My Tool Kit: What Chinese Medicine Can do For You
The other day a patient asked me why her IVF doctor was using a specific protocol for her current cycle. It was her second round, and the medications and schedule were different this time. I explained that her doctor has a "fertility tool kit" that she can draw from; that new drugs and protocols are coming out all the time and that, based on research trials, her doctor chose what she believed was the best way forward for her individual case. This conversation got me thinking about my own tool kit, because Chinese medicine can sometimes be thought of strictly as Acupuncture. However, there are several modalities that I use with my patients, and I base those decisions on each individual pattern.
For reducing sympathetic nervous stimulation, and improving blood flow, acupuncture is the best medicine. There are some good studies showing dialation of the vessels during electro-acupuncture. This dialation helps to ensure that more oxygenated blood is going where it needs to be, nourishing the ovaries and improving the quality of the developing follicles. Usually I suggest women begin treatment weekly for 3 months before trying to conceive in order to produce the best possible environment for egg-development.
Traditional Chinese Medicine Herbs
Although it is the least popularly understood branch of TCM, herbal medicine is actually the backbone of the art form. It is through the herbs, formulas and how they interact, that we learn the philosophy of this ancient medicine. A few year ago, a patient of mine said she’d taken some TCM herbs that had been prescribed to her friend. Since her friend wasn’t going to finish them, she decided to finish them off herself. They were supposed to be good for periods, after all.
Chinese medicine herbs are delicately balanced formulas prescribed specifically for an individual patient with their physiology, diagnosis and pattern in mind. That’s not to say that a single formula can’t work for lots of different people; it just means that it’s a little risky to take someone else’s medicine. My patient didn’t have any ill effects, however, I strongly recommend getting a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner to do a proper diagnosis and treatment plan before taking TCM herbs.
I’ve blogged about cupping several times, and not just because all the celebs are doing it (although I do think that’s pretty cool). I see so much benefit from the cups that I can’t say enough about them. They release tension, reduce inflammation, and improve blood flow. No wonder JT’s doing it!
Although this is not a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is something for which I have done training through the Upledger Institute, and integrate into my TCM practice. It is a gentle, hands-on therapy that some people find similar to massage, except there’s not a lot of movement. I place my hands on the patient’s body at specific spots, based on what I think they need, and help to unwind some of the lines of tension in their fascial system.
How does CST work? It’s a little technical, but the Cole’s notes version is this: Cerebrospinal fluid is produced and reabsorbed in a pulsatile fashion, which creates a pulse that can be felt anywhere on the body. A skilled practitioner can palpate this subtle pulse and use it to therapeutic effect, diagnosing and treating lesions in the fascia. Typically, if I use CST on my patients, I do it after the needles are set.
Low-level Laser Therapy (LLLT)
This is the newest addition to my tool-kit. Laser therapy has many years and hundreds of studies behind it for use in pain relief, wound-healing, reducing scar tissue, regulating inflammation to reduce oxidative stress, and improving blood flow. For years it’s been used for pain and injury, however at Acubalance, we have begun using it for fertility. Read all about it on the Laser page of our website for my details.
And All the Other Stuff
Besides the above tools, there are benefits inherent in the therapeutic relationship with a qualified practitioner that can’t be underestimated. We will discuss your diet, sleep and exercise habits, as well as anything else that comes up during our sessions, such as physical or emotional symptoms. There is a lot of study on doctor patient rapport, and in my experience, it is the glue that hold my practice together.
Acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicine, & Cupping in Vancouver, BC
So, as it turns out, Traditional Chinese Medicine is more than just needles! If you have any questions about your individual case, please don’t hesitate to call and book a 15 phone consultation. I’m always available for a chat.
Learn more about our doctors of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Vancouver BC.