Category Archives: Pregnancy, Acupuncture and TCM

Natural PMS Cures: Part II


In my last post, I addressed the Top Ten Ways To Relieve PMS Symptoms Naturally

Dr. Mark Hyman, also addresses some of the points I listed and why they affect our monthly cycles in his article in the Huffington Post titled, Eliminate Suffering From PMS in Five Simple Steps

Dr. Christiane Northrup also has some excellent tips accompanied by footnoted research articles to back up her claims on natural relief strategies for Premenstrual Syndrome

She also is a proponent of acupuncture for PMS relief and offers dietary recommendations for PMS which also relate to menstrual cramps and pelvic pain here

-m.

Top Ten Ways to Relieve PMS Symptoms Naturally


Many women are confronted with several days leading up to the start of menses when they experience symptoms often grouped under the term: PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome)

Common experiences include: lower abdominal bloating and cramping, low back pain, anxiety, irritability, depression, poor memory, mental fog, joint and/or muscle pain, difficulty sleeping, sweet or salty cravings, fatigue, and acne.

While these experiences often subside at the onset of menses, or another physiological change in a woman’s body, such as pregnancy or menopause, its monthly recurring nature can create much havoc if left unchecked long-term. A more serious form of PMS is known as PMDD (Premsenstrual Dysphoric Disorder), which is a mood disorder that typically occurs in women 20-40 years old, who have at least one child, a history of post-partum depression or other mood disorder, and/or a family history of depression. http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/premenstrual-syndrome.cfm

So what can you do to kick this PMS monster out of your life for good? Adopting a lifestyle that gives you the optimal chance for overall health will reap rewards on your menstrual cycle and reproductive health as well.

Here is a list of top ten things you can do for yourself now to experience more healthy menstrual cycles. Please note that for the most noticeable effect, changes should be adopted at least a full 1-3 months ahead of your expected period. *As always, the recommendations given here is given as a general guideline only and not meant to replace the advice of your primary attending health care provider or physician.

Top Ten Ways to Relieve PMS Symptoms Naturally:

1. Exercise those muscles! Strength train, cross-train and just stay active! Join a sports team or gym, run, stroller jog, swim, bike, rock climb, walk, surf, paddle, dance, or jump. Do yoga, tai chi, or qi gong. Aim to get at least 30 minutes in a day. Ready, set, go!!

2. Eliminate the bad foods: got grease, salt, sugar, alcohol, or caffeine? An overconsumption of food in general and especially meats and dairy may contribute to poor health overall and disturb natural hormone function. In Chinese medicine we refer to these foods as ones which are heavy and damp in nature and therefore contribute to accumulation of ‘damp and phlegm’ in the body. This accumulation can lead to a whole range of problems such as PMS, poor reproductive health, depression, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, joint pain and more. These are therefore foods that are not wanted on the voyage!

3. Stick to the good foods: a more vegetable-rich diet with fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and pulses provides you with the necessary fuel you need to get through your day. Healthy fats such as organic avocadoes and fish oils are also good to incorporate into your diet. When choosing your food sources, make sure to select those from local, organic, wild sources and free of GMOs, pesticides, and additives when possible.

4. Drink more water: 6-8 glasses of water a day is essential for proper hydration. The next time you feel like reaching for a snack, consider drinking a glass of water first. Make sure to wait at least 15 minutes before consuming food so that your liquids and solids get digested more readily. Consider the type of water you drink on a regular basis as well. Is it filtered, fresh, and at room temperature?

5. Reduce Stress: regular physical activity, massage, acupuncture, a work load that is contained (doesn’t creep into what should be your off work hours) and manageable are key to reducing your stress levels. Try to get out for at least one night of fun. Do something that makes you happy everyday. If there are additional burdens placed on you through family and friends, consider delegating tasks and just saying “no” to things that are not high priority. Consider counselling or other professional medical and social support if necessary.

6. Get better quality sleep: 6-8 hours of sleep that is uninterrupted and makes you feel refreshed upon waking is best. For those whose sleep is compromised because of work or family, try to get in a power nap of 20-30 minutes in the late morning or early afternoon. Avoid exposure to overactivity or overstimulation before bed to help promote better quality sleep.

7. Socialize with your close friends and family members: those that know you best can also help you through the more trying periods. As well, surrounding yourself with those you love makes you feel supported and happy.

8. Avoid activities that elevate your anxiety or stress levels: is there someone or something that you’d rather not associate with on a regular basis? Cut them out!

9. Meditate: whether through long walks in nature, connecting to your spiritual side, doing regular yoga or qigong exercises, or focusing on your abdominal breathing, meditation can provide you with the necessary tools to see your surroundings from a fresh new perspective and ultimately one that attracts the type of life you want.

10. Live in the moment: each day presents its own unique set of experiences. Try to engage your mind only in what comes most naturally to you at each moment. You can remind your self to do this by focusing on your breath using abdominal breathing (the way you we are meant to breathe!) Breathe in through your abdomen (when lying down you will notice this by pushing your abdomen up towards the sky), open your nostrils and allow your chest walls to expand more fully when taking in the air you breathe. Then slowly release this breath out though your mouth while your abdomen retracts and sinks towards the ground. Focusing on past or future circumstances is nonproductive, creates unnecessary stress and anxiety and can block your natural reasoning abilities.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, all dis-ease can be attributed to the blockage of qi in the body. To return the body to its natural state requires that we support and nourish the body where necessary, but also unblock areas to provide for the free flow of qi. In general terms, this means that your body has the ability to function well if all physiological processes (passages of qi”) are not blocked. Proper diet, exercise and mental activity play a huge role in regulating these processes.

-m.

Acupuncture for Pregnancy & Labour | Vitality Magazine | Toronto Canada alternative health, natural medicine and green living


Here is a great article by Chris Di Tecco, D.Ac, D.TCM,  on how acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help you during the different stages of pregnancy and labour:

Acupuncture for Pregnancy & Labour | Vitality Magazine | Toronto Canada alternative health, natural medicine and green living.

Rice Congee for Healthy Labour And Delivery


Here is a common recipe used to prepare rice congee with other healthy ingredients to promote a normal and efficient delivery. It can also help to encourage labor that is prolonged or delayed.

Sweet Potato Congee (Yu Tou Zhou)

Ingredients:
Sweet Potato (You Tou) – 250g
Polished Rice* (Da Mi) – 50g (Please note: polished rice is gluten-free!)
Salt (Yan) – small amount, according to preference

Directions:
Remove skin of sweet potato, wash rice, and combine these two ingredients using a ratio of 6 parts of water with 1 part rice (e.g. 600g water: 100g rice, change amounts but keep ratio if you desire more or less). Once rice has been cooked into porridge, add a touch of salt or tamari/soy sauce for flavor.

Note: Congee can also be prepared in a crock pot or slow cooker. Simply add all prepared ingredients into the pot, put on low setting, and allow it to simmer overnight for approximately 6-8 hours. In the morning, presto! Your breakfast is ready and waiting to be served with any additional seasoning (e.g. a pinch of soy sauce/salt).

(Flaws, Bob. The Book of Jook. Blue Poppy Press, Boulder, CO, 1995)

For more information on acupuncture for delivery and postpartum please visit my practice site at: http://www.acupao.com

Acupuncture for Delayed and Slow Labour: A Conversation Between a Midwife and an Acupuncturist


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One of my close friends, who happens to be a midwife was commenting the other day whether all the techniques women try to bring on labour truly make a difference, or whether their labour would normally happen without all the ‘extras’ (e.g. acupuncture, massage, eating certain types of foods, doing specific types of exercises, having a cervical sweep done, etc.). She was also concerned that some women try to do too much before their body is truly ready to deliver. I agreed with her on this point.

In Chinese medicine, we do not give treatments for labour until the woman is due or past her due date as promoting an earlier birth does not necessarily provide any real benefit to mother and child and can in some cases cause more problems. We can however, prepare the body several weeks before a woman’s due date to encourage cervical ripening and ensure a smoother delivery. I mentioned that while it is true that a woman will in most cases go into labour without any intervention or additional procedures, the actual experience of labour can be quite different depending on what you do to prepare your body for it. The analogy I used was that of a person who has slow moving bowels. While it is true that someone who is constipated will eventually pass their stools (due to the nature of gravity!), it will most likely be quite painful and uncomfortable if no remedy is taken to soften the stool and help it move through the intestines more efficiently. Similarly, for some women, labour can sometimes be frought with stops and starts, slow movement and (dare I say it…pain!).

Treatments such as acupuncture are ideal for delayed and slow labours since it can help relax the mother, and initiate a proper physiological response in the body for labour to begin and continue towards a safe, natural and healthy birth. And while very few women can honestly say their labours are pain-free, acupuncture might just be the needed treatment ‘extra’ that sets the ball rolling and helps take the edge off of labour!

For more information on how acupuncture and Chinese medicine can be used to treat pregnancy, labour and beyond, please visit my practice site at: http://www.acupao.com

 

Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine for Postpartum Recovery


The following are just some of the many conditions that acupuncture, moxibustion and Chinese Medicine can be used for treating women postpartum:

Immediately following natural labour or Caesarean section:
-Pain due to episiotomy and/or tearing of perineum, surgical scarring after C-section, spinal headache, coccyx pain due to injured/broken tailbone (Note: acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can be safely used with pain medication in many cases and also to help reduce dependency on pain meds. Please consult a qualified health professional with experience in this)
-Hemorrhoids
-Blocked ducts in breast, breast engorgement, mastitis
-Insufficient lactation
-Incontinence of urine or feces
-Constipation
-Postpartum cramping (after pains)
-Prolapse of uterus
-Postpartum anxiety, depression
-Carpal tunnel syndrome

The sooner the conditions are addressed, the better. However, good results can still be achieved when treated for the first time several weeks postpartum and well into the first year post partum.