Could acupuncture enhance your chances of conceiving?
If you are trying for a baby, whether naturally or through assisted conception, acupuncture can be of help to you. It can do that by addressing stress levels, regulating your menstrual cycle, balancing hormonal activity and increasing blood flow to the pelvic area. The treatments will boost circulation, which will then support your body in providing more nourishment to the uterus and ovaries - an essential factor in follicle and egg development as well as building a healthy uterine lining.
Best results are achieved using a complex approach, combining acupuncture with dietary changes, massage, exercise, supplements and sometimes personalised herb prescriptions.
During IVF cycles acupuncture treatments can reduce side effects of medication, alleviate the stress accompanying the IVF process, help create receptive uterine environment to support the implantation as well as minimise the risk of miscarriage.
Your acupuncturist will take a detailed medical history relating to your fertility as well as your general health in order to personalise your treatment plan. All acupuncture treatments are aimed to suit your specific situation and to ensure that all available support is used to make your fertility journey as successful as possible.
Spring is the time of dynamic expansion of energy that, after a time of winter stillness, surges back into nature; flowers, shoots and leaves are exploding into life. The aliveness in the natural world, longer days and more sun (yes! That even applies to Scotland!) inspire us to make a change in our routines, get more active and embark on new projects. The ''spring clean''- detoxing from the physical/mental/emotional clutter accumulated over the Winter is now in order.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Spring relates to the element of Wood, which is reflected in the smooth functioning on the Liver. We know that from physiological point of view, the liver is the filter, clenser and detoxifer of our body. It is also the only organ that can regenerate and restore any lost mass, while at the same time providing full support for body homeostasis during the entire regenerative process. An utterly remarkable quality!
In TCM, the Liver, which is understood as a network of functions more than simply a physical organ, plays a vital role when it comes to smooth flow (be it matter or energy) throughout our bodies and minds. Its direction is upwards and outwards, which is why it so important when it comes to putting our plans into action and making things happen. When the liver energy is in balance we are able to make decisions and follow through with our creative visions. When the liver energy is deficient we may lack the ability to make decisions or follow through with them. If there are obstacles in its flow, it will stagnate and generate heat. You will then experience it as excess in the upper part of the body – headaches, migraines, tinnitus, teary/red eyes and runny nose (hayfever!), spots on the chest and face, tension in the upper back and shoulders. On an emotional level, congested Liver will manifest as outbursts of anger, impatience, frustration, feelings on stuckness, PMT.
If you experience any of the symptoms above, it's a good idea to get a Spring balancing treatment. Acupuncture will help restore smooth qi flow and re-harmonise the body and mind.
You can support yourself through this dynamic time by paying more attention to your diet and lifestyle. You might want to eliminate processed foods, saturated fats, chemical additives and alcohol, cut down on the caffeine. You will naturally feel the urge to get up earlier, so make sure you get enough sleep by going to bed before midnight. Also, get out more and move your body – the Liver loves movement and stretching. Great time to start that long-postponed yoga class or get back into jogging.
Oh, and discover the delicious magic of dandelions! They are excellent liver function supporters.
For a digestive/decongestant boost, have a cup of dandelion tea about 40 minutes after a meal, especially if it's on the heavy side of things!
A couple of weekends ago I went to the annual British Acupuncture Council Conference held in Nottingham. A fantastic couple of days in the inspiring company of colleagues from all over the country and beyond. I have also reconnected with some of my friends from college, which turned out to be the most delicious feast for my heart.
It's always a tough choice which lectures and workshops to attend to, as there's infinite variety (the title of his years conference) to choose from every time. This year I spent time learning from the wonderful Nora Franglen, Peter Deadman, Master Zhongxian Wu, Amos Ziv and Volker Scheid - all of them utter inspirators of change and instigators of passion.
I'd like to say a few words about Nora Franglen. She is a Five Element Acupuncture practitioner and has a very special place in my acupuncturist heart. Her ruling Element is Fire, which relates to the Heart and the Heart relates to connecting with others. And Nora does it with humour, wisdom and honesty that wins everyone who has ever attended her lectures. When she speaks it's as if her every utterance was lined with joy. Quite an amazing quality, really.
Her talk at the conference was only short, but contained a good few golden nuggets I'd like to speak about here.
"Go where angels fear to tread".
This seems to be Nora's brave take on Alexander Pope's "fools rush where angels fear to tread". To me it's not an encouragement of carelessness of rushing into situations we should steer clear of, but rather an invitation to us to keep our hearts open and have courage. We, as practitioners of traditional medicine, have an honour to accompany our patients in their journey towards a better health. We can encourage change and help their bodies tap into the deep reservoirs of healing. When we listen with openness and attentiveness and offer them space to be, our patients unravel the many layers of their stories. We can hold and support them in the vulnerable space where change takes place. What a privilege!
"Have courage to wait".
I see this pearl of clinical wisdom as very much connected to the previous one and the connecting point is (in) the Heart. The English base of the word courage comes from the a French coer and Latin cor, meaning "heart". It is when we drop into our hearts that we can perceive things with more patience and less fear. Shifting the centre of cognition from thought (brain) to feeling( heart) reduces the mental dialogue and enables a new, richer mode of communication with our patients and with the world at large.
We all have our private Goliaths we fear.
Sometimes it's the time it takes to find the treatment our patient will respond to,
... the time it takes to build a practice
...or the time to build a healing therapeutic relationship with our patients
...or maybe the time it takes for our patients to notice change in their bodies and minds.
Have courage to wait. Have heart and let time do its work.
Here, I'd like to mention a wonderful book that Nora's lecture made me revisit - The Secret Teachings of Plants: The Intelligence of the Heart in Direct Perception to Nature by Stephen Harold Buhner. It abounds in great insights as to how to develop a mode of perception that is different from the purely cerebral and why it is a valuable tool in practice of (holistic) medicine. Buhner speaks of an interesting notion of heart-brain entrainment that, if practised regularly, leads to reducing the mental dialogue and activates a different sort of cognition he calls the holistic/intuitive/depth mode (p.103)
There are heart focus techniques that lead to brain-heart entrainment that are valuable tools for all health practitioners, teachers or carers.
One of such method developed for the purpose of the Head-Heart entrainment research (McCraty et al, 1996) is called Freeze Frame method. It involves shifting attention to the heart for a period of 15 minutes and focusing of FEELING of appreciation or gratitude towards something or someone as opposed to simply recalling a past positive experience. McCraty argues that practitioners of such techniques report increased intuitive awareness and more efficient decision making capability that is beyond their normal capacity from the mind and brain alone.
What a powerful thought. What a great feeling.
to be continued...
Buhner, S. H. (2004) The Secret Teachings of Plants: The Intelligence of the Heart in Direct Perception of Nature. Rochester, Vermont: Bear and Company
McCraty, R., Tiller, W.A., Atkinson, M. (1996) Head-Heart Entrainment: A Preliminary Survey
Autumn is approaching in big steps. The cold will soon creep in and the deeper and more introspective energies will take over.
From the Chinese Medicine perspective, Autumn (which begins at the time of Equinox on 23rd September) marks the beginning of the Yin cycle. It is now that the expansive energies of the Fire element embodied in the Summer give way to the more inward directed energies leading up to Winter.
Soon, the energy of the plants will start moving downward, the trees will loose their leaves to nourish the soil. Nature is gracefully allowing the change in, showing us the natural progression of the cycle of seasons once more.
In Chinese Medicine Autumn governs organisation, setting limits to what we can do, taking stock of our natural resources, letting go of what we need no more and protecting our boundaries. We gather energy for the colder months to come.
Healthy boundaries mean the ability to protect ourselves from emotional hurt, but also protect our bodies from external invasions like colds, flus and allergies.
Now is the time to strengthen your immunity and give your Qi a little boost, so you can smoothly transition from the expansive time of Summer into the more inward directed time of Autumn.