Is Egg Count an Important Predictor of Your Fertility?

Have you been told by your physician that you have high FSH or low AMH blood serum levels? Have they told you that based on these tests, you may have a more difficult time getting pregnant naturally? That you may need IVF?

Women often lose hope in their natural ability to get pregnant when their doctors give them the results of their follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) blood tests.  High FSH levels and low AMH levels have been associated with reduced fertility. Based on this idea, doctors tell their patients that when the numbers are too high or too low, their chances of having a natural pregnancy may be tough. They are often told they may need expensive fertility treatments like IVF.

This leaves many women feeling sad, frustrated and hopeless. They have lost some degree of faith in their bodies and the pressure to make a baby starts to take on a life of its own.

But says who? Turns out, this may not be the right thing to tell these women.

Are Women Losing Hope In Their Fertility For No Reason?

A new study published in the medical Journal JAMA, suggests that these tests may not be a reliable predictor of fertility after all. The study took a total of 750 women between ages 30 to 44 years old without a history of infertility and compared them to women who had normal FSH and AMH levels (Steiner et al 2017). There was no significant difference between the groups. Meaning, the women conceived at nearly the same rate, despite their test results. The study’s conclusion is that these particular fertility indicators are not reliable markers to assess natural fertility.

What this study is telling us is what we, as holistic health clinicians, have known for a very long time– that you are more than just a number and you are more than just a snapshot in time on a blood panel. Health and age are still the greatest predictors of fertility. That said, being over 35 doesn’t necessarily mean you will have a hard time conceiving, it just decreases the chances of conception as time goes on. It’s important to remember that this is a gradual decline and doesn’t mean you are doomed if you start your family after 35. As a matter of fact, many many women have healthy, happy babies after 35 and beyond! 

If you have questions about natural support for healthy conception using acupuncture or functional medicine, please contact me with your questions or schedule your first appointment. There are many things you can do to support your chances of having a healthy baby, despite ovarian reserve test results! 

Concerned about smoke inhalation from the California wild fires?

You should be. The particles of liquid and solids that are suspended in the smoky air are so tiny they cannot be seen. They make their way down deep into the lungs where they can easily cross over into the bloodstream. The long-term health ramifications of continued exposure are not well known, however, those who suffer any respiratory ailments like asthma or COPD will feel it right away. Either way, it is best to limit exposure as much as possible by protecting yourself.

The air quality is the worst it has ever been in the Bay Area for the past few days since the fires started in Sonoma and Napa. The sky is hazy and has an odd, apocalyptic orange glow. I walked from my office a few blocks away today wearing my N95 mask. As I looked around, I saw people out and about, walking their dogs, running errands and working in their yards.

All without masks.

This is what not to do. I may look a little strange with a mad max respirator on my face but I know I’m well protected in the short-term. The wildfires can create many days in a row of bad air. You want to limit exposure as much as possible. It may seem silly to wear a mask just to take a short walk or to get the mail but trust me, your lungs will thank you.

Protection from wildfire smoke

If leaving the area is not an option then protection is your first line of defense.

  • Find the filtered air. Go to the local library or shopping mall and hang out. Read a book, work on your laptop, window shop, see a movie. Get out of the bad air for as long as you can.
  • Set your A/C on recirculation mode at home. This will help keep the air moving in your house and it will feel less stagnant.
  • Masks and respirators labeled N95. They are supposed filter out 95% of particulate matter, although they may not filter gases. The trick is to make sure that the mask is well-fitting. Wear this whenever you go outside, even if it’s just to walk the dog.
  • Wet rags, bandanas and surgical masks don’t do much. You need a filtration system between your lungs and the air you are breathing.
  • Limit exercise. The more you move, the deeper you breath. Kids naturally breathe at a more rapid rate and they are typically always moving (at least my 5-year-old son is!).  So save your hike or run for another time and go to an indoor gym instead.
  • Stay inside as much as possible. Get an air purifier for your house or make your own with a box fan and a furnace filter. As of today, most of the stores in my county have sold out of box fans. I had to order my supplies next-day shipping on Amazon. The key here is to use the correct filter. Some furnace filters only filter out dust and do not filter out the particulate matter from the smoke. You want your filter to have a MERV rating of 11 or above. I ordered a 4-pack of FiilterBuy furnace filters that have a MERV rating of 13 just to be sure. Anything less than an 11 will not filter out smoke particles.
  • If you are experiencing breathing problems, please see a doctor right away!

An acupuncture treatment can help. Treatment can bring down stress and help expand the lungs. You can also utilize nutritional and supplemental support to help your lungs and liver detox. Contact me with questions or book your appointment to come in!

If you are being directly affected by the fires, have lost your home or have close family or friends who have lost their homes and you are currently housing victims, your treatment is free. Please contact me with details of your situation and we will get you on the schedule. 





Can I Stop Chronic Reflux Without Medications?

Can I Relieve Chronic Reflux Without Medications?

Most people have heard of heartburn or acid reflux. As a matter of fact, it is so common that up to 60% of people have had reflux in the past 12 months and up to 30% experience symptoms weekly.

Some people experience occasional acid reflux or “heartburn” after a big meal. This only happens once in awhile, and it’s usually nothing that a few tums can’t take care of. Other people experience reflux several times a week and for the truly unfortunate, reflux is an everyday experience that is managed successfully or semi-successfully with daily medications, most often a proton-pump inhibitor like Prilosec or Nexium.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

For those who suffer consistently, this is known as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD. There is also another, emerging diagnosis being acknowledged. This is reflux that contains other digestive contents aside from acid like bile and pepsin.

Non-Erosive Reflux Disease (NERD)

This is also very common and is known as Non-Erosive Reflux Disease (NERD). Although the term “non-erosive” can sound less problematic, in fact, this reflux can be nearly as damaging and also contributes to airway reflux or what is known as “silent reflux.”

For those who experience frequent reflux events, whether it be GERD or NERD, the symptoms can range from nausea, burning in the chest or throat, coughing, stomach pain, hoarseness and refluxing of damaging liquids into the throat and mouth. In severe cases, reflux can damage the voice and teeth, cause problems with the inner ear and sinuses and it can also severely impact sleep. People report waking in the middle of the night, coughing and gasping for air as acid backs up into their mouth and hits their airway. This is one of the more frightening and debilitating symptoms of GERD/NERD. The lack of sleep and discomfort from the reflux damage can severely impact the quality of life. Some people have reflux so bad that they can’t even drink a glass of water without it coming right back up. The most serious consequence of unmanaged reflux is cellular changes in the esophagus called Barrett’s esophagus. This is a precursor to cancer.

Some people with uncontrolled reflux are resistant to medications and end up getting surgery. This surgery can be very effective, but it is not without side effects and potential complications. Many people also report having severe gas and bloating that does not go away.

Side Effects of Acid Reflux Medications

Over the past year or so, there has been more information coming out about the dangerous side effects of the most popular and effective acid medications, the proton-pump inhibitors. These medications include Prilosec (omeprazole), Nexium (esomeprazole magnesium), Protonix (pantoprazole) and Dexilant (dexlansoprazole). These medications drastically reduce stomach acid to negligible amounts. They can be very effective for some, but they can also come with some very severe side effects.

Side effects of proton-pump inhibitors include higher rates of depression, higher rates of kidney disease and possible dementia. These drugs also drastically reduce stomach acid and therefore can inhibit the absorption of key nutrients like magnesium, calcium, and B12. As a matter of fact, there is an increased risk of hip fractures and broken bones in those who take PPIs long-term. There is also an increased risk of pneumonia and C. Diff infections of the gastrointestinal tract. As these side effects and risks come more and more to light, many people are questioning what to do, especially those who have chronic, unrelenting reflux.

Can my reflux be relieved without medication?

Fortunately, there is a way out of this mess! There are new ideas emerging about the causes of reflux and thus, how to manage it. The old thinking was there was “just too much stomach acid”. Although it is true that reducing stomach acid can improve symptoms, it does not actually cure reflux or even stop it from occurring, it just neutralizes it so you can’t feel the damage being done. As a matter of fact, although counterintuitive, it is thought that some people may actually not have enough stomach acid. While that may sound crazy, it actually makes sense if you look into it.

Stomach acid is responsible for breaking down food but it also helps control and suppresses bacteria. The older we get, the less stomach acid we may produce and bacteria can start to grow. Proton pump inhibitors also suppress stomach acid and one of the risks of using PPIs is bacterial infections of the gut and respiratory tract. Bacteria also produce gas that can put stress on the lower esophageal sphincter, making it more prone to open up and allow stomach acid and other digestive content to enter the esophagus and airway.

There is a myriad of reasons why you may have reflux. There are very effective ways to remedy stomach acid problems, bacterial overgrowth and reflux without medication or surgery. This is all done using natural methods and by looking into the root cause of your symptoms.

If you suffer from reflux and are looking for an alternative to using dangerous acid reflux medications, functional medicine might be the solution for you. I encourage you to book an initial patient visit with me or contact with directly with questions.

What Is An Acupuncture Face-Lift?

What Is An Acupuncture Face-Lift? Does It Really Work?

By Amy Shouse | Published April 15, 2017

Experience a new vitality and glow with facial acupuncture treatments. This non-invasive, gentle treatment involves the placement of tiny, hair-thin needles on the face that effectively stimulate collagen production and promote elasticity. You can reduce wrinkles and experience a fresh, vital look in as soon as one treatment.

Treatments include facial massage and specially formulated Chinese herbal creams to further enhance the holy trinity of a youthful, vital appearance: circulation, rehydration and relaxation.

Because beauty is a reflection of health, facial rejuvenation acupuncture is more than a facial. It is also a full-body treatment. Included in each treatment are individualized body points for whole body wellness, as well as nutritional guidance and supplement recommendations to improve healing and vitality from the inside out.

Does facial acupuncture hurt?

For the most part, facial acupuncture/rejuvenation involves minimal sensation. For those who have sensitivity, we can apply a gentle numbing cream to the face in order to minimize any discomfort. Overall, the experience is relaxing and revitalizing.

How many treatments will I need?

Because facial acupuncture stimulates circulation so effectively, you will notice a glow to your face in as soon as one treatment. For most people, fine lines begin to diminish between 3-6 treatments and a subtle lift will appear between 8-10 treatments.

The usual course of treatment is a commitment to once or twice per week for a total of 8-10 treatments. After that period of time, you can plan on coming in for a facial rejuvenation “tune-up” once every 6-8 weeks or so.

Does facial acupuncture really work? I mean, c’mon, how can you give someone a face-lift with acupuncture?

This is a question that is asked often by those who first hear about facial acupuncture as an alternative to a face-lift. They are skeptical, and rightfully so! There are so many products and methods on the market that promise to reduce the effects of aging and many just don’t really seem to deliver.

For those who are skeptical and or just plain curious, here it goes:

Yes, Facial Rejuvenation really works. But, let’s talk about what we mean by, “works.”

Are you going to come see me in one treatment and leave looking like one might look after surgery? No, you are not. Acupuncture is not surgery and doesn’t claim to be. Facial rejuvenation is a non-invasive procedure for those who are looking to reclaim a revitalized glow to their appearance. The “face-lift” part of the procedure produces results that are subtle and gradual. This is not a treatment for those who expect what a cosmetic surgeon can do. This is a treatment for those who wish to obtain a fresh, natural look and do not want to go under the knife. This is also a treatment for those who wish to obtain health from the inside out as well. The focus on overall constitutional wellness is just as important as the facial treatment.

Ok, I get it. So then, how does it actually work?

As I mentioned above, my mantra for facial rejuvenation is circulation, rehydration and relaxation. Each one of these words in my mantra has ancient acupuncture theory and modern science to back it up.

Circulation: Hair-thin needles are placed on the face at specific points designated by the acupuncturist as important to lift and tone based on the anatomy and musculature of the face. Intradermal needles are also placed directly into wrinkle lines. These tiny needles produce areas of “micro-trauma” within the wrinkle itself. These tiny areas of “micro-trauma” are there just long enough for the body to register and send signals for repair to the area, which stimulates collagen production. This action of collagen production will begin to fill in fine lines and wrinkles over time with each treatment.

Due to the needle placement, the face will also get a fresh, abundant surge of blood coming in. This acts to help repair wrinkles, but it also gives the face a beautiful glow. Think about how pregnant women tend to have a “glow” about them. A big reason for this is the increased circulation of blood to the body and face during pregnancy.

Rehydration: During the facial enhancement treatment, there will be a face massage that includes the use of specially formulated masks and creams to rehydrate the skin. I also use a serum that includes hyaluronic acid, which is a naturally occurring compound in skin and joints and is abundant in youthful skin. Hyaluronic acid draws water into the skin and literally rehydrates and plumps. The act of using the serum directly after needles are taken out is so that the serum penetrates the dermis deeply and effectively.

Relaxation: Anyone who has ever had acupuncture will tell you that it is very relaxing and grounding. In my acupuncture treatments, I include stress-relieving points as well as immune enhancing points. The goal of treatment is to have you looking beautiful AND feeling healthy and beautiful at the same time. I use the dual-pronged approach of guiding healing from the inside-out, as well as the outside-in.

It has been shown that chronic stress can be debilitating to health and actually shorten the lifespan. Those who have chronic stress have more damage to DNA. As cells divide, the tips of DNA strands called, “telomeres”, the protective coating of our DNA, become more frayed and damaged when the body is under stress. In essence, the more healthy and less stressed you feel, the more healthy you will become.

So, during facial rejuvenation, I make a special focus on relaxation and stress-reduction. I do this with strategic use of points, but I also use facial massage to further enhance relaxation.