Nutrients for Thyroid Support
By Margaret Eich, MS, RDN
Did you know there a number of nutrients required for your thyroid to function properly? At Pulling Down the Moon, we’re interested in helping you ensure your thyroid is functioning optimally, because thyroid health is integral to fertility. Here are some of the key nutrients to focus on to support thyroid health:
Iodine is an essential mineral for thyroid hormone production, and 30% of women of childbearing age are iodine deficient. A recent study also noted that women with sub-optimal iodine levels had reduced fertility. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends women who are pregnant take a prenatal vitamin with 150 mcg iodine. To learn more about the impact of iodine on fertility, read this post . Food sources of iodine include seafood, seaweed, meat, eggs, dairy, grains, and iodized salt.
Selenium is another essential mineral required for the conversion of T4 to T3. T3 is the active form of thyroid hormone. In addition, a few studies have shown that supplementation with selenium reduced the levels of antibodies in people with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune cause of hypothyroidism. Food sources of selenium include Brazil nuts, meat, and seafood.
Iron is also essential for thyroid hormone production. Iron requirements for women of childbearing age are quite high at 18 mg and even higher at 27 mg during pregnancy. Given iron needs are so high, it’s not that difficult for iron stores to become depleted, especially if you are a vegetarian or vegan, because iron isn’t as well-absorbed from plant sources as from animal sources. In addition, heavy periods can make it more likely that your iron stores become depleted. Food sources of iron include meat, poultry, fish, legumes, leafy greens, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
It can be difficult to make sure you’re getting enough of these nutrients on a daily basis, thus it’s important to take a prenatal vitamin while trying to conceive and during pregnanct that covers your bases. The Pulling Down the Moon prenatal vitamins ( Supplement Pack while trying to conceive and the Prenatal Pack once pregnant) contain 175 mcg iodine, 200 mcg selenium, and 30 mg of iron to help support your thyroid along with a healthy diet.
Looking for more ways to support your thyroid with nutrition? Make a nutrition appointment today!
By Melissa Hinshaw
Living in the present is no easy task, especially when what we want so badly is in the future. Whether it’s having a baby, buying a house, losing ten pounds, or landing a new job it often feels like life is in front us. It lies in the future. On the same token, we miss the present when we ponder and beat ourselves up for decisions or mistakes we have made in the past. How much time do you spend replaying a decision with, “I should have, why did I, I can’t believe I…” So what does that say about today, the now, the present moment? The present and who we are in the moment are lost.
What does it mean to live in the present moment and why is it important? To live in the present moment your awareness is centered on the here and now. There is no worrying about what comes in the future or obsessing over the past. You are living as life is happening around you and in you. Being present or mindful has many benefits that you may not know about. Being mindful can make a relationship more meaningful and intimate. When you are truly listening to someone (being truly present while they speak), not thinking of what you’ll say or do next or why you shouldn’t have spent that money yesterday, you connect. When you are present with someone you are listening, making eye contact and sensing physical clues. All these things increase intimacy. Living in the moment can have an effect on your emotional well-being. When you live in the present you are experiencing life as complete. Life is more satisfying and therefore you can be more peaceful and ultimately happier. Does worrying about what’s happening in three days make you feel good or satisfied? No. It takes an emotional tow on your mind and your body. When you live in the moment you may find yourself doing things in a smarter way without any effort. If you are being mindful you would take a dirty dish and put it into the dish washer or wash it immediately and put it away instead of tossing it in the sink with lots of other dirty dishes. Both take about the same amount of effort but one creates a life of tidiness. It’s done so no worrying about when you will be doing it and no knocking yourself in the future for leaving a big mess. Being present can help you become better at sex. Not obsessing over body image, the towels on the floor, or how badly you want a raise, keeps your mind focused on the real physical and emotional sensations that go along with great sex, and that is truly sexy. Being present when you eat can actually make your food taste better. Honing in on the flavors and textures and the fabulous smells is something most of don’t do on a regular basis. Think about this next time you sit down to dinner. Be there. Smell and taste and savor your meal. It is a completely different experience than simply eating for eating sake.
Becoming mindful will take some practice. You’ll need to become aware in all that you do. You will need to let the worry voice take a vacation and the regretful voice retire. You will notice what triggers both voices and just the noticing part alone will take you closer to living in the moment. Breath. When your mind winds up in some non-present direction take a deep breath. Remind yourself of the another way to be.
I think Buddha says it just beautifully…
“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”
In honor of Valentine’s day, let’s talk about the language of love: touch. Everyone understands that physical touch is one of the cornerstones of romance. Who hasn’t swooned with a simple caress at the base of their neck? Or with a hand placed on the small of their back? Or even a few fingers brushing across their hand on a first date?
Unfortunately, romance (and libido) tend to dip during times of stress. Ironically, romance is an ancient healing art for just that very thing! So for the month of February let’s turn up the heat with some targeted touch: a foot massage with five specific points to enhance romance! ***these points should not be stimulated if you might be pregnant.
Starting with your partner face down, apply pressure to the soles of the feet with your thumbs, ‘walking’ your thumbs up and down the arch of the foot. Stop just below the halfway point on the foot (slightly closer to the toe than to the heel), directly in line with the big toe. This is the adrenal reflex point. Apply pressure for at least 30 seconds, or until you feel the muscles start to relax. Melting the adrenal reflex points is an excellent way to decrease stress and stimulate relaxation, which sets the stage for our next point!
Continue walking your thumbs up the midline of the feet (directly in line with the middle toe). Stop just below the ball of the foot between the pads, and apply pressure for at least 30 seconds. This is Bubbling Spring, or Kidney 1, an acupressure point thought to awaken the body’s sexual energy.
Have your partner turn onto their back. Focus the massage on the right foot, either kneading the foot with massage oil or continuing to massage dry with thumb pressure (for extra credit, add lavender to the massage oil for relaxation, or jasmine for romance). Imagine a diagonal line connecting the inside ankle bone to the tip of the heel, and apply pressure to the middle of this line. Stimulate the same point on the outside ankle, and hold for at least 30 seconds. These points correspond to the ovaries and uterus on a woman, and the testicles and prostate on a man. Repeat on the left foot.
Massage up the foot to the toes. Gently apply pressure and pull each digit. When you get to the big toe, press the center point (you will need to use another finger or hand behind the big toe to maintain adequate pressure), and hold for at least 30 seconds. This is the pituitary reflex point, which encourages balance to the endocrine system (an important part of a healthy libido).
Continue massaging the feet and then travel up the lower leg to the knee. Stroke or ‘walk’ your thumbs up and down the inside of the tibia, just above the calf muscles. Find the point four fingers above the inside ankle bone, and press for at least 30 seconds. This is Spleen 6, and is also known to awaken sexual energy and stimulate the uterus in a woman.
Next steps? Get creative. Nothing is more intimate that communicating with your partner about what feels good – so explore and become an expert in what makes your partner feel that touch of romance!
Learn more about how massage can help your journey here !
With Valentine’s Day coming up, we are surrounded by hearts, lace, and thoughts of love and romance. However, when you are in a long-term relationship, and especially when you have struggled with fertility, you may feel that the Loving Feeling may need a little of Cupid’s help!
Feng Shui, or Chinese Geomancy, is a traditional form of correcting the flow of energy with proper placement of furniture, decor, and structure in your home, office, or other living space to create balance, health, and harmony. Many techniques focus on health and wealth, but creating and maintaining loving relationships are also a big part of the picture! Here are a few tips to creating a home environment that is conducive to bring love into … or back into … your life.
First, find your Love Corner! According to Feng Shui principles, different areas of your body correspond to different aspects of your life. This is known as the Ba Gua (8 Principles). The Love Corner of your home is in the far right.
Wealth and Prosperity
Colors: Purples, Blues, Reds
Fame and Reputation
Colors: Reds, Oranges
Love and Relationships
Pinks, Reds, Whites
Family and Physical Health
Colors: Greens, Florals, Stripes
Spiritual Health and Well Being
Yellows, Earth Tones
Children and Creativity
Colors: Whites, Pastels
Knowledge and Wisdom
Colors: Blues, Greens
Travel and Helpful People
Colors: Greys, Silver
Go to the main entrance of your home. Even if you enter through a side door or garage frequently, you should still go to the main entrance of the home. Point your hand to the far right corner of the house. That is your Love Corner!
Next, remove objects, colors, and other elements which would harm the flow of energy to this area:
Any representations of things that are alone. Images/statues of a lone figure, etc
Anything that reminds you of an old relationship, lost love, or other relationships that make you feel hurt or would rather not think about
Anything in 3’s
Sharp objects, prickly cactuses, unwelcoming or unsafe objects
Piles of stuff, clutter, storage, old boxes, “baggage” – literally or figuratively!
Computers, TVs, and other “distractions”
Games of any kind (you never want to play games in your relationships!)
Dead plants, dirt, dust, garbage cans
Anything broken or in need of repair
Once you have removed all of these objects, give the area a good cleaning. Then, consider adding some of the following elements to welcome good Love energy to the space:
Paint the space or bring in accents of red, pink, and/or white. It can be as simple as a throw pillow, vase, or picture frame.
Symbols of love. This can be through pictures, sculptures, murals, etc:
Animal print material
Two figures together
Bowl of Hershey’s kisses
Mirrors and candles (see more on mirrors below)
Silky, sexy items
Romantic music (radio, guitar, piano)
Clean the area regularly! Don’t allow clutter to build up.
You can also look at other rooms in your house or office and apply the same principles! When you stand in the entrance of any space, the far right corner is the Love Corner, so you can use the same techniques in all of your spaces to promote love there, too!
Some special notes about the bedroom:
Avoid mirrors in your bedroom. Mirrors are always reflecting things, so they are considered an active item. If you have built-in mirrors, consider removing them or covering them up (especially at night with a folding screen or other decorative item.
Do not have water elements (fountains, images of water, reflective surfaces, etc) in the bedroom.
Do not place pictures of your family or religious images in the bedroom. Having these images near your bed will make you feel like you are being watched and not allow you to fully enjoy your partner.
No work or fitness in the bedroom. Working and love do not mix! Keep computers, papers, other things that remind you of stressful situations or work, along with any workout equipment out of the bedroom.
Have fun! Make your Love Corner a place that stimulates happy, warm, loving relationships in your life!
Christine Davis, LAc is the Director of Acupuncture at Pulling Down the Moon. She sees patients in the Highland Park office on Mon, Wed, Fri and Sat. Call 312-321-0004 or go to www.pullingdownthemoon.com to book your appointment today with Christine or any practitioner on the team at the location that works best for you!
The infertility journey can strain even the healthiest of relationships, which is why it’s important to protect your partnership while navigating this process. The end goal of any fertility treatment is a baby, but if you’re going through it with a partner it is essential to prioritize connection and communication. This process can be grueling at times – medications, injections, sperm samples, genetic testing – but maintaining a team approach will help your relationship thrive during (and far beyond!) this process.
Avoid the blame game – PCOS, low sperm count, unexplained infertility – these terms may tempt you to assign blame to your partner. Signing up for partnership means erasing the blame and taking a team approach to whatever comes your way. Make a commitment from day one to resist the urge to place blame.
Seek out fun and connection – Spend a night away, plan a date – connect! Lately I’ve been loving the app “Gottman Card Decks”. It offers helpful questions and conversation starters to deepen intimacy and connection. Regardless of what you do, spend an hour or so intentionally connecting and try not to forget the reasons you chose this person to do life with.
Understand and validate your partner’s perspective – Infertility can bring up feelings of shame, guilt, and loss and it’s important to remember that you might have a different range of emotions from that of your partner. These feelings may be deeply rooted in our hopes and expectations of parenthood. Connect to your partner through this shared experience and encourage him or her whenever you can. If your partner is having an especially difficult day, offer your time and listening ear for support.
Find support – We all have different needs. Perhaps an online community would feel safest for you. Maybe an in-person support group or individual therapy would help your partner process this experience. For some, coffee with a friend who “gets it” meets this need. Even within the infertility world, situations and experiences can vary from person to person. Make sure that both you and your partner are surrounded by a supportive community of people who can hear and empathize with what you’re going through. Infertility is a unique journey that stirs up lots of emotions, don’t go at it alone!
Maintain hope – There’s no doubt that this process can be difficult and at times even discouraging. Try to hold onto hope, knowing that you’re doing everything you can. You may have to put some things on hold while going through the infertility process, but move forward where you can. You’re not alone and there are many people out there who have walked this path before. At the end of the day, remember there is a lot to be hopeful for.
Amanda Atkins is a licensed marriage and family therapist. She practices in Lincoln Square and specializes in perinatal mood disorders and couples & infertility. She can be reached at email@example.com . Check out more at amandaatkinschicago.com .
It’s officially cold in Chicago, dry in our homes, and time to get down to the business of hydrating our way into a new year! Whatever your goals are, make sure you hydrate. If you are frequently cold and dry, it will warm and moisten you. If you have heat, it will clear it out, via sweat and urine. Remember, blood is mostly water. So to keep the blood moving, and warming those toes, drink water, eat a piece of fresh fruit or veggie. Drink broth, eat soup, sit by a fire, and hydrate! If you are actively warming up by having a cocktail, enjoy it and rehydrate between drinks.
Winter is as yin as it gets. Build your most yin substances—blood and water, and remember to hydrate!
Have a wonderful season,
Kelly Lyons, L.Ac., MSOM
Pulling Down the Moon
Where has summer gone? Before winter is upon us, make sure to take time for yourself, with your partner, and with your family. Here are some great ideas to get started on your “bucket list”:
Did you know that there is still a drive-in in Illinois? Get a double-feature for the price of one with grills, a play area, and concession stand at: cascadedrivein.com . Meet up with others and tailgate until the movie starts! Bonus tip: pack your own cooler of goodies and dress the kiddos in pj’s!
When was the last time you went to the museum? Did you know your local library has FREE passes that you can checkout for a whole week?! Find a museum that is new to you or pick up your pass today at: https://www.chipublib.org/faqs/what-museums-can-i-get-passes-for . Whether you want to reach for the stars, check out the new Jurassic Park exhibit, build a masterpiece with Legos, create your own artistic masterpiece, or watch the fish swim—there is something for everyone!
Do you want to enjoy a little bit of everything without the hassle of planning? Then Pearachute for Kids ( www.pearachutekids.com ) is perfect for you! If you have never heard of them, go to their site and browse! There are FREE activities in and around the city listed. In addition to a variety of classes for all ages, at times throughout the day, and in locations all over–there are even classes for Mom while the kiddo is taken care of!! They have flexible plans that make for weeks full of adventures with swimming, art, outdoor adventures, and more! You can schedule up to two weeks ahead or just drop-in when the mood strikes.
When was the last time you went to Ravinia? They have a variety of shows and concerts for all tastes including shows just for the kiddos! You can drive to Highland Park or venture on the train. Make it your own date night, get-together with friends, or family night. Keep it as simple or get as Pinterest-y as you want! Bonus tip: bring a wagon for all the necessities (works with or without kids) and when you bring the kids along then grab a pop-up kid’s tent to keep the bugs away while giving them a place to crash while you relax. Go to: https://www.ravinia.org to plan your trip and make sure to check out everything Highland Park has to offer!
Want to check-out interactive activities with the little ones? Head to downtown Evanston to enjoy Gather ( http://www.meetatgather.com/ ). This unique children’s play place is warm and inviting. It is kept clean and has a variety of spaces/activities available. For the adults, there FREE coffee/tea and WiFi are available. There are allergy-conscious snacks for purchase as well. Kids can take classes then stay all day. They also allow for you to go out for lunch or nap time then return without an extra charge!
What are your favorite ideas to end summer? What are your favorite activities to start fall? We would love to hear them and share with others!
Man in the Moon?
by Meredith Nathan, LMT
A man and a woman walk into a fertility center (I know, this sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but please bear with me). Both get tested. Both check out normal. The man is told that he is ‘fine’. The woman is told she has ‘unexplained infertility’.
Does it seem a little sexist? Perhaps, especially when you consider that roughly half of fertility issues are male factor. And yet the burden of treatment, especially when dealing with ART, tends to fall on the woman. Furthermore, there is a misconception running rampant that men with fertility issues only have one course of action: IVF. And there again 95% of the work of IVF will fall on his partner’s shoulders, even if she had no fertility issues at all. It does seem a little lopsided…
But it takes two to tango – creating a healthy baby requires two ingredients: a healthy egg AND a healthy sperm. So whether optimal health and a proactive pre-conception strategy is the focus, or whether his swimmers need a fertility fix, healthy lifestyle choices and holistic treatments can go a long way towards increasing your odds of conception. And remember, the lifespan of a sperm is 60-70 days, so any positive changes made can increase your chances for conception for the following two or more months! Here are some top tips to keep those sperm in tip top shape:
- Make healthy lifestyle choices; habits like smoking, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, and sleep deprivation can all negatively impact sperm quality.
- Turn down the heat! Saunas, hot tubs, and steam baths can warm the scrotum and negatively impact fertility. In addition, laptops on laps and cell phones in pockets are not only warming but also may emit unwanted radiation.
- Get a nutritional boost; vitamin deficiencies can negatively impact sperm production, and sporadic, inconsistent meal times can create blood sugar spikes and crashes, throwing the hormones off balance.
- Keep stress in check! Stress also creates hormonal imbalance and interferes with sperm production. So bring on all relaxation activities, whether going on walks, prayer, meditation, fishing, golf, or getting massaged.
- Moderate exercise is healthy and good, but overly intense workouts can draw blood away from the core and deprive the reproductive organs. On the flip side, blood building acupuncture & massage techniques can help to rebuild reproductive circulation and provide a fertility boost!
I’m often asked if I see a lot of men at our center. I know the power of having both partners come to table as healthy as can be. On a personal note, my husband and I struggled to conceive for 18 months until I decided to include him in my wellness plans. And so whenever people ask me how many men I see at Pulling Down the Moon, my response is always the same, “I wish I saw more.”
Does Food Packaging Affect Your Fertility?
by Margaret Eich, MS, RDN
When we’re talking about how nutrition affects fertility, we sometimes only think of how the food we eat affects our fertility. The reality is that the type of food packaging used may also have an impact on fertility. One of the main chemicals used in food packaging that has been linked to fertility challenges is Bisphenol A or BPA. BPA is an endocrine disruptor, which is a chemical that can disrupt our hormones. BPA is used in the lining of cans and in hard polycarbonate plastic bottles, some food containers, and in thermal paper receipts.
What are the health effects of BPA?
Women trying to conceive, women who are pregnant, babies, and small children are likely the most vulnerable to the effects of BPA. Higher levels of BPA in the urine have been associated with recurrent miscarriage. In addition, BPA has been associated with increased risk for PCOS, breast cancer, and obesity.
Replacements for BPA
Many food manufacturers have taken BPA out of the lining of cans. You will note that many manufacturers actually note that there is no BPA in the can lining right on the can. Looking for canned food in BPA free cans is helpful though the safety of BPA replacements isn’t entirely clear. See below for alternatives.
Common foods that many contain BPA and Safer Alternatives
Canned tomatoes: Buy tomatoes in glass jars or in tetrapak cartons.
Canned beans : Buy beans in glass jars or tetrapak cartons instead of cans. When cooking beans from dry, the crockpot is a great way to do this. You can then even cook a large batch of beans and freeze some for future use.
Canned fish : Sardines or herring are sometimes available in glass jars. Choose tuna in pouches instead of cans. Buy fresh versus canned fish. Choose fish in BPA free cans when canned is the only option.
Water bottles : Use a reusable stainless steel or glass water bottle, or if you need to choose a plastic one, make sure it’s BPA free. Alternatively, drink beverages out of glasses or ceramic cups.
Beverage cans : Ideally for fertility, limiting beer and soda is ideal, but even some healthier beverage choices are found in cans like La Croix. Try to choose these options in glass or plastic bottles instead. Plastic beverage bottles contain safe types of plastic that do not contain BPA. It advisable to avoid reusing these plastic bottles and to avoid leaving plastic bottles in a hot car or other area, where they can get hot.
Food storage : Use glass food storage containers whenever possible. When this isn’t possible, wait until food cools down before putting into a plastic container, and avoid heating food up in plastic containers. Instead transfer to a ceramic or glass container first.
Receipts: Because BPA is also found in receipts and may be absorbed directly through the skin, it’s important to avoid handling receipts when possible. Ask the receipt to be put in the bag instead of taking it in your hand. Washing your hands as soon as possible after handling receipts also may help reduce BPA exposure, by preventing BPA absorption through the skin. It is best not to recycle receipts, because this causes recycled paper products to then contain BPA.
This isn’t an exhaustive list of ways to reduce/prevent BPA exposure, but this should help get you started. For more information on BPA, check out the Environmental Working Group’s website at http://www.ewg.org/bpa/.
Male Factor Infertility, The Needles Go Where?!
by Meghan Gibson, L.Ac., MSOM
I recently had the privilege of speaking at one of the workshops during the Midwest Reproductive Symposium International (MRSi), the topic was, “Acupuncture and IVF, Ways to Improve Patient Care”. During the first session a male attended, the only one among our female group. He listened quietly and as the topic of male factor infertility came up his interest seemed to peak. As we were discussing treatments for men and how effective acupuncture can be for motility, sperm count, and even morphology we quickly realized there was one question he really needed answered….
“Where do the needles go?”, was his question. All of gals from the Pulling Down the Moon team quickly began chuckling as we realized, this may be a BIG question for men. Fellas, have NO fear! There are not any acupuncture points, there . Most of the points are similar to those that we would use on our female patients, including the lower abdomen, head, ears and your extremities. It certainly varies depending on your diagnosis, but you will be able to keep your shorts on.
According to RESOLVE (the National Infertility Association) 30% of infertility is due to male factor, 30% female factor, 20% unexplained and 10% a combination of the two. Male factor infertility is just as prevalent as female factor. It’s true, women are way more complex than men when it comes to fertility, but men also need to seek treatment. I see it all the time in our office, when a couple receives the diagnosis “unexplained infertility” often it’s only the women who comes in for treatment.
Over the years there have been several studies published suggesting a decline in the average man’s sperm count. Environmental toxins, pollution, hormones in our food supply, pesticides, and even tighter underwear are thought to be the problem. Men also typically carry their cell phones in their pockets and mobile cell phone radiation is thought to decrease sperm counts. Men are also more active than ever, staying active and leading a healthy life style is important, but like anything else in moderation. Heat decreases sperm count so also try to take it easy on your super intense workouts, avoid saunas, hot tubs, and resting your laptop in your lap. You may also want to trade in those tighty whities for some boxer shorts.
With our ½ off initial consultations July 1 st -15 th this is the time to come in and get treatment. Our staff can address your specific issue and may also recommend supplements, or herbs that are helpful for male factor issues. And don’t worry, we don’t put any needles, there !
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