I'm Usually 200% Bloat, so I Tried TCM for a Week

Welcome to The Now Age, our tribute to the fascinating and ever-evolving landscape of alternative wellness. From reiki to plant medicine, we're taking a closer look at how holistic healing can factor into the modern woman's lifestyle—with curiosity and a healthy dose of skepticism.

There's about one week out of every month that I'm not a human blimp. The other three weeks, I'm floating through the sky with a Goodyear banner slapped across me, especially during my period. It's a painful, gassy feeling that makes me look like I'm in my first trimester and worse on some days than others. When I've asked Western doctors and gynecologists for help figuring out a remedy to decompress, I've either been told A) there's no remedy (fun!) or B) I should keep a food diary and find the common denominators. The latter was actually quite helpful—in doing this, I've weaned out dairy, white flour, beans, and spinach from my daily food intake, but sometimes (especially in the case of dairy and white flour), avoiding these foods completely isn't always feasible, and the bloat hits me like a tidal wave. I'd rather not pop pills or anti-gas supplements, so I began researching natural remedies.

When The/Thirty's managing editor, Victoria, challenged us to try an alternative wellness treatment, I chose traditional Chinese medicine knowing there's a strong emphasis on proper digestion in Chinese culture, hoping it would help my bloating situation. According to Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP, the spleen is actually more of a focal point in digestion than the stomach in TCM. It's said to be responsible for extracting "qi" (or life energy) from the food we eat and keep things moving throughout our system. It's also connected to our brains, helping to regulate emotions. (When I'm bloated, I'm miserable, so that connection makes perfect sense.) When our spleen experiences a qi deficiency, this leads to bloating, being chronically tried, poor bowel movements, and physical or mental blocks. Curious how to recalibrate my own spleen qi, I tried several TCM remedies for seven days, which can be found below.