Author: Dr. Maryam Mahanian, DTCM, RAc
Today's article is about why women who gain wisdom with menopause
I love how Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) views the transition from the reproductive years.
In TCM, there are two channels that arise from the uterus and are filled with blood and essence (our reproductive potential). These channels are called the Chong and Ren. After menopause, the chong and ren channels are vacuous and the blood is scanty.
There are Two Types of Essence
One is the essence that we are born with called the prenatal essence. You have a limited amount during your lifespan so you have to preserve it as much as possible by resting, sleeping well and having a good diet and lifestyle. The other essence is called postnatal essence. This is the essence that is acquired by nutrition. By age 35, our digestive system (the spleen and stomach organ systems) begins to lose its efficiency. This means that it is less able to produce Qi and blood from our food and fluids intake. This is why wrinkles on the face start to form – because the skin is less nourished by sufficient blood. When there is no longer a surplus of Qi and blood being transformed by the digestion, as time goes by there is less postnatal essence being sent to the kidneys for storage.
If the body is not creating as much postnatal essence, it will have to start dipping into its finite supply of prenatal essence for help. This is what causes ageing.
At around age 49, the stomach and spleen organ systems have declined to an even greater extent in producing and storing the (postnatal) essence and blood and this plays an important role in the menstrual periods ending permanently. As the spleen and stomach’s ability to produce blood and essence declines, this places a burden on the body if the blood has to continuously keep filling the reproductive channels (the chong and ren channels) and uterus for menstruation or reproduction. But this is not the case. The body is smart and recognizes this and shuts down the menstrual cycle.
Because of menopause, we don’t keep losing precious blood and essence every month. So even though many may view menopause as a sign of ageing, menopause actually slows down the ageing process by preserving our necessary essence and blood.
Every month during menstruation, blood is sent down to the uterus from the heart via the Bao channel (the Bao channel connects the heart to the uterus). But at menopause, instead of sending blood down to the uterus from the heart, the bao channel reverses the direction of its flow, sending essence upwards to nourish the spirit that resides in the heart. What this means is that instead of preparing the uterus for the growth of a baby who will contribute to the community, the blood will focus on the heart to nourish the woman’s spirit. She will then become the wise woman – the mother of the community and a fountain of wisdom. She no longer becomes the mother of her own children but instead becomes the mother of her tribe.
Isn’t that a beautiful perspective?