How to improve your gastrointestinal health with acupuncture
Many people feel embarrassed to discuss their bowel habits, however, symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, urgency, blood and mucus in the stools, severe gas and bloating and abdominal pain/cramping are believed to occur as often as the common cold. Because gastrointestinal issues are rarely discussed, the treatment and management of these conditions do not receive much attention and may leave a person feeling unsure about where and how to seek help.
Acupuncture is an effective means of treating, managing and even preventing symptoms associated with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative Colitis and undiagnosed conditions such as chronic constipation or diarrhea, gas and bloating. Acupuncture can help to relieve the frequency and duration of episodes associated with these disorders and can eventually eliminate all signs and symptoms. Regular acupuncture treatments will also help to reduce food sensitivities and decrease the stress and anxiety associated with unpredictable bowel habits.
A recent study at the Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine has found that regular acupuncture treatments reduce intestinal inflammation and restore epithelial barrier disruption in people with Crohn’s disease.
If you or someone you know is suffering from any of these conditions and are looking for a natural, drug-free treatment acupuncture will not only target the symptoms, but also prevent recurrent episodes.
Call today to book an appointment: 905.553.9255
Book online: www.besthealthacupuncture.com click the “Book Now” button
Mother Warming is a treatment based on Traditional Chinese Medicine used at 4-5 days post-partum with the intention of helping the birthing mother recover from pregnancy, labour and delivery. The treatment includes the use of a moxa stick (a herbal ‘cigar’) over acupoints on the abdomen and lower back. The best part is that once you know how to do it you can do it yourself in the comfort of your own home.
Book your mother warming education appointment before you have your baby and be shown what to do so you’re ready when the time comes. Complimentary Moxa stick is included in the appointment.
Call today: 905.553.9255
Welcome Kelly Goorts, R.AC!
As most of you know Amanda Barone will be going on maternity leave as of June 21 and returning in October, 2019. In her absence, Kelly Goorts will be treating patients at the clinic and maintaining similar treatment hours. She has been shadowing me at the clinic for the past few weeks, so most of you will meet her before I leave and she will be able to pick up your treatment plans right where we left off!
I have been receiving pre-birth acupuncture treatments from Kelly in preparation for my labour and delivery and I am confident that you will enjoy your sessions with her as much as I have 🙂
Here’s a little bit more about Kelly:
After 15 years working in the Engineering field as a Project Manager, Kelly left to follow her passion for helping others feel better and live the best possible version of themselves. Kelly completed her Acupuncture Degree (December 2017) and Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner Degree (April 2019) at Georgian College in Barrie, Ontario where she completed over 700 supervised clinical hours. In addition to the two-degree programs, Kelly has taken various cupping, acupressure and reiki courses throughout her studies. As of April 2019, Kelly became a Registered Acupuncturist through the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of Ontario (CTCMPAO).
To book an appointment:
- Online: www.besthealthacupuncture.com Click the “book now” button
- Call Clinic reception: 905.553.9255
Elective induction of labour (EIOL) is a hotly debated topic in the birthing community made even more controversial recently with the publication of the ARRIVE Trial (2018). It’s not that often that a study will divide the community as much as this one has simply due to it’s large scale. The results can not be ignored, but can also not be misapplied.
The biggest thing to come out of the trial was that the results showed elective induction of labour at 39 weeks for first-time mothers had a decreased c-section rate. This took the birthing world by storm and begs the question: Should we induce ALL first time mothers at 39 weeks?
The answer is NO.
These results can not be generalized to the whole population because they are not representative of the whole population. Keep in mind that the study participants had to agree to be induced which means that it aligned with their values and beliefs. A large number of women qualified to participate in the study, but the majority of them declined because they did not want to be induced without a medical indication. It did not align with their values and beliefs.
Although the results of this study concluded that EIOL at 39 weeks for first time mothers decreased the cesarean rate, it did not acknowledge that there are many other effective and less-invasive approaches to lower the risk of c-section (1. continuous labour support (i.e Doula) 2. Intermittent auscultation (Hands on fetal monitoring) 3. Walking during labour and water births).
While the results of the ARRIVE Trial should not be applied to every birthing mother, the information can be used on an individualized basis and can be a viable option if: 1. It is inline with the mother’s values 2. the staff and facility are available to assist in longer labour (need to allow for a longer first phase of labour) 3. the protocol for “failed” inductions avoids a c-section. It is important to note that the outcomes for neonatal death or complications were the same for the induction group and the group that waited for spontaneous labour, so safety is not a concern. Also important to note is that not all women in the control group had a spontaneous vaginal delivery (some ended up being induced and some had c-sections, but this occurred after 39 weeks). This also skews the results.
- avoid potential complications associated with longer gestational periods (preeclampsia, hypertension, macrosomia)
- Lower c-section rate with first time mothers under best-practice of ‘failed’ inductions
- Theoretically may prevent future stillbirth
- Convenience, ending an uncomfortable pregnancy
- Failed inductions can lead to a preventable c-section
- Longer time for labour
- Medicalization of birth (more interventions such as electronic fetal monitoring)
- medically induced contractions are much more painful and this leads to a higher epidural rate
- Potential uterine tachysystole, infection
- Unknown impact on labour and delivery costs/resources
I would like to specially thank Rebecca Dekker of Evidence Based Birth for dissecting the information and presenting it during her webinar. For more information on all things birth related visit: https://evidencebasedbirth.com/
Spent the day in Niagara-on-the-Lake at the Neob Lavender Festival learning all about the many uses of lavender from essential oils, to perfumes, to soaps, insect repellents and even in cooking.
In aromatherapy, lavender oil has long been used for it’s relaxing and calming effect on the nervous system. It helps to relieve stress and anxiety and promote sleep.
Can’t wait to try out all the lavender infused goodies I bought at the festival! 💜
“Nothing is more soft or more flexible than water. Yet nothing can resist it.” -Lao Zhu
THE WATER ELEMENT 💧🌊
Water is the most yin of all the five elements. The organ systems associated with Water are the Kidneys and Urinary Bladder, which rule water metabolism and maintain homeostasis, a dynamic continual rebalancing.
As we age we lose water, and our bodies begin to dry out. Our bones and hair become more brittle, our skin loses its elasticity, our minds may lose their accustomed flexibility. While acknowledging these changes, Traditional Chinese Medicine gives us numerous mental, physical, and nutritional tools to help slow the progression of the apparently inevitable by offering ways to augment the water reserves within us.
Turns out the “stress” from labour is beneficial for the baby because it helps with lung maturation, improved sense of smell (important for breastfeeding), decreased obesity and higher cognitive function. Contractions are good for the baby!
You know the drill when it comes to hormonal blood work; it’s a lot of poking and prodding on multiple days of your menstrual cycle. In my experience, my patients have had all the right testing done (mostly), but no one has taken the time to sit down with them and explain what the results truly mean.
The biggest pitfall of serum (blood) hormone testing is that the reference ranges are MASSIVE. Which means it is highly unlikely that your results will be deemed “abnormal” even though you know something is wrong. So that’s what this blog is for; I’m going to break it all down for you and discuss what the results mean and the REAL range you’re looking for. Note: the following reference ranges are for women and are Canadian units.
What it is: Estradiol, along with LH and FSH, stimulate follicle (egg) maturation. It’s also responsible for female sex characteristics, thickening of the endometrial lining, and bone protection. Estrogen can also be converted from fat, in both males and females, by an enzyme called aromatase.
What it means: Low estradiol is present in peri-menopause and menopause. Elevated estrogen is present in early premature ovarian insufficiency (followed by low levels), and in estrogen dominant conditions like: PMS, endometriosis, PCOS, and obesity.
Follicular 77-921 pmol/L
Luteal 77-1145 pmol/L
The “real” range: The width of the above ranges is ridiculous! Estradiol should be tested on day 3 and should be lower than 200 pmol/L and higher than 80 pmol/L. A level higher than this is a sign that the body is trying too hard to stimulate egg development, and the ovaries are not responding. In this case, you will likely see elevated FSH too.
2) FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone)
What it is: The name says it all. FSH is in charge of the development and maturation of follicles.
What it means: High levels are diagnostic of menopause, ranging from 27-133 IU/L. When your body is pumping out more FSH than normal, it’s a sign that the ovaries are not responding (just like estrogen). Low levels of FSH are typically present in PCOS.
Follicular 3-8 IU/L
Mid-cycle 3-22 IU/L
Luteal 1.5-5.5 IU/L
The “real” range: Higher than 8 IU/L on day 3 (that’s the 3rd day of your period) is too high and the value is only going up from there. 6 IU/L is as good as it gets on day 3.
3) LH (Luteinizing hormone)
What it is: Ah, the hormone everyone knows and loves! The LH surge triggers ovulation and is measured by urine strips. LH also contributes to the maturation of eggs. You may not know that estrogen surges right before LH, which can also be used to detect ovulation.
What it means: On day 3, an LH to FSH ratio greater than 2:1 is indicative of PCOS. LH is elevated in PCOS for so many reasons I’ll need to dedicate another blog to it. Elevated LH also stimulates elevated testosterone production, and in turn estrogen production. Contrary to what you may think, high LH actually inhibits ovulation instead of stimulating it.
Follicular 2-12 IU/L
Mid-cycle 8-90 IU/L
Luteal 1-14 IU/L
The “real” range: LH should be almost equivalent to FSH on day 3. 6-8 IU/L is ideal.
What it is: Most of the body’s progesterone is produced by the outer coating of the egg, called the corpus luteum. After you ovulate, progesterone levels increase to maintain the endometrial lining and prepare for embryo implantation. Progesterone also stimulates the production of a thick mucous that covers the cervix so no sperm can enter the uterus (FYI this is the basis of hormonal birth control).
What it means: A low level of mid-luteal progesterone indicates anovulation and luteal phase defect (short luteal phase) and predicts implantation failure/ early miscarriage.
Luteal 4-50 nmol/L
The “real” range: On day 21 the minimum value is 10 nmol/L to have ovulated and 20 nmol/L to carry a pregnancy. Day 21 is arbitrary if you don’t ovulate on day 14. Progesterone is best-tested 7 days after you ovulate.
What it is: The main function of prolactin is to stimulate breast milk production. However, elevation can also occur due to the following: benign pituitary tumor, periods of high stress, hypothyroidism, PCOS, and certain medications.
What it means: Elevated prolactin inhibits the release of GnRH, which then inhibits the release of LH and FSH. Without LH and FSH, follicles will not develop.
The “real” range: Prolactin levels as high as 50 ug/L can inhibit ovulation, but small increases by a few points are relatively harmless. One-time elevation should be followed by repeat testing. As mentioned, stress is a major influence on this hormone.
What it is: A precursor hormone to both estrogen and testosterone.
What it means: DHEA is often evaluated in PCOS, as elevations in this hormone increase androgen levels. It may be prescribed to improve ovarian reserve (but not without fun side-effects).
Reference Range: <9.8 umol/L
What it is: Produced from DHEA, this hormone is the precursor to testosterone.
What it means: Elevated androstenedione is found in PCOS and adrenal hyperplasia. Both conditions inhibit ovulation. It may be elevated in isolation, or with testosterone.
Follicular 1.2-8.7 nmol/L
Luteal 1.1-8.2 nmol/L
What it is: You know this hormone for its role as the primary male sex hormone, but it’s important for women too! In the ovaries, testosterone is produced by the stromal cells and converted to estrogen. It participates in follicle growth and development, not to mention male and female libido.
What it means: Too much is present in PCOS which is far from ideal, but too little can inhibit ovulation and egg development.
Total testosterone 0.3- 1.8 nmol/L (some labs up to 4 nmol/L)
The “real” range: Testosterone is extremely tricky to test accurately. Free testosterone is a better measurement than total and the reference ranges (depending on the lab) have huge variability. In order to test free testosterone you need to test total testosterone and sex hormone binding globulin.
9) AMH (Anti-Mullerian Hormone)
What it is: It’s a hormone that can depict the female egg reserve because it is secreted by the eggs in the ovaries. The more eggs you have, the higher the value will be. Not surprisingly, AMH decreases with age. This is the only hormone test we have for predicting ovarian reserve.
What it means: A lower value for your age means you have a lower number of eggs than the average female. A much higher value for your age is indicative of PCOS, as the cystic ovaries in PCOS secrete excess AMH.
Reference Range: The numbers are averages based on age:
< 33 = 2.1 ng/mL
33-37 = 1.7 ng/mL
38-40 = 1.1 ng/mL
> 41 = 0.5 ng/mL
The “real” range: At any age, a value > 3.15 – 4.45 ng/mL warrants further testing for PCOS. A value of 6.8-10 ng/mL is diagnostic.
10) TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) & Antibodies (anti-TPO, anti-TG, anti-TSH)
What it is: TSH is released by the anterior pituitary, which then stimulates the release of thyroid hormones (T3, T4) from the thyroid gland. TSH above the reference range with symptoms present is diagnostic of hypothyroidism, and below is hyperthyroidism. TPO and TG antibodies cause the thyroid condition known as Hashimoto’s, anti-TSH is more commonly present in Graves’.
What it means: Deficient thyroid function affects egg quality, embryo quality, and implantation rates. Combine that with thyroid antibodies, and there’s an increased risk of miscarriage.
TSH 0.32-4.0 mIU/L
Antibodies should all be negative
The “real” range: TSH should be < 2.5 to prevent miscarriage. A full thyroid lab panel (with individual thyroid hormones) is certainly necessary in cases of recurrent miscarriage.
Have more questions? Meet with me!
Wondering about your own lab results? Need a little help wading through the information and finding the useful parts? I offer a free 30 min consultation to all new patients. Click below to book yours today. I look forward to seeing you soon!
About the Author
at the Toronto Reproductive Acupuncture Clinic.