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It comes as no surprise that acupuncture and herbal medicines in the treatment of infertility have reached a zenith in their development and in their efficacy, considering the patriarchal nature of the Chinese culture and its inherent emphasis on the hereditary passing of governmental and societal positions. The inability of a monarch (or any person of power or position for that matter) to produce an heir was certainly considered catastrophic and not easily accepted. The treatment of infertility, therefore, became the purview of the best court physicians of the time, and a considerable amount of time, money, and energy were spent searching out the best, most effective way of treating this vexing diagnosis.
Acupuncture and traditional Asian herbal medicine comprise the oldest medical system in the world. Evidence suggests that acupuncture has been in use since as early as 300 B.C. Literally thousands of years of research and development have gone into the system we currently have in acupuncture fertility care. Acupuncture is effective in treating all functional aspects of infertility including advanced maternal age, endometriosis, luteal phase defect, polycystic ovarian syndrome, premature ovarian failure, and unexplained infertility. Acupuncture modulated the function of the hypothalmic-pituitary-ovarian axis, normalizing sex hormones. Acupuncture increases pelvic circulation, relieving menstrual cramping and endometrial issues. Acupuncture improves the thickness and structure of the endometrial lining, and may have a beneficial effect on egg quality.
In the same way that acupuncture effects female infertility, it is frequently used in the treatment of male infertility as well. While the anatomy of the male is obviously different from the female, the energetic function of the male is quite similar and the treatment principles remain intact. Increasing and enhancing pelvic blood flow is universally beneficial, and regulation of the hypothalmic-pituitary-testicular axis regulates male hormonal function as well as it does female. Acupuncture has been shown to affect all parameters of sperm analysis, as well as male sexual function.
Over the last twenty years or so there has been an increasing interest by Western doctors in acupuncture for the treatment of many disorders, including, but not limited to, both female and male infertility. Many fertility clinics have begun to incorporate acupuncture care into their IVF and IUI treatment protocols. Modern, western style (double-blind, placebo controlled) studies have indicated the effectiveness of acupuncture in increasing IVF success. Many IVF clinics are now referring their patients to acupuncture care, and some have even added acupuncturists to their staff. Mainstream OB/Gyns have begun referring their patients for the treatment of endometriosis, menstrual cramping, and menopausal symptoms.
At Acupuncture Fertility Specialists, we specialize in the treatment of both male and female infertility. We are not general practice acupuncturists, and rarely treat any diagnosis other than male or female infertility. All advanced training that our practitioner pursue is centered on one goal, and that is helping our patients to become parents. We frequently train in non-acupuncture related modalities, including western endocrinology, nutrition, nutriceutical supplementation and western diagnostic testing in order to have a fully rounded repertoire with which we might help the patient to achieve and maintain pregnancy. We feel that this focused effort makes us the best in our field.
ART- Assisted Reproductive Technology, IVF and IUI
C-Map Protocol to help good egg quality preparation for Egg Retrieval
Transfers for NCFMC, Cal IVF & Kaiser
View Studies on Acupuncture for Fertility:
Web MD: The Ancient Art of Infertility Treatment [PDF download]
Stress and oocytes [PDF download]
Effects of acupuncture on rates of pregnancy and live birth among women undergoing in vitro fertilisation [PDF download]
As long as women have given birth, they have struggled with the effects of dropping hormone levels following childbirth. Our approach in treating postpartum recovery is to use herbs, acupuncture, moxibustion, and lifestyle suggestions with warmth and compassion, knowing that this is a challenging transition in a new mother’s life. It has been understood in Asian that a woman sacrifices a great deal of “Qi” (energy) and “Blood” (blood and hormones) during the gestational process and is in a deficient state following childbirth. We understand that the new couple, following the intense joy of birth, may be facing new roles and stresses in the family relationship that add a component to the common list of postpartum ailments, which are as follows:
- confusion and lack of clear thinking
- rapid emotional fluctuations
- abdominal pain
- vaginal bleeding
- weight gain
How does acupuncture help depression, anxiety, and the other listed problems?
The same way it helps with infertility, menopause, and stress; by stimulating the pituitary, the master endocrine gland, which regulates hormone levels. Hormones and neurotransmitters determine our mood, our energy level, and greatly influence us on the level of perception, thinking, and emotion. Because of the loss of estrogen, progesterone, and other hormones, as well as elevated cortical levels following the stress of childbirth, adjusting in the postpartum transition can be difficult. Acupuncture can provide a safe and effective treatment for this trying time.
Herbs work somewhat differently than acupuncture, in that they directly increase the building blocks, proteins and minerals, that make up the neurotransmitters and hormones, helping to replenish hormone levels. For longer than a thousand years, Asian doctors have used specific herbal formulas and documented their effects on postpartum physiology. Modern clinical experience indicates that the herbs can increase estrogen and progesterone, thereby alleviating depression, raising energy levels and stabilizing emotions. The traditional Asian doctors described this process as the strengthening of “Qi” (energy) and of “Blood” (again, blood and hormones). In contrast to herbal medicine in the west, for example, where red raspberry leaf is used for almost all women in postpartum recovery, the herbs in Asian medicine are so diverse and their effects are known to work best in combination with other herbs. A particular herbal formula, or combination of herbs in concert with each other, might be prescribed for one woman’s post-caesarian section pain, while it would not be appropriate for another woman’s post-caesarian section pain. Based on each woman’s constellation of symptoms, the type and duration of the pain, and the signs the herbalist observes during examination, a distinct, personalized prescription of herbs would be made. This is the tradition in Asian herbal medicine, and it is why we recommend you see a practitioner trained in Asian herbal medicine treatment.
Acupuncture and traditional Asian herbal medicine can help acute and chronic mastitis, as well as lactation insufficiency. Studies have indicated that acupuncture stimulates the pituitary gland to coordinate signaling to the hypothalamus and to the ovaries to regulate the sex hormones, including prolactin, which modulates lactation.
Traditional Asian medicine includes a component of nutrition and of exercise. For the postpartum transition, simple walking is the exercise most frequently recommended. It is considered important that women soon after childbirth avoid strenuous exercise, or over exercising, and that they take a gentle and gradual approach to losing any weight gained in pregnancy. Walking circulates the “qi” (energy) and creates increased pelvic blood flow. We generally recommend walking daily, gradually increasing the length and intensity of the walk according to the health and strength of the new mother.
There are foods used in the Asian medical traditions during the postpartum recovery period. They include chicken, eggs, pork, milk, and beans. Modern nutritional analysis of these foods indicates that their use in postpartum treatment is probably related to high protein and amino acid content. The amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, and cholesterol contained in these foods form new neurotransmitters and increase estrogen, progesterone, and much needed hormones. Those hormonal and neurotransmitter levels are important factors linked to our physical and emotional sense of wellbeing.
Why use Acupuncture for Menopause?
We feel it is important to view menopause as a normal phase of each woman’s life cycle. With the gradual cessation of the menstrual cycle, symptoms can be long and varied, including hot flashes, night sweats, memory loss, brain fog, insomnia, depression, anxiety, joint pain, heart palpitations, weight loss or gain, high blood pressure and headaches. Virtually all women experience some symptoms during this transition. Paradoxically, menopause can be the most empowering and enlightening period of the woman’s life. While you are experiencing symptoms, it can be difficult to see the positive changes that are happening. In recent years, menopause treatment has shifted away from the use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT), due to complications associated with the use of HRT. Many women are now seeking alternative or complimentary therapy for the symptoms of menopause.
Acupuncture for menopause requires regular treatments, once or twice per week to begin with and then decreasing the frequency or completing the treatments usually after 10-12 treatments. Length of treatment can vary, depending on whether Chinese herbs, other nutritional strategies, exercise and stress reduction techniques are incorporated with the treatments. Treatment length also depends on the degree of severity of menopausal symptoms when beginning acupuncture.
- Acupuncture Against Climacteric Disorders Lower the Number of Symptoms After Menopause.By Wyon Y; Lindgren R; Hammar M; Lundeberg T.
- Perimenopausal Brain Fog. Acupuncture and Herbs to Stimulate Brain Activity.[External Link]By Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.D., Director, Institute for Traditional Medicine, Portland, Oregon
- Acupuncture May Reduce Severity and Frequency of Nocturnal Hot Flashes in Postmenopausal Women.
Traditional Asian herbal medicine provides a safe, effective treatment alternative to traditional hormone replacement therapy. In Asia, acupuncture and herbal prescriptions have been used to ease menopause for hundreds of years. Prescriptions from the Golden Cabinet, a Chinese herbal pharmacopeia containing herbal prescriptions for disorders including menopause and infertility, were written during the Han dynasty in 200 A.D. Many of these formulas are still in use in our modern acupuncture and herbal medicine clinics.
Asian medicine has the longest written medical tradition for treating menopause and women’s hormonal imbalances. Asian herbal medicine and acupuncture have stood the test of time. In choosing herbal products to prescribe for our patients we insist on using herbs from companies whose products have been GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) certified. This degree of quality control assures a lack of contamination of heavy metals and insures the purity of the herbs.
We are frequently asked questions about the lack of double blind crossover studies proving the safety and efficacy of Chinese herbs. In Asia, these costly studies have not been required because Asians trust the traditional medicine that their doctors have been practicing for thousands of years. The proof of herbal efficacy is supported by the fact that there has been very little change in the techniques used over the centuries. There are also considerable problems in designing studies due to the nature of how Chinese herbs and acupuncture work. In contrast with Western herbology, which often uses a single herb like Black Cohosh for menopausal symptoms, Asian medical tradition works by individualizing herbal and acupuncture treatments according to known patterns or complex groupings of signs and symptoms.
The practice of Traditional Asian medicine prohibits prescribing herbal prescriptions without a careful examination of the patient, assessment of her symptoms, and carefully choosing the appropriate herbs for the symptoms. If you or your doctors are concerned about your health risk for rising estrogen levels, we can work together with your doctor and with you to order lab tests to make sure your estrogen level stays within the normal parameters while taking Chinese herbs.
- Pain Management – Acute or Chronic
- Cancer Patients – Side effects of Chemotherapy
- Accident Care (Pain Management)
- Elderly Care-Health Maintenance