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  • 4 Ways Oriental Medicine Can Improve Your Chances of Getting Pregnant

    By Stephanie Marynus LAc

    Oriental Medicine (OM) is one of the oldest medicines in use today. The main goal is to restore and maintain balance in the body. This is why it is effective with fertility. OM aligns the body to give it the power to create an environment that is inviting for an embryo to fertilize, implant and develop.

    Studies have shown that OM can help improve fertility and reproductive health in several ways. It can balance the endocrine system to regulate the hormones that stimulate ovulation in women with amenorrhea (no periods) and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). OM regulates blood flow to manage endometriosis pain and thicken uterine linings that are too thin for conception. Treatments regulate menstrual cycles for women whose cycles are too long or short and give relief to premenstrual symptoms. Mental and physical stress are known to negatively affect fertility. OM can reduce stress and its associated symptoms such as headaches, neck pain, insomnia, and so on.

    How are these improvements accomplished with OM?

    1. Acupuncture

    It is advisable to begin acupuncture with a licensed practitioner three months before attempting to get pregnant. We can use these three months to ensure your hormones are functioning properly and find when you’re ovulating so you can accurately time intercourse. In my practice, I see women once weekly until she gets a positive pregnancy test and continue once per week for the first trimester to reduce the risk of miscarriage. Acupuncture can support trying to conceive naturally, women going through IUI cycles, and during IVF cycles.  And the amazing thing is you don’t have to wait for a certain time in your cycle to get started and it is great for men’s health as well!

    1. Herbal Therapy

    Herbal formulas are a specific combination of plant and mineral compounds. When combined the formula produces similar effects as acupuncture. This is something an OM practitioner would prescribe for you to do at home. It comes in the form of a pill or a tea. In doing this, the herbs will enhance the effects of the acupuncture so you respond quicker. 

    1. Warm Your Belly

    The lower abdomen stores the energy battery or “fire” in OM. Some cases of infertility can be from “cold” in the uterus. Gently warming your abdomen during the time after your period until ovulation could help. In my office we use “moxibustion” to accomplish this. It is made from Mugwort whose properties allow it to penetrate deeper and move blood more effectively in the lower abdomen as opposed to conventional heat methods such as a heating pad. You can also try Fertility Enhancing Massage as an add-on to your acupuncture treatment!

    1. OM Diet

    Certain foods help nourish the body during the different phases of your menstrual cycle.

    Foods that nourish from menstruation until ovulation include fruits like raspberries, pineapples and grapes; vegetables like asparagus and beans; adequate proteins, especially fish; and organ meats such as kidneys, brains and hearts. Also, avoid spicy, pungent foods. 

    Foods that nourish after ovulation until the start of menstruation include warming foods like ginger, ginger tea, beans; grains, and vegetables like mustard greens, winter squash, cabbage and kale. Avoid cold foods and drinks like ice water or ice cream. Talk to your acupuncturist about this during your consultation.  You may also benefit from further exploring nutritional and supplementation supports with a registered dietitian on the team as well.

    Stephanie Marynus supports patients at our Chicago office on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 7:30am-3:30pm and virtually via TeleTCM on Thursdays from 7:30am-12:15pm. She would love to support your journey!  Learn more by calling our center at: 312-321-0004 Monday through Saturday!

    Stephanie is a licensed Acupuncturist and board certified Chinese Herbalist. Driven by the energetics of natural healing, she graduated with a Master of Science in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine from National University of Health Sciences. As a practitioner, her focus is with fertility, gynecological conditions, and psycho-emotional concerns. Stephanie takes into account the mind, body, and spirit to address her patient as a whole and refine their concern to the underlying cause. She creates personalized treatments that include a combination of acupuncture, herbal medicine, manual therapy, and lifestyle modifications. In addition to her primary job functions, Stephanie has been recognized by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) for her extraordinary commitment to providing preventative, complementary, and alternative medical care. When not with her patients you can find Stephanie shooting imaginary Spiderman webs with her two nephews, cheering for the Cubs, or onto her next neighborhood exercise adventure.

  • Boost Your Immune System with Acupuncture

    By Christina Livas L.Ac.

    Most of us do not think about our immune system until we get sick even though a weak immune system is a major component of most chronic diseases.  A weak immune system can result in disorders such as frequent/lingering colds, allergies, asthma, chronic fatigue, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and many more.  How we feel every day is essentially an indicator of how our immune system is working. Acupuncture is a safe and natural way to stimulate, strengthen, and balance the immune system. Studies have shown that regular acupuncture treatments can increase the number of T cells the body produces. This is important because T cells destroy harmful bacteria and viruses in the body. The increased cellular response provided through acupuncture lasts for several days after the treatment. Over time this strengthens the immune system similarly to how lifting weights regularly will strengthen muscles. 

    While being proactive and strengthening your immune system to prevent your body from getting sick is important, it is also important to seek natural and safe ways to treat illness as well. Most over the counter and prescription medications we are given are used to suppress the immune system. While this method is useful for limiting symptoms and managing pain, it is one of the reasons people become dependent on the medication. Acupuncture is an effective alternative to those medications. Acupuncture regulates the immune function as well as treats the underlying causes of the disease. Acupuncture helps with reducing symptoms, speeding up healing, decreasing excess phlegm, and decreasing inflammation which results in a decrease in the amount of time you spend sick. It is important that we work on building our immune system up so our bodies are capable of fighting off anything nature throws at us.

    As many of you are at home right now, try these acupressure points to boost your immunity remotely! Studies have shown that a great acupuncture point for your immune system to use at home is Zu San Li (St36). You can apply acupressure to this point daily to help boost your immune system and the overall health of the body. This point is located 4 finger widths down from the bottom of your knee cap, along the outer boundary of your shin bone (see image below). For those of you having a lot of sinus issues, my absolute favorite point is He Gu (Li4). You can apply acupressure to this point to relieve any issues with the head and face including: congestion, head colds, allergies, headaches, fever, sinusitis, chronic pain, and many more. This point is located on the back of the hand between the thumb and index finger (see image below). 

    Want to learn more?  Schedule a virtual consult with your practitioner to discuss acupressure points for self-care, discuss if herbs may be a good fit for you at this time, and just chat with your trusted advisor to reduce stress while maintaining fertility wellness until we can treat you in person!  Call us at: 312-321-0004 to schedule or email: michelle@pullingdownthemoon.com today!

    Pictures are from “A Manual of Acupuncture” by Peter Deadman

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    References:

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4540978/

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24106314

     

     

  • Stay Cool While TTC

     

    Kelly Lyons, L.Ac., MSOM

    Summer is here, in Chicago! It is time to get out, play, and stay cool. While trying to conceive in the heat, there are a few things to remember, and they are not new ideas.

    • Cotton is queen! Organic cotton is even better, especially down there. For guys and girls, it is important to stay cool and non-toxic where it counts, so wear loose clothes made of organic materials.
    • Use peppermint essential oil in your diffusers at home, and look for cooling, non-toxic deodorants.  They are stronger than ever, and last much longer than cheaper versions.
    • Diet and fluids are vital. Keep your barbecues sensible. If you are charring meat, know that you are creating heat and inflammation. So add greens, add cucumber and watermelon, and add water to drink, even if it is in between alcoholic beverages. Alcohol creates heat, so if you imbibe, hydrate smart with coconut water, electrolyte water and lemon and cucumber water, and fresh fruit and watery vegetables.
    • Keep your distance at night. If you can, sometimes it’s relaxing to sleep alone and rendezvous with your partner in the middle of the night. Two bodies lying next to each other on a hot night creates a lot of heat.  Studies show that birth rates are lower 8-10 months after hot days. (https://wol.iza.org/uploads/articles/375/pdfs/does-hot-weather-affect-human-fertility.pdf?v=1) What is more important about this study is that the discomfort leading to a lack of intercourse was not the primary contributing factor to the lower birth rates. It was more likely a decline in reproductive health—lower sperm production in males, and potential embryonic development issues, once fertilization occurred, in females.
    • Play with air conditioning wisely! The environmental costs of air conditioning are pretty high. So use it, and use it wisely if you’re TTC. It’s a tough call, because do you keep your air on all day? It takes more energy to re-cool a warm room, than it does to lower the temp in an already cool room. You make the call, but air conditioning is going to help humans keep making babies as temperatures rise, and it will do it an environmental cost. Experiment to find the sweet spot with your energy use.
    • Find your local watering hole and enjoy it.  The closer you are to a body of water on a hot day, the cooler the temps will be. If you are on the water, you will stay cooler throughout the warmest part of the day. Don’t forget your sunscreen!
    • Iced Beverages—when hydrating, keep it simple. Filtered water in a stainless water bottle is your best friend. Add ice, lemon, cucumber, crushed mint leaves to it. To add variety to your fluids, ice some matcha green tea and add some mint.
    • Disconnect your devices, and keep them out of the bedroom, at night. It is not always easy to keep your phone off your person, but at night, definitely do it. It will serve you.  Keep your devices off your laps, in general, and especially out of your front pockets.
    • Emotions! In Chinese Medicine, all emotions eventually create qi stagnation and heat accumulation. How it does this is fascinating, and can help you manage your response to all of your emotions. Imagine an event or encounter stimulates an emotion in you. When we have the capacity to witness that emotion, it is easier to let go. But more often than not, because of the sheer volume of stimuli, we do not let go of every emotion we experience in a day. These emotions that linger, sometimes get stuck. That stuck emotional energy blocks free flow of other energy and the stagnation builds. When stuck energy builds in one channel or body area, it creates heat. I love to describe this in the terms of a party. Imagine this: You are having a party. Your house is all set. You are a little chilly in the living room so you’re wearing a sweater.  Joy arrives early. You two chat and then Sorrow arrives. They start catching and then Excited arrives. The party is starting to get lively. Anger and Anxious arrive together and the room is really filling up and WARMING UP. You take off your sweater. Sympathetic and Loving arrive and it is really starting to heat up. You hydrate, and go the other room to cool off and get some space. By the time Mopey and Kind show up, you don’t want to be in the living room anymore because you can barely move and it is so hot. This is how emotions build up and stagnate in the body, and lead to heat. So remember to manage your emotional life, so that things keep moving.
    • Come in and get acupuncture and herbs! There are many things we can do in the office to help you clear heat and cool down, so ask your acupuncturist if you have heat signs and if you should amp up your heat clearing at home.

    Things are getting hotter, and we want you to enjoy it!

     

     

  • Acupuncture & Herbs for Prenatal Care

    by Anna Pyne, L.Ac., MSOM, FABORM

    Acupuncture and herbs can help mitigate or completely resolve many signs and symptoms associated with pregnancy during all trimesters. I have treated numerous patients for nausea, vomiting, headaches, any type of pain, skin problems, lung issues, depression, anxiety, miscarriage prevention, placenta previa, swelling, labor preparation, hemorrhoids, and constipation. The frequency and duration of acupuncture treatments will vary depending upon which ailment we are focused on and its severity. Another wonderful attribute to acupuncture therapy is you know that it is a safe and natural treatment. It can be used alone or in combination with a medication to help reduce the frequency and intensity of the problem. Current research supports acupuncture’s efficacy with helping treat depression*, nausea and vomiting**, and labor preparation*** to name a few. I do recommend herbs as needed, in conjunction with acupuncture when necessary. Both acupuncture and herbs can be used together or separately, as each is its own stand alone therapy.

    For current patients, please feel free to contact Anna or your practitioner via email with any questions you may have regarding treatment during pregnancy.

    For new patients, to make an appointment for acupuncture please call the office at (312)321-0004 or click this link to book now with Mind Body Online at your convenience. Please make sure to complete your intake form online prior to your appointment here .

    Acupuncture for Depression: * https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20177281

    Acupuncture for Nausea and Vomiting: ** https://www.uptodate.com/contents/nausea-and-vomiting-of-pregnancy-beyond-the-basics/abstract/2?utdPopup=true

    Acupuncture for Labor Preparation: *** https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9692336