Integrating East and Western Medicine in Fertility


Hello and welcome to another edition of, to the point a show, very generously produced by the American Acupuncture Council, um, Virginia Doran of luminous beauty. And today my guest is, uh, a longtime colleague and friend is Tsao-lin Moy, and, uh, she’s been practicing for 18 years in New York city. Uh, she founded the Integrative Healing Arts Center and she has many accomplishments and has just been a publicity magnet. Uh, and also she published a book called will I ever get pregnant?

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Disclaimer: The following is an actual transcript. We do our best to make sure the transcript is as accurate as possible, however, it may contain spelling or grammatical errors.  Due to the unique language of acupuncture, there will be errors, so we suggest you watch the video while reading the transcript.

The smart woman’s guide to getting pregnant naturally over 40. So, because she has many areas of specialty, but because she has this on fertility, she’s our guest today. And she’s going to talk about integrating Eastern and Western medicine in fertility. So, uh, without further ado Tsao, um, please love to hear, you know, your approach because I know you’re very adept at combining the two, which I think is important for this kind of condition, Virginia, and yes, thank you to the American acupuncture council for producing these Facebook live shows.

Um, so I’ll, let’s, uh, we’ll start. Um, so I’m going to talk about integrating Eastern Western medicine and in particular with fertility, but as practitioners of East Asian medicine, um, we all are now really integrating what we do with Western medicine. And, uh, so what I’m going to use is this presentation that is from fertility, uh, summit, and I’ll be kind of adding a little bit and changing up as we go through the different slides. Okay. Um, so it’s really, you know, more and more, uh, we’re starting look at, uh, patients that want are looking for natural, uh, remedies and, and to be able to do both. And so one of these things is, you know, looking at what is Eastern medicine’s approach compared to Western medicine. And, um, so these are, how would, uh, change Chinese medicine relate to improving fertility, but this also relates to how can it improve our health outcomes.

And, uh, and especially right now in the time of COVID, right, there’s a lot of, uh, post, uh, COVID viral fatigue, a lot of, uh, inflammation and Chinese medicine acupuncture is fantastic for that. A lot of questions that come up with fertility are age factors. Uh, and of course we’ve been listening in the news that, uh, there are like 55 year olds that are able to actually, uh, you know, bear children or carry, right. Um, and, and really is looking at what is the best approach. And if I was speaking to a, uh, you know, patient population, what’s the best approach for them. And, uh, you as, uh, practitioners, you know, looking at what is the best approach you can offer to your patients, um, that you feel comfortable with and they feel comfortable with, um, and this would be with acupuncture and herbs. And if you also have other, uh, you know, types of healing methods, uh, that you can also offer, of course you would add those in, uh, accordingly.

And so we remember the Chinese medicine is really, um, something that is personalized medicine, and that is what makes a big difference. Uh, Virginia already kind of went over my, um, a little bit of my bio. Um, I know Virginia, we both graduated from tri-state college of acupuncture. Uh, so, um, we’re kind of, we’re in this family tree of learning and, and, uh, and also helping more people to heal themselves. So I’m gonna, I’m going to just speak, uh, we don’t need to know more about me, let me go move forward here. Um, so really the, um, when you’re working with, uh, infertility and especially women, um, really it’s that, you know, patient and practitioner, uh, relationship, uh, that we have empathy, you know, for what they’re going through, and then we can also help them to solve their problem. And that would be, they want to have a baby, they wanna have a healthy baby.

Right. And, uh, um, so why is Eastern medicine? It’s a better model and can serve better serve women better that are experiencing infertility. This also applies to really overall health. So looking at, you know, how we as East Asian medicine practitioners really kind of fit into this big umbrella of a health model. Um, uh, now with regard to infertility, statistics are one in eight couples are experiencing infertility in the U S and, um, this is not just the us, but also overseas. And we’re looking at as a global health problem, it’s estimated 12 to 15% of all couples are experiencing infertility, meaning they are not able to get pregnant, uh, on their own or within, uh, the time, you know, that would, that would, uh, it should, let’s say, quote should take. Um, and, and really we’re looking at infertility is also more of it is coming from the male aspect.

Uh, one of the side effects of COVID-19 is they’re looking at a can cause sterility in men. And so a lot of the focus has been on, you know, female fertility, egg, quality, um, ABI, elation, uh, uh, hormone imbalances, and a lot of not, uh, not a lot of attention until recently. Um, has there been attention more on the male aspect of it and really it’s, uh, you know, important that this is a collaboration, right. Um, so one in a third couples, uh, the problem can’t really be identified, it’s considered kind of, uh, you know, unexplained or in fertility. Uh, and, and, and in that case, it could, it could be, you know, a little bit of, of both, uh, or there’s some underlying, um, issue that has not been addressed, which we address very well in, in Chinese medicine. Um, so I wanted to just highlight a little bit that, you know, the Western medicine model is one we call like broken and fix.

And so it’s treating the symptoms, right? You, you like, you’re, you’re better if you don’t have a cough, but the underlying aspect of it is like, why did you get the cough? You’re run down, maybe there’s something else. And this is what applies with, uh, couples that are experiencing infertility and also in general, our overall health, why aren’t we recovering? And, um, so a lot of it can be, you know, the, the, the model in Western medicine is going to be vaccinate antibiotics, antivirals, right. And that’ll help to get rid of something, but there is damage in its wake. And then also, you know, the recovery, uh, so things like, uh, infertility treatments, when you go to a fertility clinic, it isn’t without risk, right? Because the, um, the hormones have side effects. And also a lot of the procedures are pretty invasive and, uh, they don’t necessarily work.

And they’re also very expensive. Um, but this is not to say you don’t do that. You, you know, you tell your patients don’t go and see a, um, a fertility specialist. It’s really like how, if, if they’re at that point, how can you help them on their journey? Right. And so coming from the aspect of, you know, Chinese medicine, East Asian medicine, is really, we’re looking at there’s more than the physical that’s there. I mean, as a Chinese medicine practitioner, we really practice, this is energy, right. We work with cheap, we work with energy and, and that is in our language. Right. Um, so the, you know, there is also this aspect of what I wanted to also, uh, kind of highlight in the Western model. They really separate out that spirituality, um, the mind-body connection. And, uh, one of the, the, the strengths of Chinese medicine is really where we’re cultivating that connection.

How do we help our patients? Um, so this is a, another, just a bride that explained, you know, infertility is on the rise and there’s also an infertility industry. It’s actually a growing industry, right. Because there’s a lot of money to be made. And, um, here’s a picture, this is what a couples are looking for. This is the end, what they’re looking for. Right. Um, so where does industry, there’s going to be a lot of, uh, pressure for, uh, your patients to do hormones, et cetera, et cetera. And you’re, you probably are. If they have decided they’re going to do that, it’s not that you’re not gonna be able to change their mind. Um, but what you need to do is look at a collaboration, um, with your patient and also, uh, with the, um, the fertility or the, uh, assisted reproductive therapist. And really, um, what does the Chinese medicine ma is what’s different than let’s say a Western model is really that we are looking at that the healing is taking place in the individual. We’re not curing them or facilitators. Right. And I think it’s really important, um, that we, we remember this point is like,

We are treating the who, not the what.

Right. Um, it’s very easy. And, and I, and I do see it in a lot of our profession to start to talk about treating the symptom and forgetting, or not forgetting, but maybe not so much the focus on who that, you know, who is the person that is experiencing that. And, um, this is something to remember as a practitioner and especially with infertility because, um, a lot of statistics are gonna show over 35, um, hormone imbalances, and then, you know, what are your chances of getting pregnant? And while there are statistics that are useful, what’s important is, is that your patient or the patients that are coming to see you, that is not them in the statistic. It may have relevance, but always to remember that, um, this connection that you’re going to help them with is physical, emotional, energetic, and spiritual. And this is this looking at this whole health perspective.

And so Virginia, if you have any questions or you want to interrupt me, please feel free, um, how you’re kind of differentiating the whole health model from Western medicine, but you’ve, you’ve answered it. Okay. All right. I just want to like, but the, so the, the, the, the topic is really integrating. So even, um, so there, it is possible that if, uh, if you have patients that are using, let’s say Western remedies, that you can still come at, uh, the, uh, you know, helping them from an Eastern model from that whole health model. Right. Um, one of the things I’m going to move on with this, about the, the, the rates, because we know that, you know, with the, the limited or, or very narrow, uh, research that has been done with acupuncture, it’s very, um, successful or at the same time, the way that some of these, uh, studies have been designed are really kind of like, wow, you know, some, you know, uh, can you cure for stage four cancer?

Well, it’s kind of like, almost nothing is able to help. And then you’re asking, you know, like, Oh, let’s, let’s throw something this way and see if it really works. And then we’ll write a study that says, Oh yeah, this doesn’t work for stage four cancer. Okay. So we always have to look at, you know, like the studies and their relevance and, and not let, um, I would say, uh, the scientific model define the kind of medicine that we do, and also influence us in a way that we start to, um, look at, Oh, this treats that, that treats that we really want to remember, you know, the, the person that we’re keeping that we’re treating. And so, as a reminder, you know, Chinese medicine, East Asian medicine has a, the aspect is about balance. And these are the Dallas principles of dynamic balance of yin and yang.

So this is, uh, going back to, you know, foundations of Chinese medicine, one Oh one. Um, and I don’t know about you, Virginia, what I’ve found is, is that they’re simple and they explain everything and, and, and very, uh, you know, the more that you’re practicing, you’re the more you’re understanding that dynamic balance. Right. Um, so in terms of a, let’s say a strategy when we’re looking at what is within our S in the body, let’s say for, let’s say a woman’s body, um, or a man’s, we’re looking at what is the union young that’s out of balance. And so, uh, this could be like hormones, it could be sleep. It could be their relationship with their partner, uh, where they’re living, where they’re working. Um, and then of course, how that manifests for them in terms of maybe they have irregular cycles, nonambulatory cycles, uh, fibroids, uh, other, uh, let’s say, uh, symptoms of another, I would say, are symptoms of something being out of balance, right?

So even if a woman gets surgery for fibroids, whatever was kind of causing it, the mechanism still needs to be addressed, right? And so this is something that we do really well, uh, important, uh, is to that relationship with your patient is also educating them and empowering them to know more about their body, right. And this is again, uh, we’re facilitating, you know, helping them to create a stronger mind, body connection. Uh, it’s also known as interoception where they, where you develop that sense of understanding what is happening inside your body. Uh, this is also important for us as practitioners, that we develop a practice, a mind-body practice, so that we also can share that energy with our patients. Um, and in terms of, let’s say a treatment strategy, uh, when we’re looking at, uh, fertility, but also with whomever is going to come into your practice.

We want to regulate what’s the yin and yang, right. And, um, the, the approach, I would say, no matter what, you’re going to be looking at, regulating the nervous system, right. Helping with sleep digestion, and that in turn is going to help to balance their hormones. So different methods of treatment that we use, um, acupuncture for sure. Um, if there are herbs that are appropriate and you have the training, that’s something, uh, bodywork, uh, we can use essential oils, meditation exercise, and also, um, you know, when we’re speaking with our patients, we actually do a lot of mindset work, right. We’re actually helping them to navigate through their difficult and to reframe for them, or help them to reframe the, uh, you know, the challenge that they are experiencing. And, uh, one thing that we know, and also using food and herbs and, and maybe changing their environment.

One thing that we know with, um, acupuncture in the research is, is that it does shift brain chemistry and affect neuropeptides in the brain that actually, uh, stimulate that self-healing aspect, uh, as well, like as well as, um, immune response. And so this is great for what we do. Recent studies have shown that acupuncture is helpful in reducing the inflammation from the cytokine storms that a lot of people have experienced from COVID-19 and continue in a post viral syndrome. So with women’s health, um, according to Chinese medicine, and this year, this is a review, um, it’s really her menstrual health. Her, the health of her uterus is a really good indication of the overall health of her body. Um, in a Western model, this is something known as the endocrine system, or that regulates the functions of the entire body. So when we’re looking at a woman’s health, and in terms of, you know, is she, it as she, her fertility health, we really want to also look at her overall health, right?

Cause overall health, if you’re overall healthy, then you’re going to have healthy reproduction. And, uh, this is a good clue for, for all of us that we have to kind of like look at overall health, uh, and constitution, no matter what someone is coming with. Right. And, um, I know, uh, you know, acupuncture is fantastic for treating pain conditions, right? Sprained ankles, uh, uh, low back pain sleep problems. Uh, but those are also symptoms of something bigger what’s happening in their nervous system, uh, with an injury. Why aren’t they healing after a certain period of time? Um, so someone who’s really healthy, it doesn’t mean they won’t get injured. Um, what will happen is, is that after a certain period of time, they should reach full recovery. Uh, mostly, uh, what I see in my practice and definitely in the, I believe in the Western world is that, uh, the amount of time for recovery is not a given or, uh, that, uh, people go back to activities, uh, much soon, uh, you know, too soon and have not fully healed. And then what happens is that they end up having long-term, uh, lingering problems that they can’t quite figure out. Right. Um, so, you know, one of the things, again, is that, you know, with Chinese medicine, East Asian medicine, is that it’s very personalized. Um, we’re not a one size fits all. Um, we really need to look at the whole person. And as a reminder, a lot of times there are things that, um, maybe we’re not going to CA we won’t catch if we become too. Micro-focus.

Let’s see. Do you agree?

I’m wondering, um, just curiosity, about what percentage would you estimate, uh, women come for fertility from a deficiency based cause versus like a, you know, obstruction of cheat?

Well, I mean, that’s an interesting, because you can have obstruction of chief from deficiency, right. Um, I would say that there’s much more deficiency, not necessarily blood deficiency, but exhaustion. So a lot of efficiency, a lot of stress. And again, looking at, uh, you know, constitutionally here, we’re con we’re on the go, we, you know, we need to do more, a lot of the women that come to see me, they are like, Oh, maybe I should like start exercising, or let me start this, you know, let me add something in versus, you know, take something away. So having these, uh, very, uh, intense workouts that it’s, it’s not too, that you don’t want to exercise. It’s really like exercising more is not helpful if you’re tired and you’re not getting enough rest. So I think, you know, that’s, um, you know, yin tends towards deficiency.

Young tends towards excess, very famous words from our, uh, the founder, right. Um, that, uh, the it’s, it really becomes there’s this imbalance that starts to happen, right. Uh, uh, women, uh, you know, they have, uh, I would say that they, as they get aged, they’re definitely moving towards a deficiency. You know, there’s the, the, the bleeding, um, if they carry children, lot of their, uh, their DJing, their essence is being used, their blood is being used. Um, and this is, you know, compared to who men women’s bodies are, the ones that undergo a, a trip, like a change every month, a transformation through the menstrual cycle. Does that make sense? Would it,

No. Okay. So

The health and healing using East Asian medicine is really, if we look at a whole health model, right, uh, what’s happening, uh, in their life, you know, women, especially for women, women, very social, they’re usually doing a lot more, they’re searching, uh, to, you know, find out what’s wrong. Uh, they’re the caregivers. Um, what we’re seeing is, um, so then to kind of answer your question even more, uh, women tend towards getting much more depleted, definitely energetically and emotionally. Uh, and, and this is really being exemplified right now with the, um, the COVID-19 situation. Like so many women, suddenly, even if we’re working from home, they, um, have taken on the additional burdens of, uh, taking care of the kids, managing the school, uh, really, you know, organizing. And, uh, I think there was one study that showed, you know, when they asked the, the, the men, like, well, how many hours of how many productive hours do you have? Uh, it was like, Oh, I’ve got like 35, 40 hours a week productive. And for women, there were like 11, you know, because they had, uh, so much more to, um, take care of. Right. And so this is something to also take into account when we’re looking at overall health in particular with, uh, you know, women who are trying to get pregnant. Okay. So this is actually, um, at the end of the slide, so I’m going to stop the share. Right. Okay. Um,

Let’s see what else there is. I mean, obviously there’s an app for this, but what inspired you to write your book? Well, you know, Virginia, so many women that, um, come to me or just suffering, they had a lot of failure from, uh, trying to get pregnant. They had, oftentimes we’re not the first, uh, you know, the first stop they go through, uh, several cycles of IUI or IVF. They’ve tried many different things. Um, I’ve noticed that a lot of my patients, when they come to see me, they’ve already done a few cycles and they’re really at this, uh, point of frustration and struggle. And, you know, I looked at the statistics is actually very interesting where they came from. Um, I had to, to track it down because everywhere it was like the same statistic almost verbatim. And then I found a journalist who had done the research, and apparently those numbers come from, uh, churches in France from like 1682, eight 30, where they looked at baptism records and the, the maternal age.

Right. So we’re looking at, you know, 17th century birth records, and then they, they did an analysis and they were like, Oh, only a certain percentage of the, the women were over a particular age. And so they use that as a guidance and, and it, and it is a statistic, it’s an accurate statistic for that aspect. So this is where we start to get into a lot of the studies and the research. And, but what isn’t taken into consideration is, you know, did they have children before, um, you know, how about, uh, other illnesses, you know, there wasn’t any hygiene, right? A lot of, uh, there were a lot of women that were dying in childbirth, or there were a lot of infections, there was child mortality. Um, there was the living conditions were horrific, right. So kind of using that model or using that, and then applying it to right now where we have, you know, good nutrition, we have education, we have housing, we have a lot of things that, uh, the women and the families didn’t have then.

And so, uh, and also nutrition wise, right. So this is something that, you know, looking at, you know, where is the information coming from? You know, how accurate is it? How can you, how does that really apply to your circumstances? Right. So I say, yes, there’s truth in those numbers, but is it your truth? Right. So that’s a, that’s a whole other discussion. And then, you know, because we do very personalized medicine that, you know, we, you know, the, the, the chances of getting pregnant, the odds it’s much higher. Right. And especially even if, you know, a woman decides that she’s going to do IVF or IUI, as soon as they add in the acupuncture increases like tremendously the success rate.

Hmm. Yeah. So what, what are the general statistics, acupuncture helping for infertility? Well, you know, that’s actually a very tricky question. Um, the one statistic that we ha that was really done is a pretty old, I think it was from 2003 and was the German study that had done just very limited, like a certain protocol of numbers. And they had increased the, um, the success rate by like 42%. It was a very high percentage. Um, and the women were all, like, it was really like women that got acupuncture versus women that did not get acupuncture and really to bring those numbers to, let’s say 42%. That’s huge. Right. So aside from have there been other studies done, um, recently, uh, bad. I don’t know, uh, statistically, we also look at, um, and this is what I tell my patients, you know, when you go to a fertility clinic, the fertility clinic is really seeing people who are struggling.

And so those numbers, there are many women, many, uh, you know, couples that have children later, but since they don’t have a problem, they’re not going to show up as a, in the statistics. Right. So it’s like, Oh, you know, when somebody works in the emergency room, they see the worst things that happen. Um, but there’s like a whole other population that don’t get sick or don’t have heart disease, or don’t have, uh, those things. And so when we start to look at data, we have to really look at, you know, much more individually, what is going on for that person. I mean, we do all have, you know, commonality, the biology, et cetera, et cetera. Um, but you know, our destiny, our health destiny is really something that we can make a difference and make changes, you know, for the better, it’s not set in stone.

Right. Right. And of course, you know, it, the results are only increased when it’s combined with herbs and lifestyle and whatever that patient needs. So, absolutely. I mean, this, this is really a collaboration. And again, like to kind of re to reiterate, um, you know, this integration of East and West, it’s not an either, or it actually works much better when, um, you know, wherever your patient is on their journey. You know, they don’t necessarily all need hormones, but if they do, they’re there, right. And we want to look at, you know, how can we support that person for the best outcome. Right. And no matter what, what I look at it is that with the Chinese medicine model East Asian medicine model, is that we are supporting that whole person and helping them in the end, the result is that they can have a family.

Right. And so we had to look at like, how do we work really together for the best outcome? Right. And yeah, herbs. I mean, if, uh, I have a patient that is going through fertility treatments, of course, I always say, check with your doctor. Are they okay with you taking herbs? Like we really need to have that dialogue open, not like it’s a separate thing. And also I want to know, um, if somebody is taking different medications, um, so that we, we need to really be able to do what’s best. I would not recommend herbs for somebody if they’re already doing something pharmaceutically, uh, that, uh, well, we could have a discussion about is really, um, you know, maybe there’s a way to, uh, you know, lessen them or, you know, talk with your doctor about, you know, alternatives, or can we try something, um, always the patient’s safety, right. And, and, and, and the trust. Right. So, um, that’s what I we’re, you know, that’s how we’re going to work so much better and help a lot more people.

Yeah. So, well, you know, I’m so glad you were able to come today on such short notice and the timing was crazy, but, uh, it worked out and, uh, of course, you know, always, you know, give a hundred percent everything you do. So, you know, um, it’s just great to have you, uh, is there anything else you’d like to say before we wrap up? Well, um, what I would say is, is that right now is really the time for us, as, you know, Chinese medicine, practitioners, acupuncturists, alternative medicine, to really, you know, step up and real and be heard important to, you know, educate the public about, you know, what it is that we do. There is a lot more information that is coming out about acupuncture, herbs, you know, for health. Uh, and, uh, I know a lot of times practitioners tend to not want to post or write articles or, you know, get out there.

Um, but it’s important that, um, that we, as practitioners are visible, right. And that, uh, the public knows that we can help them. And we have a lot of other solutions, including, you know, pain instead of being on opioids. This is a huge issue, you know, that we are expert at helping people with pain. We are expert at helping people recover from surgery, uh, from nausea, uh, you know, helping immune system and more recently definitely for, you know, reducing inflammation, uh, you know, from this, you know, the inflammations from COVID-19 right. And so when, you know, everyone’s looking for the, the, the magic bullet of, uh, of a vaccine of a antibiotic of immunity that w you know, we, as practitioners can actually really help people have healthier lives. Right. All of the comorbidities that are out there, uh, we’re looking at a whole health model, and this is something that, you know, is going to make a big difference in terms of the quality of life for, uh, you know, the, the public.

And especially in America, we need a lot of help here. Uh, and, uh, but the important thing is, is that, uh, that as practitioners that we’re able to be found, and a lot of times practitioners, they just kind of like hide, you know, they’re they hide. Uh, so that’s what, um, that’s what I’d like to, to say to all my colleagues out there get visible. Well, you haven’t been hidden and that’s for sure. Um, well, thank you again, and thank you for the American Acupuncture Council for producing this. And, uh, I’m Virginia Doran, Uh, you can reach me there, uh, and, uh, on Facebook and Instagram. And, um, we’ll see you next time. Okay. Thanks for tuning in. Thanks.

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