Part 3 of 3: CoQ10 for Improving Egg Quality

Coenzyme Q10, also called CoQ10, is an antioxidant which could improve egg quality in women with high FSH or of advanced maternal age. It’s believed to help through its effect on the mitochondria, which is a part of the cell involved in energy production and proper cell division (in this case, that cell is the egg). As cells age, researchers believe the mitochondria isn’t able to produce enough energy for proper cellular division, resulting in abnormal eggs or chromosomal abnormalities. The hypothesis is that by supplementing with CoQ10 the egg has more energy and is able to once again properly function and divide. Read more

Part 2 of 3: DHEA for Improving Egg Quality

In the past several years I’ve seen quite an increase in the number of my patients whose doctors recommend they try DHEA for improving egg quality. Leading centers such as CCRM in Denver and CHR here in New York routinely recommend their patients with egg quality concerns take it for several months leading up to an IVF cycle. Here I hope to tell you a little about what DHEA is and how it might help.
DHEA is a substance naturally present in the body that is a precursor to several hormones, including estrogen and testosterone. Recent research has found that women who took DHEA for 3-4 months prior to an IVF cycle using gonadotropins (injectable ovary stimulators) had dramatically increased fertilization and pregnancy rates. Women also reported side effects of feeling stronger, a higher libido, better memory and feeling mentally sharper. This is consistent with studies that have found higher DHEA levels in those with higher concentration and memory function. Read more

Part 1 of 3: Optimizing Egg Quality and Ovarian Reserve

If you are unable to conceive either due to age, low ovarian reserve or premature ovarian failure, egg quality and the embryo’s ability to implant are the major problems. In many cases scientists have found that eggs seem to fertilize and develop into embryos normally, but fail to implant. Higher rates of aneuploidy (chromosomal abnormalities of the embryo) are one contributing factor, but apart from this scientists have not been able to draw many sound conclusions on why failure to implant happens. When a woman is over age 35, has low ovarian reserve or premature ovarian failure, and IVF has not been successful, egg donation is usually seen as the last available option. However recent research has found that several supplements can help with implantation and pregnancy rates. This will be the first in a three-part series where I examine supplements and techniques used for improving egg quality and pregnancy rates. The supplements I will examine in subsequent posts are DHEA and CoQ-10. I will let you know how these work, who should take them, and who should avoid them. As I am a firm believer that an integrative approach is best, first I will explain how egg quality is viewed from the standpoint of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and how I as an acupuncturist would address it. Read more

Gut Bacteria and Your Health

Fermented food

Photo Credit:knitting Iris/ BY-NC-NB

There’s been a lot of news lately on the connection between gut (stomach and intestinal) health and inflammation in the body- you may have read that fascinating article in the Times last week, The Boy With A Thorn in His Joints (and if not, please do!). In the article, a mother tells the story of her son’s diagnosis of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) and the struggle to get him into remission. The boy’s JIA ends up going into remission using a combination of conventional and alternative treatments, including probiotics, Chinese Herbs and avoiding possible trigger foods. Although there is no way to know whether his medication or the supplements and diet changes were primarily responsible for the improvement, the story raises some important issues. Scientists now believe that the health of the bacteria in your digestive tract is responsible for much more than good digestion- immunity, arthritis and several autoimmune diseases are being investigated for a possible connection. A condition scientists call “Increased Intestinal Permeability” (or Leaky Gut Syndrome), in which the intestines are so damaged they leak bacteria and other proteins out into the rest of the body, is theorized to be responsible for inflammation and many autoimmune conditions. In many ways, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is right in sync with this line of thinking- read on to learn how, as well as tips on the best ways to benefit your gut health. Read more

Acupuncture for Breech Babies

Pregnant womanI recently participated in a webinar about acupuncture and moxibustion for turning breech babies. I had the honor of hearing from internationally recognized experts in this field including Debra Betts, Ineke Van Den Berg, Sarah Budd, and Becks Armstrong. For those of you who aren’t familiar, moxibustion involves burning an herb called Mugwort, or Artemisia Vulgaris. The herb can be placed directly on the skin or compressed into a cylinder shape and held a few inches from the skin until warmth is felt. The goal is to invigorate blood and warm the body. Read more