I used to be a non-believer. Having read an article somewhere about the explosion of acupuncture services with no proven evidence that they even work, I’d dismissed it as just another fad. Then I met one of my now closest friends. She’s an accomplished Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) doctor with a lovely clinic in Charlotte. About two years later, after trying unsuccessfully to conceive for a few months, I reconsidered. My friend had a lot of success treating her patients’ fertility issues – maybe it would work for me?
I was living in Norway at the time and sought out one of the few practitioners in our small city. He was a jolly Danish man who was also treating many women for infertility or as a complement to assisted reproductive technology. We did four months of acupuncture and reflexology and gradually I noticed an improvement to my menstrual cycles. By the end of January I was pregnant. At the time I was taking many of the wrong supplements (folic acid, cyanocobalamin, standard prenatal vitamins, etc.) because I didn’t know I had MTHFR gene mutations. My hypothyroidism was also under-treated. So I attribute the conception completely to TCM.
Of course, that pregnancy wasn’t meant to be. I still had other things going on in my body that needed to be addressed and both I and my husband (who is homozygous C677T) were suffering from nutritional deficiencies because of our mutations. It would be another few months before we got to the root of our problems and could start correcting them. But after moving back to the United States I was eager to get back to acupuncture. Not only did I feel that it was beneficial to my reproductive system, I also got an indulgent stress release at every appointment. Lying there peacefully for twenty minutes or so, feeling the energy move around in my body, the heaviness in my body anchoring me to the table – an acupuncture session is almost like an out of body experience. It seriously feels that good. You will barely feel the needles going in so there is no need to be afraid of this centuries-old wellness practice.
Those of us with MTHFR mutations often deal with chronic illness in our lives. Acupuncture has been shown to be beneficial in the treatment of pain management, hypertension (and here), fibromyalgia, depression, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), tension headaches and unexplained symptoms, among other conditions. It is even practiced at the Mayo Clinic.
According to Dr. Randine Lewis, author of The Infertility Cure, “the health of the human body depends on maintaining balance within its different systems” (Lewis, p19). And thus TCM practitioners go about addressing the imbalances in the body’s energetic systems. Through a combination of herbs, acupuncture and dietary changes, the body is returned to a state of equilibrium (19). The approach is completely holistic and differs quite a bit from Western medicine. In my ideal world, these two forms of medicine would finally find harmony, with Western medical doctors learning more about nutrition, vitamins and the mental states of their patients. I find that I just cannot get it all in one place these days. If I have a health issue, I now consult both my regular doctor and my acupuncturist and form a synergy between the two opinions.
I’ve found a lot of support for my adrenal fatigue through acupuncture, since working on the Kidney system also assists with the adrenal glands. My husband goes for pain management with a condition he has affecting his neck and spine, along with general reproductive support. Should you be dealing with a chronic condition like arthritis, sinusitis, anxiety, indigestion, asthma, addiction, insomnia or headaches (there are many more diseases that TCM can assist with), perhaps acupuncture is something that you would like to consider? I especially recommend this therapy for those dealing with hormonal imbalances and/or infertility as this is the area where I have had the most personal success. For resources and further information on acupuncture, check out these guides from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture and the Alternative Medicine Foundation.
The American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine (ABORM) website lists practitioners in the United States, Canada and Australia who have an advanced certification in both Western and Oriental Reproductive Medicine (by rigorous testing) if infertility is your issue.
Have you tried acupuncture? What were your experiences?
Lewis, R. (2004) The Infertility Cure. New York, NY: Little, Brown.