Acupuncture for Fertility

 

Fatima Hozouri, Registered Acupuncturist

Over the past few decades fertility rates have decreased. Statistics show 1 in 5 couples over age 30 have problems conceiving after trying for one year. Many of these couples have used technologies available in Western Medicine such as IVF, IUI, donor egg/sperm transfer but the success rates can be less than optimal. Many couples have also reached out to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Acupuncture to increase their fertility and improve their chance of conceiving.

Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture have a long history of treating infertility dating back to Han dynasty. According to TCM principles when there is a good flow of Qi and Blood, the person is in optimal health. In our modern world many factors can contribute to imbalance in our body, making pregnancy more difficult. Acupuncture and TCM helps to restore the Vital Energy (Qi) and enhance the flow of Qi and Blood.

Acupuncture helps to:

  • Increase blood flow to the uterus
  • Reduce the stress/anxiety associated with infertility
  • Improve sperm mobility and quality
  • Regulate menstrual cycle and normalize endocrine (hormonal) system
  • Balance hormones
  • Enhance the successful rates of IVF and IUI
  • Decrease the chance of miscarriage
  • Address any pre-existing medical conditions

Fertility approaches and treatments vary person to person, but usually treatments are scheduled for 3 consecutive menstrual cycles.

Why Should I See A Naturopathic Doctor?

– by Dr Joanna Rosenfeld, ND

I get asked this question a lot, and I have rarely given the same answer twice.

This is both a benefit, and a difficulty, with Naturopathic Medicine. Naturopathic Doctors (NDs) have such a large scope of training in a variety of modalities, that it is hard to give a succinct answer to this question.

FIRST OF ALL, WHAT IS A NATUROPATHIC DOCTOR?
The easiest place to start is to describe what it takes to become an ND. Naturopathic Doctors have completed a Bachelor’s degree, with pre-requisites in basic science courses, and then finished 4 years of Naturopathic College, including 1 year of residency and 2 sets of board exams. Passing these board exams allows us to use our modalities in practice: nutrition, acupuncture, herbal medicine, physical medicine, hydrotherapy and homeopathy. We also learn diagnostic skills, how to interpret lab results, and when to refer out for a more emergent, or serious conditions. In British Columbia, an additional set of exams allows us to prescribe pharmaceuticals.

Naturopathic Doctors have a unique philosophy regarding healthcare. We are focused on treating the root cause of disease when possible, and not only masking the symptoms. Although sometimes it is important to treat the symptoms, such as pain, we do so while at the same time trying to understand the reason the pain exists in the first place. For example, people with painful periods often take painkillers to help manage their cramps. As NDs, we explore why the cramps are there in the first place? What are your hormone levels? How could your diet be contributing to the pain? How could stress or lifestyle be a factor in your cramps? As part of this exploration, we address the whole person – both mental and physical aspects of their health.

Whac a mole

6 (OF MANY) REASONS TO SEE AN ND:

1. You aren’t feeling your best, and nobody can tell you why.

Maybe you are feeling run down, and more tired than usual. You’ve been gaining weight and can’t seem to lose it. Or maybe you keep getting sick and it’s taking you a long time to recover. Or you get bloated seemingly randomly throughout the day or month. These are symptoms that people tend to live with and eventually start thinking that they are normal. Symptomatic treatments may have helped initially, but now you just don’t know where to go. This is where a Naturopath will work with you by taking a thorough history, performing physical exams and ordering lab tests, to help tie your symptoms together and find a root cause.

2. You have a chronic condition and have been told there is no treatment available

As NDs, we often see patients after they have been struggling with a health issue for a long time, and been told there is no treatment or cure available. Common examples include irritable bowel syndrome, allergies, eczema, psoriasis, acne, depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and autoimmune diseases. Although there may be no cure available for some of these conditions, NDs can help to manage chronic conditions by balancing the immune system, decreasing inflammation, using specific herbal treatments and prescribing therapeutic diets.

3. You are experiencing side effects from medications

Pharmaceutical medications can be very effective for managing certain conditions, but often come with side effects. Your ND can tell you which nutrients or vitamins are depleted by your medication, and give you safe options for managing side effects. In some cases, your ND can help you replace medication with effective natural alternatives, with fewer side effects.

4. You are in pain

A common reason for chronic medication use is chronic pain. However, chronic use of pain medication is associated with liver and digestive problems. Chronic pain, especially joint pain, can be associated with specific foods you are eating in your diet, being overweight, or generalized inflammation in the body. Naturopathic Doctors can help identify the cause of your pain and help to minimize it through the use of acupuncture, diet, herbs and other treatment options.

5. You would like a more integrative health care plan

Naturopathic Doctors like to work as one part of your health care team, and that is why you will often see NDs working in multi-disciplinary clinics. We aim to communicate our evidence-based approach with your other health care providers and doctors to ensure you are receiving a comprehensive and safe treatment plan. Although generally safe, supplements can still interact with medications and an ND is an expert in prescribing the right supplements in the right form and at the right dose for you.

6. You would like a “health coach” and want to learn more about preventative medicine for you and your family

Naturopathic Doctors are trained in health. Symptoms are your body’s way of communicating that certain systems within your body need some attention, and a Naturopathic Doctor can help get you back to optimal health and symptom-free living. By managing symptoms when they first occur, and optimizing your diet, body weight and lifestyle, you can prevent a variety of health conditions and your ND can show you where to start!

Questions about this article? Contact [email protected]

7 Common Questions About Acupuncture

-by Fatima (Shekoufeh) Hozouri, DTCM, RAc

1- Is acupuncture painful?acupuncture-1

Acupuncture is not painful. You may feel a minimal sensation when a very fine sterile needle passes through the skin. Some sensations that are totally common during acupuncture include feelings of heaviness, heat and pressure, though not to the extent of being uncomfortable. A vast majority of patients fall asleep during their treatments!

2- How many treatments are necessary?

It really depends on each individual. Most acute issues resolve in five to ten treatments, while more treatments are needed for chronic conditions. Benefits of acupuncture are cumulative. In most cases, patients start to feel a difference after their third treatment; however, in many cases, I’ve seen results after their first treatment. It is very important to follow the treatment plan that is designed for you in order to see results.

3- Do you accept extended insurance?

Most extended insurance plans cover acupuncture treatments. Please contact your insurance provider to determine how much is covered in a fiscal year.

4- Do you use fresh packs of needles for each treatment?

Absolutely. The needles are sterile and for one-time use only.

5- Do you use other modalities in your practice?

I use cupping, electro-stimulation, Tui Na and auricular acupuncture. I also make dietary/nutritional recommendations when necessary.

6- What conditions can I seek acupuncture treatments for?

Benefits of acupuncture are limitless. The most common conditions treated with acupuncture are: pain (any pain in the body), headaches, fertility, women’s health, asthma, allergies, digestive system disorders, anxiety, depression, skin issues, hormonal imbalance, and insomnia.

7- How does acupuncture work?

Acupuncture is based on a Chinese medicine diagnosis. Your pulse and your tongue (colour & shape) along with your medical history and evaluation give an acupuncturist enough information to choose a pattern for treatment. Then, by inserting needles on specific points on your body, your acupuncturist helps to restore the balance of qi. Qi is energy that flows through your entire body within meridians which are related to internal organs. Acupuncture points are where qi is closest to the surface of the body. In order to be in good health, your qi should be balanced and flow smoothly in the meridians. If qi is blocked or if there is too much or too little in any part of the body, diseases and pain will occur. Acupuncture restores balance to your qi.
From a western medicine perspective, acupuncture releases endorphins (substances which inhibit pain): regulates the endocrine functions in the body; increases circulation; and enhances the body’s immune function.

Questions about this article? Contact [email protected]

Acupuncture and Women’s Health

– by Fatima (Shekoufeh) Hozouri DTCM, RAc

acupuncture_womanBenefits of acupuncture for women’s health problems have been recorded in ancient Chinese medicine literature for centuries. Many women have encountered some gynecological issues throughout their life, such as problems with their periods, infertility, menopause, etc.

According to principles of Chinese medicine, a person’s health is mostly determined by the quality of their Qi (life force) and blood circulation. When Qi and blood are circulating smoothly, the body is fully nourished, balanced and strong. As soon as there is an interruption to the flow of Qi and blood, symptoms start to appear and the body gets out of balance. Conditions that can be resolved by acupuncture and that we’ve seen at Qi Integrated Health include the following:

– Regulating the menstrual cycle (PMS symptoms)
– Reducing stress and anxiety associated with infertility
– Normalizing hormone and endocrine systems
– Improving blood flow in the uterus
– Decreasing the chance of miscarriage
– Increasing the chance of pregnancy for women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF)
– Helping with symptoms associated with pregnancy (morning sickness, back pain, breech baby, etc.)
– Helping with menopausal symptoms

In addition to acupuncture, your acupuncturist may use other forms of therapy such as ear seed, e-stimulation, cupping and dietary recommendations to help bring your body to its optimum health.

Questions about this article? Contact [email protected]

What is Qi?

– by Kiem Schutter, R.Ac,
Founder at Qi Integrated Health

Qi (pronounced “chee”) is frequently translated as “natural energy,” “life force,” or “energy flow.” It is the underlying principle of Chinese medicine and martial arts. The literal translation of “qi” is “breath” or “air.”
qi
The original character for Qi (seen on the left) features the steam coming off of rice. It was created as such to describe the transformative element of Qi. Rice cannot be eaten raw so the Qi (heat, air) changes it to something nourishing.

Qi, like wind or heat, is a powerful, invisible force. It must be seen by observing the effects on its surroundings. In the case of wind, one sees the leaves on a tree moving, rather than the wind itself.

Qi animates all living things. It is one of the two main elements that support life, the other being blood.

Concepts similar to qi can be found in many cultures, for example, prana in the Hindu religion, pneuma in ancient Greece, mana in Hawaiian culture, lüng in Tibetan Buddhism, and ruah in Hebrew culture. Elements of the Qi concept can also be found in Western popular culture. For examples, scholars have recently drawn comparison between qi and “The Force” in Star Wars.

Qi Integrated Health took its name to emphasize the fact that Qi can be externally influenced by a practitioner, food, situations, and emotions. In our facility we hold a relaxing, calm space as it the best possible way to bring Qi into balance.

Questions about Qi? Contact [email protected]

What Are 3 Injuries That Can Be Treated Using Acupuncture?

I posted a blog earlier this month called 3 Injuries You Never Thought Acupuncture Could Treat. If you’ve recently injured yourself and you’re wondering what to do next, check out this article. Maybe you can add acupuncture to your list of treatment options.

Late Summer – How Our Bodies Respond To New Seasons

Late summer, a time when the breeze changes, yellow and brown begins to appear in the foliage, and we anticipate the fall to come.  In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) this time of year pertains to the element of earth, a time of transition and bounty.  Along with late summer, the earth element is also associated with the transition time between seasons.  

 

The five elements of TCM each have a sound, smell, color, taste, emotion, organ systems, season, even food types are involved. The five elements of TCM are actually the result of acute observation of the world around us.  Seasons are perhaps an easier aspect for us to observe.  Do you feel a particular way when a cold breeze ruffles the leaves, and carries with it a fragrant aroma letting you know that fall is approaching? Perhaps the arrival of fall brings a certain taste in your mouth, or a craving for a particular food.

 

We often overlook these subtleties in the environment around us, as we try to accomplish the many tasks that fill our busy days.  Whether we are aware of it or not, our environment is continuing to change, following its yearly cycles, and with that our days are impacted as well.
  
So what is late summer? What other aspects are involved with the earth element? Not surprisingly given the bounty provided to us by the earth, this element is involved with the digestive system, particularly with the transformation of food into nutrition for our cells and our entire being.  With this comes the emotional space of feeling nourished, cared for, and reciprocating this to others.

 

Nourishment and care is a pivotal part of our well being, however in our achievement driven society, it is easy to forget the most important aspect of the earth element; to care for and nourish ourselves.  What I have seen most often in the clinic and in myself, is the tendency to push ourselves towards goals in the hopes that accomplishing these tasks will provide us with the reward of recognition (a form of emotional nourishment) from the exterior, be it our boss, our peers, our family etc.  It’s an unconscious cultural perception that we are more valuable the harder we work, and essentially the more we sacrifice self-care.
  
Late summer is a perfect time to check in with yourself, what is driving you? What are your motives? Is there room for giving yourself nourishment, care and recognition for just being who you are?  For those of you that prefer a more practical approach, it’s a great time to prepare yourself a healthy home cooked meal using local, seasonal produce.  If digestion is an area of concern for you, this is a great time of year to give that aspect of yourself extra care, and support your system in the important task transforming food into absorb-able nutrients and transporting those nutrients all over your body.

 

Other common symptoms that occur when the earth element is out of balance with the other four elements: fatigue, diarrhea, gas and bloating, muscle cramps/twitching, muscle waisting, food allergies, eating disorders, heart burn, acid reflux, acne, canker sores, excessive mucus in the lungs, excessive worrying or over thinking, etc.

 

Book an appointment in with any of our practitioners to give yourself some much deserved TLC. Remember to take care of yourself and the body that serves you, during this time of seasonal change.

 

Using Acupuncture to Treat Residual Pain After an Injury

I get this question time and time again –

How does an acupuncture needle help get rid of my pain from an old injury?

When patients ask this question they are not looking for the Traditional Chinese Medicine explanation, they are looking for some scientific proof.  A recent article written by Helene M. Langevin provides research-based evidence on how connective tissue is related to post-injury pain and how acupuncture can be used to treat the pain.

Connective Tissue and Scar Tissue

 

Connective tissue and scar tissueConnective tissue supports and connects all the bones, muscles, organs, blood vessels and nerves in the human body. It’s what holds all the parts of our body in place.  Connective tissue creates a link between our head, arm and foot.

Scar tissue forms in the body after there has been trauma to a tissue. Various cells are recruited to deposit collagen and contract the tissue back together, but in doing so they form a dense matrix known as scar tissue.

Why is there pain after the injury has healed and scar tissue has formed?

If the previous injury becomes irritated and inflamed, the cells are signalled to deposit excess collagen.  This will subsequently increase the tension and contraction in the tissue,which limits range of motion leading to pain. One of the reasons that pain can be difficult to manage is that many people do not have a detectable malformation.

So how do we deal with the Scar Tissue?

Static stretchingAcupuncture can help relax the tension in the connective tissue. How does it do this? When an acupuncture needle is inserted into the skin and rotated, the connective tissue actually becomes attached to the needle causing it to stretch and change shape1. The tissue continues to remain stretched as long as the needle is in the skin and the changes occurring in the tissue are related to relaxation of the tissue.  The restructuring of these tissues is a slow process therefore it is important to be patient as it may take a few treatments to feel the results.

Learn how acupuncture can be used to treat your lingering pain.

Jessica Zerr is a Registered Acupuncturist at Qi Integrated Health

To learn more about Jessica visit Jessica Zerr Acupuncture

References

  1. H.M. Langevin et al., “Mechanical signaling through connective tissue: A mechanism for the therapeutic effect of acupuncture,” FASEB J, 15:2275-82, 200