Recently there was an item in our local paper, the New London Day, about a new drug for PMS. “Well, it’s about time,” begins the article. It describes the drug developed by a British company and now being tested on a small population of 100 women, some of whom are in the USA. The experimental medication goes by the name VA111913. (I’m sure it will have a snazzier name before it hits pharmacy shelves.) The article describes the relationship between high levels of vasopressin and uterine contractions experienced as menstrual cramps.
The action of VA111913 is very different from the usual hormone based drugs or pain medications given to women who suffer from menstrual cramps. It blocks the hormone vasopressin, thus reducing cramps. While it was billed as a PMS drug, the focus of the treatment seems to be solely on cramping. I am not sure what effect it will have on other symptoms of PMS, such as emotional tenderness, irritability, a tendency to headaches, etc. I encourage anyone who suffers from cramping to keep an eagle eye on this new drug. On the face of it, a non-birth control based medication to relieve this kind of suffering seems like a really good idea. Time will tell how effective and safe it is.
The vice-president of the company is quoted as saying, “Right now, the current therapies for menstrual cramps are poorly tailored.” What he should have said is that the current standard western therapies for menstrual cramps are poorly tailored. Chinese medical therapeutic protocols are exceptionally well tailored.
Menstrual cramps/ PMS is one of the easiest things for Chinese Medicine to treat. Menstrual problems are right up there in our Top Ten. In fact, for most physical and emotional problems associated with menstrual cycles, I believe it is best to try Chinese Medicine — acupuncture or herbs — first. (My patients know that I don’t feel this way about all illnesses.)
Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can help with the regulation of the actual cycle and any problems that may accompany it. With weekly treatment, most women notice dramatic improvement within three cycles. Most of the time there is good improvement within the very first month. After her cycle returns to normal and the PMS/menstrual symptoms subside, a woman need only come for acupuncture or herbs when she needs to. Some prefer to come once a month for acupuncture before their periods. Others like to keep their herbal formula on hand in case they need it.
In western medicine, unless cramping is so severe as to reduce her ability to function, menstrual pain and PMS are considered a normal part of being a woman. This is not so in Chinese Medicine. PMS and pain with periods, or in menopause, for that matter, indicate that something is wrong. That “something” can be fixed and Chinese Medicine has the tools to do it. This is not to ignore extreme circumstances in which western medical intervention is essential. However, for most women, most …