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

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.

 

Massage Therapy Can Improve Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia affects millions of Americans, many of whom are women. The main signs and symptoms of fibromyalgia include deep muscle pain, painful tender points, and morning stiffness. Other symptoms may include sleep problems, fatigue, and anxiety. Regular Massage Therapy sessions have been proven to decrease pain levels, muscle stiffness, and improve sleep quality.

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In a study conducted by the Touch Research Institute, 30 adult fibromyalgia subjects were randomly assigned to a massage therapy, a transcutaneous electrical stimulation (TENS), or a transcutaneous electrical stimulation no-current group (Sham TENS) for 30-minute treatment sessions two times per week for five weeks. The results showed the massage therapy subjects reported lower anxiety and depression, and their cortisol levels were lower immediately after the therapy sessions on the first and last days of the study. The TENS group showed similar changes, but only after therapy on the last day of the study. The massage therapy group improved on the dolorimeter measure of pain. They also reported less pain the last week, less stiffness and fatigue, and fewer nights of difficult sleeping. Thus, massage therapy was the most effective therapy with these fibromyalgia patients.

Audrey Blanchard, LMT has successfully treated fibromyalgia pain syndrome with Massage Therapy here at ilumina. A customized massage session is developed specifically for each individual to reduce muscle pain, fatigue, and increase the quality and quantity of nightly rest.

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 Cancer Pain

The recent study, at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, suggests that acupuncture relieves cancer pain due to the side effects of medications. Some cancer treatments cause Peripheral Neuropathy, a condition that is due to damage of the peripheral nerves. This study found that acupuncture can be helpful in treating Peripheral Neuropathy pain.

Our practitioner Catherine Travis, L.Ac. has many years of experience treating cancer patients with peripheral neuropathy, fatigue, and nausea. Her acupuncture treatments are safe, gentle and effective.

Ilumina is a calm, nurturing and uplifting environment for all patients and especially for those experiencing the side effects of cancer treatment.

http://www.healthcmi.com/index.php/acupuncturist-news-online/620-acupunctureceucancerpainbaltimoremaryland

Acupuncture: Another Option When Facing Depression

A recent study in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry suggests that acupuncture, as a stand-alone therapy, may be quite effective for mild to moderate depression. This particular report was a compilation of several different studies looking at the effectiveness of acupuncture at relieving the symptoms of mild to moderate depression. Our practitioner, Catherine Travis, L.Ac. was part of the University of Arizona 's National Institute of Health's funded study "Acupuncture and the Treatment of Depression " and is quite familiar with the research on this subject.

Read the complete article.. http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20120903/entlife/709039967/

September 10 Lecture: Enhance Fertility with Dr. Dana Price

ilumina Healing Sanctuary Lecture SeriesTopic: Enhance Fertility

Date: September 10, 2012 Time: 6:00 to 7:00 pm Location: ilumina on Camelback

Dr. Dana Price DOM, L.Ac., FABORM will be presenting information on Enhancing Fertility with Traditional Chinese Medicine. Dana has been in practice since 1999 and has been sought after for her experience and expertise.

Please call 602-957-2602, or email office@iluminahealing.com to reserve your space.

Lecture Series Aug 13: Mayan Abdominal Massage

Mayan Abdominal Massage is an external, non-invasive massage modality that specifically addresses the uterine position and other internal organs to support the optimal flow of blood, lymph, and chi throughout the body.Some common symptoms/conditions this type of massage can benefit include displaced or prolapsed uterus or bladder, infertility, endometriosis, ovarian cysts and uterine fibroids, as well as pelvic or abdominal pain from previous surgeries or scar tissue. Join us August 13, at 6:00 pm at ilumina to learn more about this modality and how it can be a benefit to you. Spaces will be limited so please call 602-957-2602 to reserve your spot.

We are very excited to have the lecture series back in action, we are currently putting together a schedule of topics that promise to be informative and promising.

Also heading your way is a Infant Massage Class taught by our amazing massage therapist Audrey Blanchard.

The Lecture Series Returns July 9

Many of you may have been fans of the monthly lecture series here at ilumina.  Our break of information is over and we are now ready to meet and share. July 9, at 6:00 pm

Presenter: Dana Price DOM, L.Ac. FABORM

Topic: Infertility

Please Sign up at 602-957-2602, or office@iluminahealing.com, Space is limited.

On the Second Monday of each month we will be presenting lectures based on specific topics of Traditional Chinese Medicine.  You will need to sign up to attend.  These lectures will be free and will be an amazing opportunity to learn from our healing professionals.

Acupuncture can reduce post surgical pain

The latest powerful addition to ilumina is Catherine Travis, L.Ac.  Catherine brings with her a commitment to helping individuals be the best they can be given their current strengths and challenges.  She listens to the individual’s concerns and history; designs a treatment plan; and teaches and empowers the individual in their own healthcare.  One of the areas she specializes in is pre-surgical preparation and post surgical healing and recovery.  

She recently shared and article by Will Dunham, which validates the fact the acupuncture, can cut post-surgical pain.

“Researchers at Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina analyzed the results of 15 clinical trials on the effectiveness of acupuncture—“

“The 15 trials showed that patients getting acupuncture before or during various types of operations had significantly less pain afterword than patients who did not get acupuncture.”

 

They not only reported less pain, but also decreases in nausea, dizziness, and urinary retention.

 

http://www.reuters.com/assets/print?aid=USN1620285920071016

 

Catherine has many years of experience with acupuncture for this purpose and we are so pleased to have her.

 

Safe Fish for Pregnancy

We often look to fish for great nutrients such as omega 3, vitamin B, and lean protein. However, some unhealthy contaminants can be found in fish as well. Mercury is a contaminant we’ve been hearing a lot about recently because it can affect brain development and the nervous system. Government studies show that one in every six pregnant women in the United States will give birth to a baby whose blood is contaminated with mercury levels above the federal safety standard.

The American Journal of Preventive Medicine stresses moderation in fish consumption for pregnant women and women who are trying to become pregnant, stating that no one should cut fish out of their diet altogether. With so many healthy nutrients that are essential for the growth and development of your baby, it’s important to be informed about the fish you are consuming.

Below is a helpful list provided by the Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org/safefishlist) for making your fish choices.

Avoid: bass (large mouth), gulf coast oysters, halibut, mackerel (king), marlin, pike, seabass, shark, swordfish, tilefish, tuna (canned), tuna steaks, walleye, white croaker

No more than one serving per month: blue mussel, channel catfish (wild)*, cod, eastern oyster, Great Lakes salmon, gulf coast blue crab, lake whitefish, mahi mahi, pollock

Lowest in mercury: blue crab (mid-Atlantic), croaker, fish sticks, flounder (summer), haddock, salmon (wild Pacific), shrimp**, trout (farmed)

* Farmed catfish have low mercury levels but may contain PCBs in amounts of concern for pregnant  a** Shrimp fishing and farming practices have raised serious environmental concerns.

Although there is no recent data available, studies from the 1970s show high concentrations of contaminants in:

  • Bluefish
  • Gontino
  • Lake trout
  • Orange roughy
  • Porgy
  • Rockfish
  • Snapper

The American Fertility Association also cautions women seeking to improve their fertility to “ease up on your fish intake.” Shark, swordfish, and mackerel typically contain high levels of mercury, which is associated with infertility, miscarriage, and birth defects. Eliminating ingested mercury from your system can take over a year.

Since fish contains protein and other essential nutrients, the association suggests that you “stick to two meals a week of low-mercury seafood like shrimp, salmon, and light tuna.”

For additional information about mercury levels in fish, visit the following web sites:

Blood Type O Linked to Fertility Problems

Researchers say having type O blood can affect a woman’s chances of getting pregnant.  Those with blood type O may struggle to conceive due to a lower egg count and poorer egg quality, while those with blood type A seem to be more fertile. Scientists from Yale University and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine have produced a study that finds patients with type O blood were at double the risk of diminished ovarian (egg) reserve than women of other blood types.

The researchers measured women under age 45 for levels of the reproductive hormone FSH.  Women with an FSH of greater than 10 are considered to have diminished ovarian reserves (egg quality and number of eggs left).  FSH levels greater than 10 suggest a woman will have more difficulty conceiving than those whose levels are under 10.

They then made adjustments for other fertility factors including age and BMI, then compared women’s blood types and FSH levels. Women with blood type A or AB were significantly less likely to have an FSH level greater than 10 than were women with types O or B blood.

In the U.S., 45% of the population is type O, 40% type A, 11% type B and 4% type AB.

FSH levels are just one marker of fertility and more studies are needed. Dr. Edward Nejat said, "A woman's age remains the most important factor in determining her success of conceiving.”

Higher FSH is simply the result of the pituitary gland trying to improve the ovaries' response. If you nourish and support your ovaries, they become more responsive to the pituitary gland's hormonal messages, it senses that less FSH is needed, and your levels will drop.

At ilumina we can help by increasing blood flow using acupuncture to improve blood flow to the ovaries; better circulation will improve the function of the ovaries, the follicles, and the eggs.  Chinese herbs can balance the hormones, which addresses underlying patterns of imbalance that can restore natural, balanced hormonal function.  By stimulating the body's own reproductive tissues at different parts of the reproductive cycle, herbal medicine offers a gentler, healthier, more organic response to fertility problems. When hormone levels are balanced, and when adequate blood flow, oxygenation and nourishment are provided during the follicular growth phase, women are more likely to become pregnant naturally with their own healthy eggs.

 

September is PCOS Awareness Month!

Polycystic Ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is the most common female endocrine disorder.  PCOS is a hormonal disorder that involves multiple organ systems in the body.  It is characterized by a condition in which the ovaries develop multiple small cysts; it is often associated with abnormal or absent ovulation and, accordingly, with infertility. The most common symptoms of PCOS are an irregular period, lack of ovulation, infertility, increased hair growth, insulin resistance, and unusual weight gain. The cause of PCOS is a mystery, but it is known that PCOS sufferers have a higher sympathetic nervous system activity than other women. Conventional medicine deals with PCOS by treating the symptoms associated with it.  For example, PCOS is one of the leading causes of infertility; the most popular conventional treatment uses ovulation inducers such as clomid, hCG, and gonadatropin.  These drugs may trigger ovulation but they do not effectively address the underlying causes of poor ovarian health.

In Chinese medicine PCOS is usually attributed to kidney yang deficiency and damp accumulation and can be treated with a combination of Chinese herbs and acupuncture.  Acupuncture and Chinese medicine are used to stimulate the body’s own natural production of hormones and regulate the menstrual cycle by helping correct the underlying deficiencies and/or eliminating disruptions.  Regular treatment can help in restoring reproductive energy in the kidney system, balance the liver system to control smooth flow and distribution of blood, build an adequate supply of blood to maintain normal menstrual cycles, and soothe the sympathetic nervous system to relax the body, reduce stress, and influence healthy ovulation.

In addition PCOS sufferers can incorporate the following changes for enhanced fertility and better health and well-being:

  • Eliminate processed foods from your diet.
  • Eat a wide variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, and low-fat protein.
  • Avoid sugar, artificial sweeteners, and refined carbohydrates.  Balance blood sugar by limiting carbohydrate intake, but do include healthy carbohydrates like whole grains, oatmeal, and brown rice.
  • Practice stress management; incorporate yoga or a regular meditation practice into your day.
  • Exercise regularly; try to get in a half hour per day.
  • Get plenty of rest and keep regular sleep patterns.
  • Avoid alcohol which can lead to a disturbance of hormonal balance.
  • Get regular acupuncture treatments.
  • Have Ilumina prescribe an herb formula that will help reduce cysts and balance your hormones.