Acupuncture and Fertility; A Perfect Pair!

The fertility journey is one that’s exciting, frustrating, and confusing all at once. Month after month you’re not sure how to feel; hopeful and excited! Then another period comes and now you might feel let down and frustrated with your body. We get it. We have been helping couples through this process for 8 years now. Each fertility journey is unique; here are 5 ways that acupuncture, and Traditional Chinese Medicine can help you!

 

 

  1. Reduce stress – This is number one for a reason, your body shuts down non-essential functions (like reproduction!) when it’s in a constant state of stress! Acupuncture calms the fight or flight response that occurs when stress is at a constant low level, like in our modern lives.
  2. Improves blood flow to the uterus- Acupuncture is all about blood flow! When it comes to your uterus this will result in a thicker, healthier uterine lining that will increase the likelihood of implantation.
  3. Improved ovarian function- This is related to both blood flow and hormone regulation. Acupuncture has been proven to restore ovulation in anovulatory woman and improve follicle quality which will increase chances of fertilization!
  4. Acupuncture directly effects your hypothalmus and pituitary – The hypthalmus- pituitary complex is the commander center for hormones in your brain. It regulates LH, FSH and thyroid hormones all of which effect fertility in a number of ways. Acupuncture “wakes up” this area of the brain so that it returns to homeostasis is something is off.
  5. Improves sperm! One third of fertility problems are related to sperm issues so it’s essential that male factors are addressed. Acupuncture has been shown to improve sperm quantity, quality and morphology. Lifestyle modification and herbs are also important to consider for male factor fertility.

 

 

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine helps with:

 

  • hormonal imbalance
  • unexplained infertility, amenorrhea, luteal phase defect, anovulation
  • endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), uterine fibroids & cysts, tubal obstruction, irregular menstrual cycles
  • recurrent miscarriage
  • advanced maternal age
  • male factor infertility

 

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Do you have to believe in acupuncture?

 

When I first started practicing acupuncture people would ask me if you have to “believe” in it for acupuncture to work. I laughed a little and said no.

 

Acupuncture has a physical effect on your body, regardless of what you believe. Your nervous system is stimulated, blood vessels dilate and tissue regeneration occurs. No belief necessary.

 

But I do think that belief plays a role in the natural healing process.

 

You have to believe in your body’s amazing ability to heal itself.

 

Chinese Medical Doctors has known for centuries that the body and mind are intimately connected; they cannot be separated. The body follows the mind and the mind follows the body. Because of this, belief in your ability to get well is a critical part of your healing journey.

 

Here is an affirmation that will help with this belief. Repeat it to yourself over and over again until you truly, deeply believe it:

 

Health is my body’s natural state of being.

 

Simple yet powerful.

 

Learn to separate your identity from your disease. You are not your depression, PCOS, autoimmune disease, etc. These things are occurring inside your body but they are separate from your identity as a human or spiritual being.

 

Health is my body’s natural state of being.

It truly is.

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Reducing chemical exposure

 

 

 

Chemicals are everywhere in our modern environment and while it’s impossible to avoid them all there are some simple things you can do to minimize your exposure. Chemicals can disrupt our bodies delicate hormonal balance and make it harder for our liver to detoxify. The more than 84,000 chemicals that are used in skin and body care products, household products, food and packaging are linked health conditions from headaches to cancer. Here are some products to be aware of when it comes to chemicals in your environment:

 

Plastic– Think plastic water bottles and Tupperware containers. Use glass or metal containers in place of plastic.

 

Cookware– Non stick cook ware is coated with a synthetic polymer called polytetrafluoroetheylene (PTFE) which should be avoided. Cast Iron or stainless steel cookware is best but here is come advice from the Environmental Working Group if you’re stuck with non-stick:

 

  • Never preheat nonstick cookware at high heat — empty pans can rapidly reach high temperatures. Heat at the lowest temperature possible to cook your food safely.
  • Don’t put nonstick cookware in an oven hotter than 500 degrees.
  • Use an exhaust fan over the stove.
  • Keep pet birds out of the kitchen — the fumes from an overheated pan can kill a bird in seconds. Learn more here.
  • Skip the self-cleaning function on your oven. It cleans by heating to high temperatures, which can release toxic fumes from non-stick interior oven parts.
  • Choose a safer alternative when buying new cookware.

 

Mattresses– Mattresses in the US contain toxic chemicals such as antimony, formaldehyde and flame retardants. The flame retarded chemicals off-gas while we sleep and end up in our bodies. Getting an organic mattress is a great place to start; mine is from Sleep EZ www.sleepez.com and has a wool layer that acts as the fire retardant, no chemicals needed!

 

Skin/Body Care Products– a lot of commercial manufactured products like face wash, lotion, shampoo and conditioner is full of parabens, phalates and synthetic fragrance which can all be hormone disrupters! We have a whole blog about this here. As a bonus look for brands which have a bunny on the label which indicates they do not test on animals.

 

Food– Eating organic is one of the best ways to reduce your exposure to chemicals. Agriculture in the US is widely sprayed with homicides, pesticides and fungicides. You can bet any processed, packaged food you buy is made with Genetically Modified corn or coy which is just covered in harmful chemicals. Even our meat products are not safe as cows from conventional feed lots are given hormones and antibiotics. At a minimum stick to organic for the dirty dozen and you animal products like meat and cheese!

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Taking care of you microbiome

 

 

So now you know from my Facebook video that you have hundreds of trillions of bugs living in and on your body, that help you will all kinds of body functions. For reference, there are more bacteria on the back of your hand than there are people in the world!!

 

Having a healthy balance of these bugs(microbes) will ensure your digestion and absorption is optimal (hello great skin and energy!), immune system is on point and brain health is in tip top shape. I like to think of my bug as my partner in health and I want to do my best to take care of them so they protect me from sickness and get inflammation in check.

 

Here are 4 tips for taking care of your bugs so they will take care of you.

 

  1. Eat plenty of fiber! You bugs love fiber and if you feed them enough two things will happen. First they will produce compounds call Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA) will are super stars at fighting inflammation in the body. Next the fiber will help to prevent autoimmune conditions by keeping leaky gut away.

 

                   Leaky gut = autoimmunity. Fiber = no leaky gut.

              The FDA recommendation for fiber is 38 grams per day for men and 29 grams per day for                             women. If a lot of fiber makes you bloat, that ok. Just start lower, maybe 10-15 grams and                             gradually increase by 5-10 grams per week.

 

  1. Avoid hyper-sanitization! Your immune system, just like your body, needs to workout to be in top shape. While there is no evidence that we need to get sick more often to boost our immune systems, we do need to get dirty! This keep our immune system on alert. Just like if you decide to skip the gym and lay on the couch for months, if you immune system doesn’t workout- it gets lazy!

 

                Some opportunities to get dirty include

                Dirt (gardening)

            Shaking hands

            Computer keyboards

            Door handles

            Cell Phones

            Shopping cart handles

            Outdoor activates

            Being in new environments

 

Put down the hand sanitizer and embrace microbial diversity!

 

  1. Eat Fermented foods! Probiotic supplements are all the rage right now but food is always going to be the best medicine. Eating a variety of fermented foods will provide the best microbial diversity to keep our bugs happy! Fermented foods include kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, beet kvass, kombucha and other fermented vegetables. You only need a small serving of 2-tablespoons a day (more might bloat you). Check out fermentedfarmer.com to buy awesome fermented foods, or even better, make some yourself! If incredibly easy to make sauerkraut; here’s a recipe.

 

  1. Avoid antibiotics! You can probably tell from the name that antibiotics are bad for your bugs! They kill good bacteria and can let more harmful bacteria over populate (bad!). it can take years for bacteria to re-normalize after just one round of antibiotic but the reality is your bugs will never be the same.

 

Consequences of antibiotic use include:

            Increased susceptibility to illness

            Emotional disturbances

            Digestive disturbance

            Skin issues

            Autoimmune response

            Weight issues

            Altered immune response

            Malabsorption of nutrients

 

Antibiotics should only be used if your life is threatened. Otherwise, there are plenty of natural solutions to things like sinus infections that will not harm your bugs.

 

Keep in mind the important of the bacteria in your body and remember, if you take care of you bugs, your bugs will take care of you!

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Chinese Medicine – Beyond Acupuncture

In Western cultures, acupuncture is probably the most well known part of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). But there are actually five main branches of TCM, and at H+H we incorporate some or all of them to create a comprehensive, individualized solution to health problems.

Mindset

There is a proven connection between the mind and body, so if your mind isn’t in the right place, it will be challenging to have everything else come together as it should. To transform your thinking, a practitioner of TCM may suggest daily meditation, yoga, exercise, or keeping a journal to track your thoughts. Positive thinking is a learned activity for many who have always looked at the glass as half empty, and it can take practice and guidance to master right thinking.

Oriental Nutrition

TCM is all about balance, and practitioners understand that the phrase “you are what you eat” is completely true. When your diet is nutritionally and energetically balanced, you will breathe more deeply, sleep better, stay healthy more often, and feel all of the benefits that are associated with a healthy diet.

The Oriental approach to nutrition is not just about eating the right foods but eating them in a way to get the maximum nutrition from them so that your body will absorb what it needs. Food combining is a bit of a science, and recipes and formulas will transform eating into a time to heal, strengthen, and fortify your body.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is the act of inserting very fine needles into certain designated areas along the body’s meridians. Each spot on the body is associated with a different function, and a licensed acupuncturist knows exactly where to put the needles to regulate the circulatory and nervous system and bring your body into balance. Acupuncture stimulates the body to heal itself, and that is the miracle of the needles.

Chinese Herbal Medicine

Ancient Asian cultures used plants and herbs thousands of years before Westernized medicine became the status quo, and modern TCM practitioners continue this tried-and-true methodology. Chinese herbs are mixed together according to the patient’s specific needs, in a symphony that plays the exact tune that will producchinese herbal medicinee the desired results. Herbs are a viable alternative to prescription drugs because they tend to have fewer (if any) side effects while still addressing the presenting issue directly.

A practitioner of TCM will create and prescribe your unique blend of Chinese herbs through pills, creams, or teas. Often, these alternatives can be taken for a much shorter p
eriod of time than prescription drugs.

Cupping

Cupping is an ancient form of bodywork that involves putting glass cups on the body, usually the back, using suction. Along with acupuncture, cupping helps the body to release toxins that have built up, thereacupunctureby detoxifying the system. Cupping also relaxes the muscles, improves circulation and helps to put the mind into a state of relaxation, or Delta state. This is the slowest of the four brainwave frequencies, and certain frequencies will trigger the release of human growth hormone, which is beneficial in healing and regeneration. When the brain is this relaxed, your body begins to heal more quickly — again illustrating the strong connection between brain and body.

Traditional Chinese Medicine looks at the body as a whole and how the organs and circulatory systems work together. By incorporating the right mindset, nutrition, acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and bodywork, your recovery will be more effective and more long lasting.

 

If you have questions about how TCM can make a difference in your overall health and well being, contact Harmony + Health Acupuncture at 602-955-5444 to make your initial appointment. We will create a unique plan that provides exactly what your body needs to heal and regenerate itself.


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Phoenix, Arizona 85016

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Let’s Talk protein

Protein is one of the three macronutrients (the others are fat and carbohydrates) that is essential to life.  Protein is needed to maintain the immune system, build and repair muscle, regulate blood sugar and to maintain energy throughout the day.

 

There is often a debate about how much protein is optimal, and what are the ‘best” sources of protein.

 

As to how much, the recommendation varies based on your goals and body composition.  If you are trying to add muscle, or are an athlete, your protein requirements will be higher than a sedentary individual.  A starting point is to consume .8 grams per pound of body weight.  So, a 150 lb. individual may consider consuming 120 grams of protein per day as a starting point.

 

Now let’s talk about protein sources.  If you are a meat eater protein is easy, it is found in all meats and seafood, beef, lamb, poultry, pork, fish, shellfish etc.  Other animal sources of protein include dairy, whey protein, and eggs.

 

If you are not a meat eater, you will need to be more thoughtful about your protein consumption.  Grains and beans for example have protein, but they do not contain all the 9 essential amino acids that are found in animal protein. There are a few exceptions: quinoa, flax and chia seeds, buckwheat and soy all contain complete proteins.  A plant based protein powder can be great option as well, look for one with a combination of sources for a more complete amino acid profile such as pea, hemp or rice.

 

If you would like to optimize your protein consumption, the first thing to do is to track your food intake for at least a week.  If you use one of the apps such as My Fitness Pal or Chronometer, tracking can be very easy and you can easily see your daily protein intake.  From there you can fine tune based on your health goals.

 

Let us know if we can help.

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Dietary Fats – Signs you may need more!!

Many of us were brought up eating and drinking low fat foods.  Skim milk, no fat yogurt, low fat margarine and mayonnaise.  The list goes on.  Unfortunately, the low-fat craze has led to the fattening of Americans.

 

Finally, the pendulum has swung, and we have re-learned about the importance of fat in the diet, not all fats mind you, but the “healthy Fats” (see below fats to avoid)

 

So, what are some signs that would tell you to increase fat in your diet?

 

  • You are always hungry, or you are not completely satisfied after meals
  • You get cranky or angry easily
  • Your memory is not great, you experience brain fog
  • To increase your HDL (good) cholesterol
  • You have difficulty losing weight, or your weight tends to yo yo.
  • Your joints ache
  • You have dry skin and or dry eyes
  • You experience hormone imbalances

 

What are some examples of healthy Fats?  How do I add these to my diet?  If you want to add additional fat to your diet, you need to do it responsibility.  It is not a good idea to add fat by ordering a supersize french fries at a fast food restaurant.  We would also not recommend increasing your ice-cream intake

 

To add fat to your diet, try some of these ideas:

  • If you eat dairy, switch to full fat versions of cheese, milk, sour cream, cottage cheese etc.
  • Add some healthy fat to your vegetables and salads examples include:
    • Extra virgin olive oil (best when eating vegies raw, do not heat above 350 degrees
    • Add grass fed butter or ghee (clarified butter) to cooked vegetables
    • Sauté your vegetables in ghee or coconut oil
  • Eat avocados
  • Snack on nuts
  • Put butter on your toast
  • Enjoy some nut butter
  • Add a tablespoon of coconut oil to your smoothie
  • Enjoy some of the fat found on your grass-fed meats, leave the skin on chicken when you cook it. Eat fatty fish such as salmon

 

Fats to avoid (because they are processed) include: canola oil, any seed oil, margarine, corn oil, peanut oil, vegetable oil, hydrogenated oils (they are solid at room temperature).

 

Let us know if we can help you introduce healthy fats into your diet, we would love to help you feel better!!

 

Ann & Emily

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