I am nowdelighted to announce that I have become a founding member of the recently launched Zita West Network for Reproductive Health, as an Affiliated Acupuncturist.
Built on the ground-breaking work of midwife, author and fertility and pregnancy expert Zita West and her renowned London clinic, the new Irish network aims to share the unique skills and experience of Zita and her team of doctors, midwives and complementary therapists, with experienced independent acupuncturists across Ireland and the UK. Other health specialists (such as nutritionists, counsellors, midwives and doctors) will also be recruited to the network. The Zita West Clinic is the largest integrated (medical and complementary) practice in the UK specialising in all aspects of male and female reproductive health. It also runs occasional clinics in Dublin on a monthly basis.
All acupuncturist members of the network receive training and ongoing support in Zita West’s comprehensive, holistic approach to achieving optimum reproductive health. This covers a wide range of treatments and approaches to help boost fertility, enhance IVF, improve pregnancy, enhance birth outcomes and support post-natal recovery.
The Benefits of Choosing a Zita West Affiliated Acupuncturist
Wide-ranging Medical and Complementary Health Experience.
By choosing a Zita West affiliated acupuncturist clients not only get the benefit of their practitioner’s individual expertise but, through them, the training and support of Zita and her colleagues too. The Zita West Clinic works with thousands of women and men each year, helping them to boost their chances of conceiving successfully (both naturally and through IVF) and helping those who are already pregnant to have the best pregnancy possible and the brightest and healthiest of babies. This provides an unrivalled breadth and depth of knowledge to be shared with members of the network and their clients.
Exclusive Discounts on Zita West Clinic Services. Choosing a Zita West affiliated practitioner also provides clients with unique access to a range of Zita West clinical services – some of which are available by phone as well as in person – all at special discounted prices.
Special Discounts on the Zita West Range of Nutritional Products. Clients of member practitioners are entitled to further discounts on Zita’s best-selling range of premium nutritional supplements for fertility, pregnancy and breast-feeding too (20% off RRP ex p&p). Similar discounts are available on her range of books, CDs, cosmetic products and gift-sets as well.
FREE Fact Sheets to Help Boost Your Fertility and Pep up Your Pregnancy
I don’t know why but we are always grossed out by discharges and sometimes we fail to see the importance of them, especially when it comes to fertility. As part of my consultation with patients who are trying to conceive I always ask if they are aware of their fertile period? Do they notice any discharge and if so how much and when?
This ‘discharge’ (such a horrid word for such an important fertility fluid!) is vital for conception as it shows that the body is getting ready to release an egg and to aid sperm on their long journey to reach the egg for the magic conception to happen. In chinese medicine this is the time that yin turns into yang, the cooling phase of the run up to ovulation turns in the incubation phase for implantation.
As an acupuncturist and naturopath I am looking to help increase/promote cervical fluids with acupuncture, diet, lifestyle and correct supplements. And obviously to include the couple having sex in the fertile period!
There are lots of misconceptions about cervical mucus, here is some info to help you decipher your discharges…!
Fertile mucus means you are ‘potentially’ fertile.
It’s not the day we see the most amount of fertile mucus (characteristically clear/egg white consistency), it’s the last day we recognise this mucus. If the mucus lasts for 4-5 days this can be key for timing intercourse.
Cervical fluid changes with fertility and goes through a predictable pattern each and every cycle. After you have finished menstruating you should have a period of no discharge at all.
It should then be:
1. Sticky – In a 28 day cycle, this will be around day 7 or so. Your cervix will start producing a sticky or pasty kind of cervical fluid. This is the beginning of the fertile period.
2. Creamy – As your cycle progresses, your estrogen level is rising daily and the water content of your cervical fluid will increase.
3. Egg white – It is called this as it resembles raw egg white. It’s clear and slippery and can usually stretch an inch or more between a finger and thumb. This is the really fertile stuff!! It’s alkaline and keep sperm alive for up to 5 days inside your body.
4. Watery – Sometimes the water content inside a woman’s cervical fluid will be so high that the eggwhite cervical fluid is more like water, it’s clear, slippery and does not hold any shape. You will know it’s there by a very wet sensation in your vagina. This is very fertile cervical mucus is the last stage of the fertile period and suggests that the egg is about to be released.
5. Dry – this happens quickly after the wet period/egg release, the fertile window has finished for this cycle. Some women do experience a water cervical fluid the day before thee period, this is the endometrial lining starting to break up.
Cervical fluid is an incredibly valuable substance that is produced by your cervix. It’s made up of water, sugars, electrolytes and proteins. Fertile cervical fluid keeps sperm alive once it is inside the vagina. It provides nutrients, a hospitable alkaline environment and aids in transportation. Cervical fluid helps the sperm survive, sometimes for up to 5 days while waiting for the egg to be released. It also tells a lot about the state of a woman’s hormones.
Cervical fluid helps the sperm in 3 ways:
1. It provides an alkaline environment for the sperm. A woman’s vagina is slightly acidic and hostile to sperm. Fertile cervical mucus is alkaline, like a mans semen, and provides a safe harbour for the sperm.
2. It provides sustenance for the sperm while they swim on the way on up through the cervix, to reach the egg in the fallopian tube. The sperm need food along the way and fertile cervical fluid provides the needed nutrition.
3. It provides an easy pathway for the sperm to swim through. It also helps filter out irregular sperm so only the most suitable arrive at the egg.
There are many foods and supplements that can improve your cervical mucus such as royal jelly, evening primrose oil, increase your omega 3’s, avocados, olives etc…
I look at each women/couple individually and recommended foods and supplements to go with the acupuncture fertility program.
The word acupuncture comes from the Latin acus, “needle” and pungere, “to prick.”
Acupuncture needles are single use, sterilized and pre-packaged.
Acupuncture is over 5,000 years old and is one of the oldest practicing forms of medicine known to date.
When performed by a properly trained and licensed practitioner, acupuncture is safe and effective, free from negative side effects.
Even though a needle is being inserted into the skin, acupuncture is virtually painless.
Acupuncture needles are a lot smaller than standard hypodermic needles, and they do not draw blood and are not hollow.
Acupuncturists feel your pulse and look at your tongue to gain a better understanding of what is going on inside the body.
Acupuncture is highly individualized – for example, if 50 people with a cough got acupuncture, all 50 people could have different acupuncture points in their treatments.
The benefits of acupuncture are sometimes difficult to measure when using western research because western research depends on a constant variable to measure all data against…something that goes against acupuncture treatment plans.
Licensed acupuncturists attend an in-depth four year program and obtain over 400 clinical hours.
Acupuncture is just one form of therapy used within the medical system known as Traditional Chinese Medicine, which also consists of other modalities such as herbal medicine, nutrition, cupping, moxabustion, tui na and special exercises such as Tai Chi and Qi Gong.
Are always curious about Acupuncture? Never got round to making an appointment? Have lots of questions about the therapy, will it hurt? can it help me? what will I experience?
Well this is for you… To coincide with the UK & Ireland Acupuncture awareness week from the 3rd – 10th March I am offering FREE Acupuncture sessions to new patients. The sessions will be at limited times and one session per person on a 1st come basis. This will be a 45 mins taster session where you will get a treatment and I will discuss how Acupuncture would help you.
As a natural form of healing, acupuncture has the following benefits:
1. provides drug-free pain relief
2. effectively treats a wide range of acute and chronic ailments
3. treats the underlying cause of disease and illness as well as the symptoms
4. provides an holistic approach to the treatment of disease and illness, treating the body, mind and spirit.
5. assists in the prevention of disease and the maintenance of general well-being
If you are interested on availing of a FREE session, please contact me on 086-8163130 or fill in the form below and I will get back to you ASAP.
Some Acupuncture info…
Acupuncture is a complex medical system that is used to diagnose and treat illness, prevent disease and improve well being. It originated in China more than 3,000 years ago and due to it’s proven effectiveness has been embraced throughout the world. It involves the insertion of extremely fine pre-sterilised needles at predetermined points on the body’s surface to restore health.
Acupuncture can be used alone or combined with Western Medicine or with other forms of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) such as Herbal Medicine, Moxibustion (Heat Treatment), Cupping, Qigong, (Theraputic Exercise) and Tui-na (Chinese massage).
Commonly Treated Conditions:
The World Health Organization recognizes Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine as a viable means of treatment for a wide range of conditions. Some of the most commonly seen complaints in the acupuncture clinic are as follows:
Infections: Colds, Flu, Viral Infections.
Ear, Nose and Throat Conditions: Sinusitis, Hay fever, Rhinitis, Catarrh.
Genitourinary/ Gynaecology: Pregnancy, Male and Female Fertility, Impotence, Premenstrual Syndrome, Menstrual Problems, Menopause, Cystitis, PCOS, Endometriosis, Fibroids, Miscarriage.
A typical Acupuncture Session
The practitioner will spend some time discussing your condition and a detailed case history is taken. Your tongue and pulse may also be examined. Total confidentiality is assured at all times.
Number of Treatments
Since each person is unique the number of treatments needed, will vary. Chronic long term conditions will take longer to treat than acute conditions that have just occurred. If the patient is in good health recovery may be quicker.
Also the frequency of treatment prescribed will have an impact. Initially treatments may be administered close together and then become less frequent as the condition improves.The adherence of the patient to the instructions provided can also influence the speed of recovery. Helena will discuss the treatment plan with the patient.
Acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment. Helena uses pre-sterilized, disposable needles. Helena is a fully licensed Acupuncturist and a member of the Acupuncture Foundation Professional Association of Ireland (AFPA) and as such fully complys with association’s code of ethics and best practice.
If you are pregnant or trying for a baby it is important you let your Helena know as the treatment will need to be modified as Acupuncture is used extensively for fertility and pregnancy issues.
Menopause should be a time to embrace the changes in the female body, not a time of dred, the word alone can send cold chills (or hot flushes) down the spine of many women! But does it really have to be that way? Is there anyway to maneuver through menopause and maintain one’s sanity? Acupuncture and Naturopathy can have a positive impact in this transitional time.
Although by definition the date of a woman’s last menstrual period; the term menopause commonly refers to the period of change, when the egg supply becomes exhausted and the levels of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone fall. Ovulation and menstruation become less frequent and eventually stop. This usually occurs between 45 and 55 years of age and constitutes a major transition period for most women. It can also happen at a younger age.
The Symptoms of Menopause
Symptoms in the transitional period may be felt for a short period or for several years depending on the body’s ability to adapt. They may include:
a change in the frequency or volume of blood flow of periods
emotional swings, irritability, depression
hot flushes and night sweats
loss of sex drive, vaginal dryness and recurrent vaginal infections
weight changes, reduction in breast tissue
bone loss of calcium may also occur.
However, many of these symptoms are also the natural side effects of ageing.
Hot Flushes and Night Sweats
Hot flushes and night sweats are experienced by more than 85% of menopausal women with varying degree of severity up to ten years after their last period. They occur because the brain decides that the body is overheated and responds by increasing the blood flow through the skin. The heated skin reddens and begins to perspire. The symptoms rise to a peak over about 4 minutes and then decline during the next 15 minutes accompanied by cold chills. Hot flushes are often accompanied by an increased heart rate and palpitations. Although harmless they can be very uncomfortable and distressing. Night sweats often cause frequent interruption of sleep, contributing to fatigue.
Menopause and Bone Health
The repair and maintenance system of bones is mainly controlled by hormones, including oestrogen and progesterone. As levels of these hormones fall, bones begin to deteriorate and loose density. Osteoporosis literally means: “bone that has holes”. It leads to an increased risk of fracture especially of the spine and long bones of arms and legs (hip fractures). It may cause pain, especially in the lower back, loss of stature, and various deformities (Dowager’s hump). Osteoporosis is a complex condition which also involves lifestyle and nutritional factors, and prevention is much better than cure.
Treatment of Menopausal Symptoms – The Naturopathic Approach
Long term poor diet, emotional stress, and lack of exercise may lead to an increase in menopausal symptoms.
Diet(Food, drink and drugs)
Eat a wholesome diet predominantly based on fresh organic foods. Prepare your own meals whenever possible.
Foods to eliminate or reduce
Sugar, cakes and other refined carbohydrates
Processed ready meals
Animal fat from meat and dairy
Coffee, tea and alcohol
Increase beneficial foods
Plenty of fruit and vegetables
Brown rice and whole meal bread
Lentils and beans
Nuts and seeds
Organic poultry and fish and eggs
A non-dairy milk source – Coconut, rice, almond etc…
Cold pressed oils (olive, linseed etc.)
Cooling foods and foods rich in natural oestrogens (see below)
In Chinese medicine, the consumption of cooling foods is recommended. Such foods are wheat germ and its oil, mung beans, mung bean sprouts, string beans, seaweed, spirulina, millet, black beans, tofu, kidney beans, barley, black sesame seeds, fenugreek seeds, saffron and cold sage tea.
Increase plant foods high in natural oestrogens (phytoestrogens). These include: soya products (don’t over-consume), flaxseed oil, flax seeds, nuts, whole grains (such as brown rice), apples, fennel, celery, parsley, and alfalfa. Maca powder has been proven to help reduce menopause symptoms and has been named the natural HRT.
Blood sugar control is also very important for hormone balance.
Drinking plenty of water keeps the body vital and young. Increase amounts gradually to about 1.5 to 2 liters per day.
For more advice of foods to eliminate and increase please contact me.
Endorphins arethe body’s own mood-elevating and pain-relieving compounds. They are also thought to relief hot flushes. Regular exercise enhances endorphins and has many benefits on health of bone and the cardiovascular system. It reduces stress, boosts the metabolism, increases energy levels and assists in achieving and maintaining normal body weight. In addition exercise may also help mobilise some stored estrogen, which may make for an easier transition.
Exercise in average 3 – 4 hours per week; Combine aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, cycling, swimming with toning and strengthening exercise such as Yoga and Pilates.
Learn to adopt less aggressive attitudes. A relaxed, un-stressful life will greatly help overcome menopausal symptoms.
Supplementation & Herbs
Vitamins and Minerals
In addition to a good general supplement programme (multivitamins & minerals, fish oil) the following vitamins and minerals may help relieve menopausal symptoms:
Vitamins E and C – For hot flushes, night sweats, irritability and vaginal dryness
B-Vitamins, especially B6 – For hormone balance, energy production and a healthy nervous system
Vitamin D & Calcium – For protection against osteoporosis, and for hot flushes
Magnesium – For night sweats and irritability
Evening Primrose Oil – For hot flushes & breast pain
Much of the effect of herbal medicine is thought to be a result of phytooestrogens in the plants and the plants’ ability to improve blood flow.
Dong Quai (Angelica Sinensis): has a mild oestrogenic effect and stabilises blood vessels
Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra): mild oestrogenic effect and raises progesterone levels
Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa): relieves hot flushes, depression, vaginal atrophy
Chaste berry (Vitex Agnus-Castus): Balances secretion of certain hormones
Gingko Biloba: Improves blood flow to the extremeties and to the brain.
Red Clover and Korean Ginseng may also help because of their oestrogenic effects.
Combining all of the above is thought to produce greater effect.
For advice on recommended amounts please contact me.
Other useful tips
Menopause can often be a time of lowered energy. Get adequate sleep and even take a nap when feeling tired. If hot flushes and night sweats are your main problems:
Keep a record of your hot flushes and see if there is a pattern developing.
Wear loose clothing, made of natural fabrics, with short sleeves and V-necks
Use a battery operated fan and keep a flask of iced water near by
Relaxing during a hot flush can diminish its intensity.
Keep your bedroom cool
Use night clothes and bed linen made of natural fabrics
Keep a sponge and a bowl of water near your bedside to cool yourself down easily.
Acupuncture & Menopause
Acupuncture can help women suffering from the most common symptoms of menopause, it is claimed. A study suggests that Acupuncture can curb the severity of hot flushes and also relieve mood swings among women receiving it regularly.
Hot flushes can suddenly produce an uncomfortable feeling of intense heat, while frequent flushes at night can disrupt sleep. The symptoms are caused by the dilation of blood vessels in the skin and are linked to hormone imbalances, but they are still not fully understood.
Medication proven to combat flushes includes Hormone Replacement Therapy and some antidepressants, which appear to damp down the body’s blood vessel system.
In the study, which was published in the journal Acupuncture in Medicine, Turkish researchers looked at 53 menopausal women. Twenty seven received acupuncture twice a week for ten weeks. This involved placing needles at certain points on the body to boost energy and release endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers.
The remaining volunteers were given ‘dummy’ acupuncture with blunted needles.
At the end of the trial, those receiving genuine treatment had lower scores for the intensity of the hot flushes and mood swings they experienced – which progressively improved over the treatment period – compared with those given dummy needles.
The researchers said the effect on endorphins might curb flushes by stabilising the body’s temperature controls, but they were unable to say how long the effect lasted after treatment finished.
The researchers admit the trial was small but claim that Acupuncture is worth trying for menopausal women unable or unwilling to use HRT.
Please contact if you would like any further information or to see how I can help you.
In traditional Chinese Medicine dampness comes from a failure to burn off or transform moisture in the body. It is nearly always associated with a weak Spleen, often with a weak Kidney and sometimes a weak Lung – all from a Chinese Medicine perspective.
In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) the Spleen is expressed as the digestive system, the Spleen is responsible for adapting food to nourish and support our system. This process is called ‘transportation and transformation’. The stronger or Spleen function is the better we are able to extract nourishment from any food to support our body’s needs.
Dampness can lodge in a specific part of the body or affect us more generally, dampness can make us feel heavy and tired and it can make us swell up and it can obstruct our body’s functions.
Some people are more prone to damp than others, a tendency towards dampness can be aggravated by living in damp conditions and places (ex. Ireland) or by a sedentary lifestyle. It needs the transformative power of the body’s Yang Qi (energy) to stop it accumulating. Eating in ways which inhibit our Spleen function or which injure the Yang Qi will increase our tendency towards damp.
Dampness may also be caused by pathogens lodged in the body which have not been properly expelled or by the use of suppressant drugs.
Foods which promote dampness are:
Dairy – milk, cheese, yogurts, ice cream – Sheep & Goats products are less dampening
Wheat – breads, pastry’s, biscuits, all yeast products
Pork & rich meat
Processed foods, sugar & sweeteners
Concentrated juice’s especially Orange & Tomato
Bananas – these are a big NO in TCM
In particular foods that need to be avoided are too much raw, cold, sweet & rich foods and the overconsumption of fluid, especially cold water.
Dampness can be divided into three kinds:
This is the generalised condition of dampness associated with weakness of the Spleen, in may manifest in such ways as tiredness/aches in the limbs, digestive weakness or muzzy head. How it manifests depends on our individual constitution.
This describes a condition of edema where dampness is retained as water; this may be specific or general in location. It causes us to swell, be become waterlogged.
This describes a more sticky manifestation of dampness. It often lodges in particular organs and combines easily with heat or cold. Phlegm or mucus congeals and obstructs our functioning.
Resolving Dampness though food and Acupuncture:
All dampness is treated by strengthening the Spleen and may also need tonification of the Kidneys, Lung and Yang. Phlegm demands the reduction of Phlegm-forming foods and the use of Phlegm- resolving foods. Water is helped by Water-removing (diuretic) foods. Acupuncture in conjunction with the correct foods can help eliminate damp, water and phlegm.
Dampness is often the result of overeating or over-nutrition. It is important to support the Spleen to avoid the over accumulation of Dampness.
Here are some tips on how to assist the Spleen with its digestive function:
Joy – enjoy your food, have a good relationship with food
Positive attitude – welcome food as wholeheartedly as you can
Relaxation – the Chinese believe not to mix food with work, watching TV or reading, also important to relax your posture as not to hinder the passage of food through your body.
Chew well – well chewed food lessens the work for your digestive organs and increases the efficient extraction of nutrients, it also warms chilled foods.
Stop just before you are full – if you overeat at any one meal, you create stagnation, a temporary queue of food waiting to be processed. This results in feeling tired.
Don’t flood the Spleen – the Spleen does not like too much fluid with a meal. A little warm fluid with a meal is helpful; nut too much dilutes the Spleen’s action and weakens digestion.
Don’t chill the Spleen – too much raw or chilled food or fluid will also weaken the Spleen, the digestive process needs warmth.
Eat your main meal early – when your main meal is eaten late at night, your system is naturally slowing down and the food will sit around longer and creates stagnation.
Delighted to have an article published in the Summer edition of the Rude Health magazine. It explains the basic ideas behind Acupuncture and how it can help male & female fertility to help couples conceive.
It also includes a testimonial from one of my male fertility patients on how Acupuncture and Naturopathy helped him and his partner get pregnant.
Cupping is one of the oldest methods of traditional Chinese medicine. Today acupuncturists use cups made of thick glass, plastic or bamboo. Glass cups are the preferred method of delivery, because they do not break as easily and they allow the acupuncturist to see the skin and evaluate the effects of treatment.
In a typical cupping session, glass cups are warmed using a cotton ball or other flammable substance, which is soaked in alcohol, lit, and then placed, inside the cup. Burning a substance inside the cup removes all the oxygen, which creates a vacuum.
As the substance burns, the cup is turned upside-down so that the practitioner can place the cup over a specific area. The vacuum created by the lack of oxygen anchors the cup to the skin and pulls it upward on the inside of the glass as the air inside the jar cools. Drawing up the skin is believed to open up the skin’s pores, which helps to stimulate the flow of blood, balances and realigns the flow of Qi breaks up obstructions, and creates an avenue for toxins to be drawn out of the body.
Depending on the condition being treated, the cups will be left in place from 5 to 10 minutes. Several cups may be placed on a patient’s body at the same time. Some cupping treatments will also include small amounts of medicated or herbal oils being applied to the skin just before the cupping procedure, which lets the cups move up and down particular acupoints or meridians after they have been applied.
What conditions does Cupping treat?
Cupping can be used for a variety of conditions but is mainly used for muscular-skeletal pain, cold and flu’s and cold syndromes. It is very beneficial in the treatment of pain.
Is cupping safe? Does it hurt?
While cupping is considered relatively safe, it can cause some swelling and bruising on the skin. As the skin under a cup is drawn up, the blood vessels at the surface of the skin expand. This may result in small, circular bruises on the areas where the cups were applied. These bruises are usually painless, however, and disappear within a few days of treatment.
In addition, there are several instances where cupping should not be performed. Patients with inflamed skin; cases of high fever or convulsions; and patients who bleed easily, are not suitable candidates for cupping. Pregnant women should not have cupping on their stomach or lower back. If the cups are being moved, they should not cross bony areas, such as the ridges of the spine or the shoulder blades.
6 Week Detox Program finishing with a 2/3 day juice fast – This is a gentle programme that will change your lifestyle and make you glow from the inside out.
Week 2 – Caffeine Detox
Well done, hopefully you have survived week one of my detox. Well, how was it? Did you manage to stay off the booze? I managed it, even when I went out for a Valentine’s dinner I managed to stay clear from the White Wine.
Even if you slipped up you should carry on with the Detox programme, as each week is accumulative you will continue to stay clear of alcohol.
This week the item to eliminate is Caffeine. This is going to be tougher as Caffeine is an everyday item, the main culprets being Coffee & Tea.
Below is a chart that shows the Caffeine content in everyday items:
Item Caffeine (mg)
Coffee, brewed (240ml/8oz) 60-120
Coffee, instant (240ml/8oz) 70
Coffee, decaf (240ml/8oz) 2-5
Tea, black, 5-min steep (240ml/8oz) 60-100
Tea, green (240ml/8oz) 20
Coca-Cola (355ml/12oz) 34
Milk Choc (30g/1oz) 1-15
Dark Choc (30g/1oz) 20
As you can see from this, it’s not just Tea & Coffee that you have to eliminate from your diet. Sorry the Chocolate has to go…! As you may know, Green Tea has many health benefits but I will come back to these at a later date, for now all you need to know is that it contains caffeine so it’s a no, no.
What you can drink:
It’s all about the Herbal Tea’s, these days the shops are filled with so many flavours and you will be surprised at how good they taste. I recommend that you get yourself a ‘Tower of Tea’, below is mine and I’ve been an Herbal Tea addict for a long time and I’m always finding new flavours. My new favourite is from a brand called Clipper and is an Orange & Coconut flavour – Yum.
Side effects from Detoxing from Caffeine:
Caffeine is a drug. It’s addictive, gives you a sudden rush of energy and offers you a bit of a high, which is usually followed by a bit of a crash. Once you start to feel the crash, more Caffeine is needed to maintain stimulation. But the biggest sign that Caffeine is a drug is that when you have a go at detoxing from it, you will experience crazy withdrawal symptoms.
Headaches, nausea and moods so bad…this is what prolonged periods of abstinence can do to the caffeine addicted.
Drinking Coffee is a ritual and symbol of important, busy people. The more responsibilities we have, the bigger the cup of Coffee we need to carry around with us. I never drank Coffee untill I started studying to be an Acupuncturist & Naturopath, I think that it was the working full-time and studying that did it. Now I can go through phases of one Coffee a week or one everyday and I’m partial to black Tea and dark Chocolate so this is going to be a challenge.
The more stress we have in our life, the more Caffeine we drink. It’s a vicious cycle. We need Caffeine to keep up with the pace of modern life, but if Coffee is your choice, itself actually helps to create nervous energy. Coffee wakes us up and gets us going, but over time this unnatural stimulation of our nerves creates stress levels that wreak havoc on our immune systems, hormones and our adrenals.
It is widely known that Caffeine enhances alertness and concentration, but the negative effects are pretty well downplayed. The health risks include inhibiting the absorption of essential minerals like iron, magnesium and zinc as well as B vitamins. Many studies have also linked heavy Coffee consumption with higher risks for miscarriages, osteoporosis and heart disease.
Drinking Caffeine is a habit that should be gradually given up – especially if you rely on more than one cup each day. Caffeine withdrawal is not fun – for you or for those around you. Here are a few things you can do to help you kick the habit:
1. Drink more water – you can help to flush out the Caffeine in your system by drinking a lot more water throughout the day.
2. Try Dandelion and Chicory root blend tea – this tea is a great Coffee substitute as it looks like Coffee and it still has a rich flavor. You can also add oat milk or almond milk if you prefer it creamy. This stuff is rich in minerals, provides energy and is also known for its detoxifying properties.
3. Get plenty of rest – when you take Caffeine away, your body won’t know what’s hit it. Without that false energy, you will most likely feel tired and more lethargic than usual. Be gentle with yourself and honor your body with more sleep and rest.
So Good Luck, this is going to be a tough week. Any questions let me know and I’ll check in, in the week to see how you’re getting on.
Fertility simply refers to a couple’s chances of becoming pregnant. If you are fertile, than there is a good chance that you will become pregnant at some point in time. Though pregnancy may not happen right away, if both a man and a woman are fertile, they will conceive a child eventually. Certain factors play a key role in determining fertility. In order for a woman to be fertile she must produce a viable egg during each monthly cycle. In order for a man to be fertile he must be able to produce strong and healthy sperm that can fertilize this egg. Numerous factors play a part in these roles including your diet, lifestyle and stress management. Keeping in mind the following guidelines, they will increase both your chances of conceiving and improve the health of your baby also.
Start a 3 month plan incorporating Diet, Exercise, Lifestyle and Stress management.
Why 3 months?
It takes 3 months for eggs to mature and be ready for ovulation
Men also take 3 months to produce a batch of sperm
The body requires 3 months to eliminate toxins and increase to optimum nutrient status
Optimize nutrient intake using following information. Eat a diet sufficient in Carbohydrates, Fibre, EFA (essential fatty acids) with a healthy amount of protein.Drink plenty of water 6-8 250 ml glasses per day.
Decrease Saturated Fats
Increased amounts of Saturated Fats are associated with increase in oestrogen causing an oestrogen imbalance. They also trigger body to produce inflammatory substances which can also increase period pains. They also block the body’s ability to absorb Essential Fatty Acids or “good” fats.
Food Sources: Reduce meat and dairy. Avoid all processed foods, such as biscuits, cakes, white bread, white pasta, and white rice. Aim for whole foods in their natural state.
Increase your Good Fats
Especially the omega 3 as they help decrease inflammation in the body, hormone balance and development of a baby brain, eyes and nervous system.
Food Sources: You will find good fats especially Omega 3 in oily fish e.g. salmon, mackerel, trout, sardines, herring, fresh tuna. Also found in walnuts, flax and pumpkins. Vegetable sources include kale and cabbage.
Increase Fibre intake
Fibre helps control the levels of Oestrogen. Old oestrogen enters the gut where fibre binds and helps excrete it from the system thus preventing re-absorption of old oestrogen into circulatory system leading to oestrogen dominance and hormonal imbalance.
Soluble fibre: found in vegetables, fruit, oats and beans.
Vitamin C – can trigger ovulation, with Vitamin E it may keep you fertile longer and improve the quality of the eggs.
Food Sources: Fruit, vegetables, citrus fruits, berries, green vegetables such as brussel sprouts and cauliflower.
Vitamin E – plays an important role in egg production.
Food Sources: Seeds, nuts, egg yolk, oily fish and broccoli.
Folic Acid – critical to baby’s health and in lowering risk of low birth weight, premature birth, and/or neural tube defects, such as Spina Bifida and Anencephaly.
Vitamin A – Important for your baby’s embryonic growth – including the development of the heart, lungs, kidneys, eyes & bones and the circulatory , respiratory and central nervous system. It also helps with infection resistance and fat metabolism. It also helps to assure you that your cervical fluid will be sperm-nourishing, fertile consistency. It also increases the amount of fertile fluid.
Food Sources: Coloured fruit & vegetables.
Zinc – essential for conception. Important for men to ensure the head of the sperm is hard and can penetrate the egg to fertilise.
Magnesium: nuts, vegetables, brown rice, eggs & sunflower seeds.
Manganese: help boost sperm quality, improves health of baby.
Food Sources: Wholegrains, seeds, leafy green vegetables, green beans, sweet potatoes, onions, strawberries, bananas, apples & eggs.
Selenium: essential for sperm production.
Food Sources: Found in eggs, nuts (Brazil), broccoli & garlic.
Calcium: needed for babies bones, teeth & nervous system.
Food Sources: Organic dairy products, salmon, oranges, prunes, sesame seeds, almonds, pulses, wholegrains and green leafy vegetables.
Royal Jelly: Royal Jelly is rich in amino acids (29 to be exact), lipids, sugars, some vitamins, fatty acids and most importantly, proteins. It contains high levels of vitamin D and E as well as ample levels of Iron & Calcium.
Evening primrose oil: This is an essential fatty acid that you can take from your period until ovulation to improve fertile mucus. It is not recommended to take this after ovulation as it can cause mild contractions in the uterus and prevent implantation.
Co Q 10: Improves ovulation and even rejuvenates eggs so that they act like younger eggs, can be linked to higher success rates in IVF. In men it is thought to have a protective action on sperm, improving the count and motility.
Exercising encourages hormonal balance which in turn increases your fertility, aim for 30 mins a day gentle exercise. Try incorporate Yoga or Pilates to de-stress.
Chronic stress leads to high levels of the hormone cortisol, however in order to continually make cortisol your body requires progesterone, decreasing the amount available for your fertility cycle. Stress can also affect the release of other hormones necessary for your cycle. It can also affect libido inevitably affecting chances of conceiving.
Detox your lifestyle
Avoid environmental toxins e.g. organic foods as much as possible, avoid plastic containers and bottles which contain xenoestrogens disrupting your hormone balance and instead use cast iron, steel or glass cookware.
Watch your weight
A certain amount of body fat is essential for conception however if too low you may stop ovulation. If it is too high, it can interfere with ovulation as excess fat causes imbalance in the ratios of reproductive hormones. Men being overweight can affect the quality and quantity of your sperm. Achieve optimal weight through healthy eating and exercise.
Coffee can delay conception for a year, its best to try to avoid completely if you can.
Alcohol may increase production of oestrogen. Alcohol may decrease fertility by half and increase risk of miscarriage. 1-2 glasses of wine ok if special occasion only, however if you experience any hormonal imbalances it is best to avoid completely.
Smoking may increase the risk of miscarriage; it may decrease oestrogen by interfering with ability of cells in the ovaries to make oestrogen. Smoking can increase the rate at which a woman loses eggs causing early onset of the menopause.
It is always best to try to get your daily Vitamins, Minerals and Essential fatty acid’s through food sources, but this is not always possible, this is when supplementation comes in.
Female Vitamins & Minerals to maximise Fertility
Pre-natal Multi Vitamin & Mineral – improves nutritional status
B complex – reduces stress and is a nervous system tonic
B6 – synthesis of RNA & DNA – will be in B complex
Folic Acid – 400mcg
EPA (essential fatty acids) – for healthy glandular function and hormone balancer
Selenium – deficiency is linked to infertility
Vitamin E – use D-alpha-topherol form, carries oxygen to sex glands
Zinc – for cell division
Vitamin C – improves hormone levels
Vitamin D – boost levels of progesterone and estrogen, which regulate the menstrual cycle & improve the likelihood of successful conception
Co-enzyme Q 10 – needed for basic functioning of cells and fertility benefit for women with low egg reserve
Royal Jelly – has been shown to help balance hormones, to increase libido and support egg health
Evening Primrose oil – improve fertile mucus
Male Vitamins & Minerals to maximise Fertility
Multi Vitamin & Mineral – to improve nutritional status
Vitamin E – increases sperm count and carries oxygen to sex organs – D-alpha-topherol form
Vitamin C – helps to manufacture healthy sperm, prevents sperm from sticking together and can improve their motility, can increase sperm up to 1/3 – 500mg twice a day
Vitamin D – essential for the healthy development of the nucleus of the sperm cell, and helps maintain semen quality and sperm count. Vitamin D also increases levels of testosterone, which may boost libido
Zinc – cell division and improves desire & ejaculation
Selenium – lack of selenium is linked with sterility
Vitamin B Complex – stress and nervous system tonic
L-Arginine & L-Carnitine – crucial for male fertility and sperm development
Coenzyme Q10 – energy for sperm
I treat fertility patients with Acupuncture and Naturopathy. For advice on recommended daily amounts, the best brands and where to get supplements please contact me.