Kiah McGowan on TCM and easing period symptoms

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner Kiah McGowan

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner Kiah McGowan specialises in female hormones, taking a holistic approach to balance body and mind effortlessly, empowering clients with the knowledge to transform their health and well-being.


Name: Kiah McGowan

Pronouns: They/them

Day job: Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner

Location: Melbourne, Australia


Can you describe your work in one sentence?

My work is natural but powerfully balancing the body and mind while empowering and educating people to transform their health and well-being.


What led you to acupuncture?

I found acupuncture after many years of struggling with anxiety as a teenager. I wasn't sleeping, my energy was very low, and my periods were extremely painful. My first acupuncturist made me feel truly listened to for the first time by a doctor. I was often dismissed as being "too young" to have such high anxiety or told to "not stress!"

Since that initial block of treatments, I fell in love with acupuncture. It holistically acknowledged my health. Finally, I understood how my anxiety was the root cause of my issues, with sleep, energy, and hormonal imbalances being the resulting symptoms. My periods got so much better; they're so easy now that I barely notice them!


Could you explain the basic principles of acupuncture?

Acupuncture is just one of the many Traditional Chinese Medicine treatment methods, and it has been used for centuries. Acupuncture involves inserting fine, sterile, single-use needles into precise acupuncture points along the channels where blood and energy (Qi) flow. In Chinese Medicine, disease is seen because of imbalances, pathogen invasions, and blockages in this flow. Our bodies have innate self-healing capabilities, and acupuncture aims to enhance these functions when weak or calm them when overactive.


For the newbies, what does it feel like?

When I put the first needle into my apprehensive, newbie patients, they immediately say, “Oh, is that it?” or “I barely felt that!” You can fit up to 20 acupuncture needles inside a hypodermic needle - the ones used in vaccinations or blood tests. They’re tiny! However, it’d be unlikely to feel absolutely nothing when you’re getting needled. It should feel like a little prick that settles completely after a minute. You get to rest with your pins in for about 20 to 30 minutes. Most of my patients have a snooze on my treatment table, so there’s no major discomfort.


How can acupuncture be combined with other treatments?

TCM is much more than just acupuncture! We believe disease prevention is key, achieved primarily through optimising diet and lifestyle. If illness does occur, TCM incorporates treatments like acupuncture, moxibustion, cupping, massage (Tui Na), Chinese herbal medicines, and movement exercises like Tai Chi or Qi Gong. We also educate patients on the root causes of their condition and self-care practices to prevent recurrence.

I also collaborate with medical doctors, fertility specialists, obstetricians, naturopaths (and more) when a team approach best serves my patients. I value Western medicine and believe collaborative care offers the best outcomes.

Kiah McGowan uses Traditional Chinese Medicine on a patient


What are some common symptoms of hormonal imbalance?

Look out for irregular cycles, missed cycles, random spotting, bleeds that start and stop, or bleeds that are overly heavy or light. In terms of symptoms, period pain, mood swings, breast swelling, tenderness or lumps, menstrual headaches, weight gain (especially around the hips and belly), fatigue, acne, and fluid retention are ones I’d look out for.

I always tell my patients to begin tracking their cycles through an app on their phone (I love Kindara). I’ll make sure they turn off the ovulation tracker as it is incorrect (everyone ovulates at different times) and input their bleeds, cervical mucus, and symptoms monthly. This way, we can see where their cycles are at.


What self-care practices do you recommend?

I greatly advocate for women to eat more, focusing on getting enough protein to function (30g, three times per day) and eating ample healthy fats, vegetables, fibre, and whole grains. In Chinese Medicine, we aim to eat seasonally, with 80% warm and cooked food/drinks and 20% cold and raw food/drinks.

I also help people find ways to calm and regulate their nervous systems through techniques like meditation, acupressure, journalling, or breathwork.


What is your number one health message?

Please eat more! People with uteruses are chronically undereating in SO many ways. Yes, I could rant about protein for days. However, we also need enough fats and carbs (fibre, starch, and sugar) to function. Many of my patients begin to feel better in many ways simply by getting enough food in them to support their bodies.


How do we change the conversation around menstrual health?

We need to stop the narrative of period symptoms being ‘normal’ and the pill being a solution. We should not have to suffer every month, and it is very possible to have your periods pass you by effortlessly and comfortably through natural means if there aren’t deeper conditions in the way. The amount of side effects, dangers, and long-term issues surrounding the ongoing hormonal balance that the pill brings isn’t worth it for me. If you’re unhappy with your cycles, try the natural way first because the pill is just a temporary band aid.



  • My period in 3-words: Cozy, restful, nourishing.
  • Period self-care means… Understanding that your body talks to you through symptoms and learning how to listen to them.
  • Period self-care toolkit: Wheat pack, ginger, a good book, soup.
  • Contraception of choice: Fertility Awareness Method / Basal body temperature tracking.
  • On day 1, you’ll find me … Reading, wearing fluffy socks with a heat pack, cooking something warm, and resting at a yin yoga class.
  • Scarlet pick: Period Cup! I adore how easy these are for me compared to tampons and pads.


Kiah is a Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner from The Melbourne Apothecary in Collingwood, Victoria. Their practice focuses deeply on female hormonal health, mental health and natural skincare. You can book with Kiah or follow them on Instagram.