I’ve somewhat neglected by blogging and once I’ve got all the exciting new plans I’ve been working on up and running I’ll get back to posting some more regular updates. But for now, I just had to put a post out there to congratulate my four IVF couples that all had positive test results this month! That’s 6 positive tests in a row if you count February too so I’m really pleased that they’ve all done so well.
The research says that acupuncture increases fertility rates by 67% when coupled with IVF but I think these results certainly tip the scales! But a big well done should be given to all those couples who stuck to all the advice and worked just as hard as I did to get them there.
Well done you guys! You know who you are! :)
It’s been a little while since I wrote my last blog but I had an interesting case this week that I felt may be of interest to you all. Largely because the symptoms presented themselves as minor and without any medical knowledge you might think trivial, but it fast turned into an emergency situation.
A 59 year old female patient came to see me for her routine maintenance check. She mentioned in passing that she had experienced a couple of strange flashes of light in her eyes the previous evening. On further questioning she felt that her floaters (which she already had a history of) seemed a little worse and she thought her vision might be a little blurry.
My training in Western Medicine led me to think that my patient might be experiencing symptoms indicative of a detached retina where the retina itself starts to tear away from the tissue of the eye. It is a serious problem that if left untreated can cause visual impairment and blindness and it is certainly a condition that needs to be treated quickly to avoid any lasting damage.
I referred her as an emergency to her GP who instantly referred her to an eye specialist at her local hospital. The Consultant confirmed my suspicions that she was experiencing a retinal tear and she underwent emergency laser surgery that day and further operations over the course of several weeks to stop her retina from detaching. Despite these gruelling procedures she is now on the road to recovery. Her consultant has given her a good prognosis that there should’t be any lasting damage and I will continue to treat her with acupuncture to make for a speedy recovery.
So all in all a good story, but all credit to the College of Integrated Chinese Medicine for their extensive Western Medical programme. As gruelling the study was at the time it has given us graduates a great platform and supplied us with the knowledge to provide the best possible care for our patients.
January is the month of ridiculous diets following the Christmas over-indulgence. Bookshop shelves become full of “How I lost 12 stones with the ‘eat nothing but cake’” diet and “Eat Yourself Thin, Volume 3” . You start asking your friends how they lost their weight and the stories differ so much. This is because, and I’m going to say something quite profound… We are all different! Of course we all know this but when it comes to dieting we seem to forget! What will work for your next door neighbour won’t necessarily work for you and serial dieters find that they jump from one diet to the next hoping they’ll find the answer to miracle weight loss.
When it comes to dieting you need to look at the body as a whole and gain insight into the reasons why a person might be struggling to lose weight. From a Chinese medical perspective it really could come from anywhere. We all know a sluggish metabolism is a culprit but weight gain could be borne out of Liver disharmony, pathogens or emotional issues. Certainly, if I treat a patient who is wanting to shift a few pounds I approach it as I would treat a backache or a headache. First I ask myself, “What’s the root cause of the problem?” Is it as simple as a sluggish metabolism, or are there other health issues at play? Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can be used to improve the function of the organs responsible for digestion and transit through the body and so an acupuncturist can bring about a healthier and better functioning digestive system. This, in turn will aid the body to either lose or gain weight depending on what the body needs.
If we go to a Chinese restaurant, we are given a menu, we pick what we like and enjoy! In China, you often wouldn’t be given a menu at all. The waiter would ask you how you feel, and based on your response the chef would cook you a plate of food to treat your particular mood or ailment. It’s a shame that we don’t have the same understanding in the West of how food can be used as medicine.
In my clinic, my patients often tell me they feel lethargic, tired and lacking in energy. When I ask them about their diet the answers are often the same; skipping meals, eating on the run, quick and easy convenience food. Like an engine running on petrol, we run on food. And so if we don’t give ourselves foods rich in nutrients how can we ever manufacture the energy we need? Of course we would be sluggish, tired and lacking in energy.
Then there are some patients who eat a great diet, conventionally speaking, but still struggle to lose weight and feel tired and sluggish. This is often because although we view them as healthy, nutritionally good foods can be energetically wrong for that particular person.
An acupuncturist is trained in dietary therapy and so we have an understanding of food energetics. Some foods can be very heating to your system, such as ginger and chilli. Some are very cooling such as mint or watermelon. Some are nourishing to your Qi or energy such as rice or butternut squash. Some are nourishing to your blood such as red meat or apricots. If you eat a lot of one particular type of food you could be cooling down an already ‘cold’ system which would only act to make your system more sluggish, etc. So it is important that you as the patient have an understanding of your own energetics so that you can be aware of foods that will help and hinder you.
In my clinic I often talk to patients about their diet and provide individualised lists of foods that would help to treat their particular condition. It can be so difficult to know what you should and shouldn’t be eating so I feel this can give a patient the focus needed to maintain a healthy diet that is completely tailored to the individual.
At the beginning of July I received the very good news that not one but two of my IVF patients had positive pregnancy tests. Which meant that I recently got the news through about the long anticipated first scan! Both ladies have reported that babies are doing well and have good strong heartbeats.
It’s so rewarding for me to be able to help patients through this emotional and life-changing journey, and it’s even lovelier to receive photos of newborns sent in from patients I have helped in the past.
With IVF becoming more common the success rates for the IUI procedure is between 5 and 20%. I have treated lots of ladies undergoing IUI procedures and have found that the IUI procedure combined with acupuncture increases the success rate quite dramatically! My success rate is currently 85%.
However the individual patient also has a huge part to play in determining the outcome of a positive test result. I have been very lucky to treat ladies who are willing to do whatever it takes and listen to advice and more importantly follow it to the t. Where I have not been successful is where patients don’t heed the advice and rush back to work too soon or neglect their diet. It is important to remember that you have been through a pretty invasive procedure, not to mention the drugs and anaesthesia that you would have taken. An assisted fertility procedure is not like a normal contraception at all and patients should treat it as they would any operation and have some serious rest and recovery time before they get back to their normal lives.
Of course some ladies don’t need to go through the IVF procedure at all. It is quite likely that some infertile couples may just need a little energetic fine-tuning to conceive and it does upset me when some ladies run straight to the IVF route without trying some of the alternatives out there. It’s much less invasive and drug-free! So please talk to an acupuncturist first if you are thinking about trying IVF as it may not be necessary.
So with that lecture over, I look forward to helping lots more ladies in the future!
Acupuncture Awareness Week is a nationwide event with its focus this year on back pain. In conjunction with The British Acupuncture Council, it is us acupuncturists jobs to get out into the local community and put to rest some of the common misconceptions surrounding acupuncture.
National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines which all GPs and medical professionals need to follow advises that GPs should refer patients to acupuncture if they’re experiencing chronic non-specific low back pain and so therefore acupuncture should be the first port of call. Sadly for most patients I see, acupuncture was the last resort and patients often tell me they wished they’d known about the benefits of acupuncture sooner… so that is what Acupuncture Awareness Week is all about!
I will be available all this week to answer any questions you may have about acupuncture treatment via my Facebook page www.facebook.com/pages/VerityAllenAcupunture or via email firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone 07789553954.
I suppose the easiest question to clear up right here is that the insertion of acupuncture needles is not a painful process. The needles are as thin as a strand of hair and some needles may only penetrate up to 2 or 3 millimetres. My patients describe acupuncture as a pleasurable, relaxing experience and is so dissimilar from the experience you might receive when you need to give a blood test or get a vaccine.
If you would like to try treatment yourself please call on 07789553954 or email email@example.com to reserve your space.
My congratulations go out to 3 of my patients this month who gave birth to bouncing babies and a further congratulations to 2 patients who found out they were pregnant this month. I’m not sure which I’m more excited about! 2014 certainly is off to a flying start!
It’s got me thinking about how many acupuncture babies might have been born last year. I’ve done the rough workings out for my clinic alone and that stands at 14 healthy babies. And plenty more mums who are due to have their babies this year. Certainly my acupuncturist friends also have good stories to tell about the women they’ve helped so there must be hundreds of babies, mummies and daddies out there who all owe it to acupuncture. It just makes me feel grateful that I can be involved in this wonderful experience.
Acupuncture really is hugely beneficial in helping fertility problems for both men and women and the results speak for themselves!
This week I attended a very interesting course led by world renowned Chinese medical dermatologist Ken Lloyd. Ken's approach for treating skin conditions quickly and effectively involves the use of acupuncture, topical creams and powdered herbs to be taken in a solution of water. His results are second to none and he has helped thousands of patients suffering with painful skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema and urticaria.
Ken shared his methodology during his course and I'm now pleased to say that I too can deliver these effective dermatological treatments and I am now able to prescribe Chinese medical patent herb formulas and topical creams.
I decided to attend Ken's seminars because I have seen an increase in my clinic of patients seeking acupuncture to help with their various skin complaints. The approach to treating dermatological problems in Western medicine tends to be on a trial and error basis with patients trying creams and lotions one after the other to see which ones benefit their skin. Once they've found a cream that helps, it becomes less effective over time as the bacteria causing the infection becomes immune, driving the person back to square one again! Often the patient will be prescribed steroid creams which come with a list of possible side-effects - high blood pressure and bone thinning to name a few!
When we use herbs, the bacteria causing the skin complaint struggles to develop immunity because the herb is a living organism, itself ever changing to the environment & developing it's own immunities to the bacteria around it. By prescribing patients topical creams made from ground herbs mixed into aqueous cream and using a complimentary internal formula of powdered herbs mixed with water there is less of a chance that the bacteria will grow immune and so the potency of the formula remains strong. This means that the active ingredients will target the bacteria and clear it from the system as a pose to steroid creams which merely suppress the symptoms.
Acupuncture alone can be extremely beneficial in treating skin conditions as my patients would affirm, however the reason I have decided to adopt the approach of using herbs alongside needles is to bring about healthy skin more quickly. It means that the patient is still getting treated in between acupuncture sessions. It also means that if finances are limited, a patient can reduce the amount of treatments they have but still have the peace of mind that the herbs are working for them, as often skin conditions require weekly acupuncture treatments over several months.
I will be consulting my current skin condition patients to decide upon a treatment plan that works best for them. If you are a new patient suffering with psoriasis, eczema, urticaria or acne feel free to get in touch to discuss what would work for you.
State of the art 3D imaging technology has proven that acupuncture points exist according to a recent study published by the Journal of Electron Spectroscopy and Related Phenomena.
The CT scanners revealed that "Acupuncture points have a higher density of micro-vessels and contain a large amount of involuted microvascular structures. The non-acupuncture points did not exhibit these properties."
Another study saw researchers use an amperometric oxygen microsensor to detect partial oxygen pressure variations at different locations on the anterior aspect of the wrist. It showed a direct correlation of increased oxygen pressure with known and commonly used acupuncture points.
This is only confirming what acupuncturists have known for centuries but it is one step further to proving that the concept of qi or energy flowing through the body is not hocum. Acupuncturists have always thought that acupuncture points are simply areas where the qi pools and at this point an acupuncturist would use the conductive nature of the needles to manipulate that persons qi. This research shows this to be correct and is a huge finding for researchers and the acupuncture community.
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I thought it might be helpful to give an insight into the conditions, illnesses or problems that I'm currently treating to demonstrate the breadth and scope of acupuncture. I expect some will not come as a surprise but others might. One consistent theme in my practice is fertility and gynaecological issues. Acupuncture treatment in this area is well documented and I would say that 50% of my patients fall into this category. Indeed successfully treated fertility patients come back to me to help them through pregnancy for such things as morning sickness. I have also recently 'turned' babies lying in the wrong position to avoid difficulties in child birth. Beyond that, period problems are a common complaint seen in clinic. This includes endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome. About 10% of my patients fall into this capacity.
Next is musculo-skeletal problems such as sciatica, neck, shoulder and back pain. Again about 10% .
Then migraine is well treated through acupuncture so I am regularly treating patients with this problem.
A smaller part of my work is with emotional and mental instability with depression and anxiety/panic attacks at the forefront.
Then there are the rarer cases which currently include fibromyalgia, prolapse, autoimmune diseases, and skin complaints. So its a very varied practice which is very fulfilling.
#Acupuncture #Fertility #Migraine #Endometriosis #PCOS #Sciatica #Pregnancy
Yesterday I received the very happy news that not one but two of my fertility patients were pregnant!
Following my last blog I have seen an increase within my clinics of new patients seeking help with fertility problems.
A lot of women suffering with low fertility or problems conceiving often turn to acupuncture once they are already undergoing IVF or IUI procedures. Whilst acupuncture can be very beneficial in enhancing their fertility treatments, I find myself wishing the patient had come to me sooner before they embarked on the drugs, injections, scans and poking and prodding that goes with IVF procedures.
Chinese acupuncture is able to get a woman's body in the optimum state to conceive without the use of artificial enhancers and stimulants. An acupuncturist would be able to detect the quality of a woman's blood through taking the pulses and observing the tongue and this would inform them as to whether the blood was deficient or stagnant. Once this information is collected it becomes fairly simple to treat. In Western medicine a patient might be prescribed iron tablets if they were anaemic but the Chinese medical slant takes it one step further - even if your blood were a little on the lacking iron side we would work to give it that boost. If your blood isn't rich in nutrients it certainly has none to spare on nourishing a baby. And it can be just as simple as that!
There are of course numerous other reasons within Chinese medicine that a person might be struggling to conceive but your acupuncturist should be able to diagnose this and work with you towards improving your health, either through diet, exercise or by targeting stressful factors.
Of course, IVF has provided a lot of otherwise poorly fertile women with healthy, bouncing babies and has been a huge advancement in modern medicine. Studies are now being conducted into the efficacy of acupuncture combined with IVF procedures and the results are very pleasing. My patients find that the process of IVF can be a very overwhelming and anxious time and so not only will acupuncture help with the side-effects of the medication, helping to stimulate follicle growth and to help prevent the body from rejecting the embryo transfer itself, it will also help keep the person's mind calm and relieve stress and anxiety.
Here's to July where I hope to hear even more good pregnancy news!
Verity Allen - BSc, BA, MBAcC, Lic Ac