Question : When I came to Pulling Down the Moon my acupuncturist recommended acupuncture and herbs to treat blood and qi deficiency. When I went to my RE’s office they ran a Doppler test on my uterine arteries and said my blood flow is fine. Do I even need acupuncture?
Answer : This is one of those great questions that help us illustrate the difference in approach between Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Western medicine.
Blood, called “xue” in TCM is in some ways the same as blood in Western Medicine. In both systems blood is the red fluid in our veins and arteries. However, TCM takes the function of blood further to include the nourishment it provides to the body. Blood in TCM is what keeps our skin and hair moistened and it is imperative for optimal fertility because it nourishes the uterine lining, creating a thick plush surface where the embryo can attach. When a pregnancy occurs the embryo also receives its nourishment from blood aiding its growth and development into a fetus.
Women lose blood each month during their menses and TCM states that if the body is deficient and unable to replenish and nourish the body adequately women may experience things like amenorrhea, scanty menses, a thin uterine lining, or recurrent miscarriage. Conditions including physical and emotional stress, poor diet and lack of sleep are all things TCM teaches deplete blood. It is also possible for a woman (or man) to have blood stagnation or stasis which can manifest as painful periods (cramps); heat in the blood may cause rashes or red acne on the skin.
So, for your TCM practitioner, a Doppler test showing adequate uterine blood flow is just part of the equation. The quality of the blood is the rest of the story. Remember, from the TCM perspective blood nourishes all body tissues, including uterine lining, developing eggs and sperm. Put another way, if you are trying to grow grapes you could fill a garden bed with sand instead of soil and still provide a thick layer of dirt for your seeds. The sand, though, would not have the necessary nutrition to nourish the crops into ripe, juicy grapes. This is why your practitioner would still recommend acupuncture and herbal treatment to a woman presenting with blood deficiency EVEN IF she had great uterine blood flow and a good uterine lining. It’s the old adage of quality not just quantity.
Blood deficiency in TCM responds well with acupuncture, herbs and a diet higher in protein and iron. If you are experiencing any of the fertility blood deficiency symptoms listed above (scanty menses, amenorrhea, thin uterine lining, and recurrent miscarriage) or other non-gynecological symptoms (dry skin, dry hair, brittle nails, dry eyes) you might want to explore acupuncture with an experienced practitioner to support your medical fertility treatment.