|Posted by Tanya on May 21, 2013 at 4:45 PM||comments (4)|
|Posted by Tanya on May 6, 2013 at 12:35 PM||comments (10)|
- adequate production of spermatozoa by the testes,
- unobstructed transit of sperm through the seminal tract, and
- satisfactory delivery to the ovum.
- deficient sperm count
- insufficient sperm motility
- poor sperm morphology
- deficiency of the Kidneys (Kidney Yin or Yang deficiency) or Spleen (Spleen Qi deficiency), or
- excess such as Qi stagnation, Blood stasis, or damp heat in the pelvic organs - usually superimposed upon or caused by Kidney deficiency.
- To improve overall health: Take the antioxidant L-arginine and L-carnitine (see below)
- To improve morphology and decrese high levels of oxidants in the seminal fluid: Take antioxidants and superantioxidants like pycnogenol (125mg daily of either pine bark extract, red wine extract, grape seed extract, and bilberry extract).
- To increase sperm counts: Take Blood and Qi tonics and seeds like Lycium (Gou Qi Zi) and Cuscuta (Tu Si Zi).
- To improve testosterone levels: Take Qi tonics like ginseng (Ren Shen).
- To improve sperm motility: Tonify Qi and Yang. Take Cornus (Shan Zhu Yu).
- To improve liquefaction: Supplement Kidney Yin with asparagus root (Tian Men Dong), Ophiopogon (Mai Men Dong), or the formula Six Flavor Pill with Rehmannia (Liu Wei Di Huang Wan).
- To resolve varicoceles: Apply a cold pack to the scrotum twice per day and take a Blood-moving herbal formula like Cinnamon Twig and Poria Pill (Gui Zhi Fu Ling Wan).
- In many subfertile men, the seminal fluid may not contain protective elements such as fructose (which feeds the sperm), fibrinogen (which holds the fluid together), and prostaglandins (which help the sperm penetrate the cervix). Men with suboptimum sperm should include dietary sources of antioxidants like wheat and barley grass, sprouts, and dark-green vegetables.
- Adding unsaturated fatty acids like those found in sesame, almonds, flaxseed, hazelnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pine nuts, walnuts, olives, avocados, soybeans, and quinoa as well as omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil can improve sperm integrity.
- Eat only hormone-free meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products, and drinking only purified water is suggested to eliminate excess synthetic estrogen, and produce healthy sperm.
- Men should consume organic fruits and vegetables whenever possible.
- Avoid saturated fats, hydrogenated oils, coconut, palm, and especially cottonseed oil (contains gossypol, a chemical inhibiting sperm formation). Include polyunsaturated vegetable oils and essential fatty acids like fish oil, flaxseed oil, and pumpkin-seed oil, as these contribute to healthy sperm and their production.
- Stay away from high-doses of soy concentrates, however, as too much estrogen from any source can be counterproductive. Soy, other legumes, nuts, and seeds also contain phytosterols that pomote testosterone production.
- Vitamin C: 2,000mg per day (divide dose)
- Vitamin E: 800 IU per day
- Beta-carotene: 100,000 IU per day
- Selenium 200 micrograms per day
- Zinc: 60 milligrams per day (for sperm and testosterone metabolism)
- Vitamin B12: 1,000mg per day (involved in replication of cells)
- L-arginine: 2 - 4 grams per day (promotes cellular replication)
- L-carnitine: 1,000 - 1,200mg per day (assists sperm motility)
- Keep scrotal temperatures between 94 and 96 degrees Fahrenheit by wearing loose underwear, avoiding hot baths, and applying daily cool packs (ice water in a plastic bag, wrapped in a thin towel, applied for ten to twenty minutes).
|Posted by Tanya on April 20, 2013 at 1:45 AM||comments (8)|
"I thank God for my brokenness; only then may I heal."
Sometims, a woman can't get pregnant because the path from her ovaries to the uterus is compromised. For instance, the ovary could be covered with adhesions blocking the mature egg from entering the pelvic cavity; the fallopian tube could be narrow or even completely obstucted; or perhaps the uterus is bound with scar tissue, keeping it from holding the fertilized egg successfully.
Some cases of blockage can be resolved through surgery. In other cases, however, surgery results in a small improvement in fertility, if any. In that case IVF is usually a woman's only choice. We'll discuss mechanical infertility and how TCM can provide support in healing your reproductive system.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) Pelvic inflammatory disease is a heartbreaking cause of mechanical infertility, because it can detroy a woman's fertility without warning, long before she considers getting pregnant. PID is usually the result of a bacterial infection within the ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, and cervix. More than one million women are diagnosed as teenagers or in their early twenties - the cause is usually sexually transmitted diseases, especially chlamydia and gonorrhea, but PID can also result from IUD (intrauterine device).
Treating PID with Chinese Medicine
It is rare to see a patient with active PID - usually patients will connect with a practitioner long after the damage has been done. However, there are ways to use TCM to treat both the symptoms and infection of active PID. In addition to treating the manifestation of the problem, we must address the underlying imbalance:
- The practitioner will use TCM diagnosis by looking at the accompanying symptoms the inflammation causes since most cases of PID involve abnormal discharge. Most conditions are damp and cool in nature, or classified as damp heat. Regardless of diagnosis, any treatment would need to resolve dampness, and balance the conditions created by the body's response to infection. It is important to note, however, that our inflammatory response to the infection may remain for some length of time after symptoms have been resolved. In the same way a course of Western antibiotics usually must be continued for several days after symptoms of the underlying infection disappear, it is equally essential that TCM treatment continue until the inflammatory response has quieted and the body's balance has been fully restored.
- A primary treatment is through the Extraordinary meridians known as the Girdle vessel (Dai Mai). The Nei Jing describes the Extraordinary meridians as a system of "drainage ditches" that tap into the main meridians and allow excesses - such excess discharge - to run off and clear out.
- If pelvic pain is predominant, TCM diagnoses its underlying pattern by assessing the nature of the pain. Sharp or stabbing pain involves Blood stasis, and we would apply principles of invigorating the Blood by using herbs such as: red peony (Chi Shao), peach kernel (Tao Ren), frankincense (Ru Xiang), and myrrh (Mo Yao). Strangulating and distending pain involves the obstruction of Qi, and we treat by resolving Qi stagnation. by using herbs such as: citrus peel (Chen Pi), green tangerine peel (Qing Pi), Cyperus (Xiang Fu), Lindera (Wu Yao) and Melia (Chuan Lian Zi).
- Chinese herbal therapy must be powerful and capable of reaching the closed-off environment of the fallopian tubes. TCM calls this "resolving stasis in the network vessels" (which are quite difficult to reach). To treat Blood stasis in network vessels, we use resins such as myrrh and frankincense, which are known for reaching the deepest meridians and their offshoots.
- In cases where the condition lies within the uterus or fallopian tubes, women can ingest herbs that will find their way through the digestive system and to the fallopian tubes, use herbal enemas (decoctions taken rectally), or suppositories (herbal concentrates in a glycerin or cocoa-butter base).
- Uterine Massage: just above the pubic bone, along the midline is your uterus. Place your fingers on either side of the midline and apply a deep, kneading type of massage, pressing and lifting while massaging any tight spots. Finish with a pumping motion with the heel of the hand.
- Ovarian Massage: about three inches out from the midline and four inches below the navel. Massage in a circular motion, and if you find any areas of tension or congestion, knead deeply applying increased pressure and lift with the fingertips. Finish with a pumping motion with the heel of the hand to resolve congestion and improve circulation.
Please join me next week as we discuss the final section of this series: Male-Factor Infertility: It Still takes Two to Make a Baby
|Posted by Tanya on April 7, 2013 at 4:15 PM||comments (6)|
"The little seed cracks, and the spirit of heaven emerges."
~ Scandinavian Proverb
The ripening of eggs within the follicles of our ovaries is a miracle. From birth women are filled with all the eggs they will ever have - one to two million, and for most of us, the eggs we possess at birth, and the 400,000 or so we still have when we begin menstruating, are more than enough to ensure the possibility of pregnancy before we enter menopause.
If our hormones are out of whack, the ovaries can become afflicted with disease or fail altogether. There can be many causes for the hormonal interference that saps vitality from our ovaries; polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and premature ovarian failure (POF) are common manifestations of this hormonal imbalance.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Also known as Stein-Leventhal syndrome, a disorder of ovulation which can affect the skin, hair, body weight, reproductive system, and endocrine system - including the pancreas, hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and adrenal glands.
- The most common indication of PCOS is irregular or absent periods, often dating back to menarche. Other symptoms include excess weight, acne, excess facial hair and increased body hair, or thinning of the hair on the head.
- In polycystic ovarian syndrome, multiple small cysts or tiny follicles, develop inside the ovaries. These cysts are not the same as active follicles but instead have been arrested in their development, never growing to full size or releasing healthy eggs. The cysts and the connective tissue surrounding them produce male hormones called androgens. Androgens block follicular development and cause the follicles to degenerate, preventing the release of mature eggs. In addition, the amount of estrogen circulating in the bloodstream increases in relation to other hormones like progesterone, causing an increase in LH and testosterone. Because of this hormonal cascade, ovulation is prevented.
- Western medical doctors and scientists have been unable to pinpoint the actual cause of PCOS and thus have been unable to treat it effectively. One of the contributing factors appears to be abnormal insulin and glucose (sugar) interaction. Excess insulin circulating in the bloodstream stimulates enzymes that help manufacture androgens in the ovaries. High insulin levels may also overstimulate leading to follicular atresia ("starving" the follicles of the correct hormonal food for the developing eggs).
- Women who are diagnosed are often prescribed a series of drugs such as clomiphene, hCG, and gonadotropin. If these drugs fail, IVF and other ART are recommended. However, most women with PCOS don't respond well to any hormonal manipulation. Follicular development is a process that takes many months. Eggs are meant to develop in an estrogen- and progestrone-rich environment, not in an androgenic setting. Therefore if a woman's body is forced to ovulate with ovulation-stimulating drugs, the quality of her eggs may be poor.
The Eastern View Traditional Chinese medicine seeks to redress the entire hormonal millieu that produces these changes in a woman's ovaries. The most common manifestation of PCOS is dampness or phlegm (fat cells storing estrogen), and treatment is based upon different patterns as well as the different ways these patterns show up as symptoms.
TCM insulin-managing diet:
- Cut out all forms of refined sugar.
- Cut out all forms of refined carbohydrates, as the body immediately turns them into sugar. Refined carbohydrates include white bread, pasta, white rice, most breakfast cereals, rice cakes or any starchy, low-fiber food.
- Do not follow fertility diets advocating massive yam consumption. The high starch and sugar content in yams exacerbates the impaired glucose metabolism and can actually delay or prevent ovulation.
- Avoid soda, fruit juice, and any drink that rapidly raises the blood sugar level.
- Consume adequate amounts of protein, either in vegetarian form or in the form of lean meat that has not been treated hormonally.
- Eat as many fresh vegetables as you wish.
- Eat only complex, whole grains like oatmeal, brown rice, and whole wheat.
- Eat fruits like berries, which are not too sweet.
- Avoid milk and dairy products, which tend to exacerbate the condition of internal dampness.
- Eliminate alcohol and caffeine.
- Increase your dietary fiber intake.
- Get adequate amounts of exercise.
- Addition of chlorophyll - Spirulina & broccogen.
- Chromium, B vitamins, magnesium, ALA, CLA will improve insulin resistance.
- NAC (N-acetylcysteine) decreases testosterone. In TCM, NAC would be categorized as a liver cleanser.
- As ovulation occurs increasingly early in women with POF, the cycle is often accompanied by elevations in FSH, indicating the ovaries are not responding to clues from the brain. The lack of communication causes hormonal "confusion." Estrogen production is reduced, the uterine lining is often too thin for implantation, and the follicles have not had time for their residing egg to fully mature, leaving no chance for conception.
- Premature ovarian failure is an extremely frustrating diagnosis, as Western medicine cannot pinpoint its cause with any degree of accuracy. Some theories include chromosomal defects; damage from pelvic surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy; or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Often a woman diagnosed with with POF will have a concurrent diagnosis of conditions like autoimmune thyroiditis, Grave's disease, or Addison's disease (involving the adrenal glands).
- The treatment options are are usually estrogen replacement therapy. However, this is not an option for women who are attempting to conceive because the estrogen tells the hypothalamus that it doesn't need to prompt the pituitary to stimulate the ovaries to produce estrogen. The whole hormonal system then goes to sleep. Usually POF diagnosis is left with one option: IVF with donor eggs.
- Avoid wheat, refined carbohydrates, sugars, dairy, and most animal products.
- It's also wise to avoid hot, spicy foods. We want to calm the body down to make it less reactive.
- Take herbs like Astragalus (Huang Qi) to fortify the Spleen; herbs to nourish the Yin and Blood like Six Flavor Pill with Rehmannia (Liu Wei Di Huang Wan), and herbs to resolve the Blood stasis and obstruction, such as peach kernel (Tao Ren), moutan (Mu Dan Pi), and red peony (Chi Shao).
- Stimulate the acupressure points (shown by your acupuncturist) to regulate the Penetrating and Conception meridians and to supplement Yin and Blood.
With all treatments, however, it's important to remember the hundred-day time line for the production of a healthy egg. Please allow three cycles before you start trying to get pregnant and give your body (and your future child) the chance for the healthiest conception and pregnancy possible.
Please join me next week as we discuss part 7 of this series:
Mechanical Infertility: Clearing the Path to Conception
|Posted by Tanya on March 26, 2013 at 11:20 PM||comments (6)|
- Rest and wear loose, comfortable clothing.
- Perform deep-breathing exercises and meditative practices.
- Take warm baths (with aromatherapy if you like).
- Use essential oils such as frankincense, myrrh, clary sage, peppermint, lavender, rosemary, juniper, and thyme.
- Use a heating pad or hot water bottle on your abdomen during and after menstruation.
- Apply warm castor-oil packs on your abdomen to invigorate the Blood, assist the lymphatic system, and balance hormone levels. Apply warm castor oil to the lower abdomen and cover with plastic wrap two to three times per day during the premenstrual and menstrual period. (If you are trying to conceive, use only during the menstrual period.)
- Regular, moderate daily exercise helps improve circulation and ease symptoms. Meditation, Qi Gong, and yoga are also helpful. (You should not perform inversion techniques during menstruation, especially if you have endometriosis. The energetic flow must always be descending.)
- Avoid all foods that have been treated hormonally.
- Consume soy and soy products like tofu.
- Eat only organic fruits and vegetables.
- Avoid refined and hydrogenated oils.
- Use only unprocessed plant sources of essential fatty acids.
- Use oils rich in both linoleic and alpha-linolenic fatty acids such as flaxseed, pumpkin-seed, and chia-seed oils, but only if they are recently cold-pressed and refined.
- Include dietary spirulina, evening primrose oil, and oil from black currant and borage seeds.
- Avoid sources of arachidonic acid, which comes from animal meats, dairy products, eggs, and peanuts.
- Avoid all animal products, except fish. If you do consume meat, make sure it is organic and not hormonally treated.
- Eat walnuts, dark greens, saffron, and cold-climate root vegetables like squash.
- Foods that are especially good for resolving Blood stasis include kelp, lemons, limes, onions, Irish moss, and bladder wrack.
- Supplement your diet with B vitamins and antioxidants like vitamins C, E, beta-carotene, selenium, and zinc. Include OPC superantioxidants (grape seed extract, pine bark extract, red wine extract, bilberry extract), which contain procyanidins and caffeic and ferulic acid. These substances have demonstrated anti-inflammatory and antispastic effects.
- Both endometriosis and fibroids benefit from the use of of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet. Fish oil and linseed oil are good sources of these omega-3 fatty acids. Fish oil prevents abnormal blood clotting. If your menstrual blood contains clotty tissue, supplement with fish oil, (which also contains gamma-linolenic acid, known as omega-6).
Please join me next week as we discuss part 6 of this series:
PCOS and POF: You can Heal your Ovaries
Healing the Conception Vessel - Immunologic Reaction and Recurrent Miscarriage: blog series part 4 of 8
|Posted by Tanya on March 21, 2013 at 11:20 AM||comments (6)|
- Consume plenty of organic vegetables.
- Eat brown rice as your staple grain.
- Tofu and tempeh are good sources of protein.
- Consume only organic, hormone-free meats.
- Do not eat dairy products.
- Avoid yeast breads and all forms of alcohol, vinegar, and fermented beverages.
- Yeast thrives on sugar, so avoid sweets. Also avoid refined carbohydrates, which almost immediately turn into glucose within the body.
- Do not consume sugary fruits that mold easily, like grapes, oranges, and strawberries. Don't eat bananas. Apples and pears are permissible. Do not drink fruit juices.
- Acidophilus supplementation helps to repopulate the bacterial flora and control the yeast. Active-culture yogurt contains acidophilus as well, but the dairy in yogurt usually promotes a condition of dampness, which can damage the Spleen.
Please join me next week as we discuss part 5 of this series:
Endometriosis and Fibroids: Cleansing your Uterus so a Child can Grow
|Posted by Tanya on March 11, 2013 at 7:30 PM||comments (18)|
- Employ meditative breathing techniques whenever possible.
- Sit down whenever you eat.
- Eat frequent, small meals to keep the blood sugar levels more stable and to inhibit the release of adrenaline.
- Chew your food sufficiently, mixing enough saliva with the food to make digestion easier.
- Drink a lot of water, but not during a meal.
- Do not drink alcohol or caffeine, or smoke cigarettes.
- Use herbs that move Qi, like peppermint, rosemary, spearmint, turmeric, and thyme.
- Supplement with herbs that resolve Liver Qi Stagnation (see your local acupuncturist).
- If your prolactin levels are high, take malt barley sprout (Mai Ya).
Please join me next week as we discuss part 4 of this series:
Immunologic Reaction and Recurrent Miscarriage: Bring your Body into Harmony with Itself
|Posted by Tanya on March 7, 2013 at 10:50 AM||comments (8)|
- As a woman ages, the many-month process of follicular development becomes susceptible to breakdown. However this has three specific causes. First, if we don't take care of bodies in general, no reproductive therapy will make up for our lack of health. If women wish to become pregnant, they had better be eating well, exercising, and reducing the stress levels in their life.
- Second, as our bodies age, the blood flow to the ovaries declines. Around menopause, the ovarian blood flow is five times less than when we were in our prime. The follicular fluid contains endothelial growth factor, the same chemical found in a damaged heart. It signals the body that the follicular tissue is being starved of blood flow. Better circulation to any organ improves its function and blood flow - acupuncture is the only known method to improve this flow.
- Third, hormane levels fluctuate as a woman ages. The lack of communication between the brain, pituitary gland, and the ovaries makes her follicles resistant, and they quit paying attention to FSH - not surprising since the ovaries are undernourished by lack of blood flow. Fortunately, the steps involved in turning back the clock are all natural. Unfortunately, rejuvenating the reproductive system takes time.
- Avoid junk food, caffeine, tobacco, pop, sweetners, and refined carbohydrates.
- Whenever possible, avoid dairy products, raw vegetables, and cold foods.
- Do not eat any meat or animal products treated with growth hormones. This includes most of the meat, eggs, milk products, any cheese found at the supermarket. You can find hormone-free dairy and meat products at many health-food stores, local farms, or farmer's markets.
- Supplement your diet with royal jelly, blue-green algae (Spirulina), wheatgrass, and chlorella.
- Coenzyme Q-10 (co Q-10) - this is a supplement commonly used for cardiovascular disorders. Co Q-10 helps support and improve mitochondrial function, which is the powerhouse of the cell. One of the hallmarks of aging is damage to mitochondrial DNA caused by oxygen metabolism and the presence of free radicals in the system. This has been shown to contribute to age-related decline in egg quality.
- DHEA - some studies have shown DHEA can be used as a hormone building block. A study published in 2000 on Human Reproduction reported that taking 80 mg per day of DHEA for two months improved response to ovarian stimulation. ** Please note: women who have elevated levels of male hormones should not supplement with DHEA.
- L-arginine - a study published in Human Reproduction in 1999 found increased ovarian response, endometrial receptivity, and pregnancy rates in IVF patients who supplemented daily with large doses (4 grams) of oral L-arginine, an amino acid. Overall L-arginine increases blood flow to the ovaries.
|Posted by Tanya on February 25, 2013 at 9:40 PM||comments (12)|
"It can be frightening, this yearning for a child - its hard to fathom the desperate urgency." ~ Wendy Wasserstein, Award-Winning Playwright and first-time mother at age forty-six, from Creating a Life by Sylvia Hewett
As young girls, maternal instinct prepares us to become mothers - even the girls who show no interest in babies or dolls still assume they possess the capacity, and desire to have children. But, what happens to women who, when they are ready to have babies find its not quite as easy as they were led to believe?
The pain and disappointment of failing to conceive. The causes of infertility are wide in their range - unfortunately, partners usually don't realize there is a problem until they want to conceive and are then are thrust into an endless cycle of diagnosis, treatment, pregnancy, and failings. The desperate hunger of couples who want to bear children and the pain of the journey to create life envelopes them.
Western reproductive medicine has provided some of the best-publicized miracles. The "infertility epidemic" has given rise to a huge industry and indeed, assisted reproductive technology (ART) has given hope to many women who could never bear children otherwise. But the physical, financial, and emotional ramifications are high. Women are willing to spend every penny and hyperstimulate their ovaries, turning them into egg-producing, hormone-raging, mad-women. Women have sex, don't have sex, have sex on schedule - whatever they're told will work. Unfortunately all too often we end up broke and heartbroken; empty arms, and exhausted bodies.
The failures of the Western reproductive medicine, has turned heads to seek out healthier, holistic alternatives such as traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) techniques to enhance both partners fertility and holistic health. TCM is safe to use with Western reproductive medicine, and will enhance the chances of conception.
TCM describes the female reproductive system as a network of energy systems with complementary organs and hormonal responses. This network responds to stress, chemicals, lack of exercise, poor eating, and excessive emotions, all of which put the body off balance. The most incredible part of our bodies is it will also respond to gentle-healing and balance.
Chinese medicine is safe, and effective. I advocate an easy four-step approach that will help you balance your internal energies while preparing you to conceive:
- The first step is to correctly identify what imbalances are going on inside. What is causing your reproductive disharmony.
- The second step is to change your diet (if the need should arise). Certain foods have certain properties, and depending on your diagnosis it may be important to add food that will nourish you to move energy. We may also explore adding certain vitamins or minerals into the diet.
- The third step is to clear your energies via acupuncture. A series of acupuncture treatments will be administered over a course of 3-6 months. Remember restoring health and well-being can take time. At this stage, additional excercises may be included: Yoga, femoral massage, Qi Gong breathing, meditation, etc.
- Lastly, we need to increase your chances of conception through the addition of Chinese herbs. These herbal remedies have been around for thousands of years in China to help increase fertility.
The success rate is around 75 percent. Many of the 25 percent who are not successful have not followed through with their treatment plans. Traditional Chinese medicine is not a quick fix; restoring the body to health takes time. You must give yourself at least three to six months for the treatments to have full effect. All I ask is that you remember some conditions have been a while in the making and it may take a while to unmake the imbalance. Use how you feel to gauge your progress.
|Posted by Tanya on January 3, 2013 at 1:10 AM||comments (3)|
Happy New Year!
This time of year, many of us make resolutions: change what we dislike the most about ourselves, travel more, spend more time with our families... or rather reinforce the notion of living in the future.
Shouldn't the real question be: "How am I going to live in the present moment each day, every day." Maybe its simply a matter of asking yourself, "How will I conduct myself today. How will I watch life unfold today."
I've had the wonderful opportunity to collaborate with 12 honest, down-to-earth women entrepreneurs in a collaborative blog article entitled:
"13 entrepreneurs talk about overcoming the hard stuff, learning lessons and what's next in 2013."
Together we answered three questions:
- What's the hardest thing you've had to overcome the last year? Why?
- What are 3-5 lessons you learned over the last year? Why?
- If we were to meet one year from today, what has to have happened over the year for you to feel happy about your progress, both professionally and personally?
Nadine Nicholson & Co. - a beautiful Mentor, Business Communicator, and Professional Co-Active Coach - has put together yet another brilliant article: http://nadinenicholson.com/personal-stories/13-entrepreneurs-talk-2013/
When you master living your present moments one day at a time, you'll see yourself change right before your own surprised eyes. You'll see yourself overcome the hard stuff, learn and honor the lessons, and look forward to what's next!
I love the idea of letting life unfold, and would love to hear your answers to these 3 questions also!