Archive for the ‘Infertility’ Category

This afternoon, the gentleman of mail delivering danced entered my office, gave a postcard from a mother, my former patient J.A. He said the baby on the card is very cute!

This is another “acupuncture baby”. Acupuncture plus IVF.

The mother was 41 years old, had a son 4 and half years old(through IVF?). She wanted to have another child. But the quality of her husband’s sperm and her eggs are poor. Before she came to see me, she had 8 times IUIs, 2 times IVFs.

She got acupuncture and herbal tea treatments before she schedule to try another IVF.  It did helpful. She gets her baby in last month! 5 LB 14 ozs,18Inches.

Here is baby mom’s letter.


Thank you for all that you did to make my dream of having another child come true. You were very kind and helpful during an awful time in my life and I am grateful for all your advice and assistance.

Best regards,



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About one year, one lady, 42 year old, came to see me for acupuncture treatments because of her neck/shoulder severe pain.

After she got some effectiveness, both her and her husband told me they want to have another baby, ask me if acupuncture could help. I said “yes”. They have a son 5 years old.  So I added additional needles for improving the fertility. After about one month, they reported me– “already got pregnant”.

Then, one or two month later, this lady had vaginal bleeding, her  husband came and we gave him 3 packs herbs to protect the lady’s pregnancy–it worked well, the bleeding stopped.

Two weeks ago, whole family came and brought the new baby to see me, we had pictures together.  Here posted is one of the pictures “Acupuncture-baby” Elliana S.

For getting baby, Acupuncture works!


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Spring will coming, this season is a growing time, easy to get pregnant. Acupuncture and Chinese herbology is one of natural therapies to help the infertility. This morning, one of my patients reported she got pregnant–we had 5 sessions acupuncture.

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Sometime, patient, who has tried to conceive, asked me the question–“Dr.Fan, for infertility treatments, do you think it is necessary to use different acupuncture points, based on different period phases?”

Similar question we could ask–“Dr.Fan, using Chinese herbology, what do you comment to using different herbs according to women period phases?”

My answer is:

TCM treatments based on period phases, either acupuncture or Chinese herbology in Chinese Gynecology, actually was based on my two teachers, Dr.Xia Gui Cheng (some books published in western countries in recent years  in English language may reflect Dr. Xia’s experiences and theories) and Dr. Sun Ning Quan (he died in early of 1990s), who clearly mentioned the relationship between women period phases and Yin-Yang cycle in 1970s.  They clearly mentioned using different Chinese herbs/ formula to treat the illness/disorders which are related to women’s period cycle, or adjust the irregular period to reach the aim of conceiving.  Before them, almost all Chinese medicine doctors use traditional Pattern differeciation (Bian Zheng Lun Zhi) to treat female patients.

So, we could have two different ways / strategies to handle same problem, i.e.infertility–either traditional Bian Zheng Lun Zhi or according to period phases(actually another style Bian Zheng Lun Zhi).  For teaching in class or writing / publishing a book, the practitioners (TCM doctors, teachers) may prefer to using different methods to treat patients in different period phases.  Such as in period flow time, using certain methods; in estrogen phase, using certain methods; during ovulation, using certain methods; and during progestrone phase, using certain methods.

In theory, we prefer that, but we need to consider the real practice condition.  This rule/method could adjust according to fit different conditions.

Using only one set of treatment strategy may not fit to everyone, esp. to patient who has some experience from other practitioners’ office or reading some books. However, sometime, we have to use it, of course, still need modify accordingly.

Talking acupuncture first.

For fertility issue, we, indeed,could do different “menu” for different phases of period, however, some patients are not like certain positions or some points.  I mean we face some challenge sometime. So we have to use equievlant points in a patient’s confortable position.

Second, we find it is not uncommon–when patients come to see me, sometime they forget the exact days in their period cycle. When I ask– “today, what day is in your period cycle?” Patients may reply–” Oop! I need ask my husband”, or ” I need look for my calender” (today I met two!).

And it is very common–” I have/had a travelling”, “I am/was busy…..”, “I am sorry to miss the appointments”.  So it seems we could not do something in real time in some patients.

Sometime, doing acupuncture according to patients’ period cycle seems very difficult.

So, based on 25 years of my clinical experience, I feel basing on traditional strategy sometime is also a good option.  I use one bigger acupuncture formula to adjust according to specific condition, which includes a few things (here, we use conventional words / terms, although we do consider it in TCM theory and terms, the original thinking style):

1. Adjusting the energy level to handle the stress or mental issue, which affects gynecological function;

2. Adjusting hypothalamus and pitutary function which is upper center for ovaries and uterus functions;

3. Adjusting the local function of ovaries and uterus functions, and circulation of pelvic area.

Total how many needles for this formula? 25-30 per time.

Each time, we basically do not want to adjust the formula totally, may be adjusting 3-5 needles based on new condition or phases issue.  One reason is about half of our patients don’t like to use less needles (“why last time used 25, today use 21?”)–they paid, so they want to use more, at least same amount needles; And, explanation takes too much time. However, we do adjust if different patterns, or patients’ different reactions occur.

The results from our center for fertility is good, over 40 ladies got pregnant, either acupuncture alone or with IVF, IUI since 2007.

Talking about Chinese herbology.

In China, the herbology for infertility treatments has been a main therapy since 2000 years ago.  Before my teachers, “the great master”, Dr. Xia Gui Cheng (who helped Chinese president Hu Jing Tao to get his grandchild) and his former colleague Dr. Sun Ning Quan (he was the first one who mentioned using TCM herbs to adjust patients’ period based on patient’ s period phases), in history, TCM gynecologists almost all using single method to treat infertility, such as adjusting Live Qi, Regulating the Blood, or Tonifying the Kidney and Spleen…… Since my teachers, the rule has been changed–adjusting women’s period according to period phases.  It is sure, I am their “good student”.

However, in United States, the culture is very different.  Using herbs meet some challenges in present time.

No.1 issue is patients seem not like the tastes, and using too much time to cook; and it is not uncommon–forgot to take in time.  “Too busy” is one of their stories.

No.2. FDA still treats herbs as food, so any side or adverse effect is not allowed for herbs.  And, conventional MDs are not welcome new remedies which may have a competition with them–they have no training in herbology too, so they might always give negative advices to patients for herbs.

So, 2/3 patients could not use herbal tea regularly, 1/2 patients could not use herbal pills in time.

For getting more positive results, I have been working on more herbal application combining with acupuncture.

Following the Big Tao(Dao), Making Everything Real Simple” (Da Dao Zhi Jian).  Using one set of treatment plan to modify in fertility treatment is my current main method.

I heard famous TCM gynecologist Dr. Bei Run Fu in California also has simplified his treatment strategies. In China(15 years ago), he prefered the Dr.Xia’s theory and published many papers; but when he came in USA, he gradually comes back to the traditional Bian Zheng Lun Zhi, to use one strategy to modify the formula in fertility Chinese herbology practice today.

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Thank You

Saturday, December 4, 2010 9:55 AM
To: “Arthur Yin Fan, PhD,CMD, LAc” <arthurfan@chinesemedicinedoctor.us>
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Dr. Fan,
I am emailing you to send you pictures of the newest addition to my family, my daughter, Amaya Grace.  If you remember I came to you in February after my OB/GYN told me that I had PCOS and would never be able to conceive without drugs.  At that time, you reassured me that it would not be the case and that we would working on regulating my system.  I began treatment with you twice a week and five weeks into it, I discovered I was actually pregnant!  The sonogram confirmed what I suspected, I became pregnant the day after the very first acupuncture treatment.  Fast forward 10 months later, I now have a 15 day old baby girl. 
I can’t say enough about your practice and the care and concern that you showed me.  I have attached pictures for you to see her!  Enjoy the holidays.  Our family is definitely enjoying ours with the new addition.
Best regards,

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Study finds acupuncture and exercise decrease a key marker for disease

Exercise and electro-acupuncture treatments reduce sympathetic nerve activity in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), according to a new study. The finding is important because women with PCOS often have elevated sympathetic nerve activity, which plays a role in hyperinsulinemia, insulin resistance, obesity and cardiovascular disease.

The study also found that the electro-acupuncture treatments led to more regular menstrual cycles, reduced testosterone levels and reduced waist circumference.

Exercise had no effect on the irregular or non-existent menstrual cycles that are common among women with PCOS, nor did it reduce waist circumference. However, exercise did lead to reductions in weight and body mass index.

“The findings that low-frequency electro-acupuncture and exercise decrease sympathetic nerve activity in women with PCOS indicates a possible alternative non-pharmacologic approach to reduce cardiovascular risk in these patients,” said one of the researchers, Dr. Elisabet Stener-Victorin of the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. The findings regarding menstrual cycles and decrease in testosterone levels in the low-frequency electro-acupuncture are also of interest, according to the researcher.

The study, “Low-frequency electro-acupuncture and physical exercise decrease high muscle sympathetic nerve activity in polycystic ovary syndrome” was conducted by Elisabet Stener-Victorin, Elizabeth Jedel, Per Olof Janson and Vrsa Bergmann Sverrisdottir, all of the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden and the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden. The study is in the online edition of the American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, published by The American Physiological Society.

Common endocrine disorder

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common endocrine disorders, affecting an estimated 10% of women of reproductive age. Among the problems associated with the condition are elevated levels of androgens (such as testosterone, the ‘male’ hormone found in both sexes), ovarian cysts, irregular menstrual cycles and infertility.

PCOS is associated with increased sympathetic nerve activity in the blood vessels, part of the ‘fight or flight’ response that results in blood vessel constriction. Chronic activation of the sympathetic nervous system increases the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke.

The Swedish researchers had previously found that PCOS is associated with increased sympathetic nerve activity and said it may arise from the elevated testosterone level that is characteristic of PCOS.

Three groups

The researchers wanted to find a long-lasting treatment for PCOS that would have no adverse side effects, and so they looked at whether acupuncture or exercise could decrease the sympathetic nerve activity in women with PCOS. The study included 20 women, average age of 30 years, divided into the following groups:

  • low-frequency electro-acupuncture (9)
  • exercise (5)
  • untreated controls (6)

The acupuncture group underwent 14 treatments during the 16-week study. Acupuncture points were located in abdominal muscles and back of the knee, points thought to be associated with the ovaries. The needles in the abdomen and leg were stimulated with a low-frequency electrical charge, enough to produce muscle contraction but not enough to produce pain or discomfort.

The exercise group received pulse watches and were told to take up regular exercise: brisk walking, cycling or any other aerobic exercise that was faster than walking but that they could sustain for at least 30 minutes. They exercised at least three days per week for 30-45 minutes, maintaining a pulse frequency above 120 beats per minute.

The researchers instructed the control group in the importance of exercise and a healthy diet, the same instructions the experimental groups received, but were not specifically assigned to do anything differently.

Key Findings

The researchers measured the muscle sympathetic nerve activity before and after the 16-week study. Following treatment, the study found the following:

  • Both the acupuncture and exercise groups significantly decreased muscle sympathetic nerve activity compared to the control group.
  • The acupuncture group experienced a drop in waist size, but not a drop in body mass index or weight.
  • The exercise group experienced a drop in weight and body mass index but not in waist size.
  • The acupuncture group experienced fewer menstrual irregularities but the exercise group’s irregularities did not change.
  • In the acupuncture group, there was a significant drop in testosterone. This is an important indicator because the strongest independent predictor of high sympathetic nerve activity in women is the level of testosterone.

“This is the first study to demonstrate that repeated low-frequency electro-acupuncture and physical exercise can reduce high sympathetic nerve activity seen in women with PCOS,” according to the authors. “Furthermore, both therapies decreased measures of obesity while only low-frequency electro-acupuncture improved menstrual bleeding pattern.”

The study has some limitations, including a small sample size, so further research is necessary, the authors wrote. To find the full study, click here


Stener-Victorin et al. Low-frequency Electro-Acupuncture and Physical Exercise Decrease High Muscle Sympathetic Nerve Activity in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. AJP Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology, 2009; DOI: 10.1152/ajpregu.00197.2009

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Thank you

Tuesday, October 26, 2010 12:52 PM
Message contains attachments
Dear Arthur,
I hope you received my voicemail letting you know that I had the baby back in August.  After I saw you that Saturday morning, my labor began at 2PM.  I had the baby on Sunday evening at 6:30.  I had a bit on a complication in that the baby’s face was pointing forward instead of backwards and they were unsuccesful in turning it around without his heart rate dropping.  I had to have a c-section.  I did deliver a very healthy and beautiful baby boy.
I truly believe you helped me to conceive him along with IVF and you certainly helped “induce” the labor.  I am very grateful as I have wanted a child for many years and you helped that dream come true.  I will recommend you to anyone trying to get pregnant. Please see attached a picture of our happy family.
Thank you again,

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BMJ. 2008 Mar 8;336(7643):545-9. Epub 2008 Feb 7.

Effects of acupuncture on rates of pregnancy and live birth among women undergoing in vitro fertilisation: systematic review and meta-analysis.

Manheimer EZhang GUdoff LHaramati ALangenberg PBerman BMBouter LM.

Center for Integrative Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine, 2200 Kernan Drive, Kernan Hospital Mansion, Baltimore, MD 21207, USA. emanheimer@compmed.umm.edu

Comment in:



OBJECTIVE: To evaluate whether acupuncture improves rates of pregnancy and live birth when used as an adjuvant treatment to embryo transfer in women undergoing in vitro fertilisation.

DESIGN: Systematic review and meta-analysis.

DATA SOURCES: Medline, Cochrane Central, Embase, Chinese Biomedical Database, hand searched abstracts, and reference lists. Review methods Eligible studies were randomised controlled trials that compared needle acupuncture administered within one day of embryo transfer with sham acupuncture or no adjuvant treatment, with reported outcomes of at least one of clinical pregnancy, ongoing pregnancy, or live birth. Two reviewers independently agreed on eligibility; assessed methodological quality; and extracted outcome data. For all trials, investigators contributed additional data not included in the original publication (such as live births). Meta-analyses included all randomised patients.

DATA SYNTHESIS: Seven trials with 1366 women undergoing in vitro fertilisation were included in the meta-analyses. There was little clinical heterogeneity. Trials with sham acupuncture and no adjuvant treatment as controls were pooled for the primary analysis. Complementing the embryo transfer process with acupuncture was associated with significant and clinically relevant improvements in clinical pregnancy (odds ratio 1.65, 95% confidence interval 1.27 to 2.14; number needed to treat (NNT) 10 (7 to 17); seven trials), ongoing pregnancy (1.87, 1.40 to 2.49; NNT 9 (6 to 15); five trials), and live birth (1.91, 1.39 to 2.64; NNT 9 (6 to 17); four trials). Because we were unable to obtain outcome data on live births for three of the included trials, the pooled odds ratio for clinical pregnancy more accurately represents the true combined effect from these trials rather than the odds ratio for live birth. The results were robust to sensitivity analyses on study validity variables. A prespecified subgroup analysis restricted to the three trials with the higher rates of clinical pregnancy in the control group, however, suggested a smaller non-significant benefit of acupuncture (odds ratio 1.24, 0.86 to 1.77).

CONCLUSIONS: Current preliminary evidence suggests that acupuncture given with embryo transfer improves rates of pregnancy and live birth among women undergoing in vitro fertilisation.

PMID: 18258932 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]PMCID: PMC2265327 Free PMC Articlehttp://www.bmj.com/content/336/7643/545.long

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From: A…. C
Subject: gender prediction
To: ArthurFan@ChineseMedicineDoctor.us
Date: Wednesday, September 22, 2010, 12:53 PM

Hi –

I just read your post on the internet regarding determining pregnancy thru pulse reading. My Acupuncturist recently told me the gender of my baby thru pulse reading (only 6 days after and IVF transfer). Is there any merit to this, and if so, how early can it be done? He mentioned about the left side stronger, and not detecting the babies female hormone in my body, therefore it must be a boy. There’s not much about it on the internet, but what I could find says that it can be about 80% accurate.

Thank you.


A reply from Dr. Arthur Fan

Hi, A….,

The pulse diagnosis should be one of testing methods, which gives a trend of something (just a potential) and need other tests to confirm it.

My main concern is in “modern days”, there are too much interfering stuff which could affect the pulse and make the pulse diagnosis inaccurate some time (I mean the “sham pulse”). For example, using too much of progesterone may cause the pulse bigger and slippery, some providers may think the woman may get pregnant.

For your case, the pulse could be affected by the hormone or drugs you used during IVF.

At this moment, only 6 days after the embryo transferred, it is a bit too soon to tell –is boy or girl.

Let say, 10 women got pregnant only for 6 days, if the provider says 10 all boys. At last, if at half (5 are boys, 5 are girls), or as you said 80% chance, say 8 are boys, 2 girls, then some women will treat the provider “magic”(if at last they get boys), and other will treat him “nonsense”(if get the girls).

I mean, we use the pulse diagnosis as one of testing methods, which give us some trends, not the last diagnosis. We must combine some other methods to make last diagnosis. I strongly against the way–only use pulse diagnosis to tell something.

I did see some patients had bad experience from our “colleagues”.

Arthur Yin Fan, PhD,CMD,LAc
McLean Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, PLC
8214 Old Courthouse Road, Tysons Square Office Park,
Vienna, VA 22182.
Phone:(703)499-4428; Fax:(703)547-8197
Web: http://www.ChineseMedicineDoctor.US
Blogs: www.arthuryinfan.wordpress.com

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Acupuncture helps fertility, by Dr.Arthur Fan

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Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 2009 Nov;29(11):997-1000.

Influences of acupuncture on infertility of rats with polycystic ovadian syndrome

[Article in Chinese]

Zhang WY, Huang GY, Liu J.

Institute of Integrated Traditional Chinese and Western Medicine, Tongfi Hospital, Tongii Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan.


OBJECTIVE: To observe the effect and mechanism of acupuncture on infertility of rats with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

METHODS: PCOS rat model was induced by subcutaneous injection of oil solution of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) in immature (24-day-old) female rats for continuous 20 days. Rats for control were given with same dose of oil for instead. PCOS rats were randomly divided into the model group untreated and the acupuncture group treated by needling acupoints of Guanyuan (CV4), Zhongji (CV3), Sanyin-jiao (SP6) and Zigong (CX-CA1), 15 min once a day for 5 continuous days, starting from the 80th day after birth. All rats were sacrificed at terminal of the treatment, their uterus and bilateral ovaries were dissected for observation and blood levels of sex hormones were measured.

RESULTS: compared with the model group, the number of implanted blastocyte and blastocyte implantation rate were higher and the blood levels of testosterone (T) and estradiol (E2) were lower in the acupuncture group (P < 0.05); but the difference between groups in serum levels of follicular stimulating hormone, luteinzing hormone and progesterone were of statistical insignificance (P > 0.05). Moreover, the wet weight of ovary was lower and the equipotent diameter and area of glandular organ and cavity, area ratio of gland and the stroma, and mean thickness of endometria were higher in the acupuncture group than those in the control group (P < 0.05).

CONCLUSION: Acupuncture can conspicuously downregulate the expressions of serum levels of T and E2, improve the development of ovaries and uterus, promote ovulation, enhance endometrial receptivity, and advance blastocyte implantation.

PMID: 20329610 [PubMed – in process]

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Stop Painful Menstrual Cramps with Chinese Herbs
By: Cathy Margolin, L.Ac., Dipl.OM (NCCAOM)

Are you curled up in bed for a day or more each month with one thought:  “What am I going to do about these period cramps?”  You are not alone, as 50% of menstruating women have the same experience month after month.   But why suffer when you could be living pain free?  NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs*) only mask the pain for a few short hours.  Chinese herbal medicine, on the other hand, has been used for centuries with well-documented results. 

An international nonprofit organization, known as the Cochrane Collaboration, studied the effectiveness of Chinese herbal medicine in relieving menstrual pain compared to western drugs.  Their conclusion:  “Chinese herbal medicine for primary dysmenorrhea roughly doubled pain relief and improvement in overall symptoms compared with conventional Western pharmaceuticals,” reported Xiaoshu Zhu. (1)

Here are a few common Chinese herbs used for painful menstrual cramps:

1. Dong Gui (Chinese Angelica  or Angelica Sinensis)
Also known as the “female ginseng,” it is commonly used to regulate the menstrual cycle and relieve menstrual cramps.  It also helps to relieve menopausal symptoms, reduce PMS and anemia and to re-establish a menstrual cycle after cessation of birth control pills.  It is commonly sold as a single herb tea, bagged or loose.  It is considered a king herb or premier herb in Chinese gynecological disease because of its ability to harmonize the blood in Chinese medicine.  Dong Gui is also considered antispasmodic.  The coumarin chemicals present in this herb may help dilate blood vessels and relax the smooth muscles of the uterus, thus relieving menstrual cramping.

2. Chuan Xiong (Chuanxiong  Rhizoma)
This herb is also a key medicinal herb for treating pain.  It improves blood circulation and promotes the flow of “qi” or vital energy.  Chinese women, dating back to the Song Dynasty, used to take this Chinese herb in the form of soup.  The soup is called a Four Substance Decoction and includes three other herbs:  angelica, red peony and Chinese foxglove.  The soup and tea are still used today as a blood tonic to relieve PMS, stop menstrual pain and improve overall health, especially after giving birth.

3. Bai Shao (White Peony Root)
White Peony Root nourishes the blood and improves circulation.  It is also used for a wide variety of gynecological problems.  The peony root is considered a   liver tonic in Chinese medicine.  By strengthening the liver, it helps to increase the efficiency of protein and fat metabolism, thus inhibiting the excessive synthesis of prostaglandins that may cause an over-active uterus and endometrial pain.

4. Yi Mu Cao (Chinese Motherwort)
Leaves from this herb are used to treat menstrual problems.  They have been shown to improve blood circulation and clear blood clots that occur in menstrual disorders and after childbirth.  The leaves also promote diuresis and relieve edema.  Studies on the alkaloid leonurine showed that this substance stimulates the uterus of rabbits, cats, dogs and guinea pigs. (2)

5. Yan Hu Suo (Corydalis Rhizome)
There are two main functions of this Chinese herb:  to strengthen blood circulation and to relieve pain.  In conjunction with chuan xiong it is known to help both body aches and headaches.  Corydalis is related to the opium poppy.  Although only 1% in strength compared to opium, it is a very effective pain reliever.  The active chemical constituent di- tetrahydropalmatine (THP) is a neuroactive alkaloid with analgesic action that relieves cramping pain.

Groups of Chinese herbs, also known as formulas, are more beneficial than single herb remedies because the herbs work synergistically for conditions such as menstrual cramps.  The Cochran study also stated that:  “The herbal remedies were also significantly better at relieving painful cramps and other symptoms than acupuncture or a hot water bottle, with overall promising findings…  Chinese herbs overall, whether standardized or tailored, yielded better pain relief than conventional pharmaceutical therapies.”

Chinese herbal medicine can be a bit intimidating when you don’t know anything about these herbs, and the five herbs above are only a few of the herbs beneficial for menstrual cramps in the Chinese herbal encyclopedias.  Asian pharmacies sell prescriptions of herbal teas and pills daily, and Asian cultures have used herbs successfully for hundreds of years.  By replacing NSAIDs with Chinese herbs, women receive an additional benefit of avoiding the nasty NSAIDs  side effects such as upset stomach, heartburn, ulcers and rashes, and liver damage, to name a few.  Women don’t need to suffer month after month.  You can use Chinese herb supplements to be pain free and PMS symptom free all month long.  

Primary source: Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
Source; Zhu X, et al “Chinese herbal medicine for primary dysmenorrhoea” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2007;3: CD005288.

1.  Chinese Medicine Program at the University of Western Sydney.1 (fourth issue for 2007 of The Cochrane Library).

2.  Yin, J. Modern Research and Clinical Application of Chinese  Materia Medica (2) pp 218-219 Beijing: Chinese  Medical Classic Press.  

* NSAID are Non-Sterodial Anti-Inflammatory Drugs.  Generics and name brands include:  ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin, naproxen sodium, Aleve, aspirin, Bayer, Bufferin, acetaminophen, and Tylenol.

About the Author:
Cathy Margolin is a Licensed Acupuncturist in CA and has been certified as a Diplomat in Oriental Medicine.  She has specialized in Chinese Herbs and her company PACHerbs.com carries high potency herbal products sold in individual packets for freshness. She has visited herb manufacturers in both China and Taiwan and has extensively researched Chinese herb processing. As a health advocate with a passion for teaching, she enjoys impacting the lives of readers around the world who haven’t yet experienced the phenomenal health benefits from the ancient wisdom of Chinese herbal medicine. 

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Acupuncture, Fertility Research Delivers Healthy Results
By: Jennifer Dubowsky, L.Ac. M.S.O.M., Dipl.Ac(Article From www.Acufinder.com)


Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been practiced for thousands of years. Amazingly, the first written gynecological records date back to the Shang dynasty (1500 BC- 1000 BC), but here in the U.S. and other Western countries, people are just beginning to understand and appreciate the effectiveness of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

It isn’t easy to compare Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western medicine because there are profound differences that underlie the basic notions of your health, body and treatment. Western medicine often takes a more mechanistic view of people – your body may be treated as if it is a collection of machine parts rather than one whole, integrated system. Alternatively, Traditional Chinese Medicine sees individuals as personal ecosystems, with each part depending on, and influencing, all the other parts. This “whole body” approach means that treatment addresses the complete systems of your body rather than just attending to your symptoms. As a result of such a treatment strategy, most patients experience an improvement in their specific condition and also a better overall sense of health and well being.
TCM and Fertility: The Research

Let’s define infertility. The American Fertility Society defines infertility as occurring when “a couple has 1 year of regular intercourse without contraception and has been unable to conceive.”

There are many factors that may make your conception difficult to achieve and, even after conception, you may face problems bringing your pregnancy to term, which causes frustration, upset and increased stress. However, research using acupuncture to enhance fertility is providing reason for new optimism in the struggle with this old problem.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can be used alone or in conjunction with Western medicine. A 2002 German study that received a lot of attention found significantly higher conception rates (42.5% vs. 26.3%) when acupuncture was used with IVF.  More recently, two studies published in May 2006, showed that acupuncture can improve IVF success rates. First, in Germany, 225 women undergoing in vitro fertilization participated in a study. Of these, 116 patients received luteal phase (the phase after ovulation) acupuncture according to the principles of TCM and 109 people received a standard protocol of acupuncture. The treatment group using TCM principles had a significantly higher clinical pregnancy rate than the placebo group (33.6% vs. 15.6% respectively).  Second, a Denmark study published at the same time examined the effect of acupuncture received on the day of embryo transfer vs. no acupuncture, and they also found a significant increase in pregnancy rates (39% vs. 26%). The researchers concluded that acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer improved the outcome of IVF.  A third study published at the same time found the results too small to be considered clinically significant but these researchers also concluded that acupuncture was safe for women undergoing IVF.
Other research is showing acupuncture’s effectiveness with men. A study published in 2005 demonstrated that sperm motility and quality improved after the men received treatment with acupuncture.  

As further proof that TCM has gained acceptance and success, in September, 2005, the University of Maryland received $400,000 from The National Center for Complementary & Alternative Medicine, a division of the National Institute of Health, to research the benefits of Acupuncture combined with IVF.

In Vancouver on May 18, 2007, Dr. Paul Magarelli, an infertility physician at the Reproductive Medicine & Fertility Center, and Diane Cridennda, an acupuncturist at East Winds, both centers in Colorado Springs, Colorado, presented their research results which were published in Infertility and Sterility in April, 2007. This is one of several studies the two have completed. In the protocol, they used a minimum of 9 acupuncture treatments within 2 months before the embryo transfer. Since this was a research study, each patient received the same treatment. No modification in points was allowed. From a clinical TCM/acupuncture perspective, the treatment protocols were very limited compared to individulized treatment of each patient.

What were their results? Lorne Brown, Doctor of TCM, founder and clinical director of Acubalance Wellness Centre, the first TCM clinic in British Columbia dedicated to reproductive wellness, analyzed the data Dr. Magarelli presented and has posted the following conclusions on his website:

  1. Acupuncture does not cause harm to fertility or negatively interfere with an IVF outcome.
  2. Acupuncture can statistically improve the live birth rate from IVF to between 10-15%.
  3. Acupuncture reduces the number of ectopic pregnancies in an IVF setting.
  4. The acupuncture protocol (minimum of 9 treatments using set points) did not affect egg quality BUT it did improve the host. Therefore, it seemed to improve factors affecting implanation rather the egg quality itself.
  5. The mechanism by which acupuncture improves implantation and live birth rates results from acupuncture’s ability to regulate the body’s hormone levels (particularly prolactin and cortisol) to mimic these hormone levels in a natural cycle.

Why Does TCM Work?

Why? “Acupuncture provides better circulation and better blood flow to the womb,” said Dr. Raymond Chang, director of New York’s Meridian Medical Group, who has been incorporating acupuncture into fertility treatments for the past decade. “It will give a better chance for the eggs to be nourished and therefore carried.” Acupuncture seems to help some women because it improves circulation to your ovaries and to your uterus. It aids ovarian stimulation, improves the thickness of uterine lining, and therefore can help with implantation. Acupuncture is relaxing, which helps to lower your cortisol levels and increase progesterone output, important factors in decreasing your chance of having a miscarriage.

Western medicine works with an eye on the numbers. The main goal is to increase the quantity of eggs or sperm, thereby increasing your chances of a viable pregnancy. In contrast, Traditional Chinese Medicine is holistic and cumulative. It will likely include suggestions about diet and lifestyle as well as acupuncture. TCM is very personalized. Your practitioner will needle specific points and may suggest specific herbs, all depending on your body and your situation. When your body is healthy and balanced, you increase your chances of getting pregnant and producing a healthy child. The goal of acupuncture is to return your body to a state of health. The effects take time; the results get better over time. Even if your Western doctor does not understand the benefits of acupuncture, most physicians now agree that it does not cause harm.

“Nourish the Soil before Planting the Seed”

Plan ahead. The ideal time to begin preparing your body for a baby is three months before conception or an IVF cycle. This is the time to begin acupuncture treatments, but many couples wait until they are actively trying to conceive. In my practice, I recommend twice weekly treatments until we get a positive pregnancy test and once a week for the first trimester to reduce the risk of miscarriage.
Of course, making good nutritional choices is always important for both mother and child. Specific suggestions can be found in one of my previous articles, “The ABCs of Fertility: Acupuncture, Babies, Chinese Medicine” which can be read on Acufinder.com and on tcm007.com

You can also help your body’s readiness by attending to the following suggestions:

  • Caffeine: Reduce or cut out coffee from your diet. A joint US/Swedish study of 562 women found that 1-3 cups of coffee increased miscarriage rate by 30% and more than 5 cups increased it by 40%.  Also, in another study conducted during the first trimester of pregnancy, women who had a high caffeine intake showed an increased risk of repeated miscarriage.  
  • Stress: Stress has been linked to irregularieties in  ovulation and abnormal sperm development. When you can lower your levels of physiological stress, you have increased your chances of conception.
  • Sleep: Treatment in Chinese medicine always aims to improve your sleeping pattern. Lack of sleep has long been recognized as influencing fertility. It  leads to physiological disruptions including the inhibition of growth hormones.
  • Alcohol: Women who drink alcohol may delay conception because it is poorly metabolised and can lead to a disturbance of the oestrogen/ progesterone balance. During IVF, men and women are both advised to avoid alcohol because, in women, it can lead to reduced egg production and, in men, it may reduce the number of healthy sperm.
  • Weight: Being too thin or too heavy can have an impact on how quickly you conceive. Excessive thinness is known to interfere with menstrual periods. Now, it is also believed that if both partners are overweight or obese, conception will take longer.
  • Smoking: Smokers have an increased rate of repeated miscarriage.  Women smokers have been shown to have lower levels of oestrogen which may delay conception. Smoking is also thought to influence tubal factor infertility, and can cause early menopause. In men, smoking may damage sperm. When men stop smoking, their sperm count increases quickly. 

By following the Chinese medicine approach to balancing your body, mind and spirit, you will not only boost your fertility but you will feel more energized, sleep better and experience a greater sense of wellbeing.  
In summary, Acupuncture and Chinese herbs have a long history of benefiting fertility in many ways. Benefits of TCM include:

  1. Improvements in your uterine lining
  2. Increased blood flow to your uterus
  3. Regulation of your hormones
  4. Reduction of your stress associated with fertility problems
  5. Improved function of your ovaries
  6. Increased conception with or without ART
  7. Increased live birth rates
  8. Lower rates of ectopic pregnancies                              

And for men…

  • Improved semen quality and quantity
  • Reduce stress and improve well being 

About the Author
Jennifer earned her Master of Science degree in Oriental Medicine from Southwest Acupuncture College, an accredited 4 year Master’s program in Boulder, Colorado. She received her Diplomate from the NCCAOM, the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and completed an internship at the Sino-Japanese Friendship Hospital in Beijing, China. Jennifer has been in practice since 2001. She has a passion for her work and has researched and written articles on Chinese medicine. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Kinesiology from the University of Illinois. She can be reached at 312-399-5098 or through e-mail at TCM007@aol.com.


1. Paulus, W., et al. Fertility and Sterility. April, Vol. 77 (4):721-724, 2002.
2. Dieterle,S., Ying, G., Hatzmann, W., Neuer, A. Fertility and Sterility, May, Vol. 85 (5):1347-135, 2006.
3. Westergaard, L., Mao, Q., et al. Fertility and Sterility, May, Vol. 85 (5): 1341-1346, 2006.
4. Smith, C., Coyle, M., et al. Fertility and Sterility, May, Vol. 85 (5) 1352-1358, 2006.
5. Pei, J., Strehler, E., Noss, U. et al. Fertility and Sterility, July, Vol. 84 (1), pgs. 141-7, 2005.
6. Cnattingius, S. et al, New England Journal of Medicine Vol.343(25):1839-1845, Dec., 2000.
7. George, L., et al. Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology, Vol. 20 (2): 119-126, March, 2006.
8. Ibid.

Additional references
The Infertility Cure: The Ancient Chinese Wellness Program for Getting Pregnant and Having Healthy Babies by Dr. Randine Lewis.
 Human Reproduction Journal, Volume 11, Number 6, 1996.
Fertility and Sterility, Volume 78, Number 6, December 2002 Raised cortisol predicts spontaneous abortion Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 2006. Early online publication

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“Dr.Arthur Fan, Could You Tell Me by Taking My Pulse–If I Already got Pregnant?”

Many patients or friends of mine have asked me such a question,my answer is “NO!”


Maybe, a little bit?

Some Chinese Medicine doctors/practitioners may tell their patients–they could tell if the female gets pregnant or not–by Taking patient’s pulse only.  To the patients or people who don’t know Chinese medicine, it seems really very magic! And this may attract some patients to see such providers.

However, I have to tell you the truth–We COULD NOT tell you if the woman already got pregnant or not, only according to the Pulse diagnosis. 

The condition is very complicated.

Indeed, when a woman gets pregnant, her pulse should be stronger and bigger than before, we call this style pulse is “slippery Pulse”(Hua Mai).

But, if a female has slippery Pulse, we could not say–“it is sure you got pregnant”. The slippery pulse only reflects that the body’s Yang Qi is over strong or at moving.

When a female gets pregnant, her Yang Qi is stronger and stronger day after day due to her hormone changes during the pregnancy, such as HCG’s increasing significantly over the time.

However, when a female does not have pregnancy, such as getting her period, or getting ovulation, or she just had a sex, or just after an exercise; sometime, we also could find she has a slippery Pulse (or similar pulse)!

When a female takes some special medications/drugs, her pulse also becomes slippery!!  For example, using prednisone or Progesterone.

When a female has hypertension, or headache, her pulse may become slippery too!!!

Only, when a female during her good age for pregnant (between her first menses to menopause), had sex with male (or IUI,IVF), then her period stopped over one week, her pulse becomes slippery, we could say this female has a bigger possibility–she may get pregnant. 

However, the golden criterion is her HCG hormone significantly increasing, not the Slippery pulse.

So, if a provider tell you–“you get pregnant”–only after pulse taking and did not ask you the period condition, medication and other related issues, you should question him/her–“Did you had good training in Chinese gynaecology?”

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In last weekend, one of my patient P.C. (42 years old) who got pregnant after our acupuncture treatments  came again–she was overdue one week for her labor — Her pregnancy already was 41 weeks but her boy “seemed no- desire to go out of his mom’s body”.

Per her request, Dr. Fan gave her special acupuncture treatments.

After first day’s acupuncture, patient felt her uterus contraction. After second day’s acupuncture, the contraction became more strong and more often. A few hours later, the patient started the labor.

Acupuncture does accelerate baby’s birth process.

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