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Improving AMH and Fertility with TCM: Acupuncture and Herbs Show Promise

20 Mar 2024

By: Yi Ting Na

Blog, Acupuncture, Article, Fertility, IVF, Physician Na 蓝医师, TCM Herbs

Basic terms you need to know and understand: Anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) is a marker (identified through blood tests) that helps indicate a female’s ovarian reserve. Diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) refers to a reduction in the follicles present in the ovaries, as indicated by a low AMH value and a decreased antral follicle count (AFC), which often results in poorer fertility outcomes. DOR can be caused by various factors such as ovarian surgeries and endometriosis. Currently, we are witnessing a trend of an increasing number of women being diagnosed with DOR. Does TCM treatment help improve AMH? We have observed patients whose AMH levels rose after undergoing TCM treatment. However, is this merely a chance occurrence, or is there scientific rationale behind TCM treatments aiding in AMH improvement? Should women with low AMH consider trying TCM treatments to enhance their levels?A meta-analysis¹ encompassing 13 randomized controlled trials involving 787 patients with DOR revealed that acupuncture significantly reduces FSH levels, increases Antral Follicle Count (AFC), and boosts AMH levels (P<0.05). It further indicated that a high dose of acupuncture (≥10 acupuncture points) exhibits superior efficacy in enhancing these parameters compared to a low dose of acupuncture (<10 acupuncture points). Combining acupuncture with Chinese herbs also notably reduces FSH and FSH/LH ratio while elevating AFC.This study suggests that TCM treatments such as acupuncture and TCM herbs effectively lower FSH levels observed in patients with diminished AMH. Additionally, these treatments contribute to increased follicle counts and AMH levels.Another clinical trial demonstrated that electro-acupuncture (usually included therapy in our specialized acupuncture without additional charges) can enhance embryonic development and egg quality². A potential explanation for this clinically observed phenomenon is that acupuncture and TCM herbal treatment enhance blood circulation to the uterus and ovaries, thereby stimulating dormant follicles to mature. This, in turn, improves AMH levels, AFC, and egg quality, offering significant benefits to patients undergoing fertility treatments or attempting conception naturally, as well as those considering IUI and IVF.While further research is warranted to fully understand how TCM treatments improve AMH, AFC, and egg quality, individuals embarking on their fertility journey might consider exploring these options. Consult with TCM physicians to learn more about these treatments and their suitability for your specific needs. Do Physicians at Yi TCM have knowledge on AMH? At Yi TCM, we have a profound interest in fertility concerns and have dedicated ourselves to extensive research and knowledge sharing regarding AMH and its relevance to reproductive health. Renowned for our empathetic handling of fertility cases, we collaborate closely with Western medical practitioners to address our patients’ AMH concerns. Through the application of acupuncture and Chinese traditional medicine (TCM) herbal remedies, we have successfully aided many patients in improving their AMH levels. However, it’s important to understand that these treatments require patience and commitment, as there are no instant or miraculous overnight solutions. Rest assured, our physicians will thoroughly assess your entire fertility health before recommending any course of treatment. ¹Lin G, Liu X, Cong C, Chen S, Xu L. Clinical efficacy of acupuncture for diminished ovarian reserve: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2023 Aug 2;14:1136121. doi: 10.3389/fendo.2023.1136121. PMID: 37600702; PMCID: PMC10433735.²Xiang S, Xia M-F, Song J-Y, Liu D-Q, Lian F. Effect of electro-acupuncture on expression of IRS-1/PI3K/GLUT4 pathway in ovarian granulosa cells of infertile patients with polycystic ovary  syndrome-insulin resistance of phlegm-dampness syndrome. Chin J Integr Med (2021) 27(5):330–5. doi:  10.1007/s11655-020-3219-z

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Acupuncture for IVF

14 Mar 2024

By: Claire

Article, Acupuncture, Fertility, IVF, Physician Peh 白医师

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is a fertility procedure that fertilizes an egg with sperm in a laboratory dish. During IVF treatment, the ovaries are stimulated through the use of medication that is injected beneath the skin with a thin needle. Matured eggs from the ovaries are then collected and cleaned by the doctors before they can be fertilized by sperm in the lab. The successfully fertilized egg will then be prepared for implantation and placed in the uterus to achieve a healthy pregnancy. Acupuncture treatment can be regarded as a complement to IVF treatment  as it can stimulate blood flow and create harmony within the body. Moreover, acupuncture treatment can induce relaxation and improve the physical and emotional well-being of our patients. Acupuncture plays a major role in relieving stress and supporting IVF in various ways.  We hope to go through this stressful and intense procedure with you and make your IVF journey a pleasant one. TIMELINE OF ACUPUNCTURE FOR IVF The pretreatment phase of acupuncture for IVF is a crucial starting point. During this stage, you’ll consult with a licensed acupuncturist who specializes in fertility to assess your individual needs and create a personalized treatment plan. The goal here is to prepare your body for the upcoming IVF cycle by addressing any existing health issues, reducing stress, and optimizing your overall well-being. Acupuncture sessions during this phase can help regulate your menstrual cycle, balance hormones, and lay the foundation for a successful IVF journey. Ovarian stimulation is a vital part of the IVF process where fertility medications are used to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple eggs. Acupuncture can complement this phase by promoting optimal blood flow to the ovaries. Improved circulation can enhance the response to fertility medications, potentially leading to better egg quality and increased egg production. Acupuncture sessions during this stage are carefully timed to align with your medication schedule to maximize their benefits. Just before egg retrieval, the final egg maturation phase is crucial. Acupuncture can be used to support the body as it prepares for this pivotal moment. By focusing on specific acupuncture points, your practitioner can help ensure that the eggs are of the highest quality and that your body is in the best possible condition for the retrieval procedure. Egg retrieval is a minor surgical procedure that retrieves mature eggs from the ovaries. Acupuncture can help reduce anxiety and discomfort associated with this procedure by promoting relaxation. Many patients find that acupuncture before and after egg retrieval helps them stay calm and recover more comfortably. In vitro fertilization (IVF) is the process of fertilizing eggs with sperm outside the body. Acupuncture can support this phase by continuing to regulate hormone levels, improve blood flow to the uterus, and enhance overall reproductive health. These benefits can contribute to the success of fertilization and the development of healthy embryos. During the culturing of embryos, the developing embryos are monitored and nurtured in the laboratory. Acupuncture can aid this phase by promoting relaxation and reducing stress. Stress reduction is essential, as high stress levels can potentially interfere with the implantation of embryos into the uterus. Embryo transfer is a pivotal moment in the IVF journey. Acupuncture before and after the transfer can help prepare the uterus for implantation and support the embryo’s attachment. Acupuncture can also reduce stress and anxiety, which can positively impact the success of the transfer. The two-week wait refers to the period following embryo transfer, during which you await the results of a pregnancy test. Acupuncture during this phase can provide emotional support and relaxation, helping you manage the anxiety and uncertainty of this waiting period. It can also assist in stabilizing hormone levels to support a potential pregnancy. Stress Reduction Stress is a common factor that can negatively impact fertility. The emotional and physical toll of infertility and the IVF process can be overwhelming. Acupuncture offers a holistic approach to stress reduction by stimulating the release of endorphins, the body’s natural stress relievers. By reducing stress levels, acupuncture can help create a more conducive environment for successful IVF treatments. Improved Blood Flow Acupuncture enhances blood circulation by dilating blood vessels and increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs. Improved blood flow can lead to better nourishment of the ovaries and uterus, potentially enhancing the development of healthy eggs and a receptive uterine lining for embryo implantation. Hormone Regulation Hormonal imbalances can be a significant factor in infertility. Acupuncture can help regulate hormone levels by influencing the endocrine system. This can be particularly beneficial for women with irregular menstrual cycles or conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) that affect hormone production. Enhanced Egg Quality Acupuncture may contribute to better egg quality by reducing oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can damage eggs and sperm, affecting their viability. By minimizing oxidative stress, acupuncture can potentially improve the quality of eggs retrieved during IVF, increasing the chances of a successful pregnancy. Increased IVF Success Rates Numerous studies suggest that acupuncture can improve IVF success rates. By addressing various aspects of fertility, such as stress reduction, improved blood flow, hormone regulation, and egg quality, acupuncture can help couples achieve their dream of parenthood. This natural approach complements the medical interventions of IVF, offering a holistic solution to infertility. Personalized Treatment Plans Acupuncture practitioners create individualized treatment plans tailored to the unique needs of each patient. This personalized approach ensures that the acupuncture sessions target specific fertility issues, maximizing their effectiveness throughout the IVF process. Conclusion As an adjunct therapy to IVF, acupuncture offers a holistic approach to fertility enhancement. By addressing stress, improving blood flow, regulating hormones, and enhancing egg quality, acupuncture can increase the chances of a successful IVF outcome. If you are considering IVF or seeking natural ways to optimize your fertility, acupuncture may be a valuable addition to your journey towards parenthood. If you’re interested in exploring the benefits of acupuncture for IVF, consult with a qualified acupuncture practitioner who specializes in fertility treatments. Together with your medical team, they can help you create a comprehensive approach to support your fertility goals. For more information on acupuncture and IVF, or to schedule a consultation with our experienced practitioners, contact Yi TCM today. Our team is dedicated to helping you achieve your dreams of building a family through personalized and holistic fertility support.
What is an Auto Immune Thyroid Disease (AITD) and how can TCM help?

14 Mar 2024

By: Aileen Chua

Blog, Acupuncture, Article, Autoimmune Disease, Fertility, Physician Lee 李医师, TCM Herbs

What is an Auto Immune Thyroid Disease (AITD)? Autoimmune thyroid disease, also known as autoimmune thyroiditis or autoimmune thyroid disorder, refers to a group of conditions in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland, leading to inflammation and potentially affecting its function. The two main types of autoimmune thyroid disease are:Hashimoto’s thyroiditis: This is the most common form of autoimmune thyroid disease. In Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the immune system produces antibodies that attack the thyroid gland, leading to chronic inflammation and eventual destruction of thyroid tissue. As a result, the thyroid gland becomes unable to produce enough thyroid hormones, leading to hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid).Graves’ disease: In Graves’ disease, the immune system produces antibodies that stimulate the thyroid gland to produce excessive amounts of thyroid hormones. This leads to hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) and can cause symptoms such as weight loss, rapid heartbeat, tremors, and anxiety.Autoimmune thyroid disease can have various symptoms depending on whether it causes hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. Treatment typically involves managing the symptoms and may include medications to regulate thyroid hormone levels, such as thyroid hormone replacement therapy for hypothyroidism or medications to reduce thyroid hormone production for hyperthyroidism. In some cases, surgery or radioactive iodine therapy may be recommended to treat severe cases of hyperthyroidism. AITD and Fertility Autoimmune thyroid disease, particularly when it leads to thyroid dysfunction such as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, can potentially affect fertility in both men and women. In women, hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism can disrupt ovulation and menstrual cycles, leading to irregular or absent periods (amenorrhea) and thus affecting fertility. Thyroid hormones play a crucial role in regulating the menstrual cycle, and low levels or high levels of thyroid hormones can interfere with normal ovulation. In men, hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can affect sperm production and quality, leading to reduced fertility. Autoimmune thyroid disease itself, regardless of thyroid hormone levels, has been associated with an increased risk of fertility issues. Autoimmune disorders can cause inflammation and immune system dysfunction, which may affect reproductive organs and processes. How is AITD managed? Autoimmune thyroid disease, such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves’ disease, is typically managed through a combination of western medication, lifestyle modifications, and, in some cases, surgical interventions or radioactive iodine therapy. Treatment aims to alleviate symptoms, regulate thyroid hormone levels, and minimize autoimmune-related inflammation. The specific approach to treatment depends on the type and severity of the autoimmune thyroid disease. A balanced diet rich in nutrients, including iodine and selenium, is important for thyroid health. Some individuals with autoimmune thyroid disease may benefit from dietary modifications, such as avoiding excessive iodine intake or following a gluten-free diet if they have coexisting autoimmune conditions like celiac disease. Regular exercise and stress management techniques can help support overall health and may positively impact thyroid function. Individuals with autoimmune thyroid disease require regular monitoring of thyroid hormone levels and thyroid antibodies to assess treatment response and adjust medication dosages as needed. Follow-up appointments with healthcare providers, including endocrinologists, are essential for ongoing management and optimization of treatment strategies. What is TCM perspective on AITD? Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offers a unique perspective on autoimmune thyroid disease, viewing it as a manifestation of imbalances within the body’s energy systems rather than solely as a malfunction of the thyroid gland itself. In TCM theory, autoimmune thyroid disease is often associated with patterns of disharmony involving multiple organ systems and energetic imbalances. Here are some key aspects of the TCM perspective on autoimmune thyroid disease:Energetic Imbalances: TCM views autoimmune thyroid disease as a result of disruptions in the flow of Qi (vital energy) and Blood, as well as imbalances between Yin and Yang energies within the body. These imbalances can affect the proper functioning of the thyroid gland and contribute to the development of autoimmune conditions.Organ Systems Involved: According to TCM, the health of the thyroid gland is closely connected to the functioning of other organ systems, including the Spleen, Kidney, Liver, and Heart. Imbalances in these organ systems can contribute to the development or exacerbation of autoimmune thyroid disease.Patterns of Disharmony: TCM practitioners diagnose autoimmune thyroid disease based on patterns of disharmony, which may include:Spleen Qi Deficiency: Weakness or dysfunction of the Spleen, which may lead to poor digestion, fatigue, and accumulation of Dampness in the body.Kidney Yin Deficiency: Insufficiency of Kidney Yin, which may manifest as heat symptoms, night sweats, and dryness in the body.Liver Qi Stagnation: Impaired flow of Liver Qi, which can result in emotional imbalances, stress, and stagnant energy in the body.Heart and Kidney Yang Deficiency: Weakness or depletion of Heart and Kidney Yang energies, leading to cold intolerance, fatigue, and fluid retention. How can TCM help manage AITD? The management of autoimmune thyroid disease through TCM aims to rebalance the body’s energies and address the underlying patterns of disharmony. Treatment modalities may include:Acupuncture: Acupuncture points are selected to stimulate Qi flow and promote balance within the body’s energy systems.Herbal Medicine: Chinese herbal formulas are prescribed to tonify deficient energies, clear heat, resolve stagnation, and harmonize Yin and Yang.Dietary Therapy: Recommendations for dietary modifications may be provided to support digestion, nourish Yin, and avoid foods that exacerbate Dampness or heat.Lifestyle Recommendations: TCM often emphasizes lifestyle factors such as stress management, adequate rest, and regular exercise to support overall health and balance.Individualized Treatment: TCM treatment is highly individualized, with practitioners tailoring therapy to address each patient’s unique pattern of disharmony and constitution. Conclusion It’s important to note that while TCM can offer complementary approaches to managing autoimmune thyroid disease, it should not replace conventional medical care. Individuals with autoimmune thyroid disease should work with qualified healthcare providers, including TCM practitioners and conventional medical doctors, to develop comprehensive treatment plans that address their specific needs.
What is Sjögren’s syndrome and how can TCM help?

15 Feb 2024

By: Lee Hui Min

Blog, Acupuncture, Article, Autoimmune Disease, Fertility, Physician Lee 李医师, TCM Herbs

What is Sjögren's syndrome? Sjögren’s syndrome is a chronic autoimmune disorder characterized by inflammation that primarily affects the glands responsible for producing tears and saliva. This inflammation leads to the hallmark symptoms of the condition, which include dry eyes and dry mouth. However, Sjögren’s syndrome can also affect other parts of the body, leading to a variety of symptoms beyond dryness, such as joint pain, fatigue, and organ involvement.The exact cause of Sjögren’s syndrome is not fully understood, but it is believed to involve a combination of genetic, environmental, and hormonal factors. The immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s own moisture-producing glands, leading to their dysfunction and the resulting dryness. How is Sjögren’s syndrome diagnosed and treated? Diagnosis of Sjögren’s syndrome involves a combination of medical history, physical examination, and various tests, including blood tests, eye tests, and salivary gland tests. While there is no cure for Sjögren’s syndrome, treatment focuses on managing symptoms and preventing complications. This may involve the use of artificial tears and saliva substitutes to alleviate dryness, as well as medications to reduce inflammation and manage other symptoms. It’s important to note that diagnosis of Sjögren’s syndrome can be challenging due to its varied symptoms and overlap with other autoimmune conditions. A comprehensive evaluation by healthcare professionals familiar with the condition is essential for an accurate diagnosis. Treatment for Sjögren’s syndrome focuses on managing symptoms, preventing complications, and improving quality of life. Since Sjögren’s syndrome is a chronic autoimmune disorder, there is currently no cure, but various treatment options are available to alleviate symptoms. Treatment plans are often individualized based on the specific symptoms and needs of each patient. Some common approaches to managing Sjögren’s syndrome includes the use of Artificial Tears and Eye Lubricants, Saliva Substitutes and Prescription Medications It’s essential for individuals with Sjögren’s syndrome to work closely with healthcare providers, including rheumatologists, ophthalmologists, dentists, and other specialists, to develop a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to their needs. Additionally, lifestyle modifications such as staying hydrated, avoiding irritants, and protecting the eyes from dry environments can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life. How can TCM help with the management of Sjögren’s syndrome? Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offers a unique perspective on health and illness, including autoimmune conditions like Sjögren’s syndrome. In TCM theory, Sjögren’s syndrome would likely be viewed as a manifestation of underlying imbalances in the body’s Qi (vital energy), Yin and Yang energies, and organ systems. Here’s a brief overview of how TCM might approach Sjögren’s syndrome:Imbalance of Yin and Yang: TCM considers health to be a state of balance between Yin and Yang energies. Sjögren’s syndrome, with its symptoms of dryness, might be seen as an excess of Yang energy leading to the depletion of Yin fluids in the body. Treatment would focus on nourishing Yin to restore balance.Deficiency of Body Fluids: Dryness is a key characteristic of Sjögren’s syndrome, indicating a deficiency of body fluids. TCM views body fluids as essential for maintaining health and lubricating the body’s tissues. Treatment would aim to tonify the body’s Yin and fluids through herbal medicine, acupuncture, and dietary modifications.Kidney and Liver Imbalances: In TCM, the Kidney and Liver organ systems are often implicated in conditions involving dryness and autoimmune disorders. Kidney Yin deficiency and Liver Qi stagnation are common patterns seen in Sjögren’s syndrome. Treatment would involve nourishing Kidney Yin and regulating Liver Qi circulation to address these imbalances.Heat and Inflammation: TCM recognizes the presence of heat and inflammation in autoimmune conditions. Sjögren’s syndrome may be associated with internal heat patterns, which can exacerbate dryness and inflammation. Herbal formulas and acupuncture points aimed at clearing heat and dampness may be used to alleviate symptoms.Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine: Acupuncture and herbal medicine are integral components of TCM treatment. Acupuncture can help regulate the flow of Qi and nourish Yin, while specific herbal formulas may be prescribed to address underlying imbalances and alleviate symptoms associated with Sjögren’s syndrome.Dietary Recommendations: TCM emphasizes the importance of diet in maintaining health and treating illness. Foods that nourish Yin and fluids, such as soups, stews, and hydrating fruits and vegetables, may be recommended. Avoiding spicy, heating foods and excessive caffeine intake, which can exacerbate dryness and inflammation, may also be advised.It’s important to note that TCM treatment is highly individualized, and practitioners would assess each patient’s unique pattern of disharmony before prescribing specific treatments. Additionally, TCM is often used as complementary therapy alongside conventional medical treatments for conditions like Sjögren’s syndrome. Patients interested in exploring TCM should consult with a qualified TCM practitioner for a personalized assessment and treatment plan.