Posts Tagged ‘Fertile Soul’


Monday, May 14th, 2012

Our June retreat in Southern California will focus on bringing jing and shen together, wherever you are in your reproductive years.

According to Chinese medicine, regardless of age, fertility is the proper combination of jing and shen.

Jing is essence, governed by the kidney system of energies (water); and shen is spirit, governed by the heart system of energies (fire)

Life comes from the combination of essence (water) and spirit (fire). When we are younger, we have more essence; as we age we have more spirit. The older we are, it is more essential to nourish essence with tonics, diet, rest, herbs, acupuncture and exercises that increase blood flow to the reproductive organs. But because of the percentage of shen as we approach our perimenopausal years, its even more important to attend to the spirit.

Nourish your spirit, and live the passion of your own existence first. Only then can you provide adequate essence for another.

Listen to the call here:

The Call to Motherhood

Monday, March 12th, 2012

I recall the first stirrings in my heart to bring forth life. It was the deepest, most personal and authentic need I’ve ever known. It seems to me a man can’t know this feeling in the same way. It felt like an invitation to be overtaken by a love that would consume me completely. I couldn’t love each of my three children more. But none of them could fulfill this need to be consumed by love itself. They were expressions of love, not its fulfillment. Yet each of them has become a part of this extension of love itself, the most powerful force in existence.

I entered medical school after Theresa was born. I still had a deep longing for something unfinished. Chinese medicine followed, as did another marriage and two more children. Some deep current within pushed me unrelentingly, beyond the confines of a satisfied, comfortable life. Restlessness prevailed, guided by a love beyond satiation. I could not be fulfilled.

Chinese medicine and Eastern philosophy drove me deeper within, as did my own personal search for something which I couldn’t find. I didn’t know what it was, only that I must pursue it.

Fertility became my unrelenting passion. Within it held the direction that led to the source of life itself. The Taoists seemed to me to be closer to the source than any exteriorly focused belief or healing modality. The further I go with it, the more vast and miraculous this opening to love and the source of life becomes.

When I meet with individuals on this journey, it is that source which I try to show them, convey, and help them open to. When they merely are interested in how to control the physical expression. they miss the miraculous source itself. It’s like trying to manipulate the atmosphere by holding your breath.

The Tao te Ching says,

The Valley Spirit never dies.
It is called the Mysterious Feminine.
And the doorway to the mysterious feminine
It is the gateway through which heaven and earth arise.
It is there within you all the while.
Use it as you will;
It will never run dry.

This is the miraculous source. It can’t be forced, manipulated or controlled. It is there within you, beckoning you through this longing for life itself. Bring yourself to that doorway, which never runs dry.

Femoral Reproductive Massage (Fertility Massage)

Monday, March 5th, 2012

Eastern Approaches to Pregnancy – Today Show 9/16/08

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

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Herb-005 Tonify Kidney Qi: Luteal Phase Support and Luteal Phase Defect

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

A luteal phase defect is when the uterus does not adequately respond to progesterone to hold the typical 14-day luteal phase. Progesterone output from the corpus luteum may be adequate, but the tissues are unresponsive. Thus, progesterone administration rarely cures luteal phase defect. At ties, the uterine lining does not exhibit the proteins that are necessary for implantation to occur. Sometimes, the immune system reacts against an implanting embryo, and lowers the response to progesterone. Occasionally, the endometrium thins and sheds before menstruation, which does not allow an implanting embryo to remain.

Chinese medicine views the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle energetically. We see that the kidney essence must be adequate to produce progesterone and hold the heating aspect of the menstrual cycle. Spleen qi must be able to “hold” the energies that allow implantation. The qi and blood must be unobstructed, without excess heat or dampness.

HERB-005 Tonify Kidney Qi: Luteal Phase Support helps the body encourage progesterone production by strengthening corpus luteal function. It encourages your body to develop the vascularization, glandular development and proteins necessary for implantation, and hold the kidney energies. This formula may be used following any follicular phase formula. It may be used alone or can be combined with Vitalize Spleen, Resolve Stagnation, and Invigorate Blood formulas.

Soaking your feet in a warm Epsom salt bath each night can also help tonify the kidney energies. Eating walnuts,, pumpkin seeds and yams can also help build up the energies that support progesterone production.

I do not advocate limiting your activities during the luteal phase, unless you tire easily. Any mild exercise that you enjoy during the first half of the cycle is appropriate for the latter half of the cycle. Throughout history, nature did not intend that you even know that you might be pregnant until a period was missed. Nature wasn’t mistaken. I think the wisdom of nature was well aware that if the human psyche got involved in thinking we could control implantation, our own stress mechanisms would make it worse. Relax. It’s the best thing you can do for your fertility. Live your life as if your future child was evaluating what life with you would be like. Would they want you to be stressed? Neurotically trying to control their entrance?

I had some luteal phase issues, and the one month I thought there was no chance I could be pregnant, I stopped supplementing with progesterone. I stopped taking my herbs. I went on a ski trip that I never would have gone on if I thought I might be pregnant. Nature knew better. That was the month I let go, and all of the things that I had been doing (acupuncture, meditation, qi gong, and herbs) were finally allowed to take hold. The one missing ingredient was that I was trying to control all of these things. When I let go the energies opened up and allowed a pregnancy.

HERB-004 Invigorate Blood: Uterine Health Formula

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Endometriosis is a laparoscopic diagnosis. Endometriosis is suspected when the individual presents with mild to severe menstrual cramps, pain on intercourse, and may experience dark, clotty menstrual blood. A laparoscopy is performed to confirm the presence of endometrial cells outside of the uterine cavity, to which the body has mounted an inflammatory reaction. The affected tissue can be “burned” off with a laser, although this is not curative. Another medical approach for endometriosis is to induce a temporary state of menopause with hormonally suppressive drugs such as Lupron. This is also not curative. The presence of endometriosis may also affect ones fertility. Occasionally scar tissue can develop which can impede the ability of the ovary to release the egg and be received appropriately within the fallopian tube. The degree of inflammatory reaction, however, is the greatest indicator. When the inflammation triggers the involvement of the immune system, the body can be programmed to view its own uterine lining as foreign and dangerous, and immune cells are mounted to destroy the endometrial cells and anything that might be implanting in them.

Fortunately, Chinese medicine has found curative relief for endometriosis. Herb-004 Invigorate Blood: Uterine Health Formula is based on a Chinese remedy to revitalize patterns of static blood in the uterus, reducing the inflammatory reaction and immune involvement.

I do not find it particularly valuable to know if one has been diagnosed with endometriosis. If there are symptoms of menstrual pain; blood clots; sticky black, brown or dark purple menstrual flow; and/or painful intercourse, it is an indication that the static blood needs to be enlivened so implantation can be allowed. This process often takes many months (3 – 9) to calm down, depending on its severity.

In addition to Herb-004 Invigorate Blood, I also recommend the following adjunctive treatments for endometriosis:

–       application of castor oil packs to the lower abdomen and uterine massage

–       follow the spleen qi diet, reduce red meat and animal fat

–       supplement with USANA essentials, proflavanol, and visionex

–       OPC, 250 mg/day

–       Wobenzym, taken between meals on an empty stomach

–       Nattokinase, take as directed

This regimen has been found curative. I have treated patients with Stage IV Endometriosis, who, after a few months on this plan, on repeat laparoscopy, had no evidence of endometriosis. Of course, the symptoms subsided as well.

More information:

HERB-003 Resolve Damp: Ovarian Stimulation Formula

Monday, November 28th, 2011

This herbal formulation was prepared for those with PCOS, and directs the body’s reproductive energies toward removing obstructions to ovulation. PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome, insulin resistance and glucose intolerance are viewed as “damp” disorders through the lens of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

If you view the connection between the pituitary gland and the ovaries as a river, disorders of sugar regulation could be likened to sludge in the river bed, reducing the flow of communication between the messages from the pituitary gland and how quickly they are received and responded to by the ovaries.

One particular herb in the formulation, gleditsia spine, has been reported to reduce the waxy capsule around the ovaries that can hinder the release of the egg during ovulation. Gleditsia spine is not to be taken during pregnancy, which is why we stress taking this formulation prior to ovulation only.

Women with delayed ovulation may find ovulation coming earlier and earlier with continued use of this formulation during the follicular phase. It does not have this effect in women whose ovulation occurs during the expected mid-cycle range.

Women who have disruptions in sugar metabolism that impact ovulation can also benefit from supplementing the diet with NAC, chlorophyll, chromium picolinate, inositol, fenugreek, and bitter melon.

Sylvia had no formal diagnosis of PCOS, insulin resistance, or glucose intolerance. Yet, she always felt a little light headed when she was hungry, and craved sweets most of the time. She felt sluggish and tired and had a few immunologic markers. Her physician started her on Clomid, and prescribed Glucophage, although her glucose levels were within the normal range. These drugs made her feel even worse, and she did not become pregnant. Before proceeding with the suggested IVF, Sylvia removed sugar, refined carbohydrates, gluten and cow’s dairy from her diet. She supplemented with antioxidants, NAC, and chromium picolinate, and took the Resolve Damp formulation during the follicular phase followed by the Vitalize Spleen Qi formulation during the luteal phase. Immediately she felt the results. Her energy improved, her cycles shortened, ovulation came earlier each month, and she became pregnant in less than six months.

More information:

HERB-002 Kidney Essence: Follicular Health Formula

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Herbal formulas are focused on gently correcting underlying imbalances; either building up deficient energies or removing obstructions. It is easy for misunderstandings to develop with Chinese herbs. The formulations are complex, to help the body do what it is intended to do. With fertility formulations, most are focused on directing the body’s energies to the reproductive system.  The Fertile Soul herbal formula blend HERB-002 Kidney Essence: Follicular Health Formula is based on an ancient Chinese formulation to build up the “essence” of the reproductive system. It is intended to be taken during the follicular phase (after menstruation until ovulation) of each menstrual cycle, supporting the energies that encourage follicular growth. Unlike ovarian stimulating drugs, this formulation does not overstimulate and therefore deplete the reproductive energies, but nourishes the kidney yin and blood, while resolving any excess stagnant energies. They have no hormones in them, but encourage your body to produce its own hormones.

This nourishing formula may even be used concurrently with ovarian stimulation, with your doctor’s approval. This formulation has been shown to lower FSH, encourage folliculogenesis, raise AMH values and encourage ovarian response. I encourage its use in women with premature ovarian failure, poor ovarian response, advanced maternal age, or to build up the reproductive energies before or after a stimulated cycle.

More information:

Water – The Carrier of Vibration

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Hydrogen, the simplest element and the first in the period table, was the most abundant element formed during the big bang. Hydrogen coalesced into stars, which then fused into helium. Hydrogen was named for its ability to form water.

H2O. Two atoms of the first element, and one of that which infuses us with qi.

Chinese medicine ascribes great value to the element water, the most abundant element in life. Our bodies are composed of about 80% water. Embryos are approximately 99% water. If we die of old age, we will probably be about 70% water. Water is depleted as we age. The reproductive system belongs to the element water, that which gives rise to life. Water governs the process of growth, maturation and decline. It oversees hormonal functioning. It is responsible for water balance of the kidneys and urinary bladder. Water produces the will to survive, and the instinct of fear. Water also governs the ears and sound, the carrier of vibration, and our potential to bring forth life. Energetically, that which gives rise to water thrives in stillness, and requires deep restoration.

Water is depleted by fear, overwork, exhaustion, and overstimulation.  It is restored by relaxation, quiet, meditation, and by having a deep sense of knowing who we are. It is nourished by conserving our reserves; and not squandering them by the demands of life.

In Eastern thought, the sound Om connects us to the original vibration of creation. When we allow ourselves to deeply touch into our depths, we often find fear of the unknown, of our own origin. But when we allow ourselves not to run into the demands of life and face our own origin, our own fears, the result is a courageous wisdom that allows us to live from the strength of water’s greatest virtue – the spirit of water or zhi. The Chinese character for zhi is ? Zhi – A shoot emerging from the depths of the heart, or an inner direction that develops like an emerging plant, lifting up from the underground. Zhi describes the deepest aspect of who we are, that which provides us a rooted direction in life. It is our deepest remembering of who we really are.

We have access to recognize the spark of the divine within, through which life arises. The power of water is the place between stillness and life, where our deepest wisdom resides, giving rise to an instinctual power that ignites the flame of organic processes.

The characteristic of water is to seek the depths, always penetrating into the unfathomable origin. Consider this yourself. Can you rise above your deepest fears by penetrating into your own depths:

What vibration are you emitting? Is it in resonance with your deepest self? Can you find the courage to touch into your own subconscious mind? Can you dare to come into your greatest wisdom, found in stillness that brings forth the miraculous potential of how your highest vibration may be made manifest? This is where creation is expressed. This is fertility. This is your birthright.

High FSH

Friday, June 18th, 2010

“High FSH”…“Poor Responder”…“Old Eggs”…“Advanced Maternal Age”…“Donor Egg Candidate” …

These are the most devastating reproductive diagnoses a woman can receive. The majorities of my patients who have high FSH, are over 35 years of age, and have been labeled this way. Yet, nobody starts out with these diagnoses. Most women end up with these labels after years of failed reproductive treatments.

Laura had been given each of these diagnoses from her reproductive endocrinologist, and has just given birth to her son, whom she conceived naturally.  44 year old Kathleen was told she would never become a mother unless she used a younger woman’s donated eggs. Her doctor was wrong. When her reproductive system was nurtured and cared for naturally, she conceived her healthy daughter on her own.

Last week a reporter queried me on a quote a reproductive endocrinologist gave her:

“2/3 of women over the age of 35 require medical intervention in order to conceive.”

These attitudes are not only wrong, they are downright harmful. Keep in mind there is a large financial incentive for you to believe these demoralizing prognoses – reproductive medicine is an ever growing multi billion dollar per year cash industry, whose financial rewards grow exponentially when you submit to the belief that your only chance of becoming a parent is through medical intervention. They make no money when you conceive on your own. They make maximum profit when multiple women are involved in helping you achieve a pregnancy at all costs.

Certainly, some women do require medical intervention. Yet, it should not be offered as a blanket solution to all infertility problems. It is accepted medical tradition that the simplest, least aggressive, and most cost effective treatments should always be exhausted first. Yet most women who ask their doctors “Is there anything I can do to improve my reproductive status?” are told definitively “No, you are simply too old.”  Since most insurance companies don’t cover infertility treatment, and since there is an automatic medicolegal defense against litigation (“You came to me infertile, what’s the damage?”), Western reproductive specialists feel safer in offering a more aggressive approach, and we capitulate to their treatments because we are in a state of panic.

Medical charts abound with these types of unsettling comments: “Mrs. Nesbitt is a three time clomid failure.”  “Ms. Callahan is a poor responder to maximum stimulation, and an IVF failure. Recommend donor.” Then they come to me as a last resort, hopeless, and depleted – financially and spiritually. They don’t feel good about themselves, their bodies, or their lives.

My intention is not to bash reproductive medicine, but to put it in its proper perspective. Yes, we hear of reproductive successes when ‘infertile’ celebrities end up with a couple of offspring in toe, most often the result of someone else’s eggs. Yet, month after month, and year after year, I pick up the pieces of broken lives, broken promises, and broken dreams. And the stories don’t ever change. The histories begin with unexplained infertility after one year of unprotected intercourse, and end up with “IVF failure, recommend donor.” Every time.

I propose that reproductive medicine more often than not fails us! Yet we are the ones who are conditioned to feel that it’s our fault when their drugs don’t work on us.

Reproductive medicine has one thing to offer women to help them conceive – that single drug is the all powerful, commanding hormone, FSH. And if you have any of those dreaded reproductive diagnoses listed above, FSH will cease to be effective in your body.

And you know the old adage, “If all you have is a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail.” When you are no longer the perfect nail, they try to bend and straighten and flatten you with the only tool they have.

There is another option that has been grossly overlooked. The reason it is overlooked is that physicians do not learn anything about reproductive health when they study medicine. In medical school, we were trained to treat disease. And infertility is not a disease. It is an epidemic of ignorance. We have not been taught how to care for our own reproductive systems.

Let’s pretend for a minute that there are no such things as hammers and nails. Consider the possibility that we have all of our fertility solutions within our very makeup. Ovarian health depends upon three factors – nutritional status, blood flow, and the balance of reproductive hormones with stress hormones.

1)      Nutritional status – the reproductive system, like the rest of our body, has certain nutritional requirements. Most of my patients are asked to avoid sugar, wheat, and dairy. They take nutritional supplements specific to their TCM pattern of imbalance. Most women with high FSH or poor ovarian reserve take supergreens like wheatgrass, royal jelly, and Co-Enzyme Q-10, to name a few.

2)      Blood flow – a woman of age 40 typically has five times less blood flow to her ovaries than a woman of age 20. This dramatically impedes the attention that the ovary requires during the follicles’ all important growth phase, the 90 day process before ovulation in which the quality of the egg is determined. The follicles insist upon adequate oxygenation and circulation to function efficiently (i.e., with a healthy egg, capable of fertilization and implantation.) I teach women exercises which redirect the circulation to the ovaries. And, as always, their bodies respond.

3)      Hormonal balance – the endocrine system is a delicate interplay of the reproductive hormones, stress hormones, and emotions, in symphony with each other. This system operates via feedback, which means that anytime you introduce an outside hormone into its influence, it shuts that system down. Synthetic hormones can’t cure hormonal imbalances, they can only override them. The endocrine system is the most sensitive bodily system which requires the perfect balancing act of multiple factors, inside and out. Like all other mammals, our bodies do not want us pregnant when our endocrine systems are stressed. At our retreats, we employ natural techniques to rebalance the hormones. These methods gently encourage the reproductive system to operate efficiently, while reducing the internal stress response. When we abide by nature’s own directives, an internal order awakens inside, and automatically knows the rules.

Like Laura and Kathleen, when we pay attention to these three factors, our reproductive systems respond beautifully, as if this is what they were waiting for all along.

Christine, age 33, was given the diagnosis of premature ovarian failure when her FSH was found to be marginally elevated. Her doctor put her on three cycles of clomid, an anti-estrogen drug which raises FSH, and her body did all it could to save her – her reproductive system completely shut down in response to the clomid (don’t ever take clomid if your FSH is elevated, even borderline). She quit menstruating, her FSH rose ever higher, and she was left with two options – donor egg or adoption.

Christine didn’t blame her doctor for giving her the wrong medicine, she did what most all infertility patients do, quietly suffer alone in agonizing despair. Then she heard about my retreats, and something within her said, “this makes sense.” Christine came to two retreats, a few months apart. After one month of natural treatment of diet, nutritional supplementation, ovarian exercises, acupuncture and herbs, her period returned. Christine went back to her infertility specialist and asked her if there was any hope for her. Her doctor told her if she conceived on her own, she would “eat her shoe.” During Christine’s second retreat, she looked me in the eye with severe intensity and begged, “Do you think there might be hope?” I looked back with the same intensity in my gaze, said, “Yes, Christine. There is hope.” She believed me. More importantly, she believed in herself, and her body’s ability to heal herself. She had one more period. That is, until she conceived, naturally, with their first miracle child. And, as far as I know, no shoes were ingested.

Listen to your own internal wisdom. Do you want a child, any child, at all costs, or can you allow yourself the gift of reclaiming your reproductive, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.