Acupuncture for Children

In China, patients go to acupuncturists from all ranges of ages — newborn (or even pre-born because of the mother) to any age. In the United States though, it looks like people are concerned about the discomfort and pain for kids because they are so protective of kids. That is why here there are much fewer kids exposed to acupuncture, and trying it.

My feelings are that it is just a cultural difference. Imagine when kids need to go to a dentist, a surgeon, or to have a simple vaccine or injection, etc. all of these medical procedures actually hurt much more than acupuncture. If kids can do those things, they can definitely tolerate acupuncture. Some people must wonder about kids who cannot stay still and they might think it will be difficult to do it. This is actually not true. For most kids, they are still when receiving acupuncture treatment just like adults. There are a few kids who may be a little bit fussy at the beginning and then a few minutes later they will be fine too. Of course, there may be 0.5% of kids that are not suitable for acupuncture, just like some certain medical procedures aren’t good for some people.

In China, when we started to give kids acupuncture for PDD research in 1987, we went to special schools to have acupuncture service for kids. We treated kids in their classrooms (five to thirteen years old) in an efficient order, like an assembly line with many of them sitting in a row receiving the treatment. Their behavior was fine. The reality is if the acupuncture is performed by well-trained acupuncturists, nothing really hurts. Since it is new here because of the cultural difference, we always ask both parents to come for the first visit with the child. We ask the parents to try the needle first so they can know what kind of sensation the child will have. If they feel it is fine, we’ll continue with the child. That procedure with the parents is done purposely to convince the kids that it’s okay to have acupuncture. So far, we have helped many children without any problems from the parents.

Pediatric acupuncturists appeared in China a long time ago, just like OBGYN acupuncturists, internal medicine acupuncturists, etc. Generally speaking, in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and acupuncture theory, children’s problems are easier to deal with than adults because they are still in the developmental stage so they grow fast, heal fast,  and are full of energy. If the treatment is correct, the reaction will be very positive and quick. For most kids’ situations, they don’t need as many treatments as adults. For many of them, just one or two treatments shows results. Here, you can see to send a child to an acupuncturist is much simpler and less uncomfortable than going to other medical professionals. It is also actually very safe for kids to have acupuncture.

The most effective and commonly used acupuncture points are between elbows and the ends of hands, and between knees and the ends of feet. Acupuncture for children doesn’t need as much time for the needles to stay in, and for some problems the needle only goes in and out. Even further, some kids don’t need needles at all – they just need acupressure. There’s no risk to the treatments, especially since so often the kids fall and hurt themselves and that is much harsher of an injury than acupuncture ever will be. Sometimes, just changing the diet makes a big difference too.

Symptoms With “No” Cause | CSD’s Are Cured By Acupuncture

Imagine these three situations:

1. You’re sitting in front of your computer working on something, and suddenly one of your arms feels very tired, or your hand is tingling. When you sleep, you may wake up from pain in your hands or your neck.

2. You often experience dizziness, headaches, and even ringing in the ear sometimes. You go to many health specialists, and they find nothing wrong.

3. Sometimes, you feel so nervous or anxious that you have palpitations, nausea, insomnia or sleeplessness. You even have difficult breathing. Your health specialists found nothing wrong with you either.

These are only three examples of which there are many more. They look unrelated but the reality is they are from the same root.  These symptoms are actually caused from a tension of soft tissue around the neck and vertebrae. An umbrella term for them is called cervical spine disorder (CSD), and another way to refer to them are neck-vertebrae syndromes.

If you go to a general practitioner or even a specialist, they will probably find nothing wrong with you unless they are experienced or they check with you more carefully. Sometimes, they feel it’s not a serious medical problem either or sometimes it is just because the CSD is too mild to notice even by a machine.

To understand what is a cervical spine disorder, we must know about the anatomy of the spine and vertebrae. In the human body, we have 24 vertebrae. The cervical spine region is between the top and bottom of the neck area (between shoulders), part of the central nervous system (CNS) passing through the channels which are formed by the vertebrae. This area is the only connection between the brain and all other parts of the body (except the head). That means it is possible that a problem in any part of our body specifically related to the nervous system could be related to this area. It even includes some problems from the head area.

The question now is: why do these problems occur? Our body’s normal activity is regulated by two major systems. One is the nervous system and the other is the endocrine system. Between these two systems, the nervous system has a dominant role. Since it is a bridge between the brain (where messages are sent to the rest of the body including the message to experience pain) and the body (where pain is felt), that is why any problem in the body can be affected by or associated with the nervous system. This is basic information about the nervous system.

Fourteen years ago, we started to see patients in the United States who had ringing in the ear or some migraine headaches caused by “no reason,” because the patients told us they went to many specialists who said nothing was wrong. Some specialists even told their patients they were having hallucinations. When we checked the patients, we found their neck and upper back soft tissue were very tense. We specifically treated those patients because we suspected it’s associated with the cervical spine region. Not only does this area connect every nerve below the neck, but also some above the neck, reaching towards the ears and other parts of the head.  We must know the patient’s overall situation in their entire body, but if we suspect the cervical spine is involved, we treat that area as well as the area the symptoms occur. In our office, we’ve successfully treated patients with those problems with this method.

Recently, we read a report in the newspaper that in Taiwan, scientists found many ringing in the ear problems or migraine headache problems are associated with CSD. When we read it, we were ecstatic to see that these scientists confirmed what we thought was going on with some of our patients.

What is the diet’s effect on our health according to TCM and Acupuncture?

TCM and acupuncture were formed at least 3,000 years ago. TCM and acupuncture doctors applied natural phenomena to our bodies’ individual situations in both ways – physically, and pathologically. They believed that the nature of the food we eat daily, and the herbs we consume, and acupuncture we receive when we have a health problem are similar, but are on different levels. It is just like the idea that we eat when we are hungry, or put on more clothes when we’re cold, etc. Herbs and acupuncture work in the same way. We have four seasons, day and night, rainy, windy, different environmental and climate changes, and other natural phenomena. We as human beings need to compensate for what is happening around us. Diet is the main part of the compensation.

We have so many types of food to choose from. Just like everybody’s foundation of different, our body’s reactions to food are more or less different. If we eat certain “wrong” foods on a consistent, long term time frame, we are harmed. When some people eat hot/spicy food often for a long time, at a certain point, they are going to experience anxiety, bad breath, dizziness, red eyes, headaches, restlessness, sore throat, etc. People like this just think they have a health problem, but when they check in a medical setting, there is nothing wrong with them. But they know they feel different than before, and have a problem. In TCM and acupuncture theory, this is because if a person belongs to the warm/hot type, the hot/spicy food (if taken often) can only make their body hotter. The sore throat, headache, thirstiness, dry mouth, are indications of the hot type and getting hotter. If you ignore the symptoms, and continue having more of the hot/spicy food, it will affect you further. It affects the gallbladder and liver, and can cause serious health problems.

It is a good idea for us to understand how different foods affect us. The first thing we need to know about what we eat is the nature of the food, meaning our body’s reaction to the food. In general, anything hot/spicy such as peppers, cinnamon, coffee, dried ginger, lamb, walnuts, goat, chives, etc. can be harmful for us if we are the warm/hot type of person. On the other hand, anything cold-natured, such as mint, watermelon, pear, papaya, tofu, crab, etc. can be harmful if we are the cold type of person.

In our practice, we see many patients coming in with various health problems, simply because their lifestyle or diet are the opposite of what their body needs. Some patients that have gone to doctors for their problems and have received test results showing that they technically have nothing wrong with them, but they know it is not what they are normally like and want to get back to their old self. If you ask them, there is nothing really wrong with them except they have been eating certain types of food for a long time. For some patients, we only need to ask them to change their diets in the way their body needs. After a while, coupled with acupuncture treatment, they will feel better. For some other patients, if it is a more serious condition, they will need to add herbal medicine to their acupuncture treatment and diet changes.

Foods or Herbs for the Common Cold

Almost everybody will experience a mild cold at some point in their life with the following complaints: sneezing, headaches, itchy nose, itchy throat, sore throat, poor appetite, fatigue, body ache, voice change, nausea, slight fever, sweating, etc. Some people just buy Advil or Tylenol to easen up their complaints. For some others, they just deal with it. However, without any help, the cold may last for a longer time. Some people may have learned something from their grandparents to deal with this kind of thing by having chicken soup, ginger ale, etc. There may be some other folk formulas we don’t know of. There is something that will work if you follow the rules, like in the following.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and acupuncture, we categorize all conditions and diseases into different types. The reason for this is similar to how different cars need different oils or gasolines because the cars were made to be fueled with those substances. Like the cars, some herbs or foods are better as fuel for some people more than others. For the common cold, we have five basic types with different combinations or proportions of the foods/herbs.

  1. “Cold” cold – people will experience headaches, body aches, no sweating, feeling cold easily with chills, tiredness, poor appetite, voice change
  2. “Warm” cold – people will experience feeling warm easily, less or no chills, sore throat, fever, sweating, tired, poor appetite, voice change
  3. “Deficient” cold – these type of people are the ones who always have some cold-like symptoms, never really have enough energy to be very productive, and they frequently have something wrong with their health.
  4. Based on “deficiency” cold types, this category is for those who specifically feel cold year-round and can wear more clothing even in the summer than most people around them without overheating.
  5. Opposite from “deficiency” cold types, this category is for those who feel hot year-round and can wear less clothing in the winter than most people around them without feeling cold.

In TCM and acupuncture, many foods are also medicines (the line between food and medicine is blurry). It depends on what we need at the time.

For “cold” cold, the following food combinations will help either cure, easen up complaints, or make the recovery shorter. They are cilantro, scallion, fresh ginger root with brown sugar. Then the question is how much of each and how should it be prepared? First of all, you prepare these foods by slicing the cilantro (1-2 mm), scallions (1-2 mm), and fresh ginger root (1-2 mm). You’ll need a handful of sliced scallion handful, one-half of a handful of sliced cilantro, and a quarter handful of sliced ginger. Prepare to boil a pot with 2 cups of water inside. In it, you should put in 2 heaping tablespoons of brown sugar (if you have diabetes, skip this step). As soon as the water is boiling, put the ingredients into it, and turn off the heat. Cover the pot until the temperature is okay for you to drink. Drinking this twice a day or more will take care of the “cold” cold type. If it’s an emergency and you don’t have some of the ingredients, you can use more of the other ones to compensate.

For “warm” cold, you’re going to need a similar concoction but in different amounts and plus something else. Use white sugar instead of brown sugar, and add mint. Gather half a handful of sliced scallion, half a handful of sliced cilantro, and a quarter handful of sliced ginger, two handfuls of mint, two heaping tablespoons of white sugar. Prepare them the same way as above.

For “deficient” cold, use everything from “cold” cold, and either 1 gram of American ginseng or half of a gram of ginseng. For type 4, everything from “deficiency,” and add cinnamon and a spice. For the last one, everything from “warm” cold, and add watermelon juice (if it’s the summertime), banana (fall or spring) and papaya or pear juice (wintertime).

A few more words for “deficient” people: it would be a good idea to take some American ginseng. For “cold” type people, have more hot/spicy food, lamb and cinnamon. For “warm” type people, don’t eat hot/spicy food. In TCM and acupuncture, we do sometimes require patients to change their diet in certain ways according to their pattern differentiation. These were just examples, but if you have these combinations, you will definitely get a benefit from it.

No Breast Milk or Too Much Breast Milk

Do you have a breast milk problem after having a baby? We’ve seen it before. In modern society, the stress of work can of overwhelm people. When a woman becomes a mother, there are more things than usual to be worried about, specifically at the beginning when you have a newborn. It is a good idea to breastfeed even with the wide variety of formula available. On one hand, formulas are good for mothers with too much work and those that cannot see the child too often. On the other hand, the new mothers may have opportunities to breastfeed their baby but do not produce enough milk. There are many reasons for not producing enough breast milk, such as stress and imbalanced hormone levels. If the mother lost a lot of blood during childbirth, her body will be focused on making more blood, not breast milk. In China, there are many natural ways to facilitate breast milk production such as fish soup (carp fish preferred), pig feet soup, vaccaria seeds, etc. For most women, this will help greatly. For some other women, this may not be enough. In that case, it is necessary to have acupuncture for help. Ancient Chinese doctors found a specific spot on both pinky fingers two to three millimeters away from the edge of the nail on the outer portion of the finger. It is called shaoze, the first point on the small intestine channel (in Traditional Chinese Medicine). What you need to do is acupuncture the points and some adjacent points on or around the breasts/chest after sterilization for twenty five minutes once a day for a week or once every other day for two weeks. It is highly recommended to combine this treatment with the foods mentioned above for the best results. Another issue for new mothers is sometimes they find themselves lactating too much, and it is annoying, or they want to stop breastfeeding for some reason. You can use herbs like barley sprout/malt to inhibit lactation. If you combine the pair of acupuncture points, Zulinqi, the results will be better. In the past years, we have seen quite a few patients like we mentioned above for help. So far, we have helped every body.  The patient will definitely get better  results if they combine acupuncture and herbal and/or diet changes together. One of the patients in particular (which is listed in Complex Cases under New Mothers) did not have enough breast milk for four months after her child’s delivery. She went to different specialists for help. After six sessions of acupuncture treatment, she said she finally had enough milk. This is still new in the USA. We hope that more and more people realize that many problems and conditions can be helped easily by Chinese medicine or acupuncture or a combination of both. In this way, more people can get benefits from an easier method.

Acupuncture for PMS

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is one of the most common complaints for many females. Most females will experience this in their lifetime once or more times. However, about 5% of them will need to seek help due to very intense symptoms. According to modern medicine, the cause is still unclear. Therefore, the treatment is basically for complaints – in other words only to relieve the symptoms. Traditional Chinese medicine and Acupuncture (TCMA) uses natural phenomena and principles to describe our body in both physical and pathological ways along with the treatments. The treatment for diseases in TCMA is according to pattern differentiation. The pattern differentiations for PMS in TCMA are: cold/yang deficiency, liver stagnation, poor circulation/blood stasis, etc. The concepts of “cold/yang deficiency,” “liver stagnation,” and “blood stasis,” are very different from what people understand nowadays. For example, “cold/yang deficiency” here means the PMS sufferer does not like the cold (i.e. cold environment, intakes, food/drinks that naturally make the body cold, or our reaction to them is cold), for this reason you can see some of these patients have an onset of PMS or make their PMS worse if they are in a cold environment, or when they eat something cold. The “liver stagnation” type means PMS sufferers will have an emergence of symptoms if they are too stressed, or the stress will make their PMS worse. If the “liver stagnation” or “cold/yang deficiency” are not treated, eventually they will turn into “blood stasis.” The “blood stasis” type means poor circulation or blockage in the vascular system. This type is basically the utmost development of the previous two types or it can occur on its own without the previous two. The symptoms of “blood stasis” will be a very painful and darker period with many clots. Sometimes, the pain can feel like needles or knives cutting into you, some people even faint and end up in the emergency room. Any factors that affect the “liver stagnation” or “cold/yang deficiency” type can affect this type in the same way too. A patient can suffer from one or two types or even a combination of all of them. In addition, there may be some other types such as: Qi deficiency or kidney deficiency etc. These types mean the patient was either born like that or it could be something else. The acupuncture treatment we need to do for “cold/yang deficiency,” is to eliminate the coldness or tonify yang. Meanwhile, patients need to avoid cold environments or cold food/drinks, and instead take warm drinks/food, etc. The treatment for this type is usually acupuncture with TDP/moxibustion or tonification methods. For “liver stagnation,” we have to regulate and soothe the liver Qi, and eliminate the stagnation. For “blood stasis,” we need to regulate the blood and eliminate the blood stasis, and promote circulation. If it is two or more types combined you will need to mix the treatments described above accordingly. In terms of Chinese medical herbs treatment, it is very similar to acupuncture, but using herbs instead. There are different herbal formulas for each type. Most of the time, the formulas need to be alternated to fit the patients pattern better, and in this way, the patients will get the most benefit from the the herbal treatment. Overall, TCMA is the simplest, best and easiest method to treat PMS. The combination of Chinese herbs and acupuncture will give patients maximum benefit and quick results. Additionally, with a diet and lifestyle change, etc. the results will be better. We have helped many PMS patients from the age of 15. We know we helped because we have many new PMS patients referred by their friends who were cured in our office before.

Traditional Chinese Medicine Acupuncture and Seasonal Allergies

Ancient Chinese doctors knew about allergies, and passed this knowledge to future acupuncturists.

They noticed that when spring came, some people would have problems like skin rashes, sneezing, itching, runny nose, watery eyes, etc. In general, these complaints would come and go very fast just like the wind. During that time, scientists considered spring to be the wind season. Therefore, combining the factor of the time (season) and characteristics of the complaint – coming and going as fast as the wind – they named this kind of problem: wind type or wind like problems.

Although the liver is usually associated with wind problems, in this case the lungs are actually the organ related to the wind, because the material we are allergic to bothers us mainly through either the skin, nose, and sometimes the eyes. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) acupuncture system, the lungs are a combination of nose, bronchial, skin, hair, partially circulatory system, partially the immune system, partially the metabolic system and the lungs themselves.

This TCM and acupuncture system was formed about 2,000 years ago and has been a key player in Modern Chinese disease prevention medicine. Nowadays, it is spreading worldwide more and more because of its effectiveness and good results through a natural way. In recent years, much more scientific research has proven that TCM and acupuncture can regulate and improve immuno function in both cellular immunity and humoral immunity. Most importantly, scientists also found they have what is called “both direction regulation,” which means if anything in the body is “higher than normal” then TCM and acupuncture can lower it until it is back to normal, vise versa.

Clinically, for patients with allergies, the common pattern could be “wind cold” sometimes combined with Qi deficiency. For “wind cold,” the complaints will be: feeling cold easily, allergies accompanied with chills, clear watery mucous from nose, sneezing, watery eyes without swelling, becoming worse in the morning or when the environment is colder. For “wind cold and Qi deficiency,” patients usually complain about tiredness and catching a cold easily and the allergy will get worse or onset more often when getting too tired, these happen simultaneously with the symptoms mentioned earlier. Of course, there are some other uncommon types too, such as “wind with poor circulation,” “wind heat,” etc. which we will not go into detail in this article.

Treatment

The treatment involves a diet change, acupuncture, and herbs if you want a quick relief. For the diet change everyone is different, it would be a good idea to talk about this face to face with the acupuncturist, but one thing is for sure: adding more fresh ginger root juice and mung bean in your diet, avoid the cold stuff are always a good idea. For TCM and acupuncture treatment, it completely depends on the patterns that you have. The acupuncture needle could go on the face, extremities, back, stomach, depending on the situation. At times, TDP and cups need to be involved as well. However, for a few people electrical acupuncture may be better. In terms of herbs, it is more complicated, you would need to speak face to face with an acupuncturist. We started to see seasonal allergy patients in the U.S. in 1995. So far, we have helped many sufferers. For most people, after treatment they will not need to come back. We followed up with patients for five years and there was still no need for them to come back.

Rebecca’s Story: Acupuncture and Constipation

Case Study

Constipation is one of the common complaints we hear about on a daily basis. There are many reasons for this kind of digestive problem. One of the causes is: Ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement or delaying it until later. However, in daily practice, both professionals and patients often neglect this as a cause. At our office, we’ve helped many patients like this.

Rebecca Tillman, female, 46 years old, came to our office with a 20 year history of constipation. During this time she would only have a bowel movement every 3-6 days. The problem started at the age of 26, when she started her PhD program. The program required her to study hard, read a lot and write many essays. Although eating carefully and healthy at the time, she started to develop an irregular bowel movement. She ignored these signs and then soon enough the constipation started to affect her daily life and studies. Ever since, she went to many doctors and specialists. No one could find anything wrong with her, they either told her to take laxatives or change her diet. However, the results were unsatisfactory.

In our office, we went through all the details about her daily life, from early morning until she went to bed. In terms of the details regarding her bowel movement, she told us she developed a habit, during her PhD program, to read necessary information for her work or exams during her bowel movement to save time. At times she would even forget to go to the bathroom, even though she was sitting on the toilet. Once we combined the diagnosis from the other specialists with the details of the bowel movement habit, we realized what the problem was. It was obvious she developed a bad habit with her bowel movement. She would be distracted so much while she was using the bathroom that her nervous system would concentrate more on reading instead of the bowel movement. At the time, the nervous system became used to dealing with two things: reading and going to the bathroom. As a result, the bowel movement was no longer as easy as a normal one.

We suggested to Rebecca, that in order to change this habit she should concentrate on the bowel movement, to not read or think about anything else, until she finished. Meanwhile, we gave her some Shen(spirit and mind) related acupuncture points such as: Si-Shencong, Shenmen plus Chengshan, Zhigou, Tianshu and Siguan. After 12 sessions, within a month and half period, her constipation improved significantly, she would have a bowel movement either once a day or once every other day. She was very happy with these results. We followed up with her for half a year, her bowel movement was fine ever since.

What you should take away from this case study:

Although she suffered for a while and it looked like a complicated case, it was actually very simple. As soon as we found the cause we treated her with acupuncture points for regulating and re-balancing her nervous and digestive system, then her bowel movements became normal. TCM and acupuncture has a long history of treating constipation either simple or complicated cases. In fact, there are many acupuncture points and herbal formulas that are good for constipation issues. If you do have a complicated case, you would really need to follow the TCM and acupuncture rules, which are pattern differentiation and treatment. Only in this way can you really get good results.

Many People, Including Professionals, Still Don’t Know Acupuncture is Good for Infertility

Like anything else, when it comes to the topic of acupuncture everyone has an opinion. It’s scientifically proven that acupuncture can help or cure many diseases and conditions, but still many people don’t believe it. For acupuncture for infertility, tremendous scientific research has been done in China over the past 60 years indicating that it can affect our body in every way such as molecular, cell, tissue and system levels, etc. through regulating the nerve system and the endocrine system directly or indirectly, specifically the reproductive system such as ovary function, pituitary gland and adrenal gland function etc. The details can be found in the book Scientific Foundations of Acupuncture and Moxibustion by Zhu Bing Ph.D (Qing Dao 1998). There are many more books and publications about it, this book is just one example.

Many countries have started to use acupuncture for medical purposes. The National Institute of Health (NIH) of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services published a Consensus Development Statement on acupuncture in 1997, which concluded that acupuncture can help many diseases and conditions. About 10 years ago, there was research done in Europe that stated acupuncture increases the pregnancy rate at a 50% chance. However in recent years, a study stated acupuncture can only relax people instead of helping them become pregnant.

There are many theories in medical fields that continuously change over time, depending on the latest developments. Take the CPR procedure and the principal of dealing with shock patients for example, these theories go back and forth, proving and disproving each other as the time goes on. We don’t think one or two scientific studies are able to represent the whole truth about acupuncture for infertility. The reality of acupuncture helping infertility issues in daily practice indicates that it works very well, otherwise acupuncture clinics for infertility wouldn’t have survived.

In the past years, just like other clinics, we have helped many infertility patients conceive with acupuncture and Chinese herbs treatment without IVF or IUI, aged from 30 to 45. Some of them are diagnosed by other specialists that they can not pregnant naturally or at all in their life time. We even helped patients get pregnant naturally with our protocol at ages 45, 47 and even 49.

Our first patient of this kind was a 35 year old woman from Brazil. In the initial visit, she told us her OB/GYN and the IVF specialist informed her that she will never get pregnant, according to her situation. After consultation and examination with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) methodologies, we concluded that she was not hopeless and she still had a good chance to get pregnant naturally. After 15 sessions of acupuncture treatment with TCM herbs, within two months she became pregnant naturally. Twelve months later, she surprised me by coming to my office with her baby in the stroller. She told everyone in the office that we made the impossible possible. This patient is just one of many examples. We’ve also helped many M.D.’s themselves from different medical specialties in different medical facilities, such as: New York Presbyterian Hospital, Mount Sinai Medical School Hospital, New York Hospital, etc. to become pregnant in similar ways. One of our physician patients from New York Hospital was referred to us by her patient, who got pregnant by our acupuncture treatment, after experiencing three failed IVF procedures. We found that she had an irregular period, and was always tired with ice cold extremities, which means her hormones were imbalanced. We told her to stop trying IVF until her body was ready in terms of TCM diagnosis. Within two months she had 12 acupuncture sessions. Her period was regulated and she stopped experiencing ice cold extremities. We suggested that she should continue acupuncture treatments with IVF procedures, and in four months she was pregnant. Ten months later she gave birth to a healthy baby. Some physicians have tried IVF as many as five times without any results. Many of them after combining IVF with acupuncture treatment became pregnant too. We’ve had a patient from Australia that told us she tried IVF 18 times without any results, which is far too many times for one person to try. If the body is not well balanced and not ready, it is useless to try IVF again and again.

In the last 40 days, at our clinic, we’ve had four out of the seven couples we treated get pregnant. Three of these couples became pregnant naturally, at ages 34-37, who had been heading for IVF procedures. One couple had 12 acupuncture sessions and became pregnant within two months, the second couple got pregnant in the 3rd month, the third couple tried 24 sessions and within four months they were pregnant.

To understand why acupuncture can help infertility we must first become familiar with Chinese culture and tradition. One of the most important rules in Chinese culture and the tradition is: you must reproduce. Otherwise, it’s a sign of disrespect to your parents, family and ancestors. Essentially, you would be blamed for discontinuing the family lineage. Therefore, one of the important duties for Chinese doctors is to help patients conceive and have their own babies. This kind of practice dates back at least 2,000 years. Chinese doctors have spent centuries developing methodologies for infertility issues in both men and women. The procedures for female reproductive health include the care of: menstruation, pregnancy, breast feeding/lactation, inducing labor, and diseases and conditions related to postpartum; while for males this includes: ED, ejaculation problems etc. According to TCM and acupuncture theory, unless your missing an essential organ(s), some fundamentals to becoming pregnant as a woman are a healthy body and a regular and normal menstrual cycle etc.

Last year there was a book published in China by a colleague of mine from medical school. After reading the book I realized we have similar experiences regarding infertility issues with Chinese medicine and acupuncture. The book gives us many examples of cases labeled by specialists as ‘impossible’ without the help of IVF who got pregnant naturally with acupuncture and Chinese herbs treatments. I couldn’t agree more with one point of view from the book that the lab results are one thing, but the balance of the body is another. As long as the body is well balanced the lab results are not the most important as what is supposed to be, at least in terms of infertility issues. Otherwise there shouldn’t be so many so called impossible patients eventually getting pregnant and having healthy babies.

Nowadays, specifically in the United States, the cause of infertility for women, according to our clinical experience – apart from having organ problems – are: stress, aging, too low Anti-Müllerian Hormone (AMH) etc. Other factors include an imbalance of hormones due to diet, drugs, and other related diseases such as thyroid problems etc. If the related diseases and conditions are not our specialty, we do refer the patient to corespondent specialists. We found that many of our patients do not have a clear picture about their infertility issues even after seeking treatment from other infertility specialists. We also found from our patients some infertility specialists, do not suggest to see acupuncturists for help. We don’t know why, maybe because they don’t have enough information about acupuncture as a beneficial infertility treatment. Whatever it is, professionally and morally for the patient’s benefit it is fair to let the patients try acupuncture or combine acupuncture with IVF treatments. We truly believe from clinical experience that to let the patient understand what we are doing is important. If the patient cannot get the whole picture of this process, the results of the treatment will be poor. We also truly believe that the cooperation between patient and doctor is very important. That is why, in our clinic, when we see patients we always give them a clear picture of the whole procedure in a very detailed way according to our knowledge and experience, then the patients can comply.

The most unique part of Chinese medicine, for thousands of years, is the pure trial and error based only on human beings without the testing on animals. That is why the principals and treatments of TCM and acupuncture, some people believe, are closer to the reality of human being’s diseases and conditions. Many Chinese follow the Chinese medicine rules in their daily life activities for well being and to maintain their well being, especially, when they have medical problems such as infertility and it’s related problems. That is why some people say that Chinese medicine and acupuncture contribute to the Chinese population, obviously it shows today with its large size. 

Different Uses of Herbal Tea and Pills in TCM

In the medical field, it looks like all the procedures make us uncomfortable. Medicine-wise, if we don’t swallow quickly enough, it also makes us uneasy.  Chinese medicine in particular can make us feel even more uncomfortable than that. Chinese herbal tea generally helps people, so people tolerate the temporary discomfort and bad taste. That’s why the Chinese have a common saying “liang yao ku kou li yu bing” meaning generally “good medicine tastes bitter but it helps with your illness.” What if good medicine helps our problem but doesn’t taste bad? Wouldn’t that be great?

In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), there are many ways to deal with diseases like using Chinese herbs, acupuncture, massage, qi gong, diet, etc. Acupuncture with needles may be uncomfortable for most people at the beginning, a healing massage for medical purposes often hurts, with qi gong you feel very awkward at the beginning,  and sometimes we need to sacrifice our favorite foods for medical reasons. People try to avoid having these treatment if they don’t need them. That is why there are many ways to administer herbal medicine that can best fit the patient’s needs and preferences. For acute diseases or situations, herbal tea or acupuncture are the best choices. For chronic diseases or situations, herbal pills or powder are the better choices because patients need to take the herbs for long term on a consistent basis. It is convenient and they don’t need to boil the herbs everyday. The taste of the pills is much better than the tea. This means that the medicine that is supposed to help us does not have to taste bitter like the saying says. For kids or people who just don’t like the taste of herbs, honey is added to the herbal base for a better flavor and texture of a syrup.

For most Chinese herbs, they are not harmful to our bodies when taken for a long time. However, some of them are important to pay attention to the effects on our bodies. For example, ephedra is not supposed to be taken for a long time. If it is, the user will end up sweating profusely. Even though some other herbs can make us stronger, that doesn’t mean we should take them for longer or even at all.  Another example is licorice.  It is not a good idea to have it consistently for a long time, especially if you don’t have any medical issues. Otherwise, it could cause palpitation, sweating, anxiety, etc.

It is always a good idea to consult a Chinese herbologist about herbs you’re considering taking, either for medical purposes, beverages, or other purposes. This is because even a small dosage of some herbs can be very harmful. Herbal or so-called natural healing products do not mean they are without side effects.