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Chinese Medicine for Dysfunctional Labor

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These are easy to read and understand and are beautifully presented.

There are few questions I can answer about TCM that have simple answers. This is not one of them.

Dysfunctional labor seems to encompass two separate patterns: one of "qi deficiency" where contractions are not strong, woman is exhausted, etc. and the other where contractions are strong (i.e., painful) and there is no commensurate progress. This would be seen as my old friend, "blood stasis."

In qi deficiency, strengthening the mother is the methods of choice. A period of rest is not unreasonable. My favorite herbs are ginseng Panax ginseng) and cottonroot bark (Gossypium herbaceum). I often carry the little ginseng & royal jelly vials found at almost any health food store to births. There's only a small amount of weak ginseng extract, royal jelly, and honey. It's a good energy booster but very sweet tasting. Acupuncture can be done to strengthen contractions. Points used would be Spleen 6, Large Intestine 4, Bladder 67, perhaps Gall bladder 21, especially if the head wasn't descending. Sometimes small intradermal needles are placed on these points. Moxibustion can be used, but generally stinks. Acupressure with combs, the tooth side held against the palm and squeezed with the hand, are said to stimulate points, but I've never heard of what those points are. (No kidding!)

For blood stasis, I have been known to use that old ally, motherwort(Leonurus cardiaca), but sparingly. Acupuncture is again useful, but this time the point that is most useful is Spleen 10 and perhaps Stomach 30, which is on the lower abdomen, so these should be done with caution and experience only. Mostly I rely on the Western herb lobelia (Lobelia inflata) and a choice of skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora) or valerian (Valerian officinalis) to sedate and rest. Often after the rest, the ctx are more functional. I choose scullcap with any heat signs: flushed face, hot temperature, insomnia, irritability, chattering incoherently. Valerian is warming, so I use it with pallor, weakness, vomiting clear fluids, feeling cold (not so common).

I hardly ever use Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides) anymore as a material dose (herb source). More often as homeopathic preparation. Often see dysfunctional labor in women who have taken Blue Cohosh in a mother's cordial or such when they had no symptoms for using it. The dysfunctional labor is the proving of the homeopathic indication of the herb.

A couple other herbs that I find interesting are Bethroot (Trillium petulum) and small amounts (really miniscule) of Yellow Jasmine (Gelsemium spp.). I would use these for the qi deficient type, esp. the Yellow Jasmine. As a central nervous system stimulant, it seems to move things quite nicely, but is used in very minute amounts by mixing a few drops in with a few ounces of other herbs.

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