Thursday, August 14

Berkley Center Interviews with Resolve Magazine

When a prospective patient decides to pursue Acupuncture as a means of reproductive assistance they must first seek out a licensed and Nationally Board certified acupuncturist.  An acupuncturist does not have to be board certified to practice legally, he or she must only be licensed. However, board certification means that the practitioner has participated in continuing education classes and or taught and or written and published papers regarding medicine. Thus, if a practitioner is board certified, there is some assurance that the individual cares enough about his or her patient’s to stay on the cutting edge, educationally. There is no licensure required to practice herbal medicine. Anyone can do so. It is therefore essential to make sure that your acupuncturist is Board Certified in herbal medicine. Though it is completely legal to prescribe herbal medicine without a license, the effects can be disastrous. An herbalist who is board certified has undergone required study and training mandatory for the award of board certification. 

Anyone who is having difficulty conceiving is a good candidate as long as the reason for their infertility is functional and not anatomical. In other words, acupuncture and herbal medicine cannot treat and correct a retroverted uterus or unblock or unscar fallopian tubes. Acupuncture and herbal medicine are good modalities to treat elevated FSH levels PCOS, hypothalamic amenorrhea, thin uterine lining, poor motility, poor morphology and low sperm count. If a male has a vericocele, it requires a surgical procedure

Q: What educational background should an acupuncturist have?
A: An acupuncturist should be state licensed and nationally board certified. Acupuncture school takes from between three and a half to four years to complete. The best schools of acupuncture include bioscience and biomedical coursework as well as studies in Chinese medicine theory and practice.

Q: How does a woman find a good acupuncturist?
A: By recommendation. Sometimes, people in chat rooms can refer an acupuncturist with whom they’ve had a good experience.  There are web sites with referral capabilities such as  Organizations such as the American Infertility Association and Resolve can refer people to acupuncturists who specialize in infertility.

Q: What associations oversee the field?  Are acupuncturists part of the American Medical Association. Who regulates them?
A: Acupuncturists are not a part of the American Medical Association.  The National Certification Commission for Acupuncturists and Oriental Medicine is the overseeing board for acupuncturists. They are located at 11 Canal Center Plaza, Suite 300, Alexandria, VA  22314  Their phone number is:  703/548-9004  and their Fax number is:  703/548-9079.  Also, the American Association of Oriental Medicine has a web site where referrals to acupuncturists may be found. Their site is

Q: What is the success rate of acupuncture for aiding fertility.
A: I can only speak about my own success rate, which is about one in twenty.  The population of women whom I treat is over thirty-five years old and has some presenting pathology.  They have elevated follicle stimulating hormone or a blocked fallopian tube, or PCOS or have difficulty implanting due to the inability of the uterine lining to thicken.  Hence, this population is basically the “worst case scenario” population.  Many of my patients  have undergone two to three IVF’s without success.  Their next step is either donor egg implantation or adoption.  So I am basically the last stop.  Out of that population, my success rate is approximately one in twenty.

Q: Are there some women who do not conceive after treatments?
A: Yes. 

Q: What exactly is herbal medicine and how do you use it in conjunction with acupuncture?

A: The art of Chinese formulas and traditional Chinese medicine has undergone significant change throughout the centuries.  Starting out as fairly crude potions with magical overtones, it has developed into sophisticated therapeutic tools.  The earliest of the formularies extend s to the end of the third century, B.C.  Herbs have different tastes or properties and affect different things in the body.  Some herbs are acrid which disperse; some are sour which restrain and retain;  some are sweet, which moderate and tonify; some are bitter, which strengthen; and some are salty, which soften.
A formula is comprised of plants, flowers, stems, seeds, bark and various other  substances containing medicinal qualities, the particular configuration of which is dictated by the organizing principles of the treatment strategy.  If the pattern of a disorder is misdiagnosed, the treatment strategy will be incorrect.  Therefore, its derivative formula will be ineffective.  For example, a patient presents with fever, irritability, thirst, red face and flooding big pulse.  If the practitioner ignores the fact that the fever is low, the thirst is for warm beverages and the pulse is also deficient, he can misdiagnose the pattern and prescribe an incorrect formula.  No matter how cleverly the formula is modified, the results will be disappointing because the patient is really suffering from a disorder that remains undiagnosed based on the inexperience of the practitioner. 
To maximize the benefit of the treatment and minimize its side effects, it is very important to determine which aspects of the disorder in a particular patient are most significant.  In traditional Chinese medicine, this is known as distinguishing the manifestations of the disorder from its root cause.  The following distinctions are used when making this determination.

The strength of the patient’s normal qi or energy is the root.  And the strength of the pathogenic influence is the manifestation.  The ideology or the cause of the disease is the root and its presentation is the manifestation.  During the course of a disease, the underlying primary disorder is the root and the secondary complications are the manifestations.  With respect to the location of a disease, the internal aspect is the root and the external aspect is the manifestation. Clinically, it is important to distinguish the root from the manifestation of a disease so that treatment can be directed accordingly and fine-tuned according to the precise need of the patient at a particular time. The rules governing treatment of the root and manifestation are as follows:
  • For acute disorders, treat the manifestation.
  • For chronic disorders, treat the root.
  • Simultaneous treatment of the root and manifestation can also occur.

Formulas are used depending upon the strength or lack thereof of the patient or strength or lack thereof of the presenting pathology.  Other things, such as the season, the environment and the overall picture of the individual patient including their weight, diet, lifestyle habits, etc., are taken into consideration. 

Herbal formulas can be served up in various ways. One type of formula is known as a decoction.  The ingredients are placed in water or a mixture of wine and water and then boiled for a specified period of time.  The formulas also come in powders.  The ingredients are ground up and sifted into a relatively uniform powder and then are ingested or applied externally.  They also come in pills.  Ingredients are finely grounded or pulverized, a liquid or other viscous medium is added and round pills are formed. 
There are also soft extracts, liquid extractions, syrups and semi-solid extracts.  There are medicinal wines, lozenges, tablets, granules and injections as well. 

Herbs and herbal formulae are critical part of the treatment of gynecological disorder in general and infertility in particular.

Q: About how many visits or treatments does a patient need to have before conception?

A: The treatment frequency for a patient undergoing a protocol for infertility is as follows: they receive acupuncture treatment one time per week and they take herbal medicine two to three times a day, seven days a week for a period of three months.  The patient should conceive within that period.  If they do not conceive within that period, their chances of conception after subsequent IVF are much greater than if they had IVF without first undergoing the acupuncture and herbal medicine treatment protocol.  When a patient undergoes acupuncture treatment and takes herbal medicine, their internal environment is brought to the point of maximum achievable health.  Acupuncture and herbal medicine help the body to become the absolute best that it can be internally, thereby allowing and assisting reproductive health to be at its peak.

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