The Point of Getting Pregnant; Acupuncture May Help With in Vitro Procedure

The Point of Getting Pregnant; Acupuncture May Help With in Vitro Procedure

Source: Gazette, The; Colorado Springs, Colo.

The newest technology has been joined by an ancient form of Chinese medicine at the Reproductive Medicine & Fertility Center in Colorado Springs.

Combining in vitro fertilization, or IVF, with acupuncture, a 5,000-year-old practice, appears to pay off for couples yearning to have a child, says Dr. Paul Magarelli, a reproductive endocrinologist and medical director of the center.

Magarelli and Diane Cridennda, owner of East Winds Acupuncture, conducted a study involving 203 of his patients who underwent IVF; 105 had IVF alone and 98 also had a specified series of acupuncture treatments. The acupuncture group’s pregnancy rate was 24 percent greater.

Magarelli presented his research last month before the World Congress on Human Reproduction in Venice, Italy. Previous studies, including research in Germany and China, also have pointed to the benefits of adding acupuncture to assisted-reproduction technologies.

Despite being deathly afraid of needles, Jo Ann Davis is among Magarelli’s in vitro patients who underwent acupuncture.

“I do believe it had an impact,” she says. As evidence, she points to her twins, a boy and a girl, who celebrated their first birthday recently.

In vitro fertilization involves harvesting eggs from a woman’s ovaries and fertilizing them in a laboratory dish with a man’s sperm. The resulting embryo is then transferred to the uterus.

According to the protocol followed by Magarelli and Cridennda, acupuncture sessions were twice a week for four weeks before retrieval of the eggs, and then just before and after the embryo transfer. Electro-stim acupuncture, involving a mild electrical current, was used.

Women generally find the sessions relaxing, Cridennda says. “Most of the girls say, when they start to get to the last of their pretransfer treatments, ‘Man, I’m going to miss my needle nap.'”

With Davis’ needle phobia, it wasn’t all that relaxing. But it wasn’t painful, either. She felt a vibration or tingling with the first sessions and a deep “stirring” with the final two.

“I could feel that right at my core, so that was pretty amazing.”

Magarelli was dubious when Cridennda, a doctor of Oriental medicine who trained in Beijing, approached him five years ago about using acupuncture for his patients.

But after Cridennda showed him data from some small studies — and after he became convinced it would at least cause no harm — Magarelli began sending her his patients who were having the most trouble becoming pregnant.

“What he noticed was, gee, they were getting pregnant,” Cridennda says.

In addition to an increased pregnancy rate in the acupuncture group, the rate of ectopic pregnancies “was almost nonexistent,” Magarelli says — 1.5 percent vs. 4.7 percent. In vitro fertilization is associated with an increased risk of ectopic pregnancies, in which the fertilized egg attaches someplace other than inside the uterus.

Acupuncture involves the insertion of hair-thin needles at precise points to correct the flow of qi, or life energy.

How it may help reproduction isn’t clear, but it has been shown to increase blood flow into the uterus. It also may help by reducing stress.

Magarelli wants further research with more patients and is encouraging larger centers to conduct studies.

His objectivity, he says, may be compromised. Once skeptical of acupuncture, he’s now a believer.

He decided to experience acupuncture for himself after Cridennda approached him.

“I said I wouldn’t recommend anything without trying it. That first time, I walked in and there are fountains and tinkling noises and the mood music, and I’m like, ‘Oh, what am I doing here?'”

But he found it relaxing and now goes to Cridennda regularly for acupuncture.

To his surprise, it even gave him relief from a repetitive- motion injury in his hand.

“He couldn’t believe it,” Cridennda said. “He would laugh, ‘Oh my gosh, the pain is gone.'”

Healing Allergies with Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine

Healing Allergies with Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine

Today, more and more people seem to be suffering from seasonal allergies. Allergies, or allergic rhinitis, are due to an over-reactivity of the immune system to certain environmental allergens. During Spring and Summer, allergies are generally induced by wind-born allergens and can cause such symptoms as: sneezing; nasal congestion; runny nose; watery, itchy, or red eyes; headaches; fatigue; and sometimes coughing and wheezing. When allergens and antibodies react in individuals with allergic rhinitis, their nasal mucosa becomes swollen and may obstruct drainage from the sinuses causing sinusitis in many people. Thus, chronic sinus infections are a frequent complication and consequence of allergic rhinitis.

While Spring and Summer are the seasons of the year that bring us outdoors, many people are unable to enjoy these warmer months due to uncomfortable symptoms. Adults and children are increasingly suffering with spring allergies from trees, pollen, flowers, weeds, grass, etc. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help bring relief of symptoms, correct imbalances of the immune system, resolve the allergic response to allergens, and allow healing of tissues of the sinuses, eyes, and mucous membranes.

From a Chinese point of view, allergic rhinitis is most often due to an immune system weakness and/or hyperactivity. We call this a weakness of the Lung and Kidney’s Defensive-Qi systems, combined with retention of chronic inflammation or “Wind Heat” in the upper respiratory system.

Dryness of the mucous membranes may result in increased sensitivity to environmental allergens. This dryness can come from a long winter of dry-heat.

A New Holistic Perspective on Glaucoma

A New Holistic Perspective on Glaucoma

By Andy Rosenfarb, ND, LAc.
Glaucoma is not just an eye disease; it’s an effect of a larger systemic disease pattern. In the field of holistic eye care, we realize that symptoms like peripheral vision loss (tunnel vision) and increased eye pressure are always effects of underlying health conditions. We need to understand and correct the underlying causes – treating symptoms has proven to be insufficient. Unlike conventional medicine, we do not try to control symptoms, we seek the root cause.

Primary GoalsThe primary goals are clinical objectives involved in addressing glaucoma include:

  • Regulate Autonomic Nervous System & Control the Global Stress Response
  • Regulate Oxygen Supply to the Eyes
  • Regulate Blood Sugar (Glucose) Supply to the Eyes
  • Regulate & Control Inflammatory Response
  • Promote Neuro-Protection by Activating Antioxidant Production
  • Essential Fatty Acid (EFA) Support

Reporting the Research

Specific herbs, vitamins and minerals and alternative therapies support and regulate each of the above stated objectives. I am working on putting together a research report demonstrating clear evidence-based research supporting this information. My goal is to have it available within the next year. Some of the supplements are already well known like Ginko, Turmeric, dang gui, bilberry, ginseng salvia, fish oil and more recently resveratrol. These among others are widely known nutrients and botanicals and have been used for thousands of years. It is just now that they are being researched and increasing evidence is supporting their efficacy. It is not enough to just say that “X” herb is helpful for glaucoma, we must understand why, when and how to use them. For example:

ANS Support – Ginseng
Oxygenation – Dang Gui, Salvia, Ginko
Blood Sugar Stabilization – (proper diet and nutrition)
Neuro Inflammation – Tumeric, Resveratrol
Neuro Protection – Alpha Lipoic Acid, N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC)
Fatty Acid Support – DHA, Omega 3, 6, 9

When we collectively consider and regulate all of potential trouble spots that may result in conditions like Glaucoma, we often see improvement in the overall health, and the condition of glaucoma may begin to improve. In many cases there is even some restoration of lost vision. When the above physiological processes are regulated we revitalize the dormant cells in the eyes. Dormant cells may be inactive, but are not dead or totally dysfunctional. It has been suggested by many experts in the field of neuro science that as long as the nucleolus of the cell is still alive and functioning, a cell may be restored to its normal, healthy state.

Dysfunctional Automonic Nervous System
In the field of holistic eye care, we never treat specific eye diseases, in this case Glaucoma. We treat the patient based on comprehensive clinical findings that paint a picture of a patient’s entire state of health. We make global observations about peoples’ overall health as they relate to certain health conditions – like Glaucoma. In this case we can say based on the holistic model that Glaucoma is an effect of an underlying dysfunction of the body’s Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). There is an overwhelming base of evidence in the field of neuro-science that supports this theory and it seems to be extremely accurate.

Co-Existing Conditions
In my years of clinical experience I observed that most of my patients with glaucoma had one or more of the following co-existing conditions: hypertension, elevated cholesterol, poor peripheral circulation, poor kidney function (based on blood test analysis), elevated homocystene & C-reactive protein (cardio inflammatory-stress markers), urination problems, poor digestion, poor hearing, poor memory, etc. Conventional medicine has recently been looking at each one of these as a causative factor for glaucoma including cardiovascular disease and H-pylori as possible causes for glaucoma. After spending much time researching brain and neuro science, it become obvious to me that the common thread in this clinical picture was improper functioning of the ANS. Although conventional medicine and the pharmaceutical companies have attempted to put out countless drugs in an attempt to regulate the ANS, none seem to be as effective as alternative therapies.

Regulating ANS with Acupuncture
In my experience there is nothing that regulates the ANS more effectively and more rapidly than acupuncture performed by a well trained professional. Acupuncture falls under the category of Sensory-Based Therapies (SBT). Drugs work fast but there are always side effects, acupuncture and most SBT’s have little or no known negative side effects. Risks only occur when acupuncture is performed by someone who is poorly trained. This includes physicians, or “Medical Acupuncturists” who have taken weekend courses or a 300 hour course (mostly on video). Be sure to ask about both training and experience if you wish to seek out acupuncture. There are few well trained acupuncturists who specialize in the treatment of eye disease and I train quite a few each year. You will find practitioners all over the country and our clinic is happy to help you find someone in your area that may be able to help you, a friend or family member.

The goal is to use safe and natural methods that will help improve and support the healthy regulation of the entire ANS, circulation, inflammation, glucose, and neuro-protective mechanism. Supporting these processes may dramatically slow the rate of or arrest the progression of degenerative vision loss. Other effective holistic therapies include supplementation (herbs, vitamins minerals), exercise, relaxation techniques, massage, diet, stress management, meditation, and lifestyle modifications.

I often get asked by my patients, “Why doesn’t my doctor know about or recommend alternative therapies?” There may be a host of reasons but the most common response I hear is that there is a lack of peer reviewed double-blind scientific research supporting it’s efficacy. That position is simply untrue.

It is a fact that there is little research performed in the US on the efficacy of alternative modalities that have positive effects on patients diagnosed with glaucoma. This is mainly because drugs are more profitable than herbs, and therapies l ike acupuncture are much more cost effective and hold significantly lower risk than eye surgery or medication. Here are some research studies on glaucoma and acupuncture that show a positive outcome. We can expect that there will always be someone who will criticize and the research methodology:

Acupuncture For Patients With Glaucoma
EXPLORE: The Journal of Science and Healing, Volume 1, Issue 5, Pages 372-376
M.Kurusu, K.Watanabe, T.Nakazawa, T.Seki, H.Arai, H.Sasaki, N.Fuse, M.Tamai

Henry H.L. Chan, Mason C.P. Leung, Kwok-Fai So. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. April 2005, 11(2): 315-322. doi:10.1089/acm.2005.11.315.

Teh-Ching Chu, David E. Potter. Journal of Ocular Pharmacology and Therapeutics. August 2002, 18(4): 293-305. doi:10.1089/10807680260218461.

It is not possible to patent herbs, vitamins, or minerals and therefore little money can be made – pharmaceutical companies are in the business of mass producing highly profitable drugs, and making sure that we stay on those drugs. It is in the company’s best interest to keep any new research on any non-medical beneficial information for glaucoma (and other health conditions), that is non-drug related from the general public. Why? Because it takes away from their profits. It is a sad truth that our country is “Pharmaceutically Biased” rather than “Scientifically Based.”

Virtually No Side Effects
The greatest advantage in using nutritional supplementation and sensory based therapies like acupuncture is that there are virtually no side effects. Cautions should be used when recommending supplements so as to avoid any negative herb-drug interactions. A well trained practitioner will be aware of these contra-indications. In general, holistic therapies are safe and pose little risk. Of course glaucoma meds have a lot of side effects including eye irritation, blood pressure irregularities, fatigue, frequent urination, headaches, etc. The risk of eye surgery and invasive procedures are present and there are increased risks for causing further damage to the eyes. Holistic therapies will not make vision worse, unless used by someone who is inadequately trained. The worst case scenario with holistic eye therapies is that they won’t work. The risks are small and the potential upside is great.

With the growing amount of information available on the internet, the public is rapidly becoming more aware of this state of affairs. New research on alternative treatments is showing up on sites like Google Scholar and other research-based web sites. Here are a few research abstracts that investigate the link between glaucoma and cardiovascular disease. They are on the right track but seem to be missing the ANS component:

The Role of Age and Cardiovascular Disease in Glaucomatous Optic Neuropathy1
Survey of Ophthalmology, Volume 43, Issue null, Pages S27-S42, S.Hayreh.

Retinal Microvascular Abnormalities and their Relationship with Hypertension, Cardiovascular Disease, and Mortality
Survey of Ophthalmology, Volume 46, Issue 1, Pages 59-80
T.Wong, R.Klein, B.Klein, J.Tielsch, L.Hubbard, F.Nieto

Relationship between Helicobacter pylori infection and glaucoma
Ophthalmology, Volume 108, Issue 3, Pages 599-604, J.Kountouras

The first two studies suggest the cardiovascular link to glaucoma, which we now know is rooted in ANS dysfunction. The third study suggests the link between glaucoma and H-pylori. The ANS also regulates digestion; impaired ANS regulation will have a degenerative effect on the Gastro-intestinal function rendering it more susceptible to infections like H-pylori. Do your own research and find out what is available to you!

About Dr. Rosenfarb
Dr. Andy Rosenfarb, ND, L.Ac. is an international leading authority on holistic eye health. He is a doctor of Naturopathy and a Licensed Acupuncturist. Dr. Rosenfarb has dedicated his life’s work to uncovering the underlying causes of degenerative vision loss. He has also created Acu-Gen, a holistic system that supports eye health. Acu-Gen has shown to be extremely helpful for most degenerative vision loss cases. Dr. Rosenfarb is the author of “Healing Your Eyes with Chinese Medicine.”