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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

     

     

  • Simple Ways to Boost Your Immunity Now!

    By Robin Miller, RDN

    Between influenza, the novel COVID-19, and other illnesses going around this time of year, it is a great time to incorporate some immune-boosting strategies into our daily lives. There are plenty of things we can do every day to enhance our immunity. Check out my recommendations below.

    -Eat your fruits and vegetables; at least 5/day, but the more you can consume the better! Choose a variety of different fruits and vegetable to incorporate into your daily diet, this will provide a more diverse microbiome, which is important to enhancing gut health and immunity! Try incorporating a spinach in your morning smoothie, antioxidant rich berries in your yogurt or an vitamin C rich orange as a part of your afternoon snack. 

    -Get plenty of sleep; aim for 7 to 9 hours a night. 

    -Keep your gut in check, eating a variety of high-fiber foods, including whole-grains, fruits and vegetables, legumes, root vegetables and fermented foods like sauerkraut and full-fat yogurt.  Be sure to incorporate a high-quality probiotic into your daily supplement regimen to support optimal gut and immune health! 

    -Incorporate daily movement; try to get your 10,000 steps in through walking or other forms of low-impact exercise such as swimming or yoga

    -Review your supplement regimen! There are many vitamins and minerals that are known to support immunity, such as vitamin C and D, Magnesium, Zinc and Selenium. Working with a Registered Dietitian is the best approach to ensure you are meeting your needs from a supplement standpoint. 

    -Reduce your overall stress; we know that chronic stress can wreak havoc on our bodies, particularly our hormones and inflammatory response. Try incorporating things like: acupuncture, yoga, less screen-time, and meditation to help combat stress. 

    To learn more about immune-boosting foods and supplements that are right for you, schedule a virtual nutrition consult today (available by phone or video conference) and work with one of our Registered Dietitians!  Our online shop is also available for your convenience for all your supplement needs while sheltering at home!

     

  • Fish Oil Supplementation to Improve Male Fertility

    By Robin Miller RDN

    Studies suggest that infertility affects approximately 15% of all couples, and although conventional wisdom suggests that infertility is a female issue, the reality is approximately 40% to 50% of fertility issues are due to male factors.  Much research suggests that a healthy diet rich in certain nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, other vitamins, specifically, vitamin D and folate, and low in saturated fat and trans–fat is associated with good semen quality. Fish, shellfish, other seafood, poultry, cereals, vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy, and skim milk have been found to be positively associated with several semen parameters as well. Fish and fish liver oil in particular also contain other essential nutrients, that have been associated with better semen quality. With that said, there is now new research and data focused on the intake of fish oil supplements and testicular function as measured by semen quality and reproductive hormone levels. 


    After examining data from nearly 1,700 young men, researchers determined that fish oil supplementation was associated with a higher sperm count and improved levels of hormones, specifically lower FSH and LH levels; higher free testosterone to LH ratio that contribute to male fertility, according to the report published in JAMA Network Open. 

    However, the amount of fish oil the men in the study took was wide-ranging, so there is no specific quantity that can be suggested from this study. Furthermore, because it’s an observational study, we can’t assume a causal or contributing relationship between fish oil supplements and positive outcomes; a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study is the preferred method of research to support a positive correlation. 

    In the meantime, most everyone can benefit from more fish in our diets! Incorporate wild, organic, preferably low-mercury fish, such as wild salmon, shrimp, tilapia and whitefish to name a few, into your diet 1-2 a week. Try swapping out a deli meat sandwich with a tuna sandwich or a steak for a piece of wild salmon during the week and you will be naturally getting in some healthy fish oil along with tons of other nutrients, like vitamin D, iron, zinc and magnesium that support fertility. If fish is not your jam, try supplementing a high-quality fish oil supplement to achieve optimal benefits. 

    To learn more about ways to increase fish in your diet as well as find a fish oil supplement right for you, schedule a nutrition consult  today  and work with one of our Registered Dietitians!

    Reference: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2758861

     

  • Simplifying the Best Diet for Fertility

    By Robin Miller RDN

    There seems to be so much information out there about diets and foods to consume and not consume while trying to conceive and during pregnancy. But what really is the best diet when it comes to fertility? 

     

    We know that food likely plays a role in fertility and our ability to conceive, but is there a specific diet per se, that will lead to pregnancy? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple, however the research does suggest that including specific food groups and foods, while eliminating others can increase chances of pregnancy.

    One recent study* showed that couples undergoing IVF, in vitro fertilization, had almost three times the chance of a successful pregnancy when they closely adhered to the Mediterranean Diet, which is consists on a high intake of whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables and a low intake of red meat. Let’s dig deeper and look at specific foods to include in our daily diets to help improve overall fertility.

    1. Berries:  strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are filled with antioxidants that limit inflammation in the body as well as protect our cells from aging and environmental damage.  
    2. Cruciferous Vegetables:  broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, collards, kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens, turnip greens, turnips and rutabaga.  These vegetables contain a compound called indole-3-carbinol that regulates estrogen metabolism and helps convert “bad estrogens” into good ones.
    3. Healthy Fats:  The fats we eat play a very important role in fertility.  They are incorporated into our cell membranes (think egg and sperm) and make up the backbone of many important molecules in our body.   Monounsaturated fats help to lower levels of harmful LDL cholesterol and are found in olive oil, avocado and most nuts.  Omega-3 fats are key to lowering the level of inflammation in our body and are found in fatty fish, dark leafy vegetables, walnuts, chia and flax seeds.  
    4. Beans/Lentils:  Besides being a good source of protein, beans and lentils contain soluble fiber, which helps bind excess hormones and remove them from the body.
    5. Whole Grains:  Whole grains are a rich source of fiber and B-vitamins.  B-vitamins are crucial for optimal egg development and ovulation. 
    6. Lean Protein:  Choose lean proteins like organic chicken, turkey, grass-fed red meats, and organically raised eggs.  

    To learn more about specific foods and food groups to include in a fertility-friendly diet and improve your overall nutrition; schedule a nutrition consult online here or call us to learn more at: 312-321-0004 today!

    *https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29390148

  • Healthy and Fertility Boosting Fall Produce

    Robin Miller, RDN

    I love this time of year, when the air turns cool and the trees blaze with color and pumpkin spice seems to take over the stores!  I look forward to loading my kitchen with the abundance of fresh foods that are ready to be harvested. Fall fruits and fall vegetables are not only delicious, they’re also are packed with nutrients that can help boost your fertility and keep your immune systems strong all winter long.

    So what produce are in season in fall? And what are the healthiest options for boosting immunity and fertility? Check the list below to help you navigate the farmers market and grocery store all season long!

    Apples and Pears: These sweet, crunchy fall favorites are packed with antioxidants and are high in soluble fiber, which helps lower “bad” (LDL) cholesterol. To get that daily dose of fiber and to satisfy a sweet tooth, snack on the fruit whole or incorporate into recipes from filling breakfasts to a sweet treat!

    Beets: They may be available year-round, but beets are at their best in the fall. Besides the familiar reddish-purple color, you can also find golden, white, and even multicolored beets. A great source of vitamin C, folate and fiber, which are all important when it comes to fertility. Try tossing in salads or roasting!

    Broccoli: Packed with vitamin C, which has proven beneficial for fertility in both men and women! Try roasting or making a veggie-packed, hearty soup!

    Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage and Cauliflower:  These powerhouses contain indole-3-carbinol, a compound that helps the body manage estrogen.

    Carrots: Perfect for soups, stews, and snacking, carrots add plenty of sweetness in a low-sugar bite. A serving is also packed with twice your recommended daily intake of vitamin A, which benefits vision, reproduction, and immune function. 

    Celery: Celery is an excellent source of vitamin K and a good source of vitamin A, potassium, and folate, which is very important for fetal development.

    Chard, Kale, and Spinach: Loaded with essential vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron, folate and zinc, all key nutrients for women try to conceive. These dark leafy greens can be served raw in a salad or sautéed with garlic and a little crushed red pepper!

    Figs: This fall fruit is a solid source of fiber, which may help decrease cholesterol, promote blood sugar control, prevent constipation, and keep you feeling full longer. Figs are also packed with potassium, which helps control your blood pressure.

    Garlic, Onions and Shallots: Sulfur-rich foods, such as alliums like onions and garlic, can help increase your body’s level of the antioxidant glutathione, important for both male and female fertility. For men, it can improve sperm quality and health. In women, glutathione can help boost egg quality and the health of the embryo after conception.

    Leeks: Leeks contain B-vitamins including folate, which is essential for DNA synthesis and cell division. Good levels of Folate are essential before and during pregnancy to help prevent birth defects of the brain and spinal cord.

    Mushrooms: Full of prebiotics, that help nourish your gut’s microbiota, ultimately aiding in digestion and warding against inflammation. This fall veggie is supper versatile to cook with, try it sautéed in an egg scramble or cooked in soup!

    Pomegranate: An excellent source of flavonoids and polyphenols. They also contain vitamin C, folate, and fiber! These are all essential vitamins and minerals for conception and pregnancy. Try adding to your favorite salad or into your oatmeal for an extra dose of antioxidants!

    Pumpkin: A good source of fiber for hormone balance and beta carotene for egg health. Beta carotene is a powerful antioxidant known to protect the reproductive system from damage caused by excessive free-radicals. Remember to eat the seeds too! These are rich in zinc, which may boost sperm health.

    Squash: From acorn to butternut to delicata to spaghetti, all of these fall squash varieties are a great source of the antioxidants beta-carotene and vitamin C. Beta-carotene is a powerful antioxidant, which helps to protect egg and sperm DNA from damage by harmful free radicals, which can affect the quality of both the egg and sperm.

    Sweet Potatoes: Rich in carotenoids, pigments that have great antioxidant power. Research shows carotenoids can help with sperm health and motility in men, as well as aiding in hormone regulation and ovarian function in women.

    To learn more about foods that can boost your fertility and overall nutrition, join us for the FREE webinar on October 21st at 6pm CST, “Yoga and Nutrition for PCOS and Beyond” or schedule a nutrition consult today! 


     



  • Acupuncture Explained

    Kelly Lyons, L.Ac, MSOM 

    The value of your practitioner
    Why do I need to come in to the office?

    One of the beautiful aspects of acupuncture is that your body is seen and understood as the complete instrument that it is. Your acupuncture point system is endlessly evolving. If you have graduated out of weekly or twice weekly acupuncture sessions, or have fallen out of the habit of coming in to the office, this post if for you.  It is also for those who are at the end of their fertility focus, may be on a break, or are wondering if they can use acupuncture for different reasons. 

    What is important about coming to see your acupuncturist is that they will assess the current state of your health and choose point combinations that will tune your instrument, or all out repair it. It needs to be done in the office every now and then, even though we send you home more educated, with homework, or with goals accomplished.  

    There are ways to make this easier and less stressful. Pull out your calendar!  As you assess your healthcare plan for the next year, look at the entire year ahead. Break it down into quarters, seasons, and peak stress times. Book a sequence of appointments for at least 2 weeks before an event like a holiday, a change in season, or as the quarter winds down. Book 2 appointments the week before tax season or school starts.  It is great to touch base with your wellness team to be reminded of how to stay on track. This will help you be at your best.

    Women have the opportunity to use their menstrual cycle, also, for scheduling structure. The frequency of office visits depends on what is going on for you, and what your cycle or the year is like. Talk to your acupuncturist to find out what fits best for you. For some, it could be coming during your period, to help keeps things moving. For others, it could be better to come in before you ovulate.  Reach out and ask us how we can help recharge your wellness routine.  

    Come in and see us then have a great Fall!  Book and save in October with our BOO-GO special that includes a FREE follow-up session ($95 value)!

  • Finding Calm

    by Christine Davis, LAc MSOM

    With each passing year, things seem to get busier. More appointments, more work requirements, more life events, more things to do. Then there’s the well meaning family members and friends: why aren’t you pregnant yet? My friend tried This Thing and it worked for her, so you you should try it, too! Then there’s social media and the internet: EVERYONE seems to be happier and more successful than you – here’s what you SHOULD be doing to do to be happy ALL THE TIME. It’s all a never ending stream of NOISE. Where does it stop? How can you simmer down and quiet the stream of mental debris that constantly stimulates worry, fear, anxiety, and frustration?

    Here are my suggestions. They aren’t a complete list, but these are the important ones. It may take time to incorporate them all: 

    1. Say it with me: “No.” “I’m sorry, I’m not available.” It’s ok to put yourself first and say “no” when what is being asked of you will compromise your wellness. Clear a path for your ability to think clearly, breathe, and do the things you need to do to feel balanced. Much like Marie Kondo’s method for clearing physical clutter, you need to decide what’s important in your life mentally and emotionally. Say YES to the things that create the life you want (even though they may be difficult, too, sometimes) and NO to the things that are holding you back from that life.
    2. Disconnect. Social media has been fun over the past couple of decades, right? There are some good and some (really) bad parts, but study after study emerges showing the negative impact that it can have on your mental and emotional state. If you are having trouble completely disconnecting – especially if work or other interests require you to connect with SM – limit your interactions with these apps/websites. Give yourself a specific time frame in which you allow yourself to use them in a positive, uplifting manner.
    3. Get help. There is no shame in reaching out to a professional if you need help with mental wellness. This could be a mental health professional, a religious guide, etc. Someone who you trust, who is impartial, who has training in helping to guide you is ideal. This doesn’t mean you are signing up forever – sometimes a few sessions can really help to clarify and ground you. I feel like the best therapists are the ones who hold a “mirror” up, so to speak, so that you can see things as they are, then help you to appreciate the beauty that you see.
    4. Center yourself. This could be with meditation, prayer, yoga, journaling, long walks by the lake – whatever helps you to focus on one, two, or ten things–instead of the thousands of thoughts that are constantly flooding in otherwise. I like to think of Georgia O’Keefe’s “Sky Above Clouds” painting – the thoughts are just clouds floating past. Try not to hang on to them and instead just observe them and let them float past. There are some amazing smartphone apps: FertiCalm and FertiStrong, Insight Timer, MindfulIVF, Headspace, etc. that have tons of guided meditations for everything from general anxiety to trouble sleeping to going through an IVF cycle.
    5. Find gratitude. Keeping a Gratitude Journal helps with this. Write just a line or two each day about something you are grateful for. It could be the delicious muffin you had for breakfast, the painless phlebotomist experience, your favorite song coming on the radio, the friend who went out of her way to give you the support you needed. Many studies have shown that focusing on the positive aspects of life actively literally rewires the brain to feel happier and more positive.
    6. Try Acupuncture. A modality of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), acupuncture is a therapy for the mind, body, and spirit. With regular (once or twice per week, usually) treatment, you will see many aspects of your physical, mental, and emotional self come into balance. Acupuncture is known to be helpful for everything from pain to allergies to digestive stuff to fertility, but it can also be helpful for balancing the mental state and emotions.

    Firstly, an acupuncture visit is usually very relaxing! Most who haven’t tried it don’t believe me when I say that, but when else do you take 30 min to just lie still, no phone, not going to sleep (although it’s ok if you do!), not talking or listening (except to quiet music)? This is a deeply restorative time to be quiet, soft, grounded.

    Acupuncture has mounting  scientific evidence showing that regular treatment can help with reducing anxiety, depression, and other emotional disorders. In TCM, there is a strong connection between the physical state and the emotional state. By creating a state of harmony throughout the physical body, balanced mental/emotional wellness is the natural outcome. 

    In TCM, fertility is associated with the element of Water. When water is too abundant or too scarce, the earth and all forms of life suffer, including our own bodies. The element of Water shows its emotional imbalance in the form of Fear/Anxiety. When we are in a constant state of stress (life, work, family, infertility, etc), we put ourselves into a constant state of “fight or flight.” This creates a situation in which our bodies focus only on staying alive for the moment rather than long cycles like those required for fertility. By using acupuncture, we are able to break that constant loop of stress, find grounding, and reconnect with our natural cycles which can lead to improved fertility.

    Choosing to find serenity in this life takes effort. Just think about when someone says, “Calm down!” or “Relax!” Has anyone ever calmed down or relaxed just by hearing that? I don’t think so. By regularly making the choice to build the space for quiet, for reflection, for balance, you are creating a foundation for the life you are searching for. 

    Learn more during our upcoming webinar “Acupuncture for a Medicated Cycle” on Tuesday, September 17th at 6pm! Click here to register to view it live or watch the replay at your convenience!

    Ready to get started? Book your appointment now and save with the You Pick Two special this month!

  • Folate vs. Folic Acid for Male Fertility

    By Margaret Eich, MS, RDN

    Many women thinking of getting pregnant have heard of folic acid or folate, as we know that adequate amounts help prevent neural tube defects like spina bifida when taken in early pregnancy. Folate is vital for DNA synthesis and for DNA methylation. Folic acid generally refers to a synthetic form of folate that is found in many prenatal vitamins and supplements and fortified foods. Folate refers to the natural form found in food. Some supplements include folate instead of or in addition to folic acid. 

    While the impact of folate on pregnancy in women gets a lot of press, the impact of folate on male fertility doesn’t get much attention. Ensuring adequate folate intake in men may have a beneficial impact on sperm quality and pregnancy. Folate is thought to be vital for sperm production due to its role in DNA synthesis and methylation. For example, in one study, men with the highest folate intake from both food and supplements had lower frequencies of aneuploidy (DNA abnormalities) in their sperm compared to men with lower folate intake.

    An additional factor that may impact folate status in men is MTHFR polymorphisms. A MTHFR polymorphism is a change to the methylene tetrahydrofolate reductase enzyme rendering it less effective at producing the active form of folate called 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF). In men with MTHFR polymorphisms, supplying 5-MTHF directly may be more effective for improving sperm parameters and pregnancy rates based on some interesting new case series.

    The impact of 5-MTHF is demonstrated in a case series of 30 couples each with a 4-year history of fertility issues with at least one partner in the couple having a MTHFR polymorphism. Most of the women were treated with high dose folic acid without success. The couples were then treated for 4 months with 600 mcg 5-MTHF, and 13 couples were able to conceive spontaneously without IUI or IVF. 

    In another case report, a couple had a history of 6 failed IVF cycles. The woman was found to have an MTHFR polymorphism, and the couple underwent egg donation and had a successful pregnancy and birth. In trying to conceive a 2nd child, she started a series of failed donor egg cycles. She was then started on 5-MTHF (400 mcg) and did another donor egg cycle, which ended in miscarriage at 8.5 weeks. Her husband had normal sperm parameters, but tested positive for 2 copies of the MTHFR polymorphism and was started on 400 mcg 5-MTHF. The couple conceived spontaneously 8 weeks later and gave birth to a baby girl at 38 weeks. The authors conclude that his really underscores the importance of methylation in egg development and sperm production, and that when either the male or female has a MTHFR polymorphism, 5-MTHF if required as high dose folic acid will not allow the embryo to develop properly.

    It is often the case that men don’t know if they have a MTHFR polymorphism, and if testing is unavailable, it makes sense to take a 5-MTHF supplement to ensure adequate folate in the active form is available for DNA synthesis and methylation to promote conception and a healthy pregnancy.  Learn more about how nutrition and supplements can support male fertility by meeting with our Nutrition Team and book your consult today!

    References:

    • Young SS, et al. The association of folate, zinc, and antioxidant intake with sperm aneuploidy in healthy non-smoking men. Human Reproduction. 2008;23(5): 1014-1022. 
    • Servy EJ, et al. MTHFR isoform carriers. 5-MTHF (5-methyltetrahydrofolate) vs folic acid: a key to pregnancy outcome: a case series. J Assist Reprod Genetic. 2018;35(8): 1431-1435.
    • Jacquesson-Fournols L, et al. A paternal effect of MTHFR SNPs on gametes and embryos should not be overlook: case reports. J Assist Reprod Genetic. 2019;36(7):1351-1353.

  • Late Summer

    by Christine Davis, Acupuncture Director LAc MSOM

    According to Traditional Chinese Medical (TCM) theory, the world is composed of 5 elements: Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood. Because the ancient authors wanted everything to be neat and tidy with the theory, they divided everything up that way – flavors, colors, senses, and even the seasons. So, while in Western culture, we only embrace 4 seasons, TCM has added a 5th season: Late Summer, usually a shorter time between August to early September. It’s the time when its just plain hot and extra dry/humid depending on your location. The plants have peaked and are beginning to ripen their fruits. The ads for back-to-school are in full swing and no one even cares about their swimsuit body anymore. Nature is experiencing one last burst of transformation before we settle into the retreat and contraction of Fall and Winter.

    In TCM, Late Summer is the domain of the element of Earth. Its color is yellow, its flavor is sweet, its internal organs are the Spleen and Stomach, the organs of digestion, which transform the food we take in into our flesh and blood. The Spleen and the Stomach are associated with nurturing, grounding energy. 

    The Earth element’s direction is the Center. In Chinese, the country of China is called Zhong Guo中国 , or “Central Country,” meaning that to them, they are the center of the world. In fact, the name of the emperor who is credited as being the father of Traditional Chinese Medical theory, Huang Di 黄帝 (2711-2598 BCE), can be translated as Yellow Emperor, thus demonstrating his connection to central, Earth energy. 

    Late Summer is a time when people who have imbalances in their metabolism & digestion often experience increased symptoms: allergies, nausea, loose stools, low energy, weight gain, blood sugar instability, and other digestive and metabolic issues. 

    Here are a few ways you can help yourself stay in balance during the Late Summer season:

    1. Eat in moderation, especially when it comes to sweets. I find that writing down what you eat – whether in a simple journal style or with an app like Lose It or Weight Watchers – helps to keep you accountable for everything that goes through your lips.
    2. Avoid sweets, excessive simple carbohydrates (breads, pastas, baked goods, etc), excessive dairy, and greasy/fried foods. All of these are enemies of the Spleen (digestive function) and can “gum up the works” so to speak, especially at this time of year. Cold foods are also very tempting on a hot day, but can also slow digestion. Try keeping cold drinks separate from meals to aid in proper digestion.
    3. Reduce worries! Ok, that sounds much easier than it actually is sometimes, but the emotional manifestation of an imbalanced Spleen is WORRY. So, find the things that really bring you peace – it could be meditation, yoga, acupuncture, but it could also be hanging out with friends/family, taking a walk, sitting by the lake, listening to your favorite tunes. Do what works for YOU to find your center, your happy place to release (even if can only be temporarily) worry.
    4. Nurture yourself! Along the same line, take the time to give yourself your basic needs: sleep, good nutrition, exercise, relaxation. If you don’t have those things consistently, it is difficult for your body to remain in balance. 

    Happy Late Summer! Visit Christine Davis, Acupuncture Director at Pulling Down the Moon, in Highland Park on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays!  New hours available in Chicago on Mondays and Thursdays starting on Thursday, September 5th! Try something NEW and save with one of our monthly specials today!