Flowing In Your Yin to Increase Fertility
This pandemic has all of us thinking about our mortality.
Whether we are considering the possibility of our own death, the death of our loved ones, or just horrified about the number of deaths in general, it’s horrible and terrifying.
And yet because death, in general, typically guides me to sit with the energy of the element of Metal, I can also feel something of the beauty and preciousness of it.
Eastern Philosophy teaches that Metal not only relates to death, but also the lungs, which this virus so viciously attacks. Metal is ultimately about letting go of what no longer serves us so that we can live (or die) in a way that recognizes the innate value and preciousness of our life.
Inhaling and exhaling.
While all of this death feels like too much, it also feels like a natural part of a cycle, one we’ve been avoiding in our culture for decades.
We’ve been living in one big inhalation. Consumption, greed, taking in more than we need, serving the needs of a few but not all. We’ve stopped respecting the natural order of things. We have forgotten the exhale. The out-breath. The release. The letting go.
The pendulum is swinging.
We’ve all known for years, if not decades, that we can’t sustain this. The Earth cannot sustain our excessive consumption. But we wouldn’t slow down. Maybe we couldn’t slow down. Didn’t know how to slow down.
We let ourselves believe we were doing “our part.” Maybe we brought the cloth bag to the store. Carried the reusable water bottle. Scheduled a yoga class into our daily routine of running-around. Maybe we turned off our cell phone during dinner.
Now we get a mandatory time-out. To be with ourselves. To be with our people, our thoughts. And Her. The Earth.
My hope is that this does something. Wakes us up. Makes us realize that while this virus is destroying our lungs, we are the virus that has been destroying the lungs of the Earth for decades. The Amazon, the Ocean. She’s been breathing fire, and still we keep going. An entire continent has been on fire for months. California’s annual fires are now expected.
We must think globally. This is not a “Chinese Virus.” There is no “Other” to blame this time. There never was. This is our virus. A virus of humanity. Our lungs are literally bleeding. We have to grieve. Not only this virus, all of the death, but who we have become as a people. Maybe who we've always been, for as long as most of us have been alive. Disconnected from the Earth. Productive at the expense of any sort of receptivity. Consumptive.
There is no glossing over this. This is on all of us.
It’s on me.
It’s on you.
We are accountable. For ourselves. For our planet. For each other. Responsible for our next breath that has the potential to kill.
The Metal element can be cold and hard and unrelenting, unyielding. But ultimately it’s needed for us to become the most beautiful version of ourselves. To live into our preciousness. With death, with loss, with letting go comes a time for gestation and hope. And ultimately, hopefully, rebirth.
I hope that we can be reborn as a people who can live on this planet in a way that doesn’t simultaneously destroy both her and us.
So I am sitting with each breath. Letting myself exhale. And hoping that maybe there’s some possibility, now, that couldn't have existed before this. That maybe, all of this death and fear of death brings with it a possibility for life that we couldn’t have even imagined before.
For now, I put my hands on the Earth. And I breathe. And I grieve. And I hope.
But mostly, I surrender.
To all of it.
Miscarriage can be such an emotionally, physically and spiritually taxing event, and I feel aware of wanting to be sure to approach it with the compassion and recognition of complexity that it deserves.
While there are, of course, many physical actions you can take to support your body, which I will share, it feels important to focus on the emotional and spiritual first. Continue Reading
I’d like to share both the types of imbalances that ultimately can lead to a diagnosis of PCOS as well as tips and tools to unravel these imbalances so that you can be proactive in improving your fertility and your overall reproductive health. Continue Reading
Tracking your Basal Body Temperature is one of the most effective ways to track your fertility. Unlike your Ovulation Predictor Tests, your BBT not only shows you when your fertile window is, but can also indicate if there’s an issue during one of your phases that might be preventing you from conceiving.
For almost twenty years, I’ve been working with women to help them become pregnant. While I’m grateful for the busy practice, I can’t help but notice that the number of young women (under age 35) with fertility issues is increasing. Often, these women seem relatively healthy; they tell me that their inability to become pregnant is the only thing “wrong” with them. My background in Chinese Medicine encourages me to always look at the body as a whole, so I recognize that infertility is just a symptom of a larger, more holistic imbalance.
I’ve written a lot of articles discussing the Chinese Medicine perspective of fertility problems, but I realize that I have failed to relate one of the most basic and obvious contributors to infertility in our country: we are living in what the World Health Organization describes as a “toxic soup.” I see women who exercise daily, practice yoga, try to eat cleanly and think they are relatively healthy. While I never want to turn my patients into fearful and neurotic health-nuts, it would be negligent for me not to inform them about the reality of our day to day lives: we are absorbing and inhaling a ridiculously exorbitant amount of toxins every day, and our bodies are simply unable to detoxify them.
The toxins to which I’m referring are environmental toxins, which include herbicides, insecticides, pesticides, plastics, detergents, preservatives, cosmetics, gasoline additives, solvents, glues, and heavy metals. Antibiotics, pharmaceuticals, radiation and electromagnetic stress are also treated by your body as toxic, and place a heavy burden on your liver as well. Over 80,000 chemicals have been developed, distributed and discarded into the environment over the past 50 years. The EPA Inventory Update Reports that 27 Trillion Pounds of chemicals are produced or imported into the US per year. That’s 250 pounds of toxins per person! Scarier still is that this report does not even include fuels, pesticides, pharmaceuticals or food products.
While I won’t go into detail about the physiology of how toxins affect your body, I will say that they do affect almost every organ and system in your body, from your liver, kidney and skin to your nervous and endocrine systems and gut lining. The Toxicant and Disease Database links chemical contaminants with 180 human diseases or conditions and WHO reports that 50% of chronic disease is due to environmental pollutants and toxins.
Not only do environmental toxins disrupt endocrine health and mitochondrial efficiency, which can lead to infertility, but many of these toxins can pass through the placenta. So even if a woman does become pregnant, she is unwittingly passing dangerous toxins to her baby. The Environmental Working Group reported that the cord blood of the average baby at birth contains over 200 chemicals (chemicals that should not be in baby’s cord blood!) While toxins affect everybody, children are especially affected because they have an inhibited and underdeveloped detoxification pathway. Because they’re not supposed to carry any toxic load, it’s harder for them to process the toxins, and they accumulate much more easily.
It is my personal belief that it is this accumulation of toxins in our children which is contributing to our country’s rapid increase in developmental delays and neurological disorders.
A patient recently told me that she would rather not be informed about the magnitude with which environmental toxins are wreaking havoc on our systems; that ignorance is bliss. I completely understand that sentiment. But ignorance, unfortunately, is not bliss. It’s chronic illness, chemical sensitivity, digestive disturbance, skin disorders, chronic allergies, endocrine disorders, emotional disorders, neurological disorders and, in her case, infertility. If there was nothing that we could do about it, then yes, I would agree that I would much rather remain uninformed and just enjoy my life.
But there is a LOT we can do.
And it’s really not that hard. While I recommend making these changes at least a month prior to becoming pregnant, three to six months prior is ideal. It is important NOT to detoxify while you are already pregnant or nursing. You can still be conscious to reduce toxin exposure, but actual detoxification will release toxins from your cells right into your bloodstream or breast-milk, and right into your baby.
*** The use of Roundup in many GMO foods, including soy and corn, has increased 6,500% between 1991 and 2010. It is absorbed through the plant, and does not wash off. Glyphosate has serious effects on human health. It deprives living organisms of vital nutrients, vitamins and minerals. In humans, it is a chelator of magnesium, iodine, zinc, iron and cobalt. It lowers B12, glutathione and biotin, which are important to the liver’s ability to detoxify. It blocks manganese uptake, inhibiting the enzymes necessary to make neurotransmitters, which ultimately can lead to brain disorders having to do with communication. It can also block phenylalanine production, which can lead to leaky gut.
As if that’s not enough, it acts as a potent antibiotic, which can lead to an imbalance of microflora. So even if the chicken or meat you eat does not contain added antibiotics, if their feed contains “Roundup Ready” soy and corn, your beneficial bacteria may still be depleted, which can lead to build-up of other pathogenic species such as Group-B Strep and Clostridia.
Glyphosate also binds with aluminum and mercury, and they work synergistically to create deficiency in sulfate supplies to the brain, which may contribute to autism, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
“Environmental Toxins Associated with Diabetes and Obesity” Medscape Medical News, June 2014
“Childhood Cancer and Environmental Toxins are Both Increasing” Medscape Medical News, February 2011
“BPA and Obesity: Is this Connection Real?” Medscape Family Medicine, January 2013
“Infant Lead Poisoning Associated with Use of Tiro, an Eye Cosmetic From Nigeria” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, September 2012
“Fracking Chemicals May Disrupt Hormonal Activity” Medscape Medical News December 2013
While there are many studies that prove that acupuncture and herbal medicine do indeed promote fertility, many women still question how and why they work. I’ve created this four-part post to familiarize you with each phase of your menstrual cycle. You will learn how acupuncture and Chinese herbs can help to increase fertility during each phase, as well as gain tips and pointers that you can implement yourself to help to increase your own fertility. Continue Reading
While there are many studies that prove that ancient womb wisdom, including acupuncture, plant medicine and womb massage do indeed promote fertility, many women still questions how and why they work. I’ve created this four-part post to familiarize you with each phase of your menstrual cycle. You will learn how Wisdom of the Womb can help to promote fertility during each phase, as well as gain tips and pointers that you can implement yourself to help to increase your own fertility.
While I do recommend some common herbal formulas for each phase, please note that each woman has very specific needs. I highly recommend that you either schedule a call with one of our fertility specialists or take our online virtual herbalist quiz to give you personalized recommendations based on your specific diagnosis.
It might not sound pretty, but the blood phase is such an informative phase in our cycle. So many women see their menstrual cycle as this phase only — the time during which we actually have our periods. During this phase we are shedding our uterine lining.
Is there pain?
Are there clots?
Is menstrual blood heavy or light?
Is menstrual blood dark or red?
Do you feel better or worse once your period starts?
Do you experience diarrhea, dizziness or hot flashes with your period?
Do you get a headache, breast tenderness or yeast infection with your period?
I learn so much about my patients during this phase of their cycle. Women always seem surprised that while it is common, it’s not actually a sign of a healthy reproductive cycle to have cramps and pain and other intense PMS symptoms.
Promote complete shedding of the uterine lining so that no stagnant blood remains.
Build your overall blood so that the loss of blood doesn’t leave you feeling depleted and deficient.
Reduce cramping, pain and other PMS symptoms that may be indicative of a stagnation of your body’s qi (energy) and blood.
A great formula during this Phase is Jade Moon Phase 1: Regulate. It helps to invigorate the flow of blood while replenishing lost blood. If there are lots of clots, cramping* or dark blood, then Jade Moon Phase 1: Invigorate is recommended.
B*tch’s Brew Herbal Tea is also highly-effective at encouraging healthy menstrual flow. An Apothecary favorite, B*tch’s Brew is a delicious yet therapeutic blend for PMS relief. To reduce PMS and cramping or pre-period insommnia, anxiety, breast tenderness and more, begin drinking this hormone-balancing blend 10 -14 days before your period is expected, or enjoy throughout the entire cycle.
Supports uterine health, strengthens the liver, balances hormones, encourages healthy blood flow to reduce cramping and relieves stress and anxiety.
Encourage your body’s natural flow of blood. If you’re able to use pads instead of tampons, even for part of the day and night, it can not only really let you know more about the quality and amount of your menstrual blood, but also keep your blood flowing in the direction it should — down and out. This is also a good time to forego yoga inversions like headstand and shoulder stand.
We want to really encourage the complete shedding of the uterine lining during this phase, so yoga twists can really help to squeeze out any stagnation of blood. It’s also important to release any emotions that may have been building up.. go for a run, have a good cry, punch a pillow. It’s important to focus on release and letting go during this time.
Because we want to encourage movement during Phase 1, warming foods that are nourishing and invigorating are beneficial. Try ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and cloves. While we may crave ice cream, it’s especially important to avoid cold or iced foods, as cold causes contraction and we are trying to promote expansion and release. One of my favorite treats is to warm rice or almond milk with some of the spices I’ve listed above added, plus a little bit of agave. It totally hits the spot.
Putting a heat-pack on your lower abdomen or low back during the blood phase can really help if you experience menstrual cramps. In acupuncture sessions during this phase, I especially like to use Moxa or Moxibustion, a warming and invigorating herb placed on the lower abdomen.
*If you experience severe pain during your period, it is extremely important to seek some form of holistic treatment to diagnose and treat the imbalance. There is an old saying in Chinese Medicine that translates as “With pain, there is stagnation. With stagnation, there is pain.” Basically, if you have pain, it means that something is stuck. In the case of menstrual pain, it’s usually your blood. Even if you know the cause of your pain, such as endometriosis, treatment to encourage movement of blood will help to prevent worsening of your condition. Pain medication and muscle relaxers just mask the symptoms, but do little to correct the stagnation.
As the wildfires in California continue to rage, I’m sure every acupuncturist west of Colorado is thinking about the lungs. Not only do we recognize the importance of protecting them from smoke and chemicals, but we also view the lungs in their function of processing grief. The lungs are where we hold our pain, our loss, and just as smoke and toxins can fester in our lungs, so too can unresolved grief, contributing to asthma, allergies and even lung cancer,
As a fertility acupuncturist, my concern with unresolved grief is beginning to take on a new shape. Before I make my next statement, I’m feeling the need to underscore this: I adore my patients. I envision them as the mothers they will become long before they get pregnant. I cry with them when their attempts fail and celebrate with them when they succeed. I look forward to past patients’ holiday cards filled with their children’s joy. I hold each patient’s fertility journey with hope and love and respect.
And yet, I’ve long had to separate those feelings from my belief that our world is already overpopulated. It’s not the overpopulation in and of itself that concerns me, but the unignorable reality that we are destroying our planet.
In the past, it has felt impossible to reconcile my two passions, to hold them together, in the same space. But in my effort to breathe acceptance into this disconnect, I’m beginning to hold both realities: I love helping women conceive AND I desperately fear for my planet, my Mother Earth.
As the wildfires spread, I felt myself doing what I have done in the past: talking about the fires in despair, in horror, expressing true concern and dismay for the people who have lost their homes, their lives, feeling brief terror at the fact that I, too, live in the mountains, in a wildfire prone area, and then promptly shutting that all off so that I could move on with my life. It is almost Thanksgiving, after all, and there is just so much to do.
But this time, I am not “moving on.” I am letting myself continue to feel. With the feels, of course, comes concern about the lungs of all the people in California. My mind wanders, as it does, to the lungs of all of the women trying to conceive.
And suddenly I know in my bones that grief over the loss of our connection to Mother Energy, Mother Earth, is at the root of our infertility epidemic.
Not only do our lungs process grief, but they descend our healthy qi or energy down to our wombs. Some women are better than others at processing grief. They may process the grief of the realization that pregnancy won’t come easily for them. Some may give themselves time to process the grief of their losses, their miscarriages, their chemical pregnancies. Some may grieve the loss of the ease of their marriage, the marriage they had before their infertility journey.
But how many of us have let ourselves even touch at our grief about how we have treated the Earth?
I know many women will read this and brush it aside as ridiculous, as reaching, as just too much. The part of me that knows what it takes to function in this society knows that most women won’t give it a second thought. But if you’ve been struggling with fertility, regardless of whether it’s high FSH or PCOS or unexplained infertility or premature ovarian failure, I urge you to read on.
We MUST grieve our loss of our connection to Mother Earth. We MUST grieve our loss of connection to pure, abundant Mother Energy.
After almost 15 years of working with infertility patients, this disconnection from healthy mother energy is something I cannot continue to ignore. ALL women of childbearing age have been raised in a society that systemically undervalues the feminine. It’s important to understand that when I say feminine, it doesn’t imply female, and while there is a deeper conversation that needs to happen, in the space of this writing, I will only say that as much as we prop girls up, tell them that they can do everything boys do, be just as good as boys, can even run for president, we are also a society that doesn’t value the feminine. The #metoo movement is only one confirmation of the reality that most women have grown up without true understanding of the value and power and strength and necessity of the feminine.
True feminine strength can be ferocious. We should all have a fire raging within us.
Infertility will continue to be an epidemic in this country until we are truly able to bridge this disconnect from our Earth. I have suggested before that it probably feels impossible to be in relationship to a planet that has been decimated, but let’s try.
Imagine the earth as your connection to the “Big” Mother, healthy mother energy, the mother who has held you and supported you, fed you, sheltered you and has given of herself to you again and again, asking nothing in return.
What would it feel like to breathe into your lungs and recognize that we have been raping her repeatedly for centuries?
What if we see these wildfires (insert hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes) as her rage, her insistence that we pay attention, her insistence that we STOP? What if you let yourself feel all of that? Really feel it. And also let yourself feel your own personal grief. All the pain this fertility struggle has elicited. Your feeling of disconnection from your womb, your feeling that you’re broken, that you’ve failed as a woman, that you will never be a mother, never connect to mother energy.
You will probably fall apart.
Let yourself. Let yourself feel the brokenness.
It might take days. It might take weeks. When we really let ourselves feel ALL the grief we are holding, which includes global grief, it feels big. It can feel overwhelming.
But… it is essential.
Only once that grief is processed can we begin to feel our wombs. Only once we recognize what we have been missing can we begin to give ourselves what we need. Only once we let ourselves feel how we have rejected and undervalued Mother energy and have grieved that disconnect can we restore it in ourselves.
I want to assure each of you that you all have the capacity and are entitled to feel this Mother energy. Within each of our wombs, though lying dormant in most of us, is our deeper connection to the earth. The pulse of Mother Earth lives within us, and my belief is that the only way we have been able to function on a seriously unwell planet is to shut that pulse down.
Only once we can honor her, Mother Earth, the Ultimate Mother, in our day to day lives, can we live and thrive as fertile beings ourselves.To connect with me to begin to explore your own connection to Mother Energy together, sign up for a one-on-one call.
This is one of a 4-part series on the phases of the menstrual cycle.
While I've posted before about how to support your period in more physical ways, this series is about the energetic of the phases of the cycle.
THE BLOOD PHASE
The blood phase of the menstrual cycle is the time during which you are bleeding.
Blood is associated with the element of metal and is about letting go, releasing. Metal is the element of the autumn, and the best way to envision that energy is to think of the trees shedding their leaves every fall. They trust in the process, trust that there will be rest in the winter and rebirth in the spring. Some people relate the metal element to death, and in a way, it is.
This metal element is about letting go of that which is no longer serving you and trusting that something more fulfilling will take its place. Our period is all about letting go; our actual menstrual flow is about releasing.
Many women have fibroids and cramping and endometriosis, where the blood is not being released easily or entirely, and we may often find that there’s a holding onto emotional energetic patterns that aren’t healthy, accumulating in the womb.
Another aspect to metal is defecation, our large intestine. Again, we have to let go of the shit that’s not serving us. Whether or not it’s reflecting in our actual digestive organs and symptoms of digestion, such as IBS, constipation, diarrhea, so many of us are holding onto so much that we do not need. We are holding onto trauma not only from this lifetime, but also patterns and traumas from generations past.
I always consider metal the end of the pattern, the death of a cycle, the letting go so that there’s energy and room to move into water, into gestation, so that rebirth and new life can occur. So many of us are stuck in this inability to let go, that we can’t move into the water, yin phase of gestation.
The energetic of this phase should be about encouraging your body and your unconscious to let go of that which is not serving your highest conscious priority, that of becoming a mother.Both my Mermaid Bath Detoxifying Seaweed Soak and my B*tch's Brew Tea were formulated specifically to support women during the Blood Phase of her cycle. Begin using both 5-10 days before your period is due to arrive.