The Jewish Press asked me to write an article about how Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can impact women's health. This project has turned into Three articles. The 1st installment was published in late August. The next one is due (no pun intended) in November.
Here is the 1st article:
There’s a point for that: Fertility, Pregnancy and Labor
By: Esther Hornstein, L.Ac.
Chinese Medicine has many uses in the world of women’s health. From menarache, the first period, through menopause, acupuncture and oriental medicine is known to help regulate every process. So when friends, family and patients ask if I can help with issues they are having from A-Z I can say with confidence, “Yes, there’s a point for that”.
What is acupuncture and how does it impact women’s health?
Acupuncture is one method of Oriental healing that consists of inserting hair-thin needles into the skin on areas called acu-points. Acu-points are located on channels or meridians which eventually, internally connect to organs. Traditional Chinese physiology differs from Western Medical physiology in that the organs hold holistic and multi-faceted roles. For example, the liver in western medicine is the blood filter, drug metabolizer and bile producer. In Oriental medicine, among many functions, liver does have the job of storing the blood at nighttime, directing and circulating the blood throughout the body: including descending the blood during menstruation, and nourishing the tendons and sinews in around the joints. But the liver is also given psycho - emotional properties being that it is responsible for responding to stress calmly and reaching toward creative goals. Hence a disharmony in the liver looks very different in the western medical model, than the Oriental medical model.
The acu-points located on the “liver” channel are used to correct imbalances which are impacted by any incorrect function of the liver.
Regulating the menses:
The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that dysmenorrhea (painful periods) and irregular menstruation are treatable by Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Acupuncture is used to balance the organs’ functions that are responsible for proper ovarian and uterine workings.
Painful periods, irregular periods, loss of the period or spotting can be remedied by a course of acupuncture treatments. There is no ideal length of the cycle dictated in Chinese medicine, as opposed to the 27-35 day expectation demanded by the medical model. Consistency is the most important factor indicating the health of a woman. Hormonal imbalances such as poly cystic ovarian syndrome and thyroid disharmonies respond well to acupuncture over time.
Men and Women experiencing infertility can use Acupuncture to help naturally and health-fully conceive, sustain and birth healthy babies. Within 3 menstrual cycles of weekly acupuncture treatments, the couple should see changes towards healthier ovulation and eventual fertilization. Acupuncture has also shown to improve success rates of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) by at least 30%.
Most aches and pains that pregnant women get just are not treatable in western medicine. It’s not easy to just grin and bear it. Depression, insomnia, headaches, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and nausea are just some common pregnancy ailments. Most medications on the market have not been tested on pregnant women. Other medications are known to be harmful on the fetus, but in severe cases are prescribed anyway for the wellbeing of the mother.
Acupuncture, however, provides a safe alternative to medication. Being that it is a gentle medicine, there is no risk to mother or baby when practiced by a Licensed Acupuncturist.
Acupuncture and moxibustion (the practice of burning mugwort near acu-points) is proven to turn breech babies when treatment starts at 36 weeks.
Last but not least, acupuncture is gaining weight (no pun intended) in the area of labor readiness. One benefit is the increase of mom’s pain threshold to maintain levelheadedness during labor. In cases of slow and delayed labor, acupuncture serves to ripen the cervix and help the baby descend.
Mothers looking to try for a Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC) use acupuncture to prepare themselves for labor and decrease the need for medical induction and reduce the risk of uterine rupture and having another c-section. Getting acupuncture treatments once a week starting at week 36 is an ideal course of treatment for achieving a VBAC.
Part two will discuss Post Partum Care.