Chinese Herbal Medicine at ilumina

by Dana Price DOM, L.Ac., FABORM

At ilumina Healing Sanctuary our practitioners are educated, trained and board certified in Chinese medicine. Chinese medicine not only includes the sophisticated art and science of acupuncture; it also includes the extensively practiced Chinese herbal medicine sometimes referred as prescriptionology. This is because there is a very specific method of combining herbs to bring about the most beneficial therapeutic effect for an individual patient.

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Chinese herbal prescriptionology has been practiced for thousands years and during that time physicians have empirically learned what works, at what dosage and in which type of patient. Recently, we have combined that ancient knowledge with science to further our understanding of these medicinal herbs and ensure their safety.

Our practitioners at ilumina specialize in infertility treatment, and the use of unique herbal prescriptions individualized to each patient during the process of getting pregnant and having a healthy baby is an advanced technique and rare to find. We administer herbs while women are trying to conceive on their own, using ovulation enhancement, and undergoing IVF. With our close to 20 years experience in doing this we know how to combine herbs with cycles to ensure therapeutic benefit.

Ilumina has a full traditional Chinese herbal pharmacy, semi customizable herbal tinctures and a wide variety of pre-made pills. The products we stock are top of the line and come from companies that ensure the highest safety measures.

Chinese herbal prescriptions are such a benefit to fertility as well as other health issues and take a lot of training and experience to perfect. They are an integral part of a comprehensive Chinese medicine treatment plan.  Our practitioners at ilumina have the training and wisdom needed to practice as Chinese medicine was intended. If you are interested in starting an individualized herbal prescription please call the office and schedule a consultation.

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Chinese Medicine Weaves Spring with the Wood Element

Written by: Shira Dobratz L.Ac. 

Spring. Warm breezes. Birds chirping. Flowers and sunshine. Nature reminding us of hope and new beginnings.

In Chinese Medicine spring is tied to the element of Wood.  Twigs and plants that grow up through the cracks of measured cement pavements, and the way plants and trees respond to wind both give insight into the Wood element.  Lush green life on a mission for sunlight can not be stopped! No matter the wind, trees hold their ground, firmly rooted into the earth, yet with free and easy response to the strength and direction of the wind. This is the wood element doing what it's designed to do and being what its designed to be, centered, goal oriented, flexible, courageous and resilient.

We have similarities to the journey of greenery. We too are on a mission to grow, we too have a propelling need to be nurtured and sustained, we too face many obstacles in our desire to thrive,  we too feel tested by the pressure and intensity of many winds upon us. Strong emotions like stress and frustration can surface for many of us in that process.   Seeking balance in this season includes turning from harsh and relentless self-direction and instead towards peace, harmony,  and supple reactions. Slowing down in the spring can give us time to harness the creative vision, strategic brilliance, courage and confidence that are gifts of a healthy Wood element. In balance we are not caught up in a frenetic and exhausted knot from all the movements and changes, excitements and pressures, but instead can move through the diverse winds with grace, ease, and kindness to others and ourselves.  

Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can help balance these energies within us, as well as Pranayama, Yin styles of yoga, fresh fruits and green leafy vegetables, whole grains like brown rice with ghee or sesame oil, a decrease in alcohol and caffeine consumption, drinking plenty of water, getting a little extra rest, soaking in salt baths, and beginning collaborative endeavors with friends or family. 

Libido Recharge Part II

Written by: Dr. Dana Price DOM, Dipl O.M, L.Ac. 

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In the first of this three part series, I brought to attention the #metoo movement and asked the reader to visualize what a completely unhindered expression of female sexuality would look like. I hope you had the opportunity to explore this. If not please spend some time with this. It is my belief that if we have the vision, we can direct our actions to support and become it. 

I also brought up the three most common types of Yin/Yang imbalance and patterns that arise with low libido. I presented the “stressed” type. In this blog we will explore the “not feeling sexy enough for sex”, or as we translate it in Chinese medicine,Yin deficiency.

This pattern of Yin deficiency can manifest as low libido with difficulty becoming aroused, painful intercourse and lack of lubrication. In general Yin deficiency can include a general dryness of skin and hair, the lack of self nurturing, and potential negative self image. This pattern can also manifest as rushing through sex, and restlessness during sex, stubbornness and inflexibility in relationships, easy to get anxious, irritable and being scattered, vivid dreams, constipation, feeling warm, and light and short menstrual cycles. Here are some things you can do to rebuild your Yin:

Exercise: yoga (not hot), tai chi, qi gong, swimming or hiking. Limit aerobic workouts to 30 minutes three times a week. 

Nutrition: Whole foods diet that emphasizes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, with small amounts of protein and healthy fats. Avoid red meat and eat more vegetarian sources of protein than meat. Food that increase the Yin energy are: seaweed, beets, flaxseeds, spinach, chard, string beans, grapes, blackberries lettuce, nuts, millet and whole wheat to name a few.

Hydration: Here in Arizona it is already hot, sunny and dry which by nature depletes our Yin. It is very important to drink between 100-120oz of fluids per day. Alcohol and caffeine are dehydrating so it should be avoided. With that said avoid becoming overheated saunas, steam rooms, hot baths and hot yoga are not good choices.

Sleep: Getting at least 8 hours of sleep per night is imperative to rebuild Yin. If you remember from the first in the series, rest and night time is Yin. So you need more.

Meditation: Begin a daily meditation routine and do what you can to reduce stress levels. 

Vitamins: Potassium (bananas are good), Calcium, Magnesium and Vitamin E are helpful.

Chinese Medicine: Acupuncture and Chinese herbal formulas are very potent to increase Yin and rebalance your Qi

Misconceptions of Preconception

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Photo by {artist}/{collectionName} / Getty Images

By Leigh Lewis ND, L.Ac, Naturopathic Doctor

Are you hoping for pregnancy in 2018?  If so, keep reading for information that may help you reach you goals.  You may be surprised to learn that the conception rate for any one act of intercourse at the right time of the month, when the stars are aligned and without any fertility issues, is only about 25%.  Yet, even knowing this, many couples expect to be able to conceive easily without much forethought or planning.  This may be in part because we, especially as women, have spent most of our lives trying NOT to get pregnant.  As such, it is not surprising that many couples are blindsided if they are not pregnant within the first several months of trying.   However, there are a few simple things you can do to increases your chance for a timely & healthy pregnancy.
 

Preparation is Key:  General Recommendations for All

Prenatal lifestyle & supplements: As with many goals in life, the path to a successful conception and a healthy pregnancy is planning.  Lifestyle factors, including cigarette, alcohol & caffeine consumption, and marijuana and other recreational or prescription drug use in either partner can increase time to conception and increase risk of miscarriage & chronic health issues in children.  Current research suggests that even if you have very regular and normal cycles starting a prenatal vitamin with adequate methylfolate several months prior to intended conception has numerous benefits in decreasing the risk of nutritional deficiencies, decreasing time to conception, preventing birth defects and decreasing risk of miscarriage as well as decreasing the risk of future autism spectrum disorders and other learning disabilities.  While a prenatal helps correct nutritional deficiencies, some women may need additional vitamin D, B12 and iron depending on lab levels.  These nutrients, if low, can interfere with one’s ability to get and maintain a healthy pregnancy.  The  omega 3 fatty acid derived from fish oil, DHA, has been found to benefit brain development and should also be part of the pre-conception plan.  Finally, finding prenatal supplements that are well-tolerated prior to pregnancy can help avoid problems with consistency if nausea and vomiting are an issue early in pregnancy.  A well-rounded multivitamin and mineral can also improve many aspects of sperm health when taken for at least 3 months prior to planned conception.  First pregnancy and want to improve chances?  Be sure to seek help on tracking ovulation and cycle via basal body temps or apps combined with timing intercourse (see resources below).
 

Pre-conception weight: Another recommendation that can decrease time to conception and increase probability of a healthy pregnancy is a normal weight.  Being overweight or underweight can interfere with fertility by decreasing ovulatory cycles.  Being overweight can also predispose to gestational diabetes and hypertension that can increase the risk of both conditions for mother and baby later in life.  Normal weight has also been found to improve the success of fertility treatments like IVF.  In short, it stands to reason that taking 3-6 months to address any weight issues can go a long way to improving health parameters for both mother and baby.  Special diets or intense exercise can also cause some deficiencies that can be ruled-out with simple blood tests.
 

Contraception: It should be noted that it may take up to 12 months to re-establish normal ovulation and cycles after discontinuing hormonal contraception.  That said, some women may be able to conceive the month after stopping contraception.  The best course of action is to stop any hormonal contraception a year prior to intended conception, using non-hormonal forms (i.e. condoms) until conception is desired, to allow the body to re-set.  This would also be a good time for both partners to start their respective supplements mentioned above.  For those that are trying to avoid or delay pregnancy, remember prevention is the best medicine…there are several safe and effective forms of contraception to choose from.  Finally, a word about lactation:  While breastfeeding can help to space babies, it is not fool-proof and many women will return to fertility while breastfeeding, some even before regular menstruation resumes.  For some women however, even breastfeeding infrequently can delay another conception. Please keep this in mind whether hoping for a pregnancy or to prevent one.

For those with fertility problems:

According to the CDC, American infertility statistics between 2011-2015 were as follows:

  • 12.1% women aged 15-44 with impaired fertility
  • 7.3 million women aged 15-44 who have ever used infertility services

While as many as 30% of couples never find the cause of their infertility, we do know several possible contributing factors that may play a role:

  • Age: fertility rates within one year decrease & time to conception increases after 30 years of age

30s:  75% chance
At 40:  40% chance
By age 43: 1-2%

  • Underweight, overweight and nutritional deficiencies (see above).
  • Hormonal imbalances: thyroid disorders, endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, low estrogen and/or progesterone.
  • Stress, anxiety, & depression: evolution may have set us up to delay conception at times of emotional stress
  • Structural issues: blocked tubes from prior infections, uterine fibroids/polyps, adhesions or scarring from endometriosis or previous pelvic surgery
  • Chronic illness such as autoimmune conditions

Infertility is diagnosed as no conception within 12 months of trying if under 35 years and 6 months if over 35 years. It helps to recognize the importance of these definitions as further lab testing, semen analysis, pelvic imaging and consultation may be recommended at this time.  

Couples with any of the above issues should consider when they ideally would like to conceive and give themselves at least 6-12 months to get healthy by following the above general recommendations and seek guidance from a practitioner who specializes in women’s health and fertility to address specific issues in particular.  The same could be said for women in between pregnancies in order to prep selves for a future conception as pregnancy, breastfeeding and caring for a growing family can take a toll on the body and mind.

If ovulatory, menstrual, or hormonal irregularities are suspected, addressing them by ruling out underlying factors is key.  Research shows that acupuncture and specific herbal formulas and supplements may help normalize hormones and cycles, facilitate conception and improve the health and wellbeing during pregnancy and increase the success of conventional fertility treatments.

Fertility issues can be stressful, especially when combined with pre-existing insomnia, depression, or anxiety, and this can interfere with fertility and exacerbate emotional issues; truly a vicious cycle.  However, there are safe ways to address these issues through meditation, yoga, acupuncture, herbs and supplements.  In some cases medications may be the safest option with several studies showing that medications are preferable to “white-knuckling it” through depression and anxiety.

We here at ilumina are here to help you at any stage: from pre-conception and prenatal to postpartum and beyond, we offer diet & lifestyle counseling, mental health support, acupuncture, western & oriental herbs and supplements, massage and medications to address these issues.  Please feel free to contact us today to get started on your pre-conception health & wellness plan.

Resources:
1. Taking Control of Your Fertility
https://www.tcoyf.com
2. RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association
http://www.resolve.org
3. American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM)
http://www.asrm.org
4.  American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine (ABORM)
http://www.aborm.org
5. Clue: Menstrual/Fertility Tracker App
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/id657189652

Cold and Flu Prevention: 5 Tips to Better Health Revisited

Its that time of year again where summer turns to fall and many patients come in with seasonal colds, increased stress levels and abnormal digestive symptoms. Boosting your immune system during these times are important for helping you stay healthy. Chinese Medicine has been treating the common cold for over 5,000 years, and helps prevent sickness by boosting your immune system and restoring balance.

Five tools for a pathway to prevention and remedy during the cold season:

1. Traditional Chinese Medicine uses diagnostic tools such as your tongue and pulse. The tongue is an expression of your digestion and body system. This can be a tool for prevention and diagnosing imbalances. The pulse is a way to understand the rhythm of the body. The pulse represents different organs in respect to Chinese Medicine practices. Using these tools help us better understand how to treat and prescribe the best herbs and treatment plan for your optimal health. Regular acupuncture treatments are beneficial for prevention and remedy for this year’s cold and flu season.

2.This time of the year the body craves more rest, and in preparation for the cold season getting seven to nine hours of sleep per night is highly recommended.

3.Eating a balanced meal can be challenging during the holidays, but staying close to a healthy, clean diet can prevent inflammation and digestion upset.

4. Zinc- is an essential trace mineral necessary for all forms of life and growth. It is part of DNA development, immune system response, and may reduce suffering from symptoms of the common cold.

5. Elderberry- has been frequently linked with increased immune coordination. This berry has been shown to boost the production of immune cytokines. The cytokines are key messengers in the immune system to help regulate immune response. This allows the body to defend against disease.

By Charlene Hagner, M.Ac., Dipl. O.M., L.Ac.

The Fourth Trimester: No Need to be "Wonder Woman"

The "Fourth Trimester” discussed here includes the weeks, months, and years after pregnancy, between pregnancies or following a woman's last pregnancy. Referred to elsewhere as “postnatal depletion”, this is not an illness or disease that requires treatment in most cases. Instead, it falls into a nebulous category with other periods of normal hormonal flux women experience throughout their lives, including PMS, pregnancy, & menopause. And, like these issues, a given woman may experience a range of symptoms on a continuum, similar to a bell-shaped curve, with some women experiencing little to no distress, most women experiencing moderate distress, and some women significant amounts of distress. Similar to the aforementioned hormonal issues, the severity of symptoms may meet clinical diagnostic criteria and even still women may feel like they have to "white-knuckle it" through this stage, not wanting to ask for help for fear of being discounted.

"Is ours not a strange culture that focuses so much attention on childbirth--

virtually all of it based on anxiety and fear--

and so little on the crucial time after birth, when patterns are established that will

affect the individual and the family for decades?"

~Suzanne Arms

It is important to acknowledge that in the US we often put more kind focus on pregnant women and then switch this focus to the baby immediately after delivery when mother-focused support is virtually non-existent. We as a culture ignore the needs of new mothers and make many demands on them that are prevented in other cultures out of respect for the postpartum period, a time recognized & honored as distinct from other times in a woman's life. Curiously, these other cultures, which also incorporate social supports for menstruating and menopausal women, have virtually no post-partum disorders compared to 50-85% of new mothers in industrialized nations like the US. During this time, protective measures, so-called "mothering the mother", help support and care for new mothers.  Specifically, the practice of "lying in" relieves women of their normal workload and the implied duty to entertain visitors, allowing time for recuperation, rest, and family bonding.  Not only does our culture minimize the significance of this change & the support necessary to healthfully assimilate this change into the family's life, but there is often an unspoken belief that any woman who needs post-partum support has somehow failed when in reality we as a culture have failed her.

Of course, having a child & parenting is physically, emotionally, and mentally demanding and these effects are compounded with subsequent pregnancies & deliveries. Most women survive the transition relatively unscathed, but at what cost?  Few can honestly say they did not experience any of the symptoms listed below and, sadly, most did not seek any assistance either because they did not want to "bother" others or because they were simply too exhausted to focus on anything but mothering. However, by drawing attention to these issues, we can address these concerns sooner, rather than later, thereby avoiding a crisis. By caring for and prioritizing oneself, you can be healthier as an individual, mother, partner, colleague, & friend.

Symptoms may include, but are not limited to:

  • Fatigue
  • Sleep dysfunction
  • Poor motivation, concentration, memory
  • Mood swings
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Inability to lose weight
  • Urinary & vaginal issues
  • Low libido & sexual dysfunction
  • Hot flashes/night sweats

By assessing a woman's medical & reproductive history, diet, lifestyle and relevant test results, we can often identify the underlying contributing factors to the symptoms she is experiencing.  Special attention should focus on follow-up on any issues encountered in previous pregnancies, such as prenatal/post-partum mood issues, blood sugar & blood pressure abnormalities, and nutritional & thyroid deficiencies.  These problems can negatively impact a woman's health and well-being long after the pregnancy & post-partum stages and make these already challenging stages more so.

A holistic approach focusing on the mind & body by integrating Eastern & Western medical therapies can be selected based on the severity of symptoms, individual risk-factors, and patient preference and may include recommendations for the following:

  • Social engagement & support
  • Counseling
  • Meditation & quiet time
  • Acupuncture
  • Aerobic exercise & yoga
  • Hormone replacement
  • Pharmacological & non-pharmacological treatment options

Unfortunately, one of the hardest things for any mom to do is find time for herself for self-care, but you may be surprised by the number of resources available to you: friends, family, neighbors, and daycares at gyms/studios are resources that are available to most. Having in-home help for a couple hours per week may seem like a luxury, but if it provides you with the support needed to get out for a massage, a run, therapy, acupuncture, lunch with a friend or a yoga class, it is money well-spent.

For more information, if you have any questions, or to schedule an appointment, please feel free to contact us today.

 

Transfer Day Acupuncture helps to increase chance of pregnancy by 10%

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Nearly 1.6% of all infants born in the United States every year are born using Assisted Reproductive Technology. Reproductive Endocrinologists are persistently looking for ways to increase couple’s success for pregnancy. Recently a two-year study was done in the Arizona Valley to determine the success of using acupuncture day of transfer. The total sample size was 396 patients with the minimum age of 23yo and the maximum age of 45yo, and an average age of 35yo. Those who did receive acupuncture before and after transfer improved their chances of pregnancy by 10%; compared to the group that didn’t receive acupuncture.

According to Manca di Villahermosa et al “failure of embryo implantation is considered the biggest challenge of reproductive medicine”.

IVF is a stressful process to the body and finding ways to relax and prepare the body for implantation are crucial. Acupuncture increases the blood flow to the uterus, increases endometrial-lining development, decreases spasms, and calms the patient. Many studies continually support the data that when ART is combined with Chinese Medicine the pregnancy rates are higher. Acupuncture not only improves the pregnancy rates, but also helps ease the anxiety of the patients.  Wherever you are in your fertility journey acupuncture will be helpful, if you are thinking about onsite acupuncture day of transfers, we will go to most doctors in the valley to offer our services.

By Charlene Hagner M.Ac., Dipl. OM. L.Ac.

 

Need a little help understanding Pre-eclampsia?

Hypertension in Pregnancy

Pre-eclampsia is a pregnancy complication defined by high blood pressure, 140/90 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or higher, and signs of damage to another organ systems, most often the liver and kidneys. Pre-eclampsia usually begins after 20 weeks of pregnancy in women whose blood pressure had been normal. Even a slight rise in blood pressure may be a sign of pre-eclampsia.

What factors increase risk of pre-eclampsia?

  • Previous history of pre-eclampsia
  • Multiple gestations
  • History of Chronic High Blood pressure, PCOS, Diabetes, Kidney disease, and organ transplant.
  • First Pregnancy
  • Obesity, BMI 30 or greater
  • Family History


How does pre-eclampsia affect pregnancy?

Hypertension can impair kidney and liver function, and cause blood clotting problems, pulmonary edema, seizures and severe edema. Pre-eclampsia affects the blood flow to the placenta, often leading to smaller or prematurely born babies.

What can help with pre-eclampsia?
 

  • Continue to follow a healthy diet and regular exercise (low sodium diet)
  • Magnesium is an excellent supplement safely used in pregnancy. Magnesium citrate, at doses of 400-600 per day, is often used in both preventing and treating hypertension. Hospitals use IV magnesium for hypertensive episodes and pre-eclampsia to reduce blood pressure.
  • Acupuncture helps to smooth the flow of blood and increase the tone of the vascular system, and returns the body to parasympathetic state.
  • Vitamin D levels should be checked, because Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to hypertension.
  • Coenzyme Q10 was studied for prevention of pre-eclampsia at 200mg per day from 20 weeks to delivery. This should be taken under the supervision of a physician.
  • Medications to lower blood pressure. Medications, called anti-hypertensives, are used to lower your blood pressure if it's dangerously high.

 

Author Highlight: Christiane Northrup

At ilumina we want to be an educationalresource for our patients and with that we have a lending library were we make available some of our trusted teachers and authors.  

Christiane Northrup started with a medical degree from Dartmouth Medical School and completed her residency at Tufts New England Medical Center in Boston. She is an obstetrician and gynecologist and an advocate for woman’s health and wellbeing. She has written several books including Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom; The Wisdom of Menopause; Mother-Daughter Wisdom; The Secret Pleasures of Menopause; and Goddesses Never Age: The Secret Prescription for Radiance, Vitality, and Wellbeing. Dr. Northrup is a crusader for woman’s health, and is helping woman change their ideas around aging in our society.

As a Chinese Medicine practitioner her views on women’s health align with the ancient Chinese beliefs in treating the root of the problem verse the patients symptoms. At ilumina we treat the origin of the ailment, and help woman to restore health and balance in their lives. Chinese Medicine has a deep history in treating Women’s Health and is being used to treat a variety of conditions to help reestablish health in the body.

In Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom, she covers the treatment of many health concerns PMS, menstrual cramps, breast cysts, fibroids, cervical dysplasia, endometriosis, infertility, depression, and cystitis. She takes her time explaining how many of these physical problems have roots in emotional upsets or lifestyle choices. This book helps woman to have an educated and healthy outlook on there bodies.
    
Women have trusted Dr. Northrup’s approach for decades. In 2013, Reader’s Digest named her one of “The 100 Most Trusted People in America.” And, in 2016, she was named one of Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul 100, a group of leaders using their voices and talent to help and heal humanity.

Christiane Northrup has many hobbies including Argentina tango, culinary arts, travel, and watching movies. Dr. Northrup’s work has been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, the Today Show, NBC Nightly News, The View, Rachael Ray, Good Morning America, 20/20, and The Dr. Oz Show. 


“True health is only possible when we understand the unity of our minds, emotions, spirits and physical bodies.”
-Christiane Northrup

 

 

Acupuncture Throughout Your Pregnancy

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Acupuncture’s positive effects on regulating menses and improving fertility have been known for many years, but acupuncture, Chinese herbs, diet and massage can also have many benefits throughout the pregnancy and beyond.

First Trimester
As early as the first positive home pregnancy test, acupuncture can help decrease risk of miscarriage and alleviate several of the well-known early symptoms of pregnancy, though while encouraging, can have a negative impact on a woman’s quality of life and ability to carry out daily tasks at work and home.

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea & vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Mood swings
  • Sleep disturbance

Second Trimester
The second trimester is often entered with a sigh of relief as the risk of early miscarriage and intensity of morning sickness decreases at week 12. However, as your baby grows in size, this increases demand on blood supply and pressure on surrounding organs leading to several new symptoms.  Some are diagnosed with blood sugar or blood pressure issues, and we can provide nutrition advice and acupuncture for this as well.

  • Back pain
  • Congestion and nose bleeds
  • Headaches
  • Constipation
  • Heartburn
  • Weight gain
  • Increased susceptibility to infections

Third Trimester
As weight gain continues with the increased size of your baby, the same symptoms that can cause problems in the second trimester increase in intensity with additional issues that can significantly interfere with your quality of life and well-being.  Also, keep in mind that while acupuncture can help decrease these symptoms, it can also be helpful for breech presentation and labor preparation in the final weeks before delivery.

  • Fatigue
  • Leg pain
  • Swelling of hands/wrists and feet and ankles
  • Shortness of breath
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“Fourth” Trimester
Here at ilumina, we like to be conscientious of the months after delivery and the issues that can creep up after you are back at home with your newborn.  Sleep deprivation and the resultant fatigue and moodiness is expected, but knowing when to ask for help and making time for yourself in key in helping you care for your baby.  It may also be time to have labs to check for thyroid dysfunction and nutritional deficiencies that are common in post-partum.  Finally, in addition to helping with energy and mood, acupuncture can help with lactation, muscle aches, and menstrual issues as your cycle starts up again.

Need a Resolution? Personal Responsibility for Proactive Health Care in 2017

No matter your personal feelings about the outcome of the election, one thing is sure to be true: health care as we know it is changing. Actually, there has been a slow, but steady change in premiums, deductibles, covered benefits and out-of-pocket expenses over the past decade with the net effect that patients are shouldering more and more of the financial responsibility. On the other hand, care seems to be less personal, with less provider continuity and less time allocated for patient appointments and follow-up. This has led many government officials, providers, and patients to call for reform. Unfortunately, there appears to be little consensus on how to fix the problems and more concerning is the question as to whether our current system can even be fixed?

 

One thing that seems to be clear is that most of the illnesses Americans are struggling with are those related at least partially to lifestyle and thus potentially preventable. By modifying our habits and keeping an eye towards prevention, we can significantly decrease our risk of the most expensive and debilitating illnesses. Recently, the CDC named “heart disease, stroke, cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and arthritis as the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems”. For example, according to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the US, affecting over 30 million adults and a growing number of children. These figures relate to what is known as Type 2 diabetes, a largely preventable condition that also significantly impacts the risk of cardiovascular disease. Another nearly 100 million Americans have pre-diabetes. Medication to control diabetes can exceed $250 per month and combined with the costs of regular doctors visits, and related medication for blood pressure and cholesterol, it may be possible to spend $5000 per year to manage this one condition.

 

On the other hand, what would happen if this money were spent on improving individual general health and wellness; efforts to improve diet, manage weight, and decrease stress. In doing so, we can decrease our risk for all the aforementioned conditions named by the CDC and therefore improve overall health and quality of life, maybe even avoiding medications altogether.

 

This is a laudable goal and not an easy one to achieve. It requires us to shift our focus from a reactive, treatment-focused approach to health care to a proactive, preventive approach where the patient takes responsibility for her own health, utilizing the medical system for support and guidance along the way. It is important to acknowledge that even with our best efforts, not all disease can be prevented, but by taking an active role in partnering with providers to improve health as much as possible, significant progress can be made. By addressing symptoms early, being informed about family medical history and disease risks, screening for blood pressure, glucose, weight, and nutritional deficiencies, and following recommendations for cancer screening, you can significantly impact your risk for chronic disease in the face of the changing health care landscape.

 

2017 is the year of the fire rooster, a sign of dawn and awakening, of triumph and success, only achievable through hard work and patience. We at Ilumina are committed to prevention and proactive care, happy to help guide you to improve your general health and address specific concerns through our naturopathic and Chinese medicine services with diet, exercise, and supplement advice, acupuncture, massage, and meditation. Together, we can work to make 2017 your healthiest year yet.

A First Time Experience

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I am writing this as a witness and of what it is like to go from knowing very little about Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine to being fully immersed in the possibilities.

Full disclosure, I am the office manager and one of the first faces you will see in office.  I am a licensed massage therapist and have received a small amount of education of eastern medicine.  So coming in I had an appreciation of the very, very basics.  I had no idea how complex, interesting, and effective this medicine really is.

With all that being said, I had never had acupuncture before coming to ilumina. I took the opportunity to try it out.  The appointment began with one of our practitioners, looking over some very thorough health history forms that I completed. We all have issues, right?  After answering a few more questions based on my sleep, digestion, over all sense of being, out came the diagnostic tools that are specific to only those fully trained in acupuncture and TCM.  She looked at my tongue, skin, eyes, and felt my pulse. The more I speak with them, the more fascinated I am by all the information about the human body that they can get from those indicators. Based on the information that presents itself, the treatment is then artfully designed from there.  

The rooms are quiet and comfortable.  The sounds are soothing.  My first treatment was lying on my back, I have also had some face down as well.  It all depends on the person on the table.  

In our culture, most of us have a negative association with “needles.”  We have had shots from an MD, accidentally poked by tacks or sewing needles, or the torture of dad removing a splinter.  Most of these experiences, to the average person, are associated with discomfort if not blatant pain.  ACUPUNCTURE NEEDLES ARE NOTHING LIKE THAT.  They are so small, placed in just the right spot, and in such a way that most of the time you do not feel it at all. I am not going to say that they never hurt.  I have a had a few used for trigger points in muscles or in spots that were tender and I felt it, but the discomfort only lasted a second. The truth is when I did have those that “smarted” as I say, the practitioner knew before I did that it was going to and was very good to make sure that I returned to comfort fast.  These are the exceptions and not the rule.  The majority you do not feel at all.  What you may feel is sensations;  relaxation, energy, warmth, or maybe cool, melting or release, or nothing at all. The realm of normal is vast. The needles remain placed for 25 minutes. That is all. The effects however, are significant and lasting. I always feel a bit spacey, maybe hungry, and serene after a treatment.  Concentrate a full nights sleep, a ninety minute massage, and a big hug all in one and that is the physical satisfaction that is possible.  

This was my experience. Everyone is different and based on their individual health history and body response their experience will vary. What I believe is beautiful about this medicine is that it treats the body as a whole and focuses health in balance no mater what the health concern. There is always a treatment that can be done for any issue.

How Do I Choose An Acupuncturist?

You’ve been reading testimonials about acupuncture in the press and online. Your sister in Idaho is raving about her acupuncture treatments and thinks you should try it too.  You have decided to give this different kind of medicine a try. Now, you wonder, how do I find the right person? Are all acupuncturists the same? My physical therapist offers dry needling, is this acupuncture?  You honestly do not know what to expect or where to begin.

One factor to keep in mind is that no two acupuncturists are alike. There are acupuncturists that are generalist and those that specialize. There are also acupuncturists that are warm and interactive and those that are cold and direct.   This is not unlike physicians. Some acupuncturists have a specialty with advanced training and years of experience. When searching for a provider, it is important for you to ask about the level of training and education and if they are trained in Oriental Medicine. Licensed Acupuncturists are required to have a minimum of 1800-2400 hours of education and clinical training. In most states they must be certified by the NCCAOM and state licensed. Online you can search for a trained acupuncturist at the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) at http://www.nccaom.org

 Catherine Travis, M.Ac., Dipl.Ac., L.Ac.

Catherine Travis, M.Ac., Dipl.Ac., L.Ac.

When searching for an acupuncturist we also encourage people to ask about the style of needling technique used. Acupuncture can hurt. There are many styles of acupuncture techniques. Often when a new patient  experiences acupuncture here at ilumina, they often assume this is how acupuncture treatments feel in all clinics. Our style is extremely gentle and mindful.  There are actually many different approaches to needling. Traditional Chinese acupuncture believes in needling to get “De Qi” (strong stimulation). The French and Korean styles also have a stronger needling technique. Here in the U.S., there is a needling technique used to release trigger points and is a very strong needling.  We can provide these stronger needling treatment as well. Then there is  Japanese style acupuncture which can be very gentle and almost without any sensation.

 Dana Price, DOM, L.Ac., Dipl. OM, FABORM

Dana Price, DOM, L.Ac., Dipl. OM, FABORM

Here at ilumina, we are happy to answer new patient’s questions about who we are and the kinds of treatment we provide. We want to understand your needs and help match you with one of our experienced practitioners. We also offer a free 15 minute consultation. If the idea of needles is stressful, we can provide treatment with gentle needling or without needles. Your comfort is our priority.

Also, when searching for an acupuncturist, keep in mind the atmosphere of the clinic.  It is a medical practice but it doesn’t have to feel cold and sterile.  Our owner, Dana Price, aimed from the beginning to create an atmosphere that is truly healing in itself.  Our mission is for ilumina to be a healing sanctuary.  It is a peaceful space with compassionate staff that sees our vision with every interaction, ensuring that you have a safe, comfortable, and healing experience.

Fermented Foods

 An important component of Traditional Chinese Medicine is in nutrition and diet.   There are dietary suggestions for chronic / acute pain and headaches, for depression and anxiety, for skin irritations, and just about any other health concern you can think of.  One piece of the nutritional building block is the ancient use of fermented food to support a healthy gut.  Fermented food help to keep your digestive track thriving with good bacteria, it helps with the absorption of the nutrients from the food you eat, and are rich in enzymes that are essential to optimal health.

 This is a tidy list of 10 reasons to eat fermented foods that we would like to share.  

 

http://www.cheeseslave.com/got-bacteria-10-reasons-to-eat-fermented-foods/

Breast Cancer and Acupuncture

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) are known to improve the quality of life for women with breast cancer. They can aid in the treatment of nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and the flu like symptoms associated with chemotherapy. In addition, they help with the side effects of radiation, including healing burns, and significantly improve pain levels, healing post lumpectomy, mastectomy and reconstruction.A recent study from the UK found that acupuncture performed once a week for 6 weeks is effective at managing cancer-related mental and physical fatigue as well as activity levels, motivation, and quality of life is increased. The authors speculate that the benefits of acupuncture in treating fatigue may be in part mediated by its effect on pro-inflammatory cytokines. (Acupuncture for Cancer-Related Fatigue in Patients With Breast Cancer: A Pragmatic Randomized Controlled Trial. J Clin Oncol. 2012 Oct 29.) This week a pilot study was published online, out of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Center in New York City which showed that acupuncture significantly reduced limb circumference in patients with breast-cancer-related lymphedema. Lymphedema affects 30% of breast cancer survivors and up to this point did not have a safe and inexpensive intervention. Acupuncture was performed twice a week for four weeks and produced up to 30% reduction in arm circumference. Dr. Cassilith, who conducted the study, emphasized the importance of using a trained acupuncturist for lymphedema treatment. We concur not only for lymphedema but also for any type of cancer related acupuncture support. Both Catherine Travis and Dana Price are highly trained and experienced practitioners who use gentle, effective, and safe techniques.

Acupuncture's Positive Effects on Fertility

Did you know that acupuncture's positive effect on fertility is related to:1) influencing hypothalamic function and regulating hormones 2) increasing ovarian and uterine blood flow 3) improving the endometrial environment 4) inhibiting uterine contractitility 5) modulating immune factors 6) reducing stress

Acupuncture and IVF

One question that often arises at ilumina is how often to get acupuncture when going through an IVF cycle. The answer is simple and complex. Here is my general recommendation if you are starting an IVF cycle and the goal is to promote ovarian response, optimize hormones, and increase the quantity and quality of the the uterine lining. Please note that if  pathological hyperstimulation/ OHSS occurs acupuncture is an excellent treatment and can often "save" the cycle.

  • Ovarian Suppression phase- (around 4-6 weeks before egg retrieval) Acupuncture 2x per week
  • Ovarian Stimulation phase- (around 2 weeks before egg retrieval) Acupuncture 2-3x per week
  • One treatment between egg retrieval and embryo transfer
  • Acupuncture 20 minutes before and 20 minutes after embryo transfer (this is performed at the REI office by an ilumina practitioner)
  • One treatment 3-5 days after embryo transfer
  • Then once a week afterwords, if pregnant acupuncture once a week through the first trimester

For advance maternal age, poor ovarian response, elevated FSH, poor embryo quality or male factor infertility I would recommend a much more extensive treatment plan for 3-6 months before IVF which would include: acupuncture, individualized Chinese herbal formulas, vitamins and supplements, diet and exercise and meditation. For more information on how and why Chinese medicine is so effective for IVF preparation please see the book Making Babies: A Proven 3-Month program for Maximum Fertility. If you are looking for an acupuncturist in your area to support your IVF cycle please see the website for the American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine's website. This professional organization credentials acupuncturists in reproductive medicine.  If you are interested in the research that shows the efficacy and mechanism of action for acupuncture and IVF please see the comprehensive review  of research put together by my friend and colleague Diane Cridennda L.Ac.For over 10 years ilumina Healing Sanctuary's practitioners have been treating male and female infertility and attending IVF embryo transfers. We have experience and trusted relationships with all of the fertility clinics in the greater Phoenix area. We look forward to working with you on your journey to parenthood.Dana Price DOM, L.Ac., Dipl.OM, FABORMilumina Healing Sanctuary7520 E Camelback RoadScottsdale, Arizona 85251(602)957-2602