3 Healthy Summertime Mocktails – Guest Post by Jacqueline from Sweet Beet & Green Bean

3 Healthy Sumertime Mocktails Recipes

Jacqueline Gabardy, L.Ac.Today’s guest post was written by our Associate Acupuncturist Jacqueline Gabardy, L.Ac. who blogs about health, nutrition and recipes at Sweet Beet & Green Bean.
 

 Whether you don’t drink at all or you are just trying to cut back, mocktails are an alcohol-free, refreshing way to enjoy a drink with friends on a warm summer day.  These incorporate ingredients like aloe juice, raw apple cider vinegar, and coconut water, which all have important health benefits.  They’re super easy to make, too!

Are you a tired pregnant or nursing mom?   Trying to conceive?  Suffering from digestive problems or chronic pain?  Alcoholic drinks may be off limits for you, but these mocktails can actually help you feel bright and shiny without any side effects.

 

The Aloe-jito

Recipe
3-4 sprigs of fresh mint
1/2 a lime
1-2 tbsp sugar, honey, maple syrup or agave (to your taste)
2 oz aloe juice
Sparkling water

 

A take on the classic mojito, the aloe-jito uses aloe juice in place of rum.  Aloe Vera juice is a healing and soothing tonic in small amounts.  It can detoxify, moisten and cool the body, clear skin, and soothe the digestive tract.

Drinking aloe can relieve constipation because it has a mild laxative effect, so don’t overdo it on the dosage.  1-2 ounces per day is a enough for most people; you may want to start with a smaller dose if you are prone to loose stools.

To make this mocktail, use a tall glass and add the lime (cut into smaller pieces) and mint leaves into the bottom and muddle them well.  If you don’t have a muddler,  you can use the handle of a wooden spoon.  Once muddled well, add the sugar and mix well.  I have used raw honey for this before, but it doesn’t mix in quite that well; I find maple or agave syrup work better.  How much sugar you use will depend on your taste, I found 1 tablespoon to be plenty.  Then add a few ice cubes and pour over the aloe juice, top with sparkling water and garnish with a lime wedge and another sprig of mint.

You can also make this recipe without the aloe and it is still quite refreshing.

 

Strawberry Shrub Soda Recipe

Recipe
2-3 tbsp homemade strawberry shrub (see below)
About 8 oz sparkling water
 
Basic Shrub
1 part fruit
1 part vinegar
1 part sugar

 

Shrub is a traditional vinegar-based syrup that is often used to make soda.  In Chinese Medicine, small amounts of sour foods like vinegar are beneficial to the Liver system.  Especially healthy are the naturally fermented vinegars like raw apple cider vinegar which contains probiotics that support digestive health.  When added into the diet in small amounts, apple cider vinegar can support digestive and immune health.

By making shrub with apple cider vinegar it becomes much more palatable because of the hint of fruit flavor and sweetness.  Also, by mixing up a big batch of shrub it makes it much easier to incorporate into your daily diet or to serve to a big group of people.

The fruit for the shrub should be finely chopped up first and added in after the vinegar and sugars are mixed well; I find a mason jar is best for this.  Once mixed together, the shrub needs to sit in the fridge for at least 1 day but up to 1 week, the fruit flavor will intensify the longer it sits.  After a week, strain the mixture to remove the fruit.  You can use the fruit in a smoothie if you don’t want to waste it, but it’s a little sour to eat on its own and you can’t leave it in the shrub indefinitely.

I used local raw honey as the sugar in this recipe, and the apple cider vinegar dissolves it well, but granulated cane sugar, maple syrup or agave syrup would all work.  You can also try different variations of fruits and vinegars to see what you like the best!

I like to serve the shrub soda over a large ice cube and I find about 2-3 tablespoons of shrub per cup of sparkling water is the right balance.  Obviously you can play around with it and find what ratio works best for you.

 

Pina Colada Cooler Recipe

Recipe
1/2 cup frozen pineapple
1/2 banana
1/2 cup coconut water
1/4 cup coconut cream
ice cubes (optional)

 

While we usually don’t recommend too many cold foods to our patients, an icy beverage is sometimes the only thing that feels refreshing when the weather gets really hot.

This recipe is more or less a traditional Piña Colada without the rum.  Most traditional colada recipes just use coconut cream, which is a great source of healthy saturated fats and has anti-fungal properties, plus it serves as a delicious creamy alternative for those who are dairy sensitive.  I’ve also included some coconut water in this recipe because it’s so high in electrolytes that it works well to keep us hydrated during those hot summer days.  In addition to the usually pineapple and coconut ingredients, I’ve added in half a banana for a little extra sweetness and creaminess.

Preparation of this drink is as simple as blending all the ingredients together, and topping with a tropical drink umbrella if you have one on hand!  You can add a few ice cubes to the mix if you want it to be thicker and colder, but I didn’t find it needed them.

Try these and let us know what you think in the comments section!

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The Lunch Break: Parenthood’s Most Underrated Hour

IMG_0764 When I became a mother, I had no idea how many things I had previously taken for granted. Like my lunch break. That simple hour in the middle of the day during which you sit, eat, talk, read a magazine, catch up on phone calls…maybe you even DO LUNCH with friends once in a while. That hour which, before becoming a parent, did not require you to wear noise-canceling headphones to preserve what hearing you still have left. Five and a half years into motherhood (a month or so ago), I realized I had not taken a proper lunch break in over half a decade. WTF? How could things get this bad? Don’t get me wrong-  it’s not that I don’t eat lunch.  It’s not that I don’t take breaks.  I eat.  I take breaks.  Just not in the middle of the day.  Not when I’m at work or at home with my kids.  That midday break is darn near impossible to make happen when you have young children.  It gets last place.  Well, last place right before Mom herself. The lunch break of the typical working parent I know goes like this: grab a sandwich.  Eat it while returning 6 text messages about carpools, permission slips, groceries, the strep outbreak at preschool, and maybe, if you’re nursing, while also balancing the flanges attached to bottles into which you are pumping fresh milk.  Errands to run?  Totally out of pull-ups back at home?  Don’t wanna hit Target at 5pm with two toddlers?  Most working moms and dads I know will choose to squeeze this errand into the “lunch break” whenever possible, if they are lucky enough to get one. The lunch break of the Stay-At-Home-Parent?  What lunch break? At work or at home, where is the “break” in this Lunch Break of the modern American parent? There isn’t one. Why have we all forgotten how important it is? I love my kids, and I love my work.  I feel fortunate to have healthy, loving, fascinating children (who sometimes give each other massages), and work that is fulfilling and exciting. GnLmassage Really, I shouldn’t be complaining.  But I know I’m not alone as a parent in feeling overwhelmed and wishing I had a Pause button. Right? Two books I’ve read and loved recently, “Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink” by Katrina Alcorn and “All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood,” speak to this core issue. Our culture does not support parents well enough. Whether a parent is working for pay or not (we all know parenting is hard work!), most American moms and dads feel stretched thin. Time that is BOTH kid-free and work-free is hard to come by.  Sure, there is the blessed 90 minutes (2 hours on a good night!) after they’re asleep before my own bedtime, but I have found that kid-free time when I’m brain-dead from a long day is just not the same as when I’m sharp and the sun is still shining. In an effort to make positive change in my own life, I’ve decided to start taking a lunch break every single day. I’m trying to emphasize the “break” part. Whether I’m home with my kids or at my place of work, I am trying (*trying*) to protect one hour a day during which I’m not doing work and also not doing mundane household or child-related tasks. When I am home with my children for lunch, I look at the lunch break as a time to eat together and then have Quiet Time.  My daughter still naps, and my son loves having sister-free time with me and/or his Dad.  We eat.  We talk.  We play Footsie. When I’m at work, I try to spend an hour taking an actual break from work. It’s amazing how the simple act of putting my feet up on the couch or desk tells my brain We’re Resting Now. Also amazing is how hard it is to stop myself from puttering around the house picking up stray toys, dirty socks, bills, or from starting to prep dinner, fold laundry, note how dirty the bathroom floor is and choose to be irritated by it yet also ignore it…Daughter napping, son happy crafting?  House quiet?  Hurry, go balance the checkbook! This is what I’m trying to resist. It’s been shockingly hard to break out of my pattern of rushing to Get Shit Done during the one hour a day when I’m not treating patients, running my clinic on an administrative level, or home with my kids. But I know it’s important for my mental, emotional and physical health to take that lunch break.  It’s also important for my children to see me taking that break, and to share it with me, when we’re home together. If I’m at the office, my new “lunch break” might include any of the following: Walk around the block of my office building.  The jacarandas are blooming, and birds never fail to take their lunch hour loudly, which is lovely to hear during a solo walk. Visit the farmer’s market, which is a mere one mile from my office building, every Thursday. IMG_0919 Sit and meditate for 20 minutes, then write in my journal. Catch up on one of the books I’m reading.  (I feel like an overachiever if I get to read more than two pages a day before being interrupted or falling asleep.) Sit down and eat my lunch with both feet on the floor.  Resist the urge to do something else simultaneously. Once I took a hike.  Not rest, per se, but a different, invigorating kind of break. If I’m at home for my lunch break, that usually means there’s kids with me.  Sometimes we take our lunch break at one of the local gardens. IMG_0943 Sometimes we all sit around the table and light candles and for about 3 minutes, it’s nice and quiet. IMG_0461 According to the classical texts in Chinese Medicine, it is said that when eating, you should not do anything else. Just eat; chew your food well.  Don’t watch TV, read, check your phone, Facebook, catch up on patient charts (who, me?), or drive a car. That’s a tall order for most Westerners.  Just eat?  How boring! Let me explain. In Chinese Medicine, the Spleen and Stomach organ systems are the center of our digestive system, and the Liver organ system helps out with digestion in its role as Traffic Cop of Qi (maintaining the smooth flow of Qi throughout the body).  When we are thinking too much (reading, staring at a screen), the Stomach Qi goes up instead of down (leading to heartburn, acid regurgitation, after-meal headaches).  If we are stressed out while eating, the Liver can’t keep the Qi in check – in addition to being the Traffic Cop of Qi Flow, the Liver is also in charge of metabolizing Stress – and so digestion goes haywire. I have understood this intellectually for about 14 years, but the New Yorker in me, who is used to doing 143 things at once, has always found it hard to JUST EAT.  Until now, when I am forcing myself to take a one hour lunch break, every single day, for the sake of my sanity. I will admit to you: it doesn’t happen every day.  There are days when I’m home with my kids and we all just bicker and screech until we collapse into bed. Or someone throws an entire container of raw milk down the steps to the backyard.  Followed by a water balloon. IMG_0802 You know those days, right? There are days at work when I am so behind on paperwork that I plow right through my lunch break, catching up on patient emails, phone calls, charts, pausing only to heat up my leftovers in the toaster oven and grab a fork. But I’m getting better. More days than not, I’m taking that break, even if it involves cranky children demanding water/milk/spoons/a pickle/more napkins every time I sit down. On those days, I take a deep breath, send it down to my Stomach/Spleen, and plant both feet on the floor.  I remind myself that I am modeling the value of slowing down, honoring mealtime, making a ritual out of taking a break. Eventually, it will become habit, and I’ll forget I ever went half a decade without a proper lunch break. (Post by Abigail Morgan, L.Ac, acupuncturist and owner of FLOAT: Chinese Medical Arts.  Photo Credits: all photographs by Abigail Morgan, all rights reserved.)

Upcoming Events for New Moms, Pregnant Moms and Women Trying to Conceive

 

Prenatal Events, Prenatal Acupuncture

September is a busy month for us at FLOAT!

Abigail will be guest-teaching a support group, participating in a panel on Prenatal Wellness, and leading an acupressure workshop for couples here at our office.  Read on, and please send any questions to frontdesk@floatchinesemedicalarts.com.

9/9: HOLISTIC SELF-CARE FOR THE POSTPARTUM PERIOD at BINI BIRTH

FirstOutingMamaGnL

Abigail in 2010 with her kids, 2 weeks and 2 years old

 

Abigail will be the special guest at Bini Birth’s New Moms and Pregnant Moms’ Support Group (led by Rachel Myers) on Monday 9/9/13, 12:30-1:45pm.  This group is open to anyone who is pregnant, recently gave birth, or is supporting moms in any way at all!  Babies are welcome.

The Talk: Abigail Morgan, L.Ac, Licensed Acupuncturist & Herbalist and mother of two, will speak about holistic ways to take care of yourself during the postpartum period (birth-12 months), and offer a variety of techniques to bring balance to the crazy-insane-overwhelming time that characterizes the first year of a child’s life.  Whether you are pregnant with your first child, just a few months postpartum, or getting used to being outnumbered, putting Mom’s health first is crucial for keeping the whole family happy – not to mention avoiding postpartum depression, baby blues, adrenal fatigue and Depleted Mother Syndrome.  Come learn tips for what to eat, rhythms to incorporate, and home remedies for boosting Self-Care in the postpartum period.  Abigail will also discuss ways you can prepare for a smoother recovery from childbirth while still pregnant.

Location: Bini Birth, 13743 Riverside Drive, Sherman Oaks, CA, 91423

Cost: $20 cash or check (made out to Bini Birth), same-day, or $110 for a series of 6 classes (every Monday, 12:30-1:45)

More info: binibirth.com or 818-286-3944

 

 9/21: PRENATAL WELLNESS ROUNDTABLE

Event: Prenatal Wellness Roundtable, Prenatal Acupuncture, Fertility Acupuncture

 

I’m so excited to have been asked by Fit for Expecting and The Institute for Girls’ Development to participate in this Prenatal Wellness Roundtable, on Sat. 9/21, 10-11:30am.  (Click on the flyer above to see details and ticket information.)  I’ll be talking about how Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can help with conception, pregnancy, labor and birth.  There will be several other prenatal care providers on the panel – hope to see you there!

 

9/26: ACUPRESSURE FOR LABOR & BIRTH: A COUPLES’ WORKSHOP

Event: Acupressure for Labor & Birth, Prenatal Acupuncture
Acupressure for Labor & Birth: A Couples’ Workshop
Abigail Morgan, L.Ac., Licensed Acupuncturist and Herbalist and mother of two, will lead a workshop on 9/26/13 from 6:30-9:30pm, on how to support your partner during labor and birth using simple acupressure techniques.  Learn how to use your hands to give physical support to your partner during the birth process.  What points can help reduce pain, soothe anxiety, bring baby down, make contractions stronger?  We will go over good body mechanics for the partner, and do lots of hands-on work to help each couple find ways to use this ancient method to enhance the labor process.  Becca Gordon, doula/childbirth educator/yoga instructor, will co-teach this class and bring a fresh perspective to supporting the birth process.  You will leave with a detailed handout of the techniques we learned in class, as well as questions to discuss with your partner during the rest of your pregnancy.
This class is designed for couples, but we define “couple” loosely; if you’d like to bring your sister/mother/friend/doula instead of a partner, that’s fine with us.  Please be informed that this is not a professional-development class for birth professionals – Abigail offers that workshop at other times – but we do welcome doulas if they are accompanying a pregnant client.

When: Thursday, 9/26/13; 6:30-9:30pm

Location: FLOAT, 800 S. Central Avenue (at Windsor), Suite 302, Glendale, CA 91204.  Parking is free in the garage under our building, but be sure to arrive no later than 6:45 pm.

Cost: $100 per couple (we accept all credit cards, checks and cash; payment in advance is required by 9/19)

Sign Up / More Info: 818-392-8797 or frontdesk@floatchinesemedicalarts.com

We hope to see you there!

 

Post by Abigail Morgan, L.Ac. of FLOAT: Chinese Medical Arts.

Fertility is Not Just for Baby-Makers!

Moxa

Moxibustion (“Moxa”) over the abdomen to help relieve menstrual cramps.

When you walk into our clinic you can quickly tell we treat a lot of fertility and pregnancy.  There’s a wall of baby pictures, Mothering magazines in the waiting room, a stack of children’s books and toys, plus the Pregnancy and Mother’s Milk Tea we offer alongside the traditional green and black varieties.

We still treat a good deal of non-reproductive health issues: back pain, allergies, anxiety, stress and digestive problems, just to name a few.  Occasionally, when these non-reproductive health patients come into the office for the first time they second-guess if they are in the right place.  Sometimes, a patient who is not looking to conceive will ask me if there are acupuncture points I could use to help her to not get pregnant, to which I always reply, “a healthy body is a fertile body.”  Fertility is a reflection of good overall reproductive health, which is something to be celebrated.

The word “fertility” should not be feared by those who don’t wish to get pregnant (or at least, not yet).  Currently, the American birthrate is at a record low: see this recent article in TIME for more on that.

As someone who hasn’t yet had children myself, I understand as much as anyone the desire to choose when to have kids.  But the common approach for women seems to be to ignore their reproductive organs all together until suddenly it is the right time to get pregnant, and then everything is expected to work perfectly, right on cue.  Hormone flows can easily be overridden with birth control pills and menstrual cramps can be hidden with pain killers, but neither fix the underlying conditions that are causing the symptoms.

Oral contraceptive pills are known to cause a number of side effects.  Quite a few women report The Pill causes them to have scanty or complete lack of menses (amenorrhea).  I often hear those patients say “my gynecologist says it’s normal” – in fact, those symptoms are common, but they’re not normal.  A regular menstrual cycle is a strong indicator of a healthy reproductive organs and is very important to pay attention to.

The combination of many years of a neglected reproductive system, plus the decision to wait until later in life to conceive, often leads to problems for women once they are ready, and it is becoming more and more common.  This is why women of childbearing age must start thinking about their reproductive health, whether or not they wish to have children.

Here are 3 simple suggestions to help those of you who don’t wish to conceive (either not now, or never) but still wish to enhance your reproductive health:

1. Educate Yourself

Educate yourself well when it comes to your body; you’re stuck with it!  I recommend women learn about the physiology of their reproductive organs: how everything works, and how to tell when it’s not working well.  Get regular Well-Woman exams (paps as recommended by your OB/GYN, STD screenings, and annual check-ups with your primary care physician).  Make sure you read up on and ask plenty of questions about any medications, vaccinations, contraceptives, or procedures before you give your consent.  If you have any other health conditions (especially a genetic condition, an endocrine or auto-immune disorder), learn about how these conditions may potentially affect your reproductive health.

Taking Charge of Your FertilityTaking Charge of Your Fertility is the first resource I provide to a woman who is hoping to learn more about her fertility.  We have two copies in the lending library of our clinic, but many women find they need one of their own.  It explains all the phases of the menstrual cycle, how to identify your fertile window, and the physiology of getting pregnant.  It is a great resource for both women looking to conceive as well as those looking to avoid getting pregnant by better understanding when they can and cannot conceive.

In fact, I think many of the tools women trying to get pregnant use (such as taking her basal temperature each morning or using ovulation predictor kits) are important tools for any woman wishing to take a close look at her cycle and make sure it is functioning normally.

2. Pay Attention

You know best what is normal and what is not.  Pay attention and keep notes in a journal or calendar, so you can notice the patterns that arise.  How many days does each cycle last?  (We measure cycle length from Day One of bleeding to the next Day One of bleeding.)  Is it regular?  When do you ovulate?  Does it change each month?  What is the quality and quantity of your flow?  How much pain do you experience?  Do any other symptoms arise at the same time each cycle?

Journal by Rory MacLeodRemember that pain and emotional distress are common menstrual symptoms but are not normal; they do not have to be tolerated.

While your symptoms might not be accompanied by a diagnosable condition (such as fibroids, ovarian cysts, or endometriosis), they still indicate there are imbalances under the surface.

Chinese medicine pays close attention to all signs and symptoms and employs acupuncture and herbs to treat the underlying condition accordingly.  Whether the body needs to be warmed up, blood needs to be moved, or the mind needs to be calmed, these can be simple adjustments with acupuncture treatments, herbal prescriptions, and diet/lifestyle adjustments.

In Western medicine, however, oral contraceptive pills seem to be the tool of choice for most menstrual disorders, despite the fact that the synthetic hormones do not usually correct any underlying problems.  Many symptoms that are mild or considered “within normal limits” are ignored completely.

3. Stay Healthy

Physical Health by Military HealthAgain, a healthy body is a fertile body.

PMS, irregular menstruation, painful periods, or periods with heavy bleeding are signs that something is out of balance.  Pay attention to them.

Do all you can to stay in general health and your reproductive health will follow.  That means eat well, avoid stress and toxins, get plenty of sleep, and exercise regularly.  There are many foods and herbs you can take to improve specific conditions; a Licensed Acupuncturist can help direct you towards what works best for you.

(Post by Jacqueline Gabardy, L.Ac, of FLOAT: Chinese Medical Arts; photo credits: Moxa by Dave Clark Photography, Taking Charge of Your Fertility from tcoyf.com, Journal by Rory MacLeod, Physical Activity by Military Health)

Summer & Fall Free Lecture Series

We are pleased to announce the kick-off of the FLOAT: Chinese Medical Arts Summer & Fall Free Lecture Series with the following event:

WHEN:

Saturday August 11, 10-11:30AM

My baby is here. Why am I not happy?

Dr. Aimee Wheeler, PsyD

Founder, Parenting Discovery Center

Dr. Wheeler will speak about the postpartum period and share valuable and useful tools for understanding this much-misunderstood phase of the childbearing cycle.  All are welcome to attend this free event: new moms, seasoned moms, pregnant women and their partners, birth professionals, grandparents and caregivers.  Please share widely with your networks and feel free to bring a guest!

THE TALK:

Many parents experience a wide range of emotions after the birth of a child.  Some of us are elated, some have mixed feelings and others can’t seem to shake a nagging sense of anxiety, sadness or dread.  Maybe you aren’t even aware of having any feelings of sadness or anxiety but are having a hard time sleeping or are feeling compulsive about certain things.  It can go by many names.  The baby blues, post-partum depression, post-partum anxiety.  For some women it is a result of a hormonal imbalance after birth and can be treated with medication and/or holistic approaches (such as herbs, homeopathics, acupuncture, meditation, etc).  For some it is the beginning of an emotional grief cycle or access to unresolved trauma that if left unattended can further bury the parts of them that are ready to be examined and healed.  Come and learn more about how to take the first steps on this journey of exploration and healing!  Snacks will be provided.

WHERE:

FLOAT: Chinese Medical Arts

610 N. Central Avenue, Suite 109 (@Doran)

Glendale, CA 91203

FREE PARKING

http://www.floatchinesemedicalarts.com/

WHO:

Dr. Aimee Wheeler is passionate about helping parents strengthen their bonds with their children and develop greater understanding of the ways in which their personal histories impact the relationships they forge.  As the mother of two young children, Aimee utilizes her personal experience and education to approach her work with compassion and understanding.  Aimee received her undergraduate degree from the University of Southern California and her Doctorate in Psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology.  She is the founder of Parenting Discovery Center ( http://www.parentingdiscoverycenter.com).  The Parenting Discovery Center works with individuals, families, caregivers and groups of parents to enhance their self understanding and build healthy and resilient relationships.

We hope to see you on Saturday, August 11 from 10-11:30 am!  Space is limited.  PLEASE RSVP to abigail@floatchinesemedicalarts.com or 818-392-8797.

Other Upcoming Free Lectures at FLOAT: Chinese Medical Arts – please Save the Date!

Sat 9/15/12, 10am-12pm: Having a VBAC: A Holistic Approach to Preparing for a VBAC – Workshop with Abigail Morgan, L.Ac., featuring several VBAC moms sharing their stories

Sat 10/13/12, 10-11:30am: Why your Baby Doesn’t Want a Perfect Mommy – Lecture w/ Aimee Wheeler, PsyD

Again, PLEASE RSVP to abigail@floatchinesemedicalarts.com or 818-392-8797.

See you soon!

How Does Acupuncture Help Fertility?

Perhaps you’ve noticed an increase in the number of baby shower invites you’ve received lately.   You’re having trouble jogging around the reservoir without bumping into double strollers.  And friends who were on the Career Track have made the shift to the Baby Track.  It’s no secret there’s a baby boom going on in the United States – and it seems to be magnified in our major cities.

A recent Los Angeles Magazine article by Monica Corcoran Harel subtitled “One Woman’s Window Into L.A’s Booming Fertility Industry” profiles Ms. Harel’s journey to conceive – the happy ending (spoiler alert!) involves Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine.  Harel’s piece cites, “the number of women over 40 in California giving birth increased by 300 percent in the 1990s.”

When I started specializing in Women’s Health and the Childbearing Cycle, I knew I’d be getting referrals from existing patients, obstetricians, midwives and doulas, but I never expected to get patients sent directly to me by their Reproductive Endocrinologists (fertility doctors).  When you help a woman who’s been trying to conceive for 4 years finally get pregnant, they don’t hesitate to tell all their friends (and doctors).

I treat many women over 40 who are using various forms of ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology), but I also treat a lot of women (and some men) who have been diagnosed with “unexplained infertility”  – in other words, “you still have plenty of eggs and your hormone levels are normal (even over 40), so we don’t know why you’re not getting pregnant.”  This is one area where Oriental Medicine really shines.

But how, exactly, can needles and herbs help you get – and stay – pregnant?  Let me explain the basics.

Acupuncture is one technique of Traditional Oriental Medicine.  It involves the insertion of sterile, stainless steel needles at specific points on the channels through which Qi (or energy) flows.  Stimulating these points helps restore the normal flow of Qi in the body so the internal organs and body systems can work together in harmony.  Restoring Qi flow helps to regulate the female hormones, can lower FSH levels, and break up masses (such as cysts, polyps or fibroids).  Acupuncture does this without any drugs or side effects.

In Oriental Medicine, herbal formulas are used to facilitate the body’s own restorative processes.  Acupuncturists in California are highly trained in the science of herbal medicine and a pharmacopeia that consists of about 500 Chinese herbs.  Chinese herbal formulas contain combinations of roots, seeds, grains, flowers, berries, fruit, bark, leaves, stems, shells, nuts, resin, or seaweed.  The goal of Chinese herbal medicine is to treat the root of a problem, rather than simply medicating its symptoms.  In so doing, the patient’s body is stimulated to heal itself.

  • Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine nourish and moves the blood; increasing blood flow to the uterus can enhance implantation of an embryo in the endometrium (uterine lining).
  • Acupuncture helps reduce stress – and if you’ve ever struggled to get pregnant or know someone who has, you know how stressful it can be.
  • Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine help improve egg quality (this takes at least 90 days), which is important for women of “advanced maternal age” (35 and over).  We’re born with all the eggs we’ll ever have, and unfortunately, these eggs don’t get any younger.
  • Acupuncture, herbal medicine, good nutrition and moxibustion are excellent for helping women enhance their fertility in the months leading up to a couples’ attempt to get pregnant – whether there are known fertility problems or not.
  • Acupuncture helps IVF (in vitro fertilization) work better.  A well-known study showed that “clinical pregnancies were documented in 34 of 80 patients (42.5%) in the acupuncture group, whereas pregnancy rate was only 26.3% (21 out of 80 patients) in the control group.”  (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11937123)
  • Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine help reduce the nasty side effects of the fertility drugs that are sometimes necessary to help women get pregnant, especially the cocktail of drugs used with IVF.

Sometimes, in the desire to get pregnant and have a baby, it’s easy to lose track of oneself.  I often see women becoming hyper-focused on those lines on the pee sticks, the fertile signs, and the image of a baby, baby, baby.  It’s easy to lose track of the fact that as childbearing women, we are our child’s house: everything we put into our bodies, the state of our emotional, physical and mental health affects not only our ability to conceive but also the way we grow the child inside us.  The beauty of Traditional Chinese Medicine is that it takes the whole person into consideration; we do not only treat the disease or problem (i.e. infertility, endometriosis, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), we treat the person’s whole ecosystem.

Learn more about using Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine to boost fertility here.

(Post by Abigail Morgan, L.Ac, of FLOAT: Chinese Medical Arts.)

What is Menopausal Disorder and How Can Acupuncture & Traditional Chinese Medicine help?

Menopause is a natural, physiological event that occurs in every woman between the ages of 45 and 55.  (Early Menopause can occur much younger in some women, but this is not normal.) Menopause is a gradual process by which a woman’s ovaries stop producing eggs, her body produces less female hormones, and her menstrual cycles become less frequent and more erratic, eventually stopping altogether.  A woman is considered to have reached menopause (as opposed to still being “perimenopausal”) when she has had no menstrual period for 12 months.

Hot flashes occur in more than two-thirds of menopausal American women, and other common symptoms during “The Change” include anxiety, insomnia, irritability, low libido, dryness, and weight gain (especially around the middle of the body).  Menopausal symptoms (or Menopausal Disorder) may last as long as five years.

Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine, combined with nutritional changes and exercise, can reduce and even eliminate the symptoms of Menopausal Disorder, and are a safe, non-drug alternative to Hormone Replacement Therapy and Bioidentical Hormone Therapy.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the body’s 12 major organ systems have a balance of yin and yang energies.  The three main (yin) organs associated with the female reproductive system are the Kidney, Liver and Spleen.  The Heart (also yin) is also involved with reproduction and blood flow.  Typically, estrogen is viewed as a Yin hormone and progesterone is viewed as a Yang hormone.

During perimenopause, as a woman’s reproductive organs are in the process of going to sleep, the balance of yin and yang energies shifts.  This shift can wreak havoc on the emotions and our temperature regulation centers.  Emotional lability, unpredictable temperature shifts (daytime and nighttime hot flashes, sweating), and fatigue and/or insomnia result from the declining Yin and Yang energies of the Kidney system, which in turn throws off the balance of the Liver, Spleen and Heart systems.  When the latter are insufficient, the system that governs the flow of hormones is out of whack, leading a menopausal woman to feel like she’s “going crazy” or “losing her mind.”  (Phrases I often hear my menopausal patients utter!)

Traditional Chinese Medicine helps reduce hot flashes, insomnia and the emotional ups-and-downs of menopause by helping to regulate the balance of Yin and Yang in the key organ systems involved with female reproduction.  Rather than giving you a pill to help your body make more or less estrogen, an acupuncturist/herbalist will use needles and Chinese herbs to help your body regulate itself.

In my practice, it can take anywhere from 4 weeks to 6 months of regular treatment for a woman’s symptoms to improve.  She may continue experiencing some normal, physiological symptoms associated with menopause (such as the occasional hot flash), but they will typically no longer be something she finds highly inconvenient and disruptive.  Traditional Chinese Medicine is not an exact science, and everyone responds differently to acupuncture and herbs; remember, we are treating the whole person, not just her symptoms or disorder.

Good nutrition during “The Change” is key.  I’ve found that encouraging a patient to keep track of everything she eats and drinks for a week, then take a good hard look at her food journal with me can help identify foods she should avoid and foods she should eat more of.   Soy is often touted as a miracle food for menopausal women, but because it is a phytoestrogen (plant-based estrogen) and it is very “cold and damp” in nature, it makes most perimenopausal women feel tired, sluggish and fat.  Eliminating soy, as well as sugar, white flour and processed foods, can dramatically improve menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, moodiness and fatigue.

Don’t wait until you have been suffering for a year or more – consult an acupuncturist/herbalist as soon as you notice your menstrual cycles changing.

If you are interested in learning more about how Traditional Chinese Medicine can help with the symptoms of menopause, please check out our website: http://www.floatchinesemedicalarts.com and join our mailing list by sending an email to: Abigail@floatchinesemedicalarts.com.