If you have tuned into Bravo recently, chances are you have caught a glimpse of the YinOva Center. Not only have our acupuncturists been treating the reality TV stars of Bravo, but it seems that television in general just loves acupuncture. The YinOva community, both patients and staff, are happy to spread the word about the benefits of Chinese medicine and we’ve enjoyed being part of several shows.
We were thrilled to see Real Housewives of New York’s LuAnn de Lesseps, who visited clinic director Jill Blakeway’s treatment room in her quest to conceive. Earlier this year, the stresses of selling real estate in Manhattan met with the wisdom of Chinese medicine when clinic director Noah Rubinstein treated Ryan Serhant of Million Dollar Listing New York on camera.
Noah’s appearance on Bravo wasn’t his first shot at the silver screen, either. In a well-known Sex And The City episode, Charlotte gets acupuncture treatments to better her chances of getting pregnant. An actor played the acupuncturist, but it was Noah who administered the needles; his hands were filmed doing the actual needling of actress Kristin Davis.Though acupuncture is long known to have benefits for those looking to relieve stress, quell pain or other ailments, and for those trying to conceive, each television appearance opens up a new audience to the world of Chinese medicine, and we at the YinOva Center are honored to be on Hollywood’s speed dial to treat the stars!
Anne had been a strict dieter since college. Maggie is a yoga teacher and considers herself a healthy eater. Sherrie prides herself on her macrobiotic diet and low body fat. All of these women have something in common. All of them came to the YinOva Center because they were having trouble getting pregnant. Each of these women considered themselves to be a healthy eater and each of them was not getting enough fat to make the hormones necessary to conceive.
As obesity has swept the nation, Americans have got the message that fat is bad but the truth is that whilst saturated fats may harm your heart and trans fats should be eliminated from your diet altogether, healthy fats are vital for your overall wellness as well as your fertility and you do need some dietary fat to make hormones, fight inflammation and facilitate ovulation. I regularly see patients who aren’t eating enough fat and are confused about which fats are bad for them and which fats could be helping them.
First, let’s talk about the bad guys. Saturated fats in large quantities are not a good idea. These fats, which are found in animal products, can contribute to insulin resistance, endometriosis, and PCOS. However you don’t need to eliminate them altogether. The kind of animal products that contain saturated fats also contain cholesterol and although cholesterol gets a bad rap you do need some to to make reproductive hormones. So by all means have sensible quantities of fats from animal origin such as a full fat yogurt, eggs or some grass fed beef.
You can eliminate trans fats altogether. They offer no health benefits and can cause ovulatory dysfunction and poor hormone balance. A large, long-term study by researchers at Harvard Medical School found that women who regularly consumed trans fats were 70% less likely to conceive than women who did not. The good news is that if you are eating only fresh, whole natural foods, you don’t need to worry about trans fats because they are only found in processed foods. So avoid commercially made baked goods, frozen meals and the biggest transgressor of all, stick margarine. Avoid foods which say they contain “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” as this means that they contain trans fats.
Having pruned some of the less healthy fats from your diet you now have room for some beneficial fat. Polyunsaturated fats are considered to be the “good fats”. They help reduce blood cholesterol and some of them such as omega 3 fatty acids have a host of benefits such as reducing inflammation and lowering blood pressure. They have also been shown to improve mood and at the YinOva Center we prescribe omega 3 supplements to people who are depressed or anxious.
This category of fats is where the essential fatty acids that you read so much about fit in. They are called essential because we can’t make them ourselves and have to consume them. EFAs are long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids derived from linolenic, linoleic, and oleic acids. There are two types of EFAs: Omega-3 and Omega-6. Omega-9 is necessary but it isn’t classified as an essential fatty acid because our bodies can manufacture it if we have enough of the other two essential fatty acids.
Essential fatty acids are a vital component of every human cell and the body needs them to balance hormones, insulate nerve cells, keep the skin and arteries supple, and keep itself warm. They are important to women who are trying to conceive for their ability to balance hormones and resource follicles. They are equally important once you are pregnant to nourish a developing embryo. In fact a British study found that many pregnant women had been discouraged from eating fish because of fears about mercury contamination but that children of women with low omega 3 intake in pregnancy were more likely to have a low IQ and suffer from social problems in childhood.
Polyunsaturated fats are found in vegetable oils, nuts and seeds.
Omega 3 fatty acids are found in fatty fish such as salmon, herring, sardines and mackerel and also in walnuts and flax seeds. Eggs also contain omega 3 especially eggs that are from chickens that have been fed greens rather than corn. Grass-fed, as opposed to, grain-fed beef also contains omega 3 fatty acids as do dairy products from grass fed cows. They have a broad range of fertility benefits including increasing blood flow to the uterus which can help with implantation and thus a health pregnancy.
Omega 6 fatty acids are found in flaxseed oil, flaxseeds, hempseed oil, hempseeds, grapeseed oil, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, pistachio nuts, sunflower seeds (raw), olive oil, olives, evening primrose oil, black currant seed oil and chicken. However most Americans get plenty of Omega 6 because it is found in commonly used processed oils. In fact many of us could be said to be getting too much of a good thing especially when you consider that more important than the exact level of omega 3’s and omega 6’s is the ratio between them. Getting an even amount of each is the best way of supporting hormone balance, which for most of us means focusing on increasing omega 3’s without increasing omega 6.
Omega 9 is found in olive oil (extra virgin or virgin), olives, avocados, almonds, peanuts, sesame oil, pecans, pistachio nuts, cashews, hazelnuts and macadamia nuts.
Heating essential fatty acids destroys their nutritional benefits so try to use raw nuts rather than roasted and don’t cook with flax seed oil but use it as a salad dressing or sprinkle ground flax seeds on your morning cereal. Whole flax seeds are hard to digest and tend to pass through your digestive system whole, which means that you don’t get much benefit from them.
At the YinOva Center we suggest that women trying to conceive take an essential fatty acid supplement and we have one available in the office for you. If you buy your EFA supplement from a health food store check that it has been tested for mercury and other contaminants.
Monounsaturated fats are vital for good hormone balance. You can find them in olives, olive oil, avocados and canola oil. They are a healthy choice and should be eaten in moderation. So if you’ve been limiting fat in your diet for health reasons you may want to reassess and add back some healthy fats. Often this is all it takes for some women struggling with infertility to finally conceive. So here are our YinOva recommendations regarding fats for patients who are trying to have a baby:
- Two thirds of the fat you eat should be either polyunsaturated or mono-unsaturated.
- Special attention should be paid to essential fatty acids and you should consider taking a supplement that contains omega 3 from a reputable company.
- We should all lay off the trans fats…completely.
- Anyone trying to get pregnant should limit but not cut out their saturated fat.
Overnight one of my patients “facebooked” me to let me know she’d had her baby – a happy reminder of all the reasons I love my job.
Helping couples to conceive is rewarding and interesting work. When a patient first consults me I ask lots of questions, some of which may seem off-topic, but together they give me a picture of their internal landscape and from there the detective work begins. Sometimes I manage to spot something very simple that may be getting in the way of conceiving and an example of this is a luteal phase defect.
Your luteal phase is the time from ovulation until your period starts. A normal luteal phase should be 14 days which gives a fertilized egg enough time to implant and start to signal to your body that it’s there. A luteal phase lasting less than 12 days is too short for this to happen and the uterine lining begins to slough off before a fertilized egg has had a chance to implant and initiate the hormonal changes necessary to sustain a pregnancy. This is a common endocrine disorder and is present in many of the women I see who are having trouble conceiving.
Researchers estimate that more than 1/3 of women who are suffering from early pregnancy loss have a luteal phase disorder. Read
“It started with a few extra strands on my hair brush and before I knew it there were patches so thin you could see my scalp” Diana is a beautiful woman in her mid-thirties who was understandably devastated when her hair began to fall out. She had tried a variety of medicines before coming to see us at the YinOva Center on the advice of a friend who had used Chinese medicine successfully to treat alopecia.
More and more women are suffering from hair loss according to the American Academy of Dermatology who estimate that at any given time 30 million women in the USA are affected by alopecia. Certainly at the YinOva Center we are seeing an increasing number of women who are struggling with this issue and seek our help. Chinese medicine has a long history of treating hair loss in both sexes and can often be very helpful both for stopping further hair loss and for supporting regrowth.
In Chinese medicine healthy hair relies on a good flow of qi and blood to nourish the scalp. This flow and be interrupted by either a deficiency of qi and blood or a stagnation of qi and blood either of which can mean that insufficient nourishment reaches the scalp. Blood and qi deficiency are often caused by either poor diet or poor assimilation of nutrients where as qi and blood stagnation is often caused by stress or a hormone imbalance.
Acupuncture can improve the flow of qi and blood in the scalp and can help hair to regrow and Chinese herbs can nourish qi and blood to stop more hair from falling out. At the YinOva Center we usually use both acupuncture and herbs together along with nutritional suggestions and lifestyle changes to help our patients who are suffering from hair loss.
Here is the advice we give our YinOva patients who are suffering from hair loss
- Regular acupuncture can stimulate hair regrowth by encouraging the flow of qi and blood to the scalp.
- Chinese herbs have been used for hundreds of years to stop hair loss. One herb in particular is known for it’s ability to treat alopecia. He shou wu (Polygonium Multiflorum) is included in almost all the formulas we write for women who are losing hair. It is a blood tonic in Chinese medicine. In several studies over 60% of people who had hair loss experienced hair regrowth within 3 months after taking He Shou Wu.
- Make sure you have a broad diet and are not missing out on important nutrients. Omega 3 fatty acids are particularly important for a healthy scalp and can be found in salmon, walnuts, flax seeds or taken as a supplement. Iron deficiency can often contribute to hair loss. At the YinOva Center we are particularly impressed by the iron supplement Floradix which comes in an easy to absorb liquid form. Vitamin B12 is essential to healthy hair and is found in eggs, poultry and meat. If you are a vegetarian it may be helpful to take B12 as a supplement. Biotin is another B vitamin that helps hair to regrow. It’s hard to get enough of it from food so here at the YinOva Center we usually suggest people take it as a supplement.
- A daily scalp massage can help stimulate the scalp to aid with hair regrowth. We usually suggest rubbing the scalp gently for 5 minutes morning and night.
- In 1999 a team of researchers at Aberdeen university discovered that an essential oil blend applied to the scalp can help with hair regrowth. 86 patients were divided into two groups and over a seven-month period one group massaged an essential oil blend onto their scalps daily for two minutes while another group did the same thing with only the carrier oils jojoba and grapeseed. At the end of the study, 19 of the 43 patients in the active group demonstrated significantly improved hair growth while only six of the 41 patients in the control group showed improvement. One man in the active group grew a full head of hair after being completely bald. The recipe used in the study is as follows.
- atlas cedarwood essential oil – 2 drops
- thyme essential oil – 2 drops
- rosemary essential oil – 3 drops
- lavender essential oil – 3 drops
- jojoba carrier oil – ½ teaspoon
- grapeseed carrier oil – 4 teaspoons
- Using a small glass jar mix the jojoba and grapeseed oils together first. Then add the essential oils one at a time and place the lid on the jar. Shake the oils together to mix them together.
A long flight on a stuffy plane combined with a dramatic time zone change can make even the healthiest person feel as if they have the flu. Common symptoms are fatigue, malaise, disturbed sleep, headaches, anxiety and digestive problems. Chinese medicine has some great herbs to help combat jet lag which we usually prescribe along with a pre-flight acupuncture treatment combined with a small magnet that we leave in the ear for the first few days of your trip. Most of our patients find that this helps a lot, especially when combined with a few sensible travel tips.
Here is the advice we give our YinOva patients who are about to travel.
Have an acupuncture treatment.An acupuncture treatment before you fly can help to address some of these symptoms in advance. We usually add to this treatment by placing a tiny magnet at a specific point in the ear and instructing you to massage this point at regular intervals during your journey. This may sound strange but amazingly enough it can be very effective. We have a number of patients who are fashion models and have to travel constantly. They swear by this ear point and come in regularly to have the magnet placed in the correct position.
Take some herbs.Ask us for a specially crafted herbal formula to suit your constitution. This can be prepared for you as a powder which you mix with hot water and drink as tea. By understanding how you react to traveling we can customize this formula so that it fits your pattern. Some of the Chinese herbs that address jet lag symptoms are as follows.
- Dehydration – mai men dong (ophiopogonis), sha shen (glehnia), yu zhu (solomon’s seal)
- Headache – bai zhi (angelica), ju hua (chrysanthemum flower)
- Swollen limbs – yi yi ren (barley), fu ling (poria)
- Fatigue – huang qi (astragalus), bai zhu (atractylodis)
- Sleeplessness – suan zao ren (zizyphus), bai zi ren (biota seed)
- Weakened immune system – ling zhi (reishi mushrooms), wu jia shen (eleuthro root)
- Protection from airborne pathogens – fang feng (siler), jie geng (playcodi)
- Body aches – yan hu suo (corydalis), bai shao (white peony)
- Anxiety – Long yan rou (longan), hong zao (dates)
Make sure you stay hydrated.The recycled air on the plane tends to be dry and it’s easy to become dehydrated. Combat this by drinking plenty of water and avoiding alcohol and coffee both of which can make dehydration worse.
Pay attention to your circulation.Air pressure in the cabin is far greater than normal leading to swollen limbs and poor circulation. This combined with restricted mobility can lead to problems ranging from very common and less serious issues such as body aches to more rare and very serious problems such as DVT (deep vein thrombosis). Every hour or two, get up and walk around and while seated during your flight stretch periodically. Here are some yoga stretches that you can do in you seat.
- Shoulder rolls. Move forward and position yourself on the edge of your seat to keep your back straight. Inhale and lift your shoulders up towards your ears. Exhale and move your shoulders back and down. Repeat this exercise 10 times.
- Arm stretches. Hold your right elbow, inhale and stretch your arm across your body. At the same time twist your head to the right to create a stretch. Exhale. Repeat with your left arm. Do this sequence 5 times on each side.
- Neck rolls. Inhale and stretch your head back. Exhale and slump your head forward onto your chest. repeat 5 times. Then make circles with your head clockwise 3 times and anti clockwise 3 times.
- Torso stretch. Imagine a cord running upwards from the top of your head. Inhale and allow it to pull you up, stacking one vertebrae on top of another and lengthening the spine. Hold for 10 seconds and then exhale and round your shoulder and slump forward. repeat 5 times.
- Leg Stretches. Inhale and flex your feet upwards. Hold for 5 seconds then exhale and point your toes. Repeat 10 times.
- Ankle rolls. Move your ankles in circles clockwise 5 times, then circle them anticlockwise 5 times.
- Leg swings. Swing your legs from the knees down like windscreen wipers side to side 10 times.
Relieve stress.For most people traveling is an anxiety-provoking experience. If you get particularly stressed when you travel let us know so we can add herbs to your formula to help you stay calm. If you do feel anxious consciously drop your shoulders and focus of taking deep breaths down into your abdomen.
Help your body adjust to time changes.When you get on the plane change your watch to the time in your destination. When you arrive at your destination adapt your schedule to the local time so if you arrive at lunchtime eat lunch even if it is 5am to you. Try to stay up until the evening so that you immediately establish a sleep rhythm that is on local time. During the day try to get some sunlight. This will prompt you hypothalamus to signal to your body to produce less melatonin during the day and more in the evening which will help you feel sleepy at an appropriate time.
Using natural sleep aids.A natural sleep aid is less potent than a sleeping pill but will leave you less groggy. At the YinOva Center we recommend a product called Natural ZZZ’s which gently promotes sleep if taken 1 hour before bed time.
This week’s blog is written by New York massage therapist Nicole Kruck. Nicole specializes in fertility massage as well as pre and postnatal massage. We often get asked questions about prenatal massage and decided to put some of these questions to Nicole. Below are her answers. You can book an appointment with Nicole online by clicking here. Jill Blakeway
“What is prenatal massage?”
It is just like a regular massage: it loosens the muscles and joints, improves the circulation to you and your baby, and relieves fatigue. The difference is prenatal massage is performed by a New York certified prenatal massage specialist who is able to target the unique needs of mothers-to-be in each trimester. These therapists are adept at working with specific conditions that can occur during pregnancy such as pelvic pain, digestive and elimination issues to bring you safe relief. Read
Mood swings, tender breasts, food cravings, fatigue, irritability, skin problems, bloating and depression….
Many women dread the last week of every cycle because of how irritable and miserable they feel. Chinese medicine has been treating premenstrual symptoms for thousands of years and here at the YinOva Center we have drawn on this traditional wisdom to help modern New Yorkers address their PMS simply and effectively. Many of our patients are surprised and thrilled to find out that PMS can be solved and that they don’t have to put up with feeling moody and uncomfortable every month.