Period Pain/ Dysmenorrhea (Cramps) – Diagnostic Patterns

The Chinese Medicine treatment of dysmenorrhea generally involves arriving at the appropriate TCM diagnosis or pattern. This pattern within the individual is what treatment is based on not the general condition. The following patterns may represent the underlying contributing factors for the development of dysmenorrhea: blood stagnation liver qi stagnation and spleen deficiency.

The commonly used points include: KI6 Fuliu, SP10 Xuehai, SP6 Sanyinjiao, SP8 Diji, ST25 Tianshu.

The commonly used herbs include: Chishao, Chuanxiong, Danshen, Danggui, Guizhi, Niuxi, Mudanpi, and Yanhusuo. The core herbal formula is Si Wu Tang.


Acupuncture is effective and acupressure may be effective for pain relief; acupuncture trials had low to moderate risk of bias (Chen et al, 2013 – MA of 3 acupuncture and 4 acupressure RCTs(1)

Acupoint stimulation superior to controls for pain relief; low to moderate quality evidence (Xu et al, 2014 MA of 20 RCTs of acupoint stimulation)(2)

Acupuncture and acupressure (vs placebo, waitlist or medication) reduced pain intensity, while acupuncture also improved quality of life; moderate quality evidence (Abaraogu 2015 – SR of 8 RCTs and MA of 4 RCTs)(3).


1. Chen MN, Chien LW, Liu CF. Acupuncture or Acupressure at the Sanyinjiao (SP6) Acupoint for the Treatment of Primary Dysmenorrhea: A Meta-Analysis. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:493038.

2. Xu T, Hui L, Juan YL, Min SG, Hua WT. Effects of moxibustion or acupoint therapy for the treatment of primary dysmenorrhea: a meta-analysis. Altern Ther Health Med. 2014 Jul-Aug;20(4):33-42.

3. Abaraogu UO, Tabansi-Ochuogu CS. As Acupressure Decreases Pain, Acupuncture May Improve Some Aspects of Quality of Life for Women with Primary Dysmenorrhea: A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis. J Acupunct Meridian Stud. 2015 Oct;8(5):220-8.