BIORAY & Ann on Emotions and Strength Before & After your Flow

Question:  Why do I get so irritable, edgy, and feel like I could just about bite somebody's head off right around the week before my menstrual cycle?

Anna Dolopo: After a woman finishes her menstrual period, her body naturally starts rebuilding her Qi (vital energy) and replacing the blood that she just “lost” during her period. As her body approaches ovulation, the Qi is stronger in the woman’s body. Around ovulation, a woman’s body grows stronger and there is “more blood” in area surrounding the uterus. As a woman approaches the menstrual period stage in her cycle, her uterus is preparing itself to shed its lining. During this phase, about 1-2 weeks before the period, the energetic system of the liver has a tendency to become “stagnant” depending on the woman’s lifestyle. Tendencies toward a stagnant liver qi can depend nutrition, exercise, thought patterns and physical behavior during stressful situations etc.

The energetic system of the liver “rules” the thought and behavioral pattern of stress, anger, resentment, pent up emotions and the ability to control all of those emotions. If the woman’s lifestyle is such that her energetic liver system becomes “stagnant,” she will be irritable, edgy, cranky, impatient, angry, prone to feeling stress, resentment, feeling pent up emotionally, etc. Ease liver qi stagnation by eating foods that cultivate a smooth-moving energetic liver system and focusing on exercising moderately throughout the entire menstrual cycle (taking it easier during and right after the menstrual period). It is also recommended that she focus on positive thoughts and behavioral patterns and consider taking the appropriate herbal remedies, such as Before The Flow™ 10 days before her cycle. In my Chinese medical practice, I also reccomend doing acupuncture at appropriate times to build Qi and rejuvenate the blood after the menstrual period, focusing on strengthening the body right before ovulation (especially if the woman is trying to become pregnant), moving her Qi and blood more aggressively several days after ovulation until her period comes in order to prevent negative thought and behavioral patterns. Taking Before The Flow™ is an added support to help guard against stagnant liver qi. When the energetic system of the liver is smooth and not stagnant, a woman is far less likely to feel stressed out, impatient, irritable, angry and have the tendency to lash out emotionally at the world.


[1] Medicinal plants as alternative treatments for female sexual dysfunction: utopian vision or possible treatment in climacteric women? Mazaro-Costa R, Andersen ML, Hachul H, Tufik S. Universidade Federal de São Paulo-Departamento de Psicobiologia, R. Napoleão de Barros, São Paulo, SP, Brazil.

[2] Blood Glucose Control and the Menstrual Cycle , Kimberly K. Trout, PhD, RN, CNM; and Gary Scheiner, MS, CDE Oct 2008

Featured Herbs in Before The Flow™:

  • Tank Kuei[1] (dang gui) being estrogenic, is traditionally known to have a balancing effect on the female hormone system. Recent studies show that tang kuei dilates the blood vessels - decreasing menstrual cramps and PMS symptoms, while creating a positive effect on healthy blood pressure. It has also been shown to improve oxygen utilization in the liver and increase the metabolism of glutamic acid and cysteine for a healthy effect on histamines.
  • Poria[2] (fu ling) in Traditional Chinese medicine, is said to restore the shen or spirit and calms the heart. It is used to treat palpitations, poor memory, insomnia, and anxiety. Today, Poria is shown to reduce water retention associated with menstruation, and reduces blood sugar which is often higher due to hormone flair up. It also relaxes the intestines and has a mild sedative effect.

Question:   Why are my legs weak and shaky during my menstrual cycle?

Anna Dolopo:   In Chinese medical theory, the energy of the spleen rules the muscles. The spleen also produces blood.  The spleen has many functions, but for the sake of simplicity, I will address those pertinent to the question at hand.

There are three major organ systems that are related to the menses: the liver, the spleen, and the kidneys. Other organ systems are also involved before, during and after menses, but these three organs are the most critical.

When a woman has her menses, she is “losing blood.” Some of the blood that was produced by the spleen is leaving the body. While some women exhibit no symptoms of PMS, there are many women who experience a variety of health issues before, during and after the menstrual flow.  In the case of a woman whose legs feel weak, it is because the energetic system of the spleen is weak.  She is “losing blood” and the spleen’s energy is lower than during other times of her menstrual cycle, the weak legs are indicative of a weak spleen energy pattern.  

People don’t always follow a classic syndrome pattern perfectly (in any medical modality), but sometimes practitioners find several other symptoms that relate to the Chinese medical diagnosis of a chief complaint.  

My professional recommendation to guard against weakness of the legs during menstruation would be to focus three to six cycles (depending on how long you has been suffering from this issue and how severe the sympotms) taking the proper herbal formula, such as  After The Flow™ to improve the energetic system of the spleen. In my 13-years of experience as a licensed acupuncturist, I have found acupuncture to provide both short- and long-term improvements when it comes to complaints surrounding the menstrual cycle including weakness and shakiness of the legs. Proper nutrition and certain exercises to improve the spleen’s energy  should also be considered. As the spleen’s energy improves, related issues will improve and the legs will feel stronger and more stable.


[3] Effect of Astragulas membranaceus on natural killer cell activity and induction of alpha- and gamma-interferon in patients with Coxsackie B viral myocarditis. Yang YZ, Jin PY, Gúo Q, Wang QD, Li ZS, Ye YC, Shan YF, Zhao HY, Zhu JR, Pu SY, et al. Chin Med J (Engl). 1990 Apr;103(4):304-7.

[4] [Protective effects of astragalus membranaceus on free fatty acid-induced vascular endothelial cell dysfunction].Wang YJ, Yu YR. Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, West China Hospital, Sichuan University, Chengdu 610041, China.

[5] Rehmannia glutinosa: Review of botany, chemistry and pharmacology Ru-Xue Zhang, Mao-Xing Li, Zheng-Ping Jia Clinical Pharmacy Key Discipline of State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Lanzhou General Hospital, Lanzhou Command, PLA, Lanzhou 730050, PR China


Featured Herbs in Ater The Flow™:

  • Astragalus[3] [4](Huang Qi) is a potent immune system tonic known to strengthen muscle. It also has a special protective Qi which circulates just under the skin and muscle-tissue. It improves metabolic function and supports organs. It is often included in formulas which support the spleen. Spleen energy is essential for digestion and grounding the body in its environment. Huang Qi is good for people with frequent changes in life’s direction, those with a"flighty" disposition, and those who find difficulty making important decisions.
  • Rehmannia prepared[5] (Di Huang Root) is an excellent blood tonic and is used to replenish vitality by rebuilding the body during recovery from illness. It is known as the "kidneys own food". Kidney energy is associated with longevity and is the source of life in Chinese medicine. Rehmannia is known for its anti-aging, rejuvenating and longevity-inducing attributes. It supports sexual function in both women and men.


"Thank you for this opportunity to answer your questions. Ending the pain and suffering of the world one person at a time through the power of EFFECTIVE, RELAXING & AFFORDABLE acupuncture therapy.”

Anna Dolopo, L.Ac.


Anna has been practicing Chinese medicine since 1999. Elements in Harmony, Anna’s current practice, is located near BIORAY's offices in Laguna Hills. Stephanie Ray visits Anna regularly to keep her body working at optimal levels. "When I visit Anna, she is always caring and curious as to where I'm at in my day.  Her treatments consistently work well for anything that comes up; my digestion, help with my menstrual cycle, an injured knee, etc. Anna is qualified to work on a myriad of issues. I was blessed the day I found her."A Dr. Richard Teh-Fu Tan’s Gold Level Certified Balance Method practitioner.

Since the beginning of Anna's practice, she has been very successful in the treatment of menstrual and digestive issues. Anna's general practice has also been effective in the treatment of serious diseases such as post-stroke, congenital heart disease, weight loss, hypertension, allergies and depression. Her focus is in helping patients graduate from various causes of physical pain to total health and well being.