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
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
I 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
You may have heard that acupuncture can increase overall fertility and the success rate of IUI and IVF (In Vitro Fertilization). How exactly does it help? Research has shown that there are several factors.
1) Increased blood flow to the uterus- this can result in thicker endometrial (uterine) lining as well as a higher quality lining. Although there is some debate about exact numbers, usually if the lining is less than 6mm it is considered “too thin”. Lining just before ovulation should be about 8-13 mm thick- and will continue to get thicker up until your period begins. Quantity isn’t the only important factor- the quality is also vital. Research has shown that healthy endometrial linings have three distinct layers; without these three layers there can be problems with implantation. If conception does not take place, the “trilaminar” (three layered) appearance” usually disappears 48 hours after ovulation. Read more
In summary, Chinese Dietary Therapy is guided by nature, instead of analysis of micro-nutrients as in western nutrition. Each food is assigned characteristics of taste, temperature, energetics, and which organs it most affects. Each food also has special medicinal properties. For example, walnuts are sweet, warm, and moistening to the lungs and intestines. Therefore walnuts can help with such issues as a dry cough or constipation. Another example which I personally find fascinating is that in one ancient Chinese text from 652 A.D., seaweed is prescribed for a patient with a goiter (a very large lump on the neck due to enlargement of the thyroid). Salty flavors are said to dissolve lumps and hardness in the body. We now know that iodine (naturally present in seaweed) deficiency is a cause of goiters. Amazing! This treatment pre-dates any western use of iodine therapy for goiters. Read more