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Nutritional Therapies for Endometriosis

From the desk of Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO…

In the past five years, there has been a significant amount of researching highlighting the correlation between the gastrointestinal system (your gut) and endometriosis.  Additionally, positive responses are being found in scientific literature to a wide range of natural supplements including berberine (a component found in Chinese herbs such as Huang Lian and Huang Bai), probiotics, and a few notable others.  This confirms the whole body approach of acupuncture and other holistic forms of medicine.  We also  know that acupuncture can support the endocrine system, decrease painful periods, reduce heavy bleeding along with other symptoms associated with endometriosis. However, much can be done with diet alone.  If you think about it, you probably eat 3-5 meals a day, amounting to approximately 1500 meals/year.  The diet is a powerful tool in your endometriosis toolkit.

The goal of a healthy endometriosis diet is to decrease circulating estrogen levels, decrease inflammation, optimize the function of the liver, and the immune system.  Additionally, the goal is to help increase your energy levels, alleviate pain, and other associated symptoms.  Here’s a list of general recommendations to try if you are suffering from endometriosis:

 

  1. Reduce Your Overall Saturated Fat Intake: A diet high in saturated is known to stimulate estrogen overproduction.
  2. Increase Your Fiber Intake: The fiber contained in grains and vegetables reduces estrogen levels. Good sources of fiber include: most vegetables including cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli , whole grains such as quinoa, and beans such as lentils.
  3. Increase Foods of Color: Optimize your diet by including 8-10 servings of colored foods with a full color spectrum.  Include foods found to optimize liver function such as onions, garlic, leeks, and pineapple.  Include vegetables that modulate estrogen levels: asparagus, carrots, squash, kale, collard greens, mustard greens, broccoli, cabbage, turnips.
  4. Reduce Animal Protein Sources: Meat sources contain both natural and synthetic (if non-organic) hormones that can stimulate estrogen overproduction.  Limit red meat consumption to one to zero servings per week.
  5. Reduce Non-Organic Food Sources: Non-organic food sources contain synthetic pesticides, fungicides, hormones, and other chemicals that add to the daily load of your immune system.  Eliminate processed meats and cheeses.
  6. Reduce or Eliminate Sugar Sources: Fluctuating sugar levels in the bloodstream trigger an insulin response which in turn will change other hormone production.  Avoid refined carbohydrates such as white bread, muffins, pastries, pizza etc…
  7. Consider Common Food Allergens: Many foods including wheat, dairy, or soy can create a mild to severe allergic reaction in the body increasing the body’s overall inflammation levels.  Avoid these products or do an elimination diet to see how your body responds.  We’ll cover the dairy and wheat issue in more detail in next week’s blog as those are the top two foods to consider eliminating from your diet if you have a history of endometriosis.
  8. Consider Reducing or Eliminating Alcohol: Alcohol can compromise the efficient functioning of the liver and make it less able to metabolize hormones.
  9.  Consider Reducing or Eliminating Caffeine: According to available research, high intake of caffeine is linked to infertility due to tubal problems or endometriosis but is not associated with ovulatory infertility.
  10.  Include Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Sources include cold-water fish and fish oils, olive oil, evening primrose oil, walnut oil, flaxseeds or oil, chia seeds, avocados, and other nuts/seeds.  Omega-3 fatty acids help to reduce inflammation and regulate prostaglandin levels associated with endometriosis.

Want to try acupuncture this year for endometriosis?  Schedule a complimentary consult to learn more about how acupuncture can benefit your health this year.  Email jlmolleur@ombecenter.com for more details.

Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO

Licensed Acupuncturist

Jessica L. Molleur is a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist, and massage therapist in Massachusetts and California. She holds a Masters of Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine from the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco, CA. She is a National Diplomate of Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine and Chinese Herbology through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). Following her acupuncture licensure, she became a Diplomate of Acupuncture Orthopedics. This orthopedic specialty certification is held by fewer than 500 acupuncturists in the United States. Prior to studying Traditional Chinese Medicine, she graduated from the University of California at Davis with a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology. Jessica first became interested in acupuncture as a soccer player searching for an alternative to knee surgery.

She currently maintains a private acupuncture practice in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood. Her practice was awarded Best Acupuncture Center by Boston Magazine. Areas of specialty include women’s health, pregnancy, infertility, pediatrics, and sports medicine. For clients interested in learning more about the benefits of acupuncture for fertility and IVF, please visit our acupuncture + fertility page. New patients can book online to schedule any acupuncture service including a complimentary consult.

In addition to seeing patients in her private practice, Jessica works as a health care consultant for integrative medical institutes in the United States. Her clients include IVF and infertility centers, functional medicine offices, orthopedic facilities, concierge practices, and green spas. If you are interested in learning more about these services, please contact OMBE.

Prior to her consulting work, Jessica founded an integrative health center in Boston. The eco-friendly center was one of the first twenty-five companies certified as a Sustainable Business Leader in Boston. During its ten-year tenure, the center provided services including acupuncture, chiropractic, massage, naturopathy, nutritional counseling, personal training, Pilates, and yoga. The center’s class studio offered mom and baby programming, Mongan Method Hypnobirthing, natural childbirth education, the Holistic Moms Network, as well as ballet barre, Pilates, and yoga classes. The center was the recipient of several awards, including Mayor Menino’s Green Business Award, a multiple recipient of Boston Business Journal’s Best Workplace, Boston Magazine’s Best of Boston Award for Massage Therapy as well as Best Eco-Friendly Massage, Eco-Beauty Bar, Nutritionist, Personal Trainer, Pilates, and Workout.

Vitamin K2: The Missing Link for Fertility, Bone Density, & Heart Health

From the desk of Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO…

The Health Benefits of Vitamin K2

I am very excited to share the following information in this week’s blog about Vitamin K2. The story of Vitamin K2 is long and windy, but it is worth the read given its vital importance for your overall health. In the past few years, the subject of Vitamin D has been a hot topic among health care practitioners and I can only hope that the conversation begins to include Vitamin K2.

Here is a list of conditions associated with Vitamin K2 deficiency:

  • Atherosclerosis (the hardening of arteries which may lead to strokes, heart attacks, other cardiovascular diseases)
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Dental cavities & narrowing of the dental arch in both children and adults
  • Diabetes
  • Increased risk of cancer including breast, prostate, and liver
  • Infertility (including male fertility in relation to regulating testosterone levels)
  • Kidney Disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

You may be wondering why you’ve never heard of Vitamin K2, if it is so important in the body. When I mention Vitamin K2 along with its benefits, the typical response from my clients is a blank stare.  Most of my patients have never heard of Vitamin K2 and there is good reason. Vitamin K2 and its discovery simply got lost in the shuffle. I’ve included a brief history about the discovery of Vitamin K2 later in this blog. The forgotten discovery of K2 helps us to understand why this vitamin is relatively unknown and not well understood. However, let’s first talk about what it does and how you can get it into your diet.

How does Vitamin K2 work?

Vitamin K2 works by activating proteins to assist calcium to deposit in your skeleton.  K2 also activates another protein called matrix Gla-protein (MGP) which helps to remove calcium out of soft tissues such as the arteries and veins where minerals can be potentially harmful. These mechanisms help in the prevention of both cardiovascular disease as well as osteoporosis and tooth decay. In addition to being important for bone metabolism and maintaining the elasticity of the cardiovascular system, Vitamin K2 is also thought to help activate other proteins responsible for inhibiting cancerous growths. Last but not least, Vitamin K2 is also found in high concentrations in the brain where it contributes to myelin production. K2 is thought to be protective against free radical damage in the brain and potentially play a role in the development of the central nervous system. Additionally, we know that it plays a role in insulin sensitivity and blood glucose linking it to two related disorders: diabetes and polycystic ovarian syndrome.

Why is Vitamin K2 important for fertility?

 A study in 2016, examined the role of Vitamin K2 and PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) and found that Vitamin K2 lowered levels of DHEA and free testosterone. We know as well that studies have shown Vitamin K2 to improve insulin sensitivity in diabetes patients leading researchers to believe that Vitamin K2 would have similar benefits for patients with PCOS. Initial animal studies have also shown that Vitamin K2 improves testosterone production therefore having the potential to improve sperm counts and other functional measure of sperm. As male sperm count has been dropping precipitously since the the beginning of the previous century, this may be an important vitamin to recommend to your male partner if you are trying to conceive. Studies have also shown Vitamin K1 deficiency to occur in higher rates in patients with endometriosis with severe bleeding. Vitamin K1 and Vitamin K2 have different properties and should not be confused as equivalents. Although I am not aware of any studies that have been done on Vitamin K2 and endometriosis as of writing this entry, I can only wonder if there is a connection between Vitamin K2 and the severity and onset of endometriosis similar to studies linking Vitamin D to the severity and onset of endometriosis. Additionally, with Vitamin K2 being linked to teeth formation and central nervous development, one can make the leap that this is a vitamin extremely important for prenatal care.   Plus, wouldn’t it be nice if your child didn’t need braces?

 How do you get Vitamin K2 in your Diet?

Now that you know how important Vitamin K2 is in the body, how do you get Vitamin K2 in your diet? The body does not maintain large stores of Vitamin K2, therefore we need to eat foods rich in K2 to keep this catalyst working for us.  However, the only food source include organ meats, goose liver pate, as well as other grass-fed meats, grass-fed eggs, and grass-fed dairy products.  Additionally, fermented foods such as Brie and Roquefort cheeses contain Vitamin K2. The best source of K2 is natto-a Japanese fermented food. If you choose to eat these foods-do so knowing you’re getting some Vitamin K2 in your diet!  If you are eating a daily dose of non-GMO natto-congratulations! You are probably one of the few people getting an optimal level of Vitamin K2 in your diet. Since most of us are not eating pasture-raised animals, fermented cheeses, or natto, then you’ll most likely need to supplement. Still curious about why this nutrient was not upheld as one of the greatest discoveries in nutrition? Here’s a few more words about the discovery of Vitamin K2:

The Discovery of Vitamin K2

In the 1930s, Danish biochemist Henrik Dam discovered Vitamin K1. The vitamin was named Vitamin K for the word “koagulation” due to its important role in blood clotting. An American researcher by the name of Edward Doisy then determined Vitamin K’s structure. The two researchers together won the 1943 Nobel Prize in Physiology for their discovery of this important nutrient. Both of these researchers recognized that Vitamin K had two forms (Vitamin K1 and Vitamin K2). However, they considered them to be the same vitamin, not recognizing that Vitamin K2 had distinct properties outside of blood clotting.   Vitamin K1 is highly recycled in the body, therefore, the body needs very small doses to maintain adequate levels. As a result, the story of Vitamin K and its discovery ended there.

Around the same time, a dentist by the name of Weston Price started to research the connection between nutrition and chronic illness. Dr. Price was concerned by the number of patients in his practice experiencing both chronic illness along with tooth decay and gum disease. He and his wife embarked on a global adventure to discover the root cause of these conditions.  During this time, he noted that many indigenous families lived without such luxuries as medical or dental care, or a toothbrush and floss! However, they were generally living without the nuisance of chronic illness. Additionally, he noted that their children had perfectly straight teeth, excellent jaw formation, without tooth decay or gum disease.

His determination to solve this paradox led him to compare dietary practices. As a result, he discovered a fat-soluble vitamin and called it: “activator X”.  Price demonstrated that the lack of this “activator X” resulted in a reproducible pattern of disease including tooth decay, gum disease, and other chronic illnesses.  His documentation showed that the diets of healthy, native populations contained at least four times more minerals and water-soluble vitamins as well as ten times the amount of fat-soluble vitamins in comparison to the the standard American diet at the time. You may guess by now that this “activator X” is now what is known to be Vitamin K2. Still, his book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration and its findings did not become mainstream nutritional advice.

Tragically, it was not until 1997, when an study determined that Vitamin K2 was essential for two processes unrelated to blood clotting: helping calcium deposit in the bones and preventing calcification of arteries. In 2007, an additional study showed that Vitamin K2 deficiency was widespread. In other words, the majority of the population was no longer eating pasture-raised animals and had become silently deficient. It took almost 70 years for the scientific community to recognize the importance of “activator X”!

More Information About Vitamin K2

Although this blog entry is longer than typical posts, it only covers a fraction of the information about Vitamin K2. For more information, please turn to two of my favorite experts on this subject. The Ultimate Vitamin K2 Resource, is a website created by Chris Masterjohn, Ph.D. detailing everything that you could possibly want to know about Vitamin K2. Additionally, Kate Rheaume-Bleue, B.Sc., N.D. wrote the book, Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox which I now include on my Women’s Health Book List.

Until then, happy natto eating!

~Jessica

Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO

Licensed Acupuncturist

Jessica L. Molleur is a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist, and massage therapist in Massachusetts and California. She holds a Masters of Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine from the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco, CA. She is a National Diplomate of Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine and Chinese Herbology through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). Following her acupuncture licensure, she became a Diplomate of Acupuncture Orthopedics. This orthopedic specialty certification is held by fewer than 500 acupuncturists in the United States. Prior to studying Traditional Chinese Medicine, she graduated from the University of California at Davis with a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology. Jessica first became interested in acupuncture as a soccer player searching for an alternative to knee surgery.

She currently maintains a private acupuncture practice in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood. Her practice was awarded Best Acupuncture Center by Boston Magazine. Areas of specialty include women’s health, pregnancy, infertility, pediatrics, and sports medicine. For clients interested in learning more about the benefits of acupuncture for fertility and IVF, please visit our acupuncture + fertility page. New patients can book online to schedule any acupuncture service including a complimentary consult.

In addition to seeing patients in her private practice, Jessica works as a health care consultant for integrative medical institutes in the United States. Her clients include IVF and infertility centers, functional medicine offices, orthopedic facilities, concierge practices, and green spas. If you are interested in learning more about these services, please contact OMBE.

Prior to her consulting work, Jessica founded an integrative health center in Boston. The eco-friendly center was one of the first twenty-five companies certified as a Sustainable Business Leader in Boston. During its ten-year tenure, the center provided services including acupuncture, chiropractic, massage, naturopathy, nutritional counseling, personal training, Pilates, and yoga. The center’s class studio offered mom and baby programming, Mongan Method Hypnobirthing, natural childbirth education, the Holistic Moms Network, as well as ballet barre, Pilates, and yoga classes. The center was the recipient of several awards, including Mayor Menino’s Green Business Award, a multiple recipient of Boston Business Journal’s Best Workplace, Boston Magazine’s Best of Boston Award for Massage Therapy as well as Best Eco-Friendly Massage, Eco-Beauty Bar, Nutritionist, Personal Trainer, Pilates, and Workout.

 

 

 

Acupuncture Recommendations for Fertility Treatment

From the desk of Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO…

In the past two weeks, I’ve been writing about acupuncture, fertility, IVF, and some of the findings in research.  Hopefully, the research links have provided a starting point for fertility and IVF patients trying to figure out the best way to include acupuncture into their fertility protocols.  Many of you have emailed me to say that they have showed the data to their endocrinologists or acupuncturists to help improve outcomes!

Similar to research studies done on singular vitamins, the true effects of acupuncture are difficult to study and measure in a vacuum. As I discussed the past couple of weeks, acupuncture is not traditionally practiced as a singular treatment.  Traditionally, acupuncture is incorporated together with other integrative therapies whether that be Chinese herbs, nutrition, or lifestyle modification.  Additionally, acupuncture is customized according to each patient.  Therefore by definition, a standardized acupuncture protocol repeated for every patient in a research study would be considered a less than optimal treatment design by most acupuncturists.

In the wise words of William Bruce Cameron (although some attribute this quote to Albert Einstein):

Not everything that can be counted counts.
Not everything that counts can be counted.

And that is exactly where we stand currently with the research on acupuncture.  As a practitioner of integrative medicine, part of my job is to look at the research and incorporate this into what I know to be clinically effective in my own practice and those before me.  In this case, acupuncture dates back about 2,000 years so one could say that the clinical data is more significant than any other form of modern medicine. In contrast to the past two weeks, I thought I would summarize my recommendations for fertility treatment and acupuncture outside of the research.

In general, I recommend patients  begin treatment at least three months before they begin IVF.  If you have been diagnosed with PCOS, endometriosis, or another condition that may be related to their infertility, six months is ideal.  Many patients seek out acupuncture after a failed or multiple failed cycles.  If you fall into this category, schedule an acupuncture session as soon as possible.  Feel free to email me at jlmolleur@ombecenter.com to find an acupuncturist in your area.  Research has showed that at least eight acupuncture treatments, in addition to sessions 24-hours before and 1 hour after an embryo transfer is ideal.

When patients come in to see me for infertility or a related women’s health condition, I spend almost two hours with them during their initial consult and I look at their total picture of health.  An acupuncturist specializing in fertility should do the same.  For example, your digestive and immune systems are considered an important part of fertility according to Chinese Medicine.  In addition to looking at a patient from an Eastern perspective, I also want to review recent lab values and tests so that I have an objective way of measuring what I am doing.  I also want to ensure that nothing has been overlooked.  For example, many patients are told that their Vitamin D levels are normal.  When I review the lab work, I often find that while the labs are normal, they are not optimal for fertility.  As a result, I typically work closely with my patient’s endocrinologist or other health care providers so that we may coordinate care when possible.  It’s important that your providers can provide the same level of care for you.

Acupuncture treatments are usually scheduled on a weekly basis and sometimes twice weekly once various IVF protocols begin (e.g. the beginning of ovarian suppression with birth control pills).  Acupuncture treatments typically last one hour.  Research has shown that 12 treatments incorporating holistic care such as exercise, supplements, nutrition, Chinese herbs, and stress levels also improve live birth outcomes.  It’s important that your acupuncturist help you with other tools that will improve your outcome.

What’s the take home message?  If you’ve been trying to get pregnant naturally without success, consider acupuncture to increase your rates of fertility.  Having said all of the above, don’t forget about male partners. 40% infertility is due to women, 40% to men, and 20% is attributed to both or unknown factors. Acupuncture is effective for men as well.  If you plan on using a form of assisted reproductive technologies to get pregnant such as ICSI, IUI or IVF: seriously consider acupuncture to improve your success rate.

Trying to conceive with difficulty is an extremely difficult process physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially. Acupuncture is one form of treatment that can help you optimize not only your pregnancy success but the health and well-being of your baby and yourself long-term.

Have more questions about acupuncture and infertility?  Schedule a complimentary consult or email jlmolleur@ombecenter.com for more information.

Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO

Licensed Acupuncturist

Jessica L. Molleur is a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist and massage therapist in Massachusetts and California. She holds a Masters of Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine from the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco, CA. Her training also includes a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of California at Davis, CA. Jessica first became interested in acupuncture as a soccer player searching for an alternative to knee surgery. Jessica founded OMBE to integrate the best of Eastern and Western medicine. The center’s green philosophy reflects her commitment to the environment.

She is a National Diplomate of Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine and Chinese Herbology through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). Following her acupuncture licensure, she became a Diplomate of Acupuncture Orthopedics. This orthopedic specialty certification is held by fewer than 300 acupuncturists in the United States. Areas of specialty include women’s health, pregnancy, infertility, pediatrics, and sports medicine. For patients interested in learning more about acupuncture for fertility and IVF, please click here.

Book online for any acupuncture service in our Boston location or contact OMBE for additional information.

 

Acupuncture Benefits for IVF in Research

From the desk of Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac.DNBAO…

In last week’s blog, I discussed the findings of some interesting research done comparing IVF groups receiving no acupuncture, two standard acupuncture treatments the day of embryo transfer, as well as a third group receiving WS-TCM (Whole Systems Traditional Chinese Medicine).  WS-TCM is a term that refers to the complex combination of acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, nutritional counseling, and lifestyle modifications customized for each patient.  WS-TCM also describes how traditionally acupuncture is incorporated to treat not just fertility patients but all conditions.  As you may guess, the third group benefitted the most, having the highest rate of live births.  You can view the study in detail here:

Impact of Whole Systems Traditional Chinese Medicine on In Vitro Fertilization Outcomes

This week, I wanted to continue the discussion about the benefits acupuncture for IVF.  In my practice, patients see me for acupuncture and WS-TCM specifically for fertility and co-factors for infertility such as endometriosis, PCOS, ammenorrhea, fibroids, and irregular cycles.  During IVF cycles, the goal of acupuncture treatments include:

  • Reducing common side-effects of fertility drugs: headaches, migraines, bloating, GI distress, and depression
  • Reducing general anxiety and stress
  • Improving endometrial lining measurements
  • Improving blood flow to the uterus
  • Reducing uterine contractility before and after embryo transfer
  • Increasing follicle numbers & egg quality
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Strengthening the immune system

Many research studies have attempted to look at those very specific physiological outcomes as listed above.  Research studies have been conducted on acupuncture and infertility all over the world including Germany, China, Australia, Sweden, as well as the United States since 2002.  One of the first studies published by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in April 2002 out of Germany showed that pregnancy rates increased from 26.3% to 42.5% after acupuncture treatments scheduled within a half- hour of the embryo transfer.  There have been several studies published since in the medical journal Fertility and Sterility showing similar results.  A 2004 study published by the Reproductive Medicine and Fertility Centre in Colorado Springs showed that acupuncture improved the rate of pregnancy from 36% to 51%, decreased miscarriage rates from 14% to 8%, decreased tubal or ectopic pregnancies, and most importantly increased the rates of live birth from 35% to 42%.

Additionally, studies performed as early as 1996 have examined protocols using electro-acupuncture as a means of improving reduced uterine arterial blood-flow, a measurement thought to be indicative of endometrial receptivity.  The study had good outcomes which you can read more about here:

Electro-acupuncture & Uterine Arterial Blood Flow

In conclusion, there is a growing body of evidence that acupuncture is effective in doing what acupuncturists have known for thousands of years.  Next week, I’ll discuss my recommendations to patients for acupuncture treatment for fertility outside of the research

Interested in learning more about acupuncture for fertility?  Schedule a complimentary consult to learn more about how acupuncture can benefit your health this year.  Email jlmolleur@ombecenter.com for more details.

Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO

Licensed Acupuncturist

Jessica L. Molleur is a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist and massage therapist in Massachusetts and California. She holds a Masters of Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine from the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco, CA. Her training also includes a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of California at Davis, CA. Jessica first became interested in acupuncture as a soccer player searching for an alternative to knee surgery. Jessica founded OMBE to integrate the best of Eastern and Western medicine. The center’s green philosophy reflects her commitment to the environment.

She is a National Diplomate of Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine and Chinese Herbology through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). Following her acupuncture licensure, she became a Diplomate of Acupuncture Orthopedics. This orthopedic specialty certification is held by fewer than 300 acupuncturists in the United States. Areas of specialty include women’s health, pregnancy, infertility, pediatrics, and sports medicine. For patients interested in learning more about acupuncture for fertility and IVF, please click here.

Book online for any acupuncture service in our Boston location or contact OMBE for additional information.

Acupuncture Benefits & IVF

From the desk of Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac.DNBAO…

The most common question that patients first ask me in regards to acupuncture and IVF is:

“When should I start treatment?”

In Chinese medicine, everyone is seen as a unique individual and every treatment session is customized to fit the individual’s health history so that there is no one-size fits all treatment.  Additionally, treatment protocols for fertility are customized according to each phase of the menstrual cycle.  However, in regards to when to start acupuncture prior to an IVF cycle, my answer is the same for every person which is:

“Today!”

Various research studies have been conducted looking at the effectiveness for acupuncture during IVF protocols as well as other assisted reproductive technologies for the past 15 years.  However, a study published in 2015 compared the live birth rates (as well as other significant statistics) for three IVF groups:  One group receiving IVF without any integrative therapies including acupuncture, one group receiving two standard acupuncture treatments the day of an IVF embryo transfer (a standard protocol established in previous research), as well as a third group receiving WS-TCM or Whole-Systems Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Whole-Systems Traditional Chinese Medicine includes a complex combination of therapies including acupuncture, herbal medicine, nutritional counseling as well as other appropriate therapies.  Again, these recommendations were made to patients based on their individualized case.  As you may guess, the rates of live birth were higher in the group receiving WS-TCM.  You can read the details of the study here:

Impact of Whole Systems Traditional Chinese Medicine on In Vitro Fertilization Outcomes

Patients in the WS-TCM group had an average of 12 acupuncture treatments during their IVF cycle.  The idea of 12 weeks or 12 sessions is an interesting idea to explore as well given that many acupuncturists will recommend that patients come in up to three months prior to receiving fertility treatments or earlier if they have a known co-factor such as endometriosis, PCOS, fibroids, thyroid disorders, or anemia.  Dr. Weil’s 8 Weeks to Optimum Health published in 1997 also explores this idea that it takes approximately two months to create a physiological shift in the body.

What’s the take home message from this study?  If you are considering conceiving or beginning an IVF cycle, schedule an acupuncture session sooner than later.  There may be benefits from starting a course of acupuncture 3 months in advance.  Find a practitioner that practices WS-TCM-in order words, they will use acupuncture as a primary treatment method but they also incorporate other modalities such as Chinese herbs, nutritional counseling, and lifestyle modifications to optimize your well-being.  Next week, I’ll review some of the general benefits of acupuncture for IVF cycles found in the research over the past 15 years.

Interested in learning more about acupuncture for fertility?  Schedule a complimentary consult to learn more about how acupuncture can benefit your health this year.  Email jlmolleur@ombecenter.com for more details.

Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO

Licensed Acupuncturist

Jessica L. Molleur is a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist and massage therapist in Massachusetts and California. She holds a Masters of Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine from the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco, CA. Her training also includes a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of California at Davis, CA. Jessica first became interested in acupuncture as a soccer player searching for an alternative to knee surgery. Jessica founded OMBE to integrate the best of Eastern and Western medicine. The center’s green philosophy reflects her commitment to the environment.

She is a National Diplomate of Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine and Chinese Herbology through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). Following her acupuncture licensure, she became a Diplomate of Acupuncture Orthopedics. This orthopedic specialty certification is held by fewer than 300 acupuncturists in the United States. Areas of specialty include women’s health, pregnancy, infertility, pediatrics, and sports medicine. For patients interested in learning more about acupuncture for fertility and IVF, please click here.

Book online for any acupuncture service in our Boston location or contact OMBE for additional information.

Acupuncture Treatment for Headaches

From the desk of Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO…

Nearly everyone will suffer a headache at some point in time. They are one of the most common physical complaints that prompt people to treat themselves or seek professional assistance. Some estimates say that up to 50 million Americans suffer from severe, long-lasting, recurring headaches. While most headaches are not necessarily symptomatic of another condition, they can be very distracting and account for significant amounts of time lost from work.  Headaches are also one of the most frequent reasons that people seek out acupuncture treatment.

Headaches may result from any number of factors including muscle tension, muscle spasm, vascular problems, food allergies, withdrawal from certain medications, or acute head trauma.  Chronic headaches fall into three main categories: tension-type, migraine, and cervicogenic. Tension-type headaches are the most common and frequent that people experience. Patients who endure tension-type headaches usually feel mild to moderate pain on both sides of the head. The pain is usually described as tight, stiff or constricting, as if something is being wrapped around your head and squeezed tightly.

While migraines affect far fewer people than tension-type headaches and have a much shorter duration, their symptoms are much more severe. They typically affect women more frequently than men, with pain that usually occurs on one side of the head. Migraines can be so severe that they can cause loss of appetite, blurred vision, nausea or vomiting.

Cervicogenic headaches are caused by pain in the neck or spine that is referred to the head. Many times, cervicogenic headaches either go undiagnosed or are misdiagnosed because the source of pain is referred.

 

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has a very consistent and philosophically-based framework for headache etiology, physiology, diagnosis and treatment strategy. Acupuncture, as an effective treatment modality, has been applied to headaches from the earliest beginnings of TCM.

According to research, acupuncture is not only effective for migraine headaches, but also works very well with tension headaches, cluster headaches, post-traumatic headaches, and disease-related headaches that might be due to sinus problems, high blood pressure, or sleeping disorders. The greatest advantage of acupuncture over Western medicine is that it does virtually no harm. Some medications can have serious side effects and can (in some instances) actually lead to patients experiencing a “rebound” headache. Unlike synthetic drugs, acupuncture has virtually no side effects, and the procedures for treating headaches are much less invasive with acupuncture than with surgery.  Below is a list of references related to the treatment of headaches with acupuncture.

References

  • Carlsson J, Fahlcrantz A, Augustinsson LE. Muscle tenderness in tension headache treated with acupuncture or physiotherapy. Cephalalgia 1990;10:131-141.
  • Hesse J, Mogelvang B, Simonsen H. Acupuncture versus metoprolol in migraine prophylaxis: a randomized trial of trigger point inactivation. J Internal Med 1994;235:451-456.
  • Vincent CA. A controlled trial of the treatment of migraine by acupuncture. Clin J Pain 1989;5:305-312.
  • Vincent CA. The treatment of tension headache by acupuncture: a controlled single-case design with time series analysis. J Psychosomatic Res 1990;34:553-561.
  • Zhang L, Li L. 202 cases of headache treated with electroacupuncture. J Tradit Chin Med 1995;15(2):124-126.

Want to learn more about the benefits of acupuncture for headaches?  Email jlmolleur@ombecenter.com for any questions that you may have or more information regarding acupuncture.

Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO

Licensed Acupuncturist

Jessica L. Molleur is a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist and massage therapist in Massachusetts and California. She holds a Masters of Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine from the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco, CA. Her training also includes a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of California at Davis, CA. Jessica first became interested in acupuncture as a soccer player searching for an alternative to knee surgery. Jessica founded OMBE to integrate the best of Eastern and Western medicine. The center’s green philosophy reflects her commitment to the environment.

She is a National Diplomate of Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine and Chinese Herbology through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). Following her acupuncture licensure, she became a Diplomate of Acupuncture Orthopedics. This orthopedic specialty certification is held by fewer than 300 acupuncturists in the United States. Areas of specialty include women’s health, pregnancy, infertility, pediatrics, and sports medicine. For patients interested in learning more about acupuncture for fertility and IVF, please click here.

Book online for any acupuncture service in our Boston location or contact OMBE for additional information.

Acupuncture Theory: Why Acupuncture is Effective

From the desk of Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO…

There are many theories explaining how and why acupuncture works. In western models, research has shown that acupuncture may regulate the nervous system, activate endorphins, stimulate the immune system or alter brain chemistry by changing the release of neurotransmitters and neurohormones.  In this post, I’ll explain why acupuncture may be effective for such a diverse range of conditions in the body from both a Western and Eastern perspective.

Acupuncture is a key component of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), a comprehensive medical system based on over 3,000 years of clinical observation. Acupuncture theory views the body from a holistic approach. The body’s signs and symptoms help an acupuncturist form a diagnostic impression based on a pattern of symptoms. This is why your acupuncturist may ask you several questions about your overall health that may seem unrelated to your primary concern. The treatment plan developed will then not only be designed to treat the symptoms that you are experiencing but also the underlying cause of the problem.

It takes time to stimulate the body’s own natural healing process. Therefore, the course of treatment with acupuncture or related modalities may take time and the results may be subtle at first. However, acupuncture works to treat the root cause of many disorders of the body so once patients start to notice a change in the symptoms that they are experiencing, this is typically a signal that a permanent shift in the body’s physiology has taken place. A course of acupuncture helps to optimize all of the body’s systems meaning that patients often experience an improvement in their main concern as well as other minor issues as the body begins to work more efficiently.  Acupuncture is more concerned with the underlying physiological change that has occurred to cause specific symptoms rather than the diagnosis.

TCM theory suggests that the body is composed of an essential substance, called qi (chee). Qi is thought to be the essential energy which stimulates all of the important physiological functions of the body. Qi circulates through the body through 14 major meridians or pathways similar to the way blood circulates through major vessels. These meridians function as connections between major organs, muscles and tissues of the body to maintain a delicate balance of qi, yin and yang. Yin and yang are two other important concepts in TCM representing the foundation and activity of all of the major physiological systems of the body. Physiological health is viewed as an intricate balance between qi, yin and yang.   It may surprise patients to learn that the same Chinese diagnosis may be related to seemingly unrelated conditions.  For example, an common Chinese diagnosis described as Liver Qi Stagnation may be the root cause for migraines, digestive issues, or painful periods.

When the body is experiencing pain, discomfort or disease, an imbalance is occurring in one or more of the meridian systems. Acupuncture is the process by which small, fine, disposable needles are inserted into acupuncture points along these meridians in order to access the qi and effect the functioning of major physiological systems of the body. Acupuncture points are areas where the qi is thought to be the most accessible. Research has also shown that acupuncture points have different electrical resistance and higher neuromuscular and vascular innervation. These points are then used to unblock, restore and reconnect the flow of qi, yin and yang.

Additional modalities such as electroacupuncture, ear acupressure, cupping, tui na, gua sha, nutrition and herbal medicine are also used for treatment of various ailments. Today, the amount of evidence-based research is growing in support of acupuncture as it has become a valued treatment method for numerous conditions. These include: back pain, disc degenerative disease, fibromyalgia, the common cold, angina, tinnitus, osteoarthritis, addictions, infertility, asthma, and headaches. Acupuncture is also effective in ameliorating the symptoms of AIDS and cancer patients.

Feel free to email me for related research articles or additional explanation regarding your specific diagnosis. This information can be an important way to gain understanding and insight to the health problems you have been experiencing.

Want to learn more about acupuncture?  Schedule a complimentary consult to learn more about how acupuncture can benefit your health this year.  Email jlmolleur@ombecenter.com for more details.

Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO

Licensed Acupuncturist

Jessica L. Molleur is a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist and massage therapist in Massachusetts and California. She holds a Masters of Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine from the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco, CA. Her training also includes a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of California at Davis, CA. Jessica first became interested in acupuncture as a soccer player searching for an alternative to knee surgery. Jessica founded OMBE to integrate the best of Eastern and Western medicine. The center’s green philosophy reflects her commitment to the environment.

She is a National Diplomate of Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine and Chinese Herbology through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). Following her acupuncture licensure, she became a Diplomate of Acupuncture Orthopedics. This orthopedic specialty certification is held by fewer than 300 acupuncturists in the United States. Areas of specialty include women’s health, pregnancy, infertility, pediatrics, and sports medicine. For patients interested in learning more about acupuncture for fertility and IVF, please click here.

Book online for any acupuncture service in our Boston location or contact OMBE for additional information.

Acupuncture & PCOS

From the desk of Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac.DNBAO….

For my patients with PCOS, I typically integrate acupuncture therapies along with nutritional recommendations.  Acupuncture works to restore the entire sympathetic nervous system including the endocrine system encouraging a healthy cycle, conception and pregnancy. Studies done in Europe in the 1990s on anovulatory women with PCOS showed that electroacupuncture restored ovulation in one-third of the test subjects. Acupuncture also reduced endocrine indicators of PCOS, including LH/FSH ratios, mean testosterone concentrations, and beta-endorphin concentrations.

However, what tends to be the most surprising for many of my patients is that there is an environmental connection as well.  Chemicals found in our food, water, cosmetics, as well as many other sources have a profound effect on our endocrine system.  In a new study, researchers divided 71 women with PCOS and 100 healthy female control subjects into subgroups matched by age and body composition (obese or lean). Blood levels of BPA, compared with those of controls, were nearly 60 percent higher in lean women with PCOS and more than 30 percent higher in obese women with the syndrome.   The following is a list of chemicals to avoid as they have been known to mimic estrogen, and disrupt the endocrine system:

  • BPAs: Water bottles, baby bottles, canned food, and more.
  • Dioxins: Found in non-organic beef, poultry, and dairy products. Also found in bleach and chlorine products, bleached toilet paper, sanitary napkins, and tampons
  • Xenoestrogens: Found in plastic bottles, wraps, and food storage containers.
  • Parabens: Found in perfumes, bath and body products, make-up, and anything listed with a “fragrance.”
  • PCBs: Pesticides, paints, fire retardants, and wood floor finishing’s.
  • PVCs: Found in plumbing fixtures, rain gear, shower curtains, vinyl flooring, and toys.
  • Pesticides & Fungicides:  Choose non-chemical treatments whenever possible.
  • MSG/Aspartame: Found in the great majority of packaged foods, chewing gum, diet sodas and other diet beverages, “sugar-free” treats, some candies, and more.

Want to try acupuncture this year for PCOS?  Schedule a complimentary consult to learn what it all about!  Email info@ombecenter.com for more details.

Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO

Licensed Acupuncturist

Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO is a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist, and massage therapist in Massachusetts and California. She holds a Masters of Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine from the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco, CA. Her training also includes a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of California at Davis, CA. She is a National Diplomate of Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine, Chinese Herbology and Acupuncture Orthopedics. This orthopedic specialty certification is held by fewer than 300 acupuncturists in the United States. Jessica founded OMBE to integrate the best of Eastern and Western medicine. The center’s green philosophy reflects her commitment to the environment.

Top 10 Women’s Health Reasons to Try Acupuncture

From the desk of Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac.DNBAO….

In honor of Mother’s Day, I’m listing my top 10 list of reasons for women to try acupuncture this year:

  1. Ammenorhea
  1. Endometriosis
  1. Infertility
  1. Irregular Cycles
  1. Menopause & Hot Flashes
  1. Menstrual Cramps
  1. Morning Sickness
  1. Ovarian Cysts & PCOS
  1. Premenstrual Syndrome
  1. Uterine & Breast Fibroids

Want to try acupuncture this year?  Schedule a complimentary consult to learn what it all about!  Email info@ombecenter.com for more details.

Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO

Licensed Acupuncturist

Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO is a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist, and massage therapist in Massachusetts and California. She holds a Masters of Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine from the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco, CA. Her training also includes a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of California at Davis, CA. She is a National Diplomate of Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine, Chinese Herbology and Acupuncture Orthopedics. This orthopedic specialty certification is held by fewer than 300 acupuncturists in the United States. Jessica founded OMBE to integrate the best of Eastern and Western medicine. The center’s green philosophy reflects her commitment to the environment.

The Benefits of Acupuncture in Pregnancy

From the desk of Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac.DNBAO…

It is a continuous joy to have former trying-to-conceive patients return for treatment for new and often challenging prenatal complaints.  Acupuncture has benefits for both those trying to conceive and for women during all three trimesters.  I’ve included a research summary here for those interested in the benefits of acupuncture during pregnancy:

ACUPUNCTURE BEFORE AND AFTER EMBRYO TRANSFER RESULTS IN HIGHER PREGNANCY RATES

Overview: The research, done at Reproductive Medicine and Fertility Centre in Colorado Springs, studied 114 women undergoing IVF.  Half of the women received acupuncture and the control group did not.

Outcome: The acupuncture group showed improved outcome in the following ways: 1. The acupuncture group had a 51% pregnancy rate compared to 36% in the control group  2. The acupuncture group had an 8% miscarriage rate compared to a 20% in control group. 3. Acupuncture also was found to reduce the risk of tubal pregnancy and increase the live birth rate. The live birth rate for each IVF cycle was 23% higher than the cycles for the control group.

MANUAL ACUPUNCTURE REDUCES HYPEREMESIS GRAVIDARUM (SEVERE VOMITING & NAUSEA)

Overview: Hyperemesis gravidarum, severe vomiting, develops in about 1-2% of all pregnancies. Acupuncture on the point PC6 above the wrist on the palmar side has been found to prevent some types of nausea and vomiting. The purpose of the present study was to see if acupuncture, in addition to standard treatment, could hasten the improvement of hyperemesis gravidarum. Thirty-three women with hyperemesis were evaluated in a randomized, single-blind, crossover comparison of two methods of acupuncture, active (deep) PC6 acupuncture or placebo (superficial) acupuncture. The women estimated their degree of nausea on a visual analogue scale (VAS).

Outcome: The daily number of emesis episodes were documented. Crossover analyses showed that there was a significantly faster reduction of nausea VAS and more women who stopped vomiting after active acupuncture than after placebo acupuncture. This study suggests that active PC6 acupuncture, in combination with standard treatment, could make women with hyperemesis gravidarum better faster than placebo acupuncture.

 PELVIC PAIN RELIEF FOR PREGNANT WOMEN

Overview: A new study shows acupuncture and strengthening exercises may help relieve pelvic girdle pain experienced by pregnant women. The study authors explain this pain inhibits the ability to stand, walk and sit, but there is no cure. Researchers in Sweden set out to investigate whether acupuncture or strengthening exercises could help manage the pain. They divided 386 women into three groups. One received standard treatment, another received standard treatment plus acupuncture, and the third underwent standard treatment plus stabilizing exercise that improved mobility and strength. These women recorded their pain levels every morning and evening and were examined at the end of the treatment period.

Outcome: Both the acupuncture group and the stabilizing-exercise group had less pain than the standard treatment group in the morning and evening. The acupuncture group showed the greatest reduction of pelvic girdle pain. The study authors conclude acupuncture or these specific exercises prove beneficial for pelvic girdle pain.

 MOXIBUSTION TREATMENT OF BREECH PRESENTATION

Overview: Breech presentation was successfully corrected by stimulating acupuncture points with moxibustion or low-frequency electrical current. Only patients with breech pregnancies at the 28th week or later were entered into the study. With moxibustion treatment, the control group had a spontaneous correction rate of 165/224 (73.66%), and the treatment group had a correction rate of 123/133 (92.48%)

Outcome: It was confirmed that stimulation of acupuncture points used in Eastern medicine is very effective in correcting breech presentation. During the present studies, this therapeutic modality was also found to be effective in treating imminent premature birth.

 

ACUPUNCTURE FOR CERVICAL RIPENING AND INDUCTION OF LABOR AT TERM

Overview: The aim of this study was to evaluate whether acupuncture at term can influence cervical ripening, induce labor and thus reduce the need for postdates induction.

Outcome: Acupuncture at points LI4 and SP 6 supports cervical ripening at term and can shorten the time interval between the estimated date of confinement and the actual time of delivery.

INFLUENCE OF ACUPUNCTURE ON DURATION OF LABOR

Overview: The aim of this case control study was to evaluate the  influence of acupuncture (AP) on the duration of labor. Fifty-seven women with AP treatment (group A) were included in our study after spontaneous vaginal full-term delivery. The control group included 63 women (group B). Median duration of the first stage of labor was 196 min in group A and 321 min in group B (Wilcoxon 2-sample test, p < 0.0001). Median duration of the second stage of labor was 57 min in group A and 57 min in group B (Wilcoxon 2-sample test, p = 0.82). Thirty women had a premature rupture of the membranes (PROM), in group A 66.7% and in group B 33.3% (chi2 test, p = 0.02). Women without AP (group B) received significantly more often oxytocin during the first stage of labor compared with group A women (85 and 15%, respectively, chi2 test, p = 0.01) as well as during the second stage of labor (72 and 28%, respectively, chi2 test, p = 0.03).

 

Outcome: Our study suggests that acupuncture treatment is a recommendable form of childbirth preparation due to its positive effect on the duration of labor, namely by shortening the first stage of labor.

SOURCES:

  1. Highlights in Fertility and Sterility (Vol. 77, No. 4, April 2002)
  2. Manual acupuncture reduces hyperemesis gravidarum: a placebo-controlled, randomized, single-blind, crossover study.  Carlsson CP, et.al., J Pain Symptom Manage. 2000 Oct;20(4):273-9.
  3. Pelvic Pain Relief for Pregnant Women.” British Medical Journal (2005): n. pag. Web. 18 Jul 2011. <http://www.acubalance.ca/Pelvic_Pain_Relief_for_Pregnant_Women>.
  4. Moxibustion Treatment of Breech Presentation, Yoichi Kanakura, et.al, American Journal of Chinese Medicine, Wntr, 2001
  5. Rabl M, Ahner R, Bitschnau M, Zeisler H, Husslein P., Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Vienna, Austria.
  6. Zeisler H, Tempfer C, Mayerhofer K, Barrada M, Husslein P., Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Vienna, AKH, Austria.

 

Want to try acupuncture this year?  Schedule a complimentary consult to learn more about how acupuncture can benefit your health this year.  Email jlmolleur@ombecenter.com for more details.

Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO

Licensed Acupuncturist

Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO is a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist, and massage therapist in Massachusetts and California. She holds a Masters of Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine from the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco, CA. Her training also includes a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of California at Davis, CA. She is a National Diplomate of Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine, Chinese Herbology and Acupuncture Orthopedics. This orthopedic specialty certification is held by fewer than 300 acupuncturists in the United States. Jessica founded OMBE to integrate the best of Eastern and Western medicine. The center’s green philosophy reflects her commitment to the environment.