Tag Archives: TCM

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“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.

Fertility Hormones and Their Reference Ranges

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. 

1) Estradiol 
What it isEstradiol, 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 meansLow 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.
Reference Range:
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 isThe name says it all. FSH is in charge of the development and maturation of follicles.
What it meansHigh 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.
Reference Range:
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 isAh, 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 meansOn 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.
Reference Range:
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.

4) Progesterone
What it isMost 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 meansA low level of mid-luteal progesterone indicates anovulation and luteal phase defect (short luteal phase) and predicts implantation failure/ early miscarriage.
Reference Range:
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.

5) Prolactin 
What it isThe 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 meansElevated prolactin inhibits the release of GnRH, which then inhibits the release of LH and FSH. Without LH and FSH, follicles will not develop.
Reference Range:
5-30 ug/L
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.

6) DHEA 
What it isA precursor hormone to both estrogen and testosterone.
What it meansDHEA 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

7) Androstenodione 
What it isProduced from DHEA, this hormone is the precursor to testosterone.
What it meansElevated androstenedione is found in PCOS and adrenal hyperplasia. Both conditions inhibit ovulation. It may be elevated in isolation, or with testosterone.
Reference Range:
Follicular 1.2-8.7 nmol/L
Luteal 1.1-8.2 nmol/L

8) Testosterone 
What it isYou 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 meansToo much is present in PCOS which is far from ideal, but too little can inhibit ovulation and egg development.
Reference Range:
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 meansA 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 isTSH 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 meansDeficient thyroid function affects egg quality, embryo quality, and implantation rates. Combine that with thyroid antibodies, and there’s an increased risk of miscarriage.
Reference Range:
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

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​Dr Caleigh Sumner is a Naturopathic Doctor
at the Toronto Reproductive Acupuncture Clinic.

http://www.toronto-fertility.com/blog/the-top-10-hormones-worth-testing-for-fertility-the-exact-results-you-want-to-see-dr-caleigh-sumner-nd

Guest Post From sleephelp.org

Acupuncture Helps Ease Insomnia Symptoms

Wouldn’t it be nice to “Sleep like a baby?”

Do you struggle to get to sleep at night? If you do, you’re not alone. While the exact numbers aren’t known, many, many people find it hard to fall asleep, stay asleep, or sleep as long as they want to in the morning. This lack of sleep can become chronic, leading to reduced productivity, lower engagement in life, and even drowsy driving accidents.


Most people who struggle with insomnia feel like they have tried everything. Maybe they’ve purchased a new mattress or invested in a noise machine, but they still can’t stay asleep at night. If this describes you, consider acupuncture as your next step in fighting insomnia. It has been shown to help people sleep in a variety of ways, for several different reasons.

Acupuncture Increases Melatonin

You may know melatonin as a jet lag cure, but it is more than that. Melatonin is the chemical that tells your brain it is time to get sleepy. If you don’t produce enough of it, you will struggle to fall asleep and stay asleep at night. All sorts of things can limit melatonin production, from the blue lights emitted by screens to stress and more.


Acupuncture raises melatonin levels, according to a 2004 study. As a result of the acupuncture they received and their higher levels of the chemical, subjects in the study fell asleep faster, experienced fewer sleep disturbances through the night, and slept longer than they did before they had acupuncture.

Acupuncture Reduces Anxiety

Many people struggle to fall asleep at night because they are anxious. They worry about everything from money to relationships to things that happened during the previous day. It’s like their brains don’t have time to process these things until they are trying to fall asleep.


In the same 2004 study as was mentioned above, researchers found that acupuncture reduced anxiety. People felt less anxious when they were trying to fall asleep, and they experienced less stress in their lives overall. This finding is in line with the relaxing effects of acupuncture that have been documented before.

Acupuncture Pairs with Medication and Herbs

You don’t have to give up your sleep medication or any herbs you use to fall asleep when you try acupuncture. If these are working for you, keep using them. In fact, acupuncture can work alongside these things to improve your sleep even more.


When they are used separately, studies show that acupuncture and medications have similar levels of effectiveness on sleep. However, the combined effect of the two used together produces better sleep then either do when used independently. Similarly, acupuncture combined with herbs results in better sleep than herbs do when used alone. Since acupuncture doesn’t have any long-term adverse effects, there’s no reason not to try it alongside your current sleep aids to see if it produces even better rest for you.


You don’t have to struggle with insomnia anymore. Even if you feel like you’ve tried a lot of things and nothing has worked, consider acupuncture as your next step.

To book an appointment:

Call: 905.5536.9255

Online: www.besthealthacupuncture.com

Email: amanda@besthealthacupuncture.com

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Integrative Fertility Symposium 2018 #IFS2018

It was an absolute honor, pleasure and privilege to spend the past five days in Vancouver at the Integrative Fertility Symposium learning for world-renowned leaders in the field of reproductive medicine. Speakers from Canada, the United States, the U.K, Australia and Europe traveled to Vancouver to share their research and knowledge on all aspects of fertility from both a Western Medicine and Chinese Medicine point of view. It was amazing to see different practitioners with different areas of expertise convene in one place to share one common goal – creating babies.

One of the great things about this symposium is that it promotes INTEGRATION of different styles of medicine. It’s not an “us vs them” mentality like so many other fields. Medical Doctors and Reproductive Endocrinologists have seen first how acupuncture and Chinese Medicine have benefited their patients and are fully supportive of this field. Most Fertility Clinics work closely with acupuncturists and Naturopathic doctors because it improves IVF and IUI results.  It is satisfying and empowering to receive the respect and support of these doctors and be able to learn from them.

I am home now and back at the clinic. I am so excited to implement everything I have learned and help more patients achieve their fertility goals!

If you are interested in fertility acupuncture or have questions about how acupuncture can help you conceive feel free to call me directly for a free 15 minute phone consultation: 647.299.4631. Reception: 905.553.9255 or book online: www.besthealtacupuncture.com 

Scroll down to see pictures from the Symposium and scenic views of beautiful B.C

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Allergies & Acupuncture

https://www.acufinder.com/Acupuncture+Information/Detail/Allergic+Rhinitis+Try+Acupuncture+for+Relief!

For many sufferers of allergic rhinitis, there’s no need to hear a news report detailing the pollen count outside, as their runny nose, sneezing and itchy eyes will let them know. Often these symptoms strike in the summer and spring, but some patients also have symptoms due to an allergy to dust, mites or dander, to name a few. This condition is more commonly referred to as hay fever, seasonal allergies, or just plain allergies.

Symptoms typically include sneezing, runny nose, postnasal drip, and irritated eyes, ears, nose and throat. Normally, when a healthy body comes into contact with foreign particles in the air (allergens), the immune system initiates a response to neatly and harmlessly dispose of the allergens-not so for sufferers of hay fever. In their case, the immune system becomes hyperactive and destructive to the body, causing the symptoms of allergic rhinitis.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) philosophy explains why this medical condition occurs. It is recognized as a condition that is provoked by an external pathogen (the Western medicine equivalent term is “allergens”), although it generally occurs because the body already has a pre-existing deficiency. For example, some patients with a long-standing lung Qi deficiency are more susceptible to dust, dander, pollen, etc. in the air.

Qi is an invisible, fundamental energy needed for all of life to exist. The Qi circulating in the lungs and its corresponding meridians is called Lung Qi. Meridians provide the pathways on which Qi flows throughout the body. When Lung Qi is not strong, problems with breathing, coughing and general immunity may arise. This is because according to TCM philosophy, the lungs are related to Defensive Qi. As the name implies, this Qi functions in the same capacity as our immune system.

The nose is the sense organ corresponding to the lungs, so when there are blockages in the lung meridian, the nose also may be obstructed. The emotions associated with the lungs are grief and sadness. Sometimes after crying or an attack of allergic rhinitis, one may experience a stuffy nose, red eyes and irregular breathing, which reflects the strain on the lungs. A good way to counter these symptoms is to concentrate on deep, regular breaths. This can help stabilize the emotions as well. In general, aerobic exercise is an excellent way to strengthen Lung Qi, which in turn helps strengthen general immunity.

Dietary recommendations according to TCM suggest restricting the amount of dairy products, refined sugar, alcohol, caffeine and fatty foods, in an effort to keep the body from producing too much phlegm. Phlegm is a thick, sticky substance that can worsen the symptoms of allergic rhinitis. Drinking a warm herbal tea after meals, or in between meals, can also help lessen the production of phlegm. There is a saying in TCM that states, ‘phlegm is produced in the stomach but stored in the lungs.’ This is why diet plays an important in role when combating allergies.

Acupuncture treatments may be used year-round, even if your allergies only occur in certain seasons or in the presence of certain allergens. When your symptoms are not active, your acupuncturist can treat any underlying deficiency you have. When they are active, your practitioner can help bring relief from any of the issues you may be currently experiencing.

Call today to schedule your appointment with Amanda Barone, Registered Acupuncturist 905.553.9255 or book online www.besthealthacupuncture.com

Happy Lunar New Year!

Happy Lunar New Year! Welcome the Year Of The Dog 🐕 If you are born in 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982 or 1994 this is your year to SHINE!
Based on 5 Element Theory this is an Earth Dog year. This is a good year to ground yourself and reconnect with nature 🌍
The colour associated with the Earth element is Yellow, so yellow will be the lucky colour this year ⚂
Dogs are known for their loyalty and this will be a common theme this year. Think: loyalty, honesty, friendship and being responsible for the welfare of others (i.e service dogs).
Negative traits of a dog are that they can be impulsive and aggressive. So this year you may find it difficult to control your emotions. But just as a dog can be trained, you too can train yourself to keep your cool in stressful situations.
Dogs are often referred to as “man’s best friend” making people born in the year of the dog to be awesome friends to have. Consider yourself lucky if you have a dog-person in your life!
Wishing you all the best for the year ahead!

Aside

Despite recent advances in research, migraines and headaches are a poorly understood neurological disorder with an unclear pathogenesis. Fortunately, research studying the effectiveness of using acupuncture to treat headaches has been positive. Acupuncture has been shown to modulate cranial blood flow, … Continue reading

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Fresh or Frozen IVF Embryo Transfer – Which is better?

The main take away points for this article (below) is that whatever protocol is used should be specific and individualized to you. As this article states, there is no difference in pregnancy or live birth rates between a fresh or frozen IVF embryo transfer. The problem arises when certain clinics decide to run their practices by exclusively doing one or the other. There are pros and cons to both and it is important for the Reproductive Endocrinologists to take the time to review your case and figure out what is best for YOU! This is where alternative medicines, such as acupuncture and traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has it’s strength. We take the time to sit down with our patients and get to know them and their unique bodies. We ask questions about their menstrual cycle and any hormonal issues, but we also take into consideration their bodily function as a whole (sleep, stress, digestion, bowel movements, appetite, emotional state, etc). This is important because sometimes the answers lie outside the reproductive system and by creating an acupuncture treatment that is tailored to their specific body constitution patients are more likely to respond to treatment with their fertility clinic (IUI, IVF or other ART).

For more information or to book an appointment:

Call: 905.553.9255

Email: amanda@besthealthacupuncture.com

Book online: www.besthealthacupuncture.com

Check out the full article on frozen vs fresh transfers here:

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/dr-caitlin-dunne/you-now-have-more-reasons-to-freeze-embryos-for-infertility-treatment_a_23330442/?utm_content=65707768&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter

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Boost Your Immunity With This TCM-Inspired Bone Broth

Boost Your Immunity With This TCM-Inspired Bone Broth:

https://elizabethrayson.com/2018/01/11/boost-your-immunity-with-this-tcm-inspired-bone-broth/

 

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Acupuncture & Pregnancy Health – Natural support for women during pregnancy, labour and delivery

Pregnancy is an amazing time in a woman’s life. Many women report feeling healthier than they have ever felt before; however, the physical growth of the baby and changes in hormone levels can bring about pain, discomfort and a variety of health problems.
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can provide a safe, effective alternative for many of the health complications that may arise before, during and after pregnancy. A growing number of women are choosing acupuncture to use throughout their pregnancy and as an optional treatment for an overdue or difficult labor.
Planning for a Healthy Baby
Healthy parents produce healthy babies. With acupuncture and TCM, parents can improve their health to create the most optimal environment for their unborn child. In addition to their ability to strengthen, support, and balance overall health and well-being, acupuncture and TCM are an effective treatment for regulating menstruation and hormone levels, reducing stress and addressing any pre-existing medical conditions or concerns that a woman may have.
Acupuncture during Pregnancy
Acupuncture and TCM can play a vital role in the comfort of a pregnant woman. There is strong evidence to support that acupuncture is highly effective at treating some of the most common problems experienced during pregnancy including morning sickness, heartburn, insomnia, water retention and sciatica.
Here is a list of some of the problems that an acupuncturist often treats during pregnancy:

  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Heartburn
  • Constipation
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Edema and Swelling
  • Urinary Tract Infection
  • Pelvic Pain
  • Neck and Back Pain
  • Sciatica
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Leg Cramps
  • Fatigue and Exhaustion
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety and Depression
Acupuncture For Malpostion of The Fetus
Study: Acupuncture Point, UB 67, for Turning a Breech Baby
An acupuncture point on the small toe of the foot (Urinary Bladder 67) has been found to effectively revolve fetuses in breech presentation.
In an Italian study, 240 women at 33-35 weeks of gestation carrying a fetus in breech presentation were randomized to receive acupuncture plus moxibustion (an herb used to apply heat to an acupuncture point) or to be assigned to the observation group. At delivery, the proportion of babies that had turned from breech position to vertex (head-down) position was 53.6 % in the group treated with acupuncture while the proportion of babies that had turned from breech position to vertex position in the observation group was 36.7%.
(Source: J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2004 Apr;15(4):247-52)
 

Acupuncture for Childbirth
There are many acupuncture points that can provide natural pain relief during labor, however, if you do not have the luxury of having an acupuncturist at your beside you can obtain significant relief from acupressure. Using your fingers and hands to produce strong stimulation at certain acupuncture points can be just as effective as needles. This works best if your support person learns these acupoints beforehand and massages them for you during labour. 

Acupuncture is also commonly used to induce labor. There are several points that stimulate contractions and influence cervical ripening. It is best to wait until after your due date or as a natural alternative to a medical induction as there are many benefits to your baby by waiting until 40 weeks gestation. 
Acupuncture Postpartum
Many women feel depleted after the birth experience. Acupuncture can help the transition of those first few months after birth to ensure a quick recovery. Postpartum care focuses on the physical, emotional and psychological recovery of the mother from the effects of pregnancy and labor, as well as encouraging breast feeding.
Here are some of the postpartum disorders that can be treated with acupuncture:

  • Fatigue
  • Postpartum Depression
  • Mastitis
  • Insufficient or Excessive Lactation
  • Post Operative Healing
  • Night Sweats

Safety of Acupuncture During Pregnancy
Acupuncture is safe to use while you are pregnant; however, there are some points that can cause contractions and should NOT be needled during pregnancy or should be used with extreme caution. ****It is important to see an acupuncturist that has specific training in pregnancy wellness**** Both Amanda Barone and Kim Tran are trained to safely and effectively treat pregnant women

 

For more information or to schedule an appointment please call: 905.553.9255 or email: amanda@besthealthacupuncture.com or book online: www.besthealthacupuncture.com