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  • An Ounce of Prevention: Seasonal Allergies

    As the seasons change, seasonal allergies can impact the way many people live their lives.  Some might say, restrict their lives.  Symptoms are commonly treated with medications such as antihistamines, steroid inhalers, and over the counter decongestant sprays. While these medications may temporarily relieve the symptoms of seasonal allergic rhinitis (AR), they do come with several side effects including sedation, dizziness, fatigue, insomnia, nervousness, and gastro-intestinal disturbances.

    Many patients are turning to complementary medical treatments such as acupuncture to relieve these symptoms of seasonal AR.  Acupuncture, dates back over 2000 years, and is a holistic form of medical treatment that looks at the entire constitution to determine the underlying imbalances within the body. By identifying these imbalances, acupuncturists are able to simultaneously treat the root cause of the problem as well as alleviate the symptoms.

    Symptoms of seasonal AR have been treated with acupuncture, herbal medicine, and self care exercise for centuries in China. Clinical trials have shown that acupuncture and herbal medicine are an effective and safe treatment option for patients with seasonal AR.

    In the treatment of seasonal AR, the best time to receive acupuncture is one month prior to the usual time of the seasonal allergy attack. Ideally, seeking acupuncture treatment before the start of the symptoms. However, if the symptoms have already begun, treatment(s) will bring symptomatic relief and will support the immune system, thereby preventing future allergy attacks.

    Lisa Seaman, L.Ac, FABORM

  • Focusing on One’s Well Being: Putting a Stop to the Mothering

    Often times when facing the fertility journey a women may feel challenged emotionally, physically and spiritually. As women, we may often take care of others before we care for our own health and well being.  It is important to take steps to be proactive in caring for yourself during your fertility journey.  Ask yourself this question, how many people in your life are you mothering? Does it benefit you? Do they really need you to mother them or is it easier to mother than to say ‘No’?

    With all the energy spent mothering others what is left for you?  What if you took a step back, shifted gears and mothered yourself for a while? What would that feel like? Ask yourself how would it change your life, your time, your energy, your attitude and your body if it were all about your health and well being.

    There are many ways to take steps to be proactive and care for your health and well being.

    • Listening to your body when it needs more sleep.
    • When your body needs healthy fruits and veggies for energy instead of one’s favorite candy bar.
    • Staying hydrated with water.
    •  Writing in a journal to clear one’s mind.
    •  Taking time to feel the inhale and exhale of our breath.
    •  Going for a walk or doing yoga when one is feeling stressed, to clear the energy stirring in the body.
    •  Reading positive affirmations.
    • Practicing non-judgment for yourself.

    The list can go on… What would you add?

    One way that “Pulling Down the Moon” can help you care for your Body, Mind and Spirit is with our “FEM Protocol Massage” package.  The Package offers four massages that focus on YOU and honor your fertility journey.  They are to be received once a week to follow along with your natural or medicated cycle.  This is the time for you to be proactive and care for yourself.  So, let go of your day, let go of your responsibilities, Breath and RECEIVE.

    Dawn Butler, LMT

  • Nutrition and Supplements to Support Egg Quality Workshop Wednesday 4/24

    Nutrition & Suppliments for Rgg Quality


    We are excited to bring together Pulling Down the Moon Nutritionist Margaret Wertheim and Dr. Jennifer Hirshfeld-Cytron RE from Fertility Centers of Illinois for this informative workshop examining the research on how nutritional choices may be able to support egg quality.   Click here to register!  

  • First Line Therapy for Fertility and Supplements for Egg Quality

    First Line Therapy for Fertility and Supplements for Egg Quality: A Case Study

    I’m so happy to share this inspiring story from one of my clients. Let’s call her *Tanya. (*Name has been change to protect privacy.) When Tanya came to Pulling Down the Moon about 6 months ago, she had a history of 2 unsuccessful IVF cycles and had gained weight during those cycles. She wanted to lose the weight and maximize her chances of having a successful IVF cycle. Tanya decided to do the FirstLine Therapy for Fertility (FLTF) program, which is a modified Mediterranean style eating plan designed to improve fertility through weight loss. There are several ways that being overweight may adversely affect fertility and pregnancy. Check out my video to learn more.   One of the ways that being overweight may make pregnancy more difficult is that insulin resistance may interfere with factors that promote implantation. Another reason for unsuccessful IVF cycles is poor embryo quality, which can be a result of issues with egg and/or sperm quality.

    Here are 3 ways that FLTF may help to support your fertility:

    1. FLTF directly addresses insulin resistance as it is a low glycemic index diet that aims to keep blood sugar levels steady and lower insulin levels to promote weight loss.
    2. FLTF is also a modified Mediterranean dietary eating plan, and in the research, following a Mediterranean style diet has been associated with better IVF success rates.
    3. Theoretically, FLTF should help decrease free radicals, since it’s loaded with fruits and vegetables that are all rich in antioxidants. Free radical damage may contribute to decline in egg quality. FLTF also includes healthy fats, which are important in maintaining healthy cell membranes to support fertilization.

    Back to Tanya. Prior to starting FLTF, Tanya was focusing on low calorie and low fat foods and had followed Weight Watchers in an effort to lose weight. It didn’t seem to be working, and she wasn’t providing her body with the nourishing foods and protein that her body needed. In the first 2 months, Tanya lost 10lbs (which was about 5% of her body weight) and went on to lose another 5lbs in the subsequent months leading up to her IVF cycle. In addition to the changes to her diet, Tanya also took the following supplements, which research indicates may help to improve embryo quality: Fish oil (EPA/DHA), DHEA, CoQ10, and L-arginine.

    I’m happy to say that Tanya did her 3rd IVF cycle (1st cycle since starting FLTF) and is now pregnant with twins! She reported that when she went in for her embryo transfer, the embryologist came in and told her that she had excellent quality embryos and to confirm she really wanted to transfer both of them. (The excellent quality of the embryos would increase the likelihood of twins)! Tanya decided to have both embryos transferred, and I’m happy to say she is now 11 weeks pregnant with twins.

    Looking to learn more about diet and supplements to improve egg quality? Sign-up for my workshop entitled Nutrition and Supplements to Support Egg Quality on Wednesday, April 24th at 6pm. Follow this link to sign-up. The cost is $25, and you’ll receive 10% off supplements purchased at the time of the class as an added bonus!

    By Margaret Wertheim, MS, RD

  • Nutritional Spring Cleaning!

    Spring Cleaning is like a cleanse for your house, right? It’s a good time to take inventory of things you might need and what you have too much of – especially in the kitchen! Making sure what you have in your cupboards is not only minimally processed and nutritious but also being utilized. Many nutritionists recommend shopping the perimiter of a grocery store – well here are a few exceptions for foods to stock your pantry:

    Dried Beans – Either dried or canned beans (make sure they are BPA free like Eden brand) are great to have on hand to throw in soups, salads or to make an entrée. Try keeping garbanzo beans, black beans, navy beans, and kidney beans on hand. Lentils are great to also keep in stock as they cook really quickly and are easy to make a meal in a pinch.

    Dried grains – Whole grains are super easy to weave into any sort of meal. Favorites are quinoa, brown rice, farro, oats (old fashioned and steel cut) and farro. You can store them in mason jars for an easy organized look.

    Herbs and spices – Many people don’t know that herbs and spices actually lose their potency (and then antioxidant quotient) over time. It’s best to keep smaller quantities on hand and replenish every year or so.

    Oils – Some oils can be stored outside of the refrigerator. The best ones are olive oil and coconut oil.

    Non-dairy Milks – are easy to store outside of the refrigerator (until opening, of course). Make sure to stock up on your favorite unsweetened variety-almond, rice, hemp or hazelnut milk.

    Nuts & Seeds – while these can become rancid quickly, it’s best to just have a few on hand at a time and to keep them in closed jars. Raw and unsalted pine nuts, almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and cashews are some of the most nutritionally rich!

    Minimally processed sweeteners – try brown rice syrup, honey, agave or maple syrup.

    Nutritional powerhouse extras – Seaweed (arame for soups or salads, nori for snacking or making sushi rolls), canned tomatoes, canned pumpkin, canned tuna fish, canned salmon, and canned sardines are all nutritionally rich and easy to store!

    Breea Johnson, MS, RD, LDN

  • Prenatal Massage: Benefits for You and Baby

    We are fortunate to have significant research to show the benefits of prenatal massage. The short message is that it eases many discomforts of pregnancy, and, when received regularly during pregnancy, it increases the likelihood of shorter less painful labor, and healthier babies. What’s not to love?

    There are multiple research studies showing that prenatal massage imparts relaxation and reduces stress. They also show that it reduces anxiety and symptoms of depression. Studies show prenatal massage yields higher dopamine and serotonin levels and lower levels of cortisol and norepinephrine. Sleep becomes better and the immune system is strengthened.

    Carrying a baby (or babies) places unusual strains on muscles, tendons, and ligaments, which massage can ease. Bodywork helps your changing body adjust so that the changes are integrated into your structure more readily. Even sciatic pain and sacro-iliac (SI) joint dysfunction, often thought to be a normal part of pregnancy, are ameliorated or removed altogether. The same goes for shoulder and upper back strain.

    And the benefits don’t stop there. Studies show that women who have received regular prenatal massage have greater a chance of reduced pain perception during labor and delivery. They tend to have shorter labors. Their babies tend to be healthier, as measured by higher Apgar and Brazelton Neonatal Behavioral Assessment scores. There is less likelihood of premature birth.

    And, we are still not through. After delivery, it has been shown that these mothers have an enhanced ability to touch their own babies lovingly. There is evidence that when a woman is depressed during pregnancy, massage can help reduce depression by the time her baby is born, and that she is more likely to have reduced depression and cortisol levels postpartum.

    How often should an expectant mom receive massage to gain the most benefit? The research does not answer that question, yet. My suggestion is to receive a session at least once a month. The gold standard, however is to receive one session in your fourth and fifth months, two sessions in your sixth and seventh months, three sessions in your eighth month, and four sessions in your ninth month. What about that first trimester? We usually do not offer full body massage during the first trimester, but do offer 30-minute Unwind and De-stress sessions that work with the neck, hands and feet.

    With each session, your body is practicing more with deeper relaxation, and strain patterns are lessened or erased. There is a cumulative effect as each session builds on the last one. Actually, this is true for bodywork sessions received at any time of life, however, during pregnancy, the effects of this relaxation and ease are far-reaching, both for her and her baby or babies.

    Happier and more comfortable pregnancy, shorter less-painful labor, healthier babies – what more could you ask for? Be sure you get a massage from someone trained and certified in prenatal massage. It makes a difference when your therapist understands pregnancy.

    Robbin Phelps, MSW, Certified Trager® Approach Practitioner, Licensed Massage Therapist, Reiki Master