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  • Anna’s News: Traditional Chinese Medicine Increases Breast Milk Supply

    by Anna Pyne, LAc, MSOM, FABORM

    Acupuncture and herbs are the main treatment modalities in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). I have helped treat a myriad of postpartum women struggling with insufficient breast milk using both therapies. It is important to establish a good supply at the very beginning so that it is easier to maintain it. That is not to say however that TCM is not an effective treatment at a later date.

    There is one particular acupuncture point that has the single function of enhancing breast milk. This is quite unusual as typically each point is useful for treating a multitude of different issues. Needling this point is the most potent way of stimulating it. The location is on the outer corner of the nailbed on the pinky finger. It is typically tolerated by most patients quite easily, however for those few that are a bit needle sensitive I have placed a small gold pellet that sticks to the point which does not penetrate the skin. Doing this makes it portable as well, meaning the patient can walk out of the office and continue the treatment outside of the acupuncture session every time the patient presses the gold pellet. Of course there are many other points that help enhance breast milk supply and when a number of these appropriate points are used together with this especially specific one, it greatly impacts breast milk supplementation. Patients have reported starting to feel engorged while lying on the table with the needles placed during treatment. I have also heard feedback (and personally experienced) that more milk is produced at the next pumping session.

    There are a number of wonderful single herbs as well as formulas that benefit the breast and support breast milk supply. I typically use herbs with acupuncture when treating this problem for optimal treatment results, but have seen great benefits with using herbs alone without acupuncture, and vice versa. I also teach a class at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) on traditional Chinese herbs for postpartum care, which includes the topic of breast milk insufficiency.

    If you have any questions or to learn more please email me at or any of our other acupuncturists.

    Call our office to schedule an appointment (312)321-0004.

    Anna Pyne LAc MSOM FABORM

  • Beyond Fish Oil: Fertility Benefits of Ghee

    by Beth Heller

    Ghee is a form of clarified butter used in Indian cooking. Butter is slow cooked until all of the water has evaporated and then the milk solids are skimmed off, leaving rich oil (ghee) that is solid at room temperature. Ghee does not require refrigeration and adds a deep, nutty flavor to foods. It has also been used as the base for traditional medicines for thousands of years. In the Ayurvedic system of medicine ghee is classified as a “sattvic” foods – a food that is fresh, light and provides the body necessary energy as well as promotes the expansion of consciousness.

    Since a fertility-friendly diet contains ample calories from healthy fat we are always looking for new and delicious sources of this beneficial macronutrient. Now science is getting on board with ghee and new evidence suggests additional benefits unique to this delicious fat:

    1. Ghee is rich in medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), fats that go directly to the liver and can be used for energy. MCTs can provide immediate fuel in the without raising blood sugar levels the way that simple carbs do.
    2. Unlike many other oils ghee contains butyric acid, a fatty acid that the healthy bacteria in our gut can easily turn in to energy. By keeping our gut healthy we improve our body’s ability to digest and assimilate nutrients from food as well as efficiently eliminate waste.
    3. Ghee is thought to stimulate the production of gastric acid, which promotes digestion. In Ayurvedic medicine it is said that ghee feeds agni, the digestive fire. The stress, anxiety and uncertainty of infertility can dampen agni.
    4. Ghee made from the milk of grass fed cows is a good source of Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), a form of fatty acid which may have antioxidant and cancer-preventive benefits.
    5. Most individuals with dairy sensitivity or milk allergies can use ghee because the allergens in ghee have been removed with the milk solids.
    6. Sauteeing herbs and spices in ghee helps release the therapeutic substances found in those foods. The ghee becomes infused with them and speeds the digestion and absorption of these substances into the body.

    Ghee can be purchased or you can ensure purity by making your own. We hope you will give it a try!

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  • Yoga Practice Raises Levels of DHEA in Women

    by Beth Heller

    If you are trying to conceive here’s one more reason to take off your shoes, put on some comfy pants and hop on your yoga mat! A recent study conducted in India found a 50% increase in the DHEAS levels in women who participated in a 12-week yoga program that included breathing, yoga postures and meditation practices. (1)

    DHEAS (dihydroepiandosterone sulfate) is the precursor of the active form of the steroid hormone DHEA and is produced by our body’s adrenal glands. DHEAS levels peak around the age of 25 and then decrease naturally with age. Because DHEAS plays an important role in the formation of reproductive hormones, declining levels of this hormone are believed to play a role in the age-related decline in fertility.

    In fact, many fertility specialists currently recommend that patients who are presenting with ovarian failure or who are not responding to fertility medications consider taking a nutritional supplement containing DHEA. While supplementation is a useful approach, many women report side effects from DHEA supplementation including mood swings and acne.

    How is yoga impacting DHEAS levels? Researchers are not yet sure. Yoga, through breathing and the use of physical postures, stimulates the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The ANS is the “rest, nest and digest” hormonal response that serves to balance the often over-active flight or flight stress response. Yogic exercise has also been shown to increase blood flow to internal organs and tissues. Better blood flow could result in healthier endocrine tissue and function.

    Want to learn more about Yoga for Fertility? Join us for our Fertility Yoga 101-Mini Retreats!

    Fertility Yoga 101-Chicago

    Fertility Yoga 101-Rockville

    (1) Chatterjee S et al. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Volume 2014, Article ID 240581, 15 pages