What Is Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture?
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been practiced for over 4,000 years and has a long tradition of clinically proven protocols. It has a similar philosophy as naturopathic medicine. Practitioners of TCM look for the root cause of disharmony in the body.
In Western medicine, individuals with the same disease will get very similar treatments. In TCM, individuals are viewed as unique and how dis-ease manifests is unique to them. This translates into different patterns for the same disease and different treatments. When treatments are individualized, there is better clinical success.
TCM practitioners usually don’t rely on the same diagnostic tools as Western medical practitioners. They use visual and palpatory skills as well as “The Ten Questions” to diagnose. Visual skills include tongue diagnosis, inspection of the complexion, general demeanor, and body language. Palpatory skills include pulse diagnosis and palpation of meridians and organs. The Ten Questions is comparable to the review of systems and are used to diagnose and to assess progress on subsequent visits.
TCM uses a variety of modalities to treat disease including acupuncture, Chinese herbs, cupping, moxibustion, acupressure, and nutrition. The terms used in TCM are much different than Western medical terms. In TCM the body is viewed as a reflection of the earth, so many terms in nature are used to describe the body.
Diagnosis and treatment is according to TCM principles.
There are more than a dozen channels or meridians that traverse the body and go to a specific organ. The channels are named for the organs they enter. Points along the channels are used to treat disharmony in the channels and organs. The organs in TCM are similar to, but viewed differently than Western medicine. They include: liver, gallbladder, heart, large and small intestine, spleen, stomach, lung, kidney, bladder, triple warmer, and pericardium.
As an example, TCM views the heart in the following way. The heart governs the blood and controls the blood vessels. This is similar to western concepts of the heart.
In TCM however, the heart also houses the mind. Mental function (consciousness, memory, thinking and sleep) and emotions are related to the heart. If the heart is strong, a person will think clearly with a good memory, be happy, and have good sleep. If the heart is weak and the blood poorly distributed, this will manifest as fuzzy thinking, depression or anxiety, and insomnia.
The other organs have similar functions as Western medicine but as with the heart, are viewed differently in some ways in TCM.
Terms in TCM
The terms used in TCM are much different than Western medical terms. For example, the channels of acupuncture points on the body are comparable to streams, rivers, and the sea. When the water flows freely, everything is in harmony. If something blocks the flow of water, it stagnates or is forced into another path. In TCM, qi is the motive force that flows in the channels. Similarly if the Qi in the channels flows freely, there is harmony. If this free flow is disrupted by stress or injury, for instance, it manifests as pain or organ disharmony in the body.
Basic terms used in TCM diagnosis include yin and yang. These two terms describe the inter-relatedness and inter-dependence of opposing forces. The characteristics of yin and yang can be compared in the following chart:
Yin and yang cannot exist without each other. One gives meaning to the other. Without day there cannot be night. Without activity there is no need to rest. Without rest there is no strength for activity. These two forces must be in balance. When they are out of balance, then disease takes hold.
ACUPUNCTURE WITH LOW LEVEL LASER THERAPY FOR WOMEN’S HEALTH AND FERTILITY
Low level laser therapy (LLLT) is also known as photo biomodulation or cold laser therapy. LLLT is light therapy that provides therapeutic effects to the body, at the cellular and mitochondrial level. Low level laser does not cause pain, heat up, burn, or cut the tissues of the body. It is not a high-powered laser used for surgery.
The light energy from the low level laser penetrates through the tissues of the body into the cells and mitochondria. The light energy provides the fuel for the cells and mitochondria to function optimally. The laser light supports mitochondrial function and ATP production to provide the required energy for the body to heal.
The mitochondria are the power houses of every cell in the body. Mitochondrial health is central to egg quality. The eggs have 200 times more mitochondria than any other cells in the body. As women age, mitochondrial function wanes with fewer mitochondria and less ATP production. Without enough ATP production or energy, the follicle may not mature optimally and even with fertilization, the embryo may not have enough energy to develop or implant.
Low level laser therapy has been in use since 1967 but the benefits for fertility were not discovered until 1995 by Dr. Toshio Ohshiro in Japan. Dr. Ohshiro treated 2 post menopausal women for low back pain with LLLT. After a series of treatments, the women reported that they began to menstruate again. Dr. Ohshiro determined that the LLLT rejuvenated the ovarian function by improving the ATP production of any remaining eggs after menopause. This led him to conduct research with LLLT and women of advanced maternal age who had been unable to get pregnant with assisted reproductive technology (ART).
Summary of Dr. Ohshiro’s research article published in 2012:
The first trial included 74 women with an average age of 39 yo. These women were considered infertile with an average of 15 ART cycles and an average of 9 years of infertility. After a course of LLLT prior to ART, 21% of the women became pregnant and 68% of these women went on to have a live birth.
The second trial included 701 women with an average age of 39 yo, an average of 8 ART cycles, and an average of 4 years of infertility. After a course of LLLT leading up to ART, 22% became pregnant and 50% of these women went on to have a live birth.
Since Dr. Ohshiro’s research, LLLT has been used by other practitioners in Japan, Denmark and Norway to support women’s health and fertility. More recently, clinics in Canada and the United States are offering LLLT for fertility. In these clinics, LLLT is often combined with acupuncture, moxibustion, and/or massage for a synergistic effect.
Health Blossoms is the first clinic in Texas to offer LLLT for fertility and women’s health.
At Health Blossoms, Dr. McKenzie combines LLLT with acupuncture, infrared heat and Mayan abdominal massage to support fertility and hormonal balance. Dr. McKenzie is a licensed acupuncturist and certified in LLLT.
Benefits of Acupuncture with LLLT for women’s health and fertility:
- Improves blood circulation to the reproductive organs
- Improves absorption of nutrients important for egg quality including CoQ10
- Regulates inflammation and reduces pain
- Reduces oxidative stress and aging of the ovaries
- Improves mitochondrial function and cellular ATP production to support maturation of follicles, egg quality, embryo development, and implantation
- Softens scar tissue and adhesions that may be due to surgery, infections, endometriosis or cysts
- Upregulates the parasympathetic nervous system to support relaxation, circulation and healing
- Releases endorphins
- Improves uterine lining health, endometrial receptivity, and balances the pelvic microbiome
- Reduces muscle tension
- Research and case studies show that it increases the chances to get pregnant and to maintain the pregnancy
Women with the following concerns may benefit from LLLT:
- Less than optimal egg quality as indicated by labs (low AMH, high FSH)
- Scar tissue or adhesions due to endometriosis, surgery or infections
- Advanced maternal age
- Poor responder to conventional therapies
- Thin uterine lining
- Preparing for egg retrieval
- Preparing for frozen embryo transfer
- Uterine fibroids
- Painful periods
- Mid cycle or ovulation pain
- Low back pain with period
- PMS or PMDD
- Pre and post surgery support to minimize scar tissue
- Peri or post menopausal
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Digestive concerns including dysbiosis and gastrointestinal inflammation
Following are general examples of protocols for fertility or hormone related concerns. The protocols would be individualized for each patient depending on health history and fertility goals. A protocol may be 3-4 menstrual cycles or months. In some cases, a longer protocol may be needed.
2-3x per week in the follicular phase for 3-4 menstrual cycles, to improve egg quality and uterine lining receptivity
1-2x per week in luteal phase for 3-4 menstrual cycles, optional, may be recommended for women of advanced maternal age or with high FSH and low AMH
- Preparing for egg retrieval:
Ideally, prepare with 3-4 months or menstrual cycles to improve egg quality and uterine lining receptivity prior to egg retrieval
2x per week leading up to egg retrieval
1-2x during the week following the egg retrieval, to support healing and reduce inflammation
Ideally, prepare with 2-4 weeks before the start of medications prescribed to build the uterine lining
2-3x/week leading up to transfer day with a goal of receiving 6-10 treatments before the FET
- For hormone related female concerns (endometriosis, PCOS, uterine fibroids, dysmenorrhea)
2-3x per week in the follicular phase for 3-4 menstrual cycles
Dr. Toshio Ohshiro research: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24610987/
Denmark and Norway case studies: https://www.ecronicon.com/ecgy/pdf/ECGY-08-00402.pdf