Menopause Mood Swings and Emotional Changes

Photo by:  
Mark Peery Images

Navigating Emotional Changes During Perimenopause with Classical Chinese Medicine

Perimenopause is a natural transition in a woman's life, akin to the change from summer to autumn in nature. It often brings a host of physical and emotional changes. Classical Chinese medicine, with its ancient wisdom, offers a holistic approach to managing these shifts, aiming to restore balance and enhance well-being.

If you have ended up reading this, you are searching for answers and looking for help. There is a reason you are here. Something is changing and it is wreaking havoc in your life. I get it, and i have Lets look at some of the ways Chinese Medicine can help explain why your body feels like its going off the rails (eyeroll).

Chinese Medicine can explain the onset of symptoms, especially the emotional/mental/cognitive changes that occur, and make sense out of them. So helpful- what a relief to know there is help.

Lets start with "Climacteric Disease". The term "climacteric" refers to the period in a person's life marked by physiological changes leading up to and following the end of reproductive capability. This phase encompasses menopause in women and may involve a range of symptoms and hormonal adjustments as the body transitions away from fertility. The climacteric stage includes both the perimenopause (the time leading up to menopause) and the time after menopause itself, impacting various aspects of health and well-being.

Climacteric Disease: A Classical Perspective on Menopause

Classical texts, including the Jingui Yaolue, describe menopause as a climacteric disease, highlighting a decline in Kidney essence (Jing). This essence is crucial for reproductive functions and overall vitality.  The concept of "climacteric disease" refers to the various symptoms and conditions that arise during the transition period of aging, particularly around the time of menopause. It is linked to the decline of Kidney essence, which in Chinese medicine theory, supports reproductive functions and overall vitality. As this essence declines, it can lead to symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, emotional instability, and other health disturbances. The treatment focus in classical texts like Jingui Yaolue involves nourishing the Kidney essence and balancing the body’s Yin and Yang to mitigate these symptoms.

Emotional Conditions Described in Classical Texts-

1. Plum Pit Qi: Addressing Emotional Repression

Plum Pit Qi is described in the Jingui Yaolue, where it is referred to as a condition where one feels as if a piece of plum pit is stuck in the throat, which cannot be swallowed or coughed up. This is associated with emotional distress and Qi stagnation. The text provides guidance on smoothing and directing the Qi downwards, typically with formulas that regulate the Qi and relieve this stagnation.

Relating Plum Pit Qi to Perimenopause

During perimenopause, many women experience emotional fluctuations that can feel akin to the stifling sensation of Plum Pit Qi—where emotions are pent up and difficult to express. This condition illustrates how emotional health directly impacts physical well-being. By treating this with approaches that free the Qi, such as specific acupuncture points or herbal formulas like Ban Xia Hou Po Tang, which contains herbs known to move Qi and dissipate nodules, relief can be provided.

Consider a scenario where a patient comes in feeling 'stuck' emotionally and physically, with symptoms resembling Plum Pit Qi. By applying the principles from Jingui Yaolue, treatments would focus on releasing this blockage, allowing her to express her emotions more freely and reduce the physical symptoms associated with this Qi stagnation.

2. Visceral Agitation

Visceral agitation is described in the Jingui Yaolue as a condition of profound emotional and physical turmoil that can disrupt the internal organ systems, leading to symptoms like severe anxiety, palpitations, and distress. Anger outbursts followed by uncontrollable crying can ensue. This reflects deep-seated imbalances that require a holistic approach to restore harmony within the body.

Linking Visceral Agitation to Perimenopause

During perimenopause, the hormonal fluctuations can create a similar kind of internal chaos, which might manifest as intense mood swings or unexplained anxiety, anger and crying. The principles used to treat visceral agitation can be very effective in these cases, involving treatments that calm the spirit and harmonize the organ systems.

Using herbal formulas like Gan Mai Da Zao Tang, which soothes the spirit and nourishes the heart, can be particularly effective. This approach not only targets the symptoms but also addresses the root cause of the emotional disturbances, providing a profound sense of relief and stability during the turbulent perimenopausal period.

3. Lily Disease:

Lily Disease (百合病, Bai He Bing) involves symptoms such as restlessness, indecision and an inability to eat despite hunger—symptoms that can resonate with the emotional roller coaster many women experience during perimenopause. The treatment focuses on nourishing the Heart and Lung Yin and stabilizing the Shen, using herbs like Bai He (lily bulb) to calm and soothe. In classical Chinese medicine, Lily Disease (百合病 Bai He Bing) relates closely to symptoms experienced during menopause, such as emotional instability and anxiety. Traditionally characterized by symptoms like feeling restless or having unexplained sadness, it's seen as a disruption of harmony between the Heart and Lungs, impacting the Shen (spirit).

Modern women may find this concept particularly relatable during the menopausal transition, as it mirrors common experiences such as mood swings and emotional distress. Treating Lily Disease involves nourishing the Yin and calming the Shen, offering a soothing remedy that aligns with the holistic approach to handling menopause's challenges in a balanced, natural way. This ancient wisdom provides a framework for understanding and alleviating the emotional rollercoasters many women face today during this significant life transition.

How Classical Medicine Solves Modern Conditions

These classical conditions and their treatments offer a blueprint for addressing the complex challenges of perimenopause. For example, a patient feeling overwhelmed by mood swings and outbursts of intense emotions (visceral agitation) might find relief through taking the formula Gan Mai Da Zao Tang, supporting her journey towards emotional stability. Similarly, another suffering from sleeplessness and restlessness (symptoms of climacteric disorder) may benefit from Kidney-nourishing herbs that cool the body and calm the mind.

Perimenopause does not have to disrupt your life. With the guidance of classical Chinese medicine, you can navigate this phase with greater ease and comfort. By understanding and applying ancient principles to modern symptoms, my practice offers a path to harmony and health during perimenopause and menopause.

In Health,


Click here to schedule a free telemedicine appointment
All other appointments, in-clinic and telemedicine, can be scheduled by clicking the button below.

Schedule Appointment
Click here to purchase a gift card for a friend or family member.