apples, applesauce, radishes, garlic, cayenne, grapefruit, lemon, salad greens.

b. Lifestyle to resolve headaches, pms, and hormone imbalance

  1. Turn off the electronics. Technology has become like a body part to most of us. In some ways, it’s nice to be so connected to people you never get to see and be able to get information from all around the world. However, spending a lot of time on the internet, playing video games, and constantly checking email via our smartphones creates an agitation in our bodies that quickly leads to Liver Qi stagnation.
  2. You must let out your emotions! Writing a letter of forgiveness to someone you hold a grudge towards is so important in long term healing. Keeping a journal can absolutely change your life and health.
  3. Exercise. Stagnation is exactly what is sounds like – being stuck, lack of movement – so the best way to deal with it is to move your body! Moderate exercise is the best thing to get your Qi moving. Overtraining will only create more stress and stagnation.
  4. Breathe (+ breath exercises). One of the reasons why exercise is so helpful for Liver Qi stagnation is that you have to breathe harder and you get more oxygen into the body. Deep breathing is essential to bring Qi into the lungs before it is dispersed by the liver. Try lying in bed and breathing deeply 10 times before you fall asleep each night. 
  5. Deep relaxation and meditation. What will get at the root of the stagnated liver Qi is deep relaxation. There is nothing that will do for your liver what meditation will do, if it’s done the right way. It must include the entire body: muscular relaxation – not just cerebral relaxation.
  6. Spend time relaxing with activities or people you like. Whether you’re talking through the things that are bothering you or letting go of the cares of the day, relaxing and laughing with people you enjoy spending time with is a great way to release stagnation.

c. Liver acupuncture points

Acupuncture points for headaches, pms, and hormone imbalance
Acupuncture points for Headaches, PMS & Hormone Imbalance

Press these points off and on all throughout your day. You can use them when you wake up in the morning and especially whenever you are stressed or angry. Pressing on these points can also provide relief of menstrual cramps in the moment.

Learn more about Chinese Medicine

This is a compilation key parts of an article from: https://www.organicolivia.com/2017/02/headaches-pms-hormone-imbalance-why-chinese-medicines-liver-qi-stagnation-is-a-nationwide-problem/

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