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Opportunity for Free New Female Fertility Patient Visit in Doctoral Program


Since the publication of the first research trials demonstrating dramatically higher pregnancy rates when acupuncture is combined with in-vitro fertilization (IVF) more than a decade ago, the demand for highly trained Oriental medicine practitioners knowledgable in the field of Read more

Testosterone, The Overprescribed Hormone


Prescriptions for testosterone creams, injections and patches have risen dramatically over the last decade. Why? Because it works! That's right. Testosterone supplementation makes many men have more energy, increased libido, gain muscle mass, feel more positive about life. Having Read more

National Infertility Awareness Week, Listen Up!


   In honor of Infertility Awareness Week, we are giving a free, signed copy of my book, Your Fertility Program to anyone who requests it. Simply come to the office for your paperback copy while supplies last. Struggling to get Read more

March is Endometriosis Awareness Month!


I feel that it is incredibly important to educate the public about endometriosis because it is so common One out of 10 women will be affected by it during their reproductive years. Endometriosis described a condition in which tissue, Read more

East-West Liver & Systemic Detoxification Program


"?I can’t begin to explain how wonderful I feel after completing the Liver Detox Program with Dr. Maureen Rozenn. I’ve been on a long journey trying to become a healthier person and really felt I’d come a long Read more

Fertility Awareness For Women–The Menstural Cycle Part 2

Dr. Rozenn

mother-and-baby  All of us women know that stress and emotions play a huge role in how smooth our menstrual cycle will go. If it is a stressful month, we are more likely to be irritable around our menses and have symptoms like insomnia, fatigue, headaches, cramping, depression and so on….. But why and how does this relate to fertility?  A Little More Than The Basics—Eastern  Asian medicine’s view of women’s physiology is complex and fascinating. While each organ system has an important role in menstruation, fertility and pregnancy, the heart and kidneys have a special relationship with the uterus (the Chinese use the word uterus to represent a number of endocrine functions and structures such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, pituitary and hypothalamus). The Chinese character for uterus is the same as for the pericardium (the protective wrapping around the heart) plus the sign for flesh. The uterus is sometimes referred to as a woman’s “second heart”. In Chinese medicine the health of the heart is synonymous with emotional balance. With a healthy heart people feel a general sense of peace and well being as opposed to the insomnia, depression and anxiety that accompany a distressed heart. The health of the uterus and the heart are dependent on each other. The heart and the uterus are intimately connected via the bao mai. This is an energetic connection that allows communication between these two organs. Thus, if the heart is not settled the menstrual cycle will be affected. The heart may not have enough blood to send down to the uterus to nourish and sustain a pregnancy. Or, as the heart gives its blood to the uterus, it is left without enough blood for its own functioning.  Like the heart, the kidneys also have a close connection to the uterus via the bao luo. Through the bao lou the kidneys support healthy egg production and ovulation. Additionally, should a pregnancy occur, it is the kidneys that gives the uterus the strength to hold the pregnancy to term. If the kidneys are weak, woman may have irregular menstruation, or anovulatory cycles (menstrual cycles without ovulating) and habitual miscarriages.  Acupuncture, dietary therapy and herbal formulas enhance fertility by regulating the functions of the heart and kidneys and strengthening their connections to the uterus. Chinese medical treatment also supports other energetic connections which sustain pregnancy such as the Chong, Ren and Du meridians. These fundamental energetic pathways serve as the foundation and blueprints for new life.  We could spend days discussing Chinese medicine, fertility and women’s physiology. In fact, in the book I’m coauthoring on boosting fertility with Chinese medicine I intend to. But lets save that for later and keep is simple for now. In short, menstruation and fertility is a multifaceted process that can be regulated and supported with acupuncture, herbal therapy and simple dietary shifts. Chinese medicine views fertility as a progression towards health rather than just the even of pregnancy. To illustrate this point lets look at a study that measured women’s response to clomiphene (clomid) vs. acupuncture for ovulation and pregnancy.  Acupuncture Increases Pregnancy Rates In Chinese Acupuncture & Moxabustion, Song et. all reported on research examining clomiphene and acupuncture’s effects on ovulation and pregnancy rates. In this study 120 women were divided into two groups. One group received clomiphene and one group received acupuncture. After three menstrual cycles scientists measured ovulation, basil body temperature fluctuations, and pregnancy rates. While both clomiphene and acupuncture groups had the same ovulation rates, the acupuncture group had more pregnancies and fewer miscarriages than the clomiphene group.


Fertility Awareness for Women—The Menstrual Cycle

Dr. Rozenn

mother-and-baby1I don’t know about you, but when I was in high school nothing would put me to sleep faster than trying to memorize the series of hormonal fluctuations in the menstrual cycle. In college, my boredom turned to mixed interest and confusion as I tried to piece together the complex interconnected feedback loops of the neuro-endocrine system. Now, I am in a state of utter fascination and awe as I look at women’s reproductive cycles not just in a Western sense, but from a Chinese medical perspective as well.

We could take the next few years to elucidate all of the inner workings of the hypothalamus-pituitary-ovarian axis and how that is influenced by the autonomic nervous system, thyroid and adrenals a.k.a. jing, the Chong, Ren and Du meridians, the liver/kidney/spleen organ systems and qi, blood, yin and yang….but lets not. For our purposes we will keep it simple and practical. Understanding the basics of the menstrual cycle is the first step towards gaining control over your fertility.

The Basics Western & Eastern:

Most women have approximately a 28 day menstrual cycle. The cycle begins with the first day of menstrual bleeding. In Western medicine the cycle is divided into two phases, the follicular and lutial phase. Now don’t go to sleep yet! Basically, the first part of your cycle (follicular) is when estrogen helps with egg maturation, then ovulation occurs and the last part of your cycle (lutial) progesterone dominates as your body prepares for implantation of a fertilized egg. If there is no fertilized egg, your progesterone levels drop, you start your period and the process begins all over again.  In Chinese medicine the menstrual cycle is divided into yin (follicular phase) and yang (lutial phase). During the yin phase we want to nourish yin and blood to assist in the production of healthy, mature eggs. Then when the egg is released from the ovary the yang takes over. In this phase it is crucial to support yang and gently promote blood circulation to the pelvic organs to ensure that if there is a fertilized egg present, it can implant in the uterine lining and the body can hold the pregnancy rather than releasing it with a period. Approximately 25% of pregnancies miscarry during this crucial time because the yang (progesterone) is not strong enough to hold the pregnancy.

A Little More Than The Basics—Western  

Now that we have mastered that aspect of this complex hormonal event lets go a little deeper. How does the ovary know when to release an egg? In fact, how does it know when to start maturing eggs so you have one to release at ovulation time? To answer these questions we have to back one step farther and talk about the pituitary gland.  The pituitary is a very interesting little part of the brain that gives the ovaries orders to mature and release eggs. It does this by sending out hormones to the ovaries. Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) is the hormone the pituitary sends to the ovaries to signal them to start maturing eggs. Lutinizing hormone (LH) is the hormone the pituitary releases to signal the ovaries that it is time to release the egg, i.e. ovulate.  Now some of your ears are starting to perk up. Those of you who have started the process of trying to conceive probably recognize LH. This is the hormone that is easily tested by urine strips in LH surge prediction kits available at your local pharmacy to determine the time of ovulation. The idea is that if the ovary reacts properly to the LH signal from the pituitary, an egg should be released within a 40 hour window. The catch is that those strips only measure the LH surge. They do not determine the health of the eggs or uterine lining or if the ovary is going to respond appropriately to LH and actually release an egg.

And who tells the pituitary what to do anyway–yet another part of the brain, the hypothalamus. What about the adrenal and thyroid glands, don’t they affect fertility too? Yes, absolutely. What roles does stress play in this process? So many, it affects the nervous system, hormone balance and blood flow to the pelvic organs.  

Now we are just brushing the surface of the complex interplay between the nervous system and endocrine organs that govern ovulation. In my next post I’ll talk more about ovulation and a healthy menstrual cycle from a Chinese medical perspective, but now let’s discuss research showing that acupuncture can influence hormone levels and promote ovulation.

Acupuncture & Ovulation  

In 1997 Dr. Chen published an important piece of research, Acupuncture Normalizes Dysfunction of Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Ovarian Axis in which he states that in China the success rate of acupuncture in inducing ovulation is 80%. He wanted to know why. In this landmark paper he discusses studies on both humans and animals showing that acupuncture can regulate the key fertility hormones such as estrogen and LH. He also showed that acupuncture can regulate the nervous system and adrenal hormones to support hormonal balance and optimal reproductive functioning.

In my

Santa Cruz private practice I have used this research along with acupuncture treatments that I have developed through my own clinical experience and had the honor of learning from many experienced Chinese and Japanese acupuncturists. I see many women with irregular menstrual cycles and trouble ovulating. I use specific acupuncture treatments in the yin phase of the cycle to enhance blood circulation to the ovaries and uterus and promote pituitary-ovary communication and egg growth. In the yang phase treatments are geared towards balancing estrogen and progesterone levels and gently circulating qi and blood to encourage embryo implantation—and pregnancy! 


Fertility Awareness for Women

Dr. Rozenn

klimt-mother-and-child-detail-from-the-three-ages-of-woman-c-1905.jpgThe first step in becoming more fertile is learning about your body and hormonal cycle. Conception is regarded as a process in the Asian medical view, not simply a single event. Rather than just pin pointing certain windows of potential egg fertilization, we look at signals from the body over the cycle that indicate hormonal balance and the health of the reproductive system as a whole.  

This is such a big and complex area. Where do we begin? We all learned about “the birds and the bees” as children. But, I feel comfortable assuming that the vast majority of us did not learn about women’s hormonal fluctuations and the state of their qi, blood, yin and yang through out the menstrual cycle. What are normal changes, what are optimal levels, and how the heck does all of this impact fertility?  Frequently asked questions by prospective parents that will be addressed in this blog series Fertility Awareness for Women are: 

How do I know which part of my cycle is the most fertile?

When is the best day(s) of my cycle to have intercourse?

If I have a period, does that mean I ovulated during that cycle?

What is an LH surge and what does that have to do with ovulation?

There are several fertility measurements out there, such as the Basil Body Temperature (BBT) Chart, OV-Watch and LH surge strips, how do they differ in terms of the information they provide and which one is right for me?

What are some general signals from my body that I am ovulating?

How can Asian medicine and specifically acupuncture and herbal medicinals, help me conceive?  

In each blog entry I answer at least one of these questions and will provide both Western and Eastern medical information. Every entery will include Asian medical theory regarding women’s health and reproduction in addition to research on acupuncture/herbs/diet/heat therapies etc.


What is Fertility? An Asian Medical Perspective

Dr. Rozenn

preg3.jpgFertility is more than the ability to conceive a child. In essence, fertility is the ability to create—to create new life, a new idea, a piece of artwork, relationships, etc. The impulse of fertility is the spark of life, both literally and figuratively. Understanding this broadened concept of fertility is important when we look at enhancing fertility with Asian medicine.

 

We are each born with a finite amount of essence or “jing”. Jing is the deep substance that finances our creativity/fertility. The strength of a woman’s jing is what determines her ability to conceive and carry a child.

 

While women in their 20’s are in the best physical condition to carry a pregnancy to term, many women delay having children into their 30’s and early 40’s. In our society often women first go to school, start a career, find a partner and create a financially stable atmosphere before looking to get pregnant. All of these activities take jing.

How do we support jing and fertility?

Asian medicine provides guidelines for proper diet and exercise and modalities such as acupuncture, herbal formulas and heat therapy to support jing and thus boost fertility. According to an individual’s specific needs, each of these treatments are individualized by a skilled practitioner. For example, we all know that a good diet is essential for health and fertility. But, through Asian medical diagnosis you can find out if you need to focus more on eating specific protein sources, limiting cold and raw foods or increasing your intake of detoxifying nutrients.

 

This perspective on fertility gives us a way to become both healthier and more fertile. By living well (i.e. according to our own constitution) and preserving jing, we can increase our creative potential. Ultimately fertility is a lifelong process, rather than an event. 


SAMe—Questions and Answers

Dr. Rozenn

What is it?

S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe), is derived from an amino acid, methionine.  

What does it do?

SAMe supports healthy cell membranes, affects hormones, neurotransmitter formation, DNA, RNA, proteins and thus has far reaching affects on brain chemistry and liver detoxification.  

What is it used for?

SAMe has been the subject of many clinical trials involving osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, depression and viral, fatty and alcohol related liver disease. In my practice, I use SAMe when a patient has a combination of these conditions. For example, I commonly prescribe SAMe for patients with hepatitis C with depression and muscle/joint pain. I also prescribe SAMe for patients who have a difficult time producing and excreting bile. Toxins can easily build up without proper bile production and flow leading to irritability, flank pain, yellow stools and drug sensitivity.  

What is the dosage?

SAMe must be in a special form “enteric coated” for it to be properly absorbed orally. For this reason SAMe tends to be a more expensive supplement, leading people to under dose. The generally acceptable dose is between 400 and 1600 milligrams (mg) per day on an empty stomach. When I prescribe SAMe, generally I start people on the lowest dose of 200 mg twice daily. Most people find between 800 and 1200 mg to be an effective dose. I do caution people against upping their dose too quickly, as for many chronic conditions SAMe must be taken for at least one month before improvement becomes obvious.  

What if I can’t afford it? 

As part of my Hepatitis C Certification I attended a lecture by a very knowledgeable Naturopathic physician, Lynn Patrick, ND. According to Dr. Patrick all of the building blocks of SAMe: methionine, betaine, folic acid and B 12, are available from dietary sources. The following is her SAMe daily diet prescription:  

One of the following will yield 500 mg of methionine: 1 cup cottage cheese,4 ounces of fish, 5 ounces chicken, 1/3 cup sesame seeds or 2 cups lentils. 

500-3000 mcg of vitamin B12 is easily available from meat and fish (100 mcg/serving) or can be taken as an inexpensive supplement.

For 800 micrograms (mcg) folic acid: 2 cups cooked asparagus + 1 cup cooked beans (black, pinto, navy, etc). Other good sources include avocados, chickpeas, lentils, spinach, broccoli, peas, soy nuts and fortified foods such as rice and breakfast cereals. One of the following will yield 500 mg of betaine:1 cup cooked spinach, 2 cooked beets, 2 cups wheat bran cereal. 

  • People with a compromised digestive system may need to take SAMe in supplement form.

Who shouldn’t take SAMe? 

I am very cautious when prescribing SAMe to a person who is currently taking antidepressants because of a possible synergistic reaction. I do not suggest people with bipolar or anxiety disorders take SAMe. Anyone who is pregnant, trying to get pregnant or nursing should ask their health care provider before taking SAMe.

Are there any side effects? 

SAMe is generally very well tolerated. Gastrointestinal side effects are the most commonly reported and seem to be dose dependent. 


Doctoral Training at the TCM Gynecology Hospital in Huang Zhou, China

Dr. Rozenn

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Doctoral Fellows John Nieters and Maureen Rozenn at the second affiliated hospital of Zhejiang Chinese Medical University.

For the last month I have been studying in China as part of my clinical Doctorate in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (DAOM) and my PhD in Integrated Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Western Medicine with a specialization in Women’s Health and Fertility.

So what exactly have I been doing all of this time, you ask?

Program Highlights  

·        Intensive Gynecology study in an integrated TCM-Western setting.

o       Hundreds of patients were successfully treated with custom herbal prescriptions every day.

o       Treatment principals were based on both TCM diagnostics and Western lab and imaging tests such as hormone panels, pap smears, basil body temperature charts (BBT) and ultrasounds of the ovaries and uterus.

o       Specific herbal formulas were used to treat infertility, irregular and painful menses, habitual miscarriages, PCOS, endometriosis, uterine fibroids and menopausal symptoms.

·        Intensive Acupuncture study with my PhD adviser, Dr. Fang.

o       A wide range of illnesses were treated with acupuncture in Dr. Fang’s busy clinic.

o       Tinnitus, hearing loss, vertigo

o       Neurological problems

§         Trigeminal neuralgia, numbness, sciatica, migraines

o       Post partum issues

o       Orthopedic diseases

§         Knee, back and muscle pain

§         Torn ligaments

§         Muscle atrophy

·        Intensive Internal Medicine study of various topics:

o       Childhood illnesses

o       Cardiovascular diseases

o       Dietary modifications to promote health and vitality

o       Modern applications of ancient herbal formulas for:

§         Liver disease

§         Autoimmune disease

§         Diabetes


Greetings from Zhejiang Chinese Medical University in China!

Dr. Rozenn

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Herbal Research— Women’s Health

Dr. Rozenn

and-more-chinese-herbs.jpgDang Gui (Radicis angelicae sinensis) is traditionally used to regulate the menstrual cycle, reduce menstrual cramps, strengthen the blood and support overall energy and health. Several studies have found that Dan Gui has both an invigorating and stabilizing effect on the uterus, making it an idea herb to regulate menstruation. In addition it has been reported to have anti-inflammatory and pain relieving effects.

Shu Di Huang (Radix rehmanniae preparata) is also traditionally used to strengthen the blood and regulate menstruation. Research shows that this herb can influence the endocrine system through regulating various feedback signals to the pituitary gland (this gland plays a key role in fertility).

Yi Mu Cao (Herba leonuri), also known as “Motherwort”, is one of the most commonly used herbs in Chinese medicine to promote blood circulation in the uterus, regulate menstruation and enhance fertility. This herb’s ability to increase circulation has the action of stimulating the egg’s decent down the fallopian tube into the uterus.

Ba Ji Tian (Radix rorindae officinalis) and Yin Yang Huo (Herba epimedii) are known as Yang tonics in Chinese medicine. They promote ovulation and are used to treat anovulatory conditions such as premature ovarian failure and polycystic ovarian syndrome. Studies have demonstrated their ability to influence the endocrine system and stimulate hormonal secretion.

* Note. These herbs are powerful and useful medicinals which should only be used under the supervision of a health care professional trained in Chinese medical theory, treatments and herbal therapy. They influence the reproductive system and uterus, thus they should not be used in pregnancy unless specifically prescribed by a licensed health care provider.


Spring Time! A Time for Gallbladder Flushes?

Dr. Rozenn

Spring is a time of renewal and detoxification. Spring cleaning is as helpful for your body as it is for your closet! There are many different ideas out there on fasting, detoxification diets, regimens and flushes. Every week I am asked about the validity of gallbladder flushes. Though the specifics vary, most gallbladder flushes encourage people to drink lemon juice and olive oil. The result should be the passing of “gallstones” in the stool. In the December 2007 issue of the Townsend Letter, Dr. Alan Gaby reports that there is no clear evidence that gallbladder flushes actually clear stones from the gallbladder. He contends that these “gallstones” could result from the mixing of olive oil and lemon juice. Additionally, he reports that no researcher has ever found through imaging studies or chemical analysis that the white pellets expelled after a gallbladder flush are actually stones from the gallbladder.

I am not aware of any practice similar to a gallbladder flush in the Chinese medical literature. In Chinese medical theory, the gallbladder is regarded as an “extraordinary” organ whose function is vitally important for liver health. There are a number of regulating, gentle acupuncture treatments and herbal formulas geared towards supporting the gallbladder. In short, the Chinese medical perspective holds that is that it is far better to avoid making gallstones than it is to try to flush them out.

So what is the best way to spring clean? I like detoxification programs that focus on providing the liver with the specific amino acids, vitamins and minerals needed for optimal detoxification. Ensuring that the intestines and urinary system are working well will further enhance the body’s ability to neutralize and expel toxins. Ideally, people should following a detoxification program individualized for them and formulated by their health care provider.


Relief from PMS the Safe & Natural Way

Dr. Rozenn

geisha.jpgWhether you’re a woman, or a man who lives with one, chances are you have experienced “that time of the month.” Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is caused by hormonal imbalances. It is very widespread, affecting 1 in 3 menstruating women. The symptoms can be many and varied, and the list is long, from radical mood swings, to acne, fluid retention, weight gain, migraines, breast tenderness and more! Most women experience between four and ten symptoms starting one to two weeks before their periods. Most women menstruate for 35 years. This means that a woman could have PMS symptoms for half of their lives!

But wait, don’t panic! There are natural ways to balance hormones and relieve PMS symptoms.

Conventional medicine offers antidepressants, hormone therapy and tranquilizers which are geared towards symptom relief. While these measures may improve the symptoms, unfortunately they do little to address the underlying causes of hormonal imbalances.

Acupuncture and herbal formulas have been used to treat PMS for thousands of years. Research shows acupuncture and herbal therapy is effective in reducing PMS symptoms and regulating hormone levels. Researchers at Mount Sinai Medical Center found that several herbs such as black cohosh, vitex and Chinese herbal formulas containing dang quai can offer relief to women who suffer with PMS. One study demonstrated acupuncture’s ability to regulate the pituitary-hypothalamus axis which controls healthy hormone fluctuations. Another study lead scientists to conclude that acupuncture can influence serotonin and natural opioid upload activity and thus reduce many of the emotional and mental PMS symptoms. Both the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) recognize that acupuncture can treat many PMS symptoms such as:

  • Headaches
  • Digestive Issues
  • Insomnia
  • Depression & Anxiety
  • Acne

In addition to acupuncture and herbal treatment, dietary and lifestyle changes may be recommended, as they can have an enormous impact on hormone regulation. PMS symptoms can indicate other hormonal irregularities such as thyroid, adrenal and blood sugar regulation issues. In some cases conventional and non-conventional hormonal tests may be indicated.

Stop spending half of your time dealing with PMS symptoms! Try a safe, natural, holistic approach to your health!