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Hi, I am Dr. Martha Lucas, and I am here to talk to you about the fertility and importance of the earth element. This is part one of a presentation. I would like to thank the American Acupuncture Council for allowing me to present this information to you. I have. More than 20 years of experience in Chinese medicine.
I have a private practice in Denver and also work in a western medicine clinic in Littleton, Colorado. So let’s go to the slides.
We all know the importance of good digestive health for good overall health. Digestion is how we make our energy, and that’s why I am sure that we all focus on all of our patients having good digestion. It turns out that gut health is very important for couples who are trying to conceive, because poor gut health can cause hormonal imbalance.
And when I’m talking about the earth element, of course I’m talking about spleen and stomach or digestion. And again, we know that. For example, earth and Metal, make up the immune system and earth and water make up the hormonal system. So we’re gonna be talking in these two presentations about the importance of Earth.
But again, and you all know this, we never just treat that standing alone, right? We’re always gonna treat all of the channels, all the organ systems, but hormonal imbalance would be Earth and . Kidneys, earth and water together and hormonal imbalances is one of the leading causes of infertility in both men and women.
And if you’ve heard me talk about fertility treatments before, you know that I treat the man and the woman. It’s yin and yang coming together, right? 40% of the time the fertility issue is the male’s issue. So it is very important that we also treat the male. And it is very important that we treat all the organ systems.
For example, if all you do is tonify the kidneys in water, but the dmai is blocked, then you’re, you could potentially be creating some toxic heat with all your ification. So that’s why in these presentations, I express the need to treat more than one organ system, and we are gonna be focusing on Earth in this part one and next time, part two.
When the gut microbiota is out of balance, it can lead to low grade inflammation throughout the body, including the product reproductive organs. So this is another reason why it’s so important to have the gut or the earth and Chinese medicine working well in, in western medicine, they call it the gut brain axis and the microbiome and the microbiota.
We call it earth or spleen and stomach. , that kind of inflammation, that kind of low grade inflammation can interfere with hormone production and signaling activity leading to irregular menstrual cycles, ovulation problems, and reductions in sperm quality. So you can see those are three causes, if you will, of.
Infertility or having a fertility challenge. I don’t like to use the word infertility because I feel like it’s a damning diagnosis. You’re infertile, oh, where do I go from there? So that’s why I tend to say fertility challenges. Changes or imbalances in the gut. Microbiome diversity or the gut microbiota can cause reduction or an increase in the levels of estrogen.
So either a reduction or an increase in levels of estrogen. In other words, an imbalance in estrogen, which also can lead to irregular menstrual cycles, irregular periods in terms of the bleeding part, impaired ovulation, P C O S, endometriosis. And again, all of those will ultimately or can ultimately affect fertility success.
So again, we see the importance of a balanced digestion. Unexplained infertility has been linked to systemic inflammation. Which I just said can be caused by gut imbalance and oxidative stress caused by imbalance in the gut microbiome.
Gut inflammation has been linked to decreased progesterone again. Leading to what looked like fertility challenges. Progesterone is responsible for healthy endometrial lining and implantation. So when it is low, and believe it or not, experts still aren’t really certain what too low is but when it is too low because of chronic inflammation, it can lead to implantation failure or recurrent miscarriages.
Immune system failure, sometimes caused by inflammation can lead to anti sperm antibodies, which attack the sperm and prevent implantation. Now, immune system failure would be autoimmune, right? And remember I said earlier, earth and metal, so spleen, stomach, lung, large intestine are our immune system, . We would need to, in that case, be treating, making certain, we’re getting the digestion balance, treating the immune system organ systems, and also the water.
Now the terrain is everything. This means I’m referring back to a very old argument that Pastore and Bernard had about . Is it the pathogen or is it the body’s ability to fight? And the story goes that Bernard was the one, the scientist who said, it’s so important to have important di good digestion, a good body.
And when you have a good healthy body, you can fight off germs. And of course, pastor was like, no, it’s the germ. It’s the germ. And the story goes that on his deathbed pastor said Claude Nar. Claude was right. The terrain is everything. And in Chinese medicine, that’s what we think, right?
Chinese medicine is . Primarily a preventive medicine. We’re always in our symptom mind, right? How often does a patient come in and say, I feel great, and I just wanna continue to feel great, so give me a treatment. We never do that with Western Medicine. We can’t even imagine it, right? We go in once a year for our annual exam, we feel great we make sure everything’s.
All our numbers are good, but we can’t imagine going in once a month and saying, Hey, Dr. Stroll, how you doing? But that’s how our medicine works. We get people healthy. I always tell people when they wanna know, how often should they come in? I always say how soon do you wanna get better? If this symptom is really bothering you, then I need to see you three times a week for just
Two weeks maybe, and then two times a week and one time a week. And we’ll get you to the point where I see you once a month. That’s because I believe the terrain is everything I have to get their digestion working well get their body working well again, get everything balanced and then we’ll move on to don’t let your symptom come back.
And if it does, the caveat is see you in a month. But if you need to come in earlier, then you need to come in earlier. The human gut is home to trillions of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microorganisms that are collectively known as the microbiome. This complex ecosystem plays a crucial role in various aspects of health, including digestion, immune function, and even mental wellbeing.
The gut brain axis is very important to keep in balance. For issues like anxiety and depression. So all of those are related to the gut. The composition of the gut microbiome is influenced by a multitude of factors including diet, lifestyle, medication use, and of course stress levels. By nurturing the gut, women may be able to support their fertility journey and improve their chances of conceiving a healthy gut may just be the unexpected key to unlocking the door to parenthood.
So let’s go into some of the specifics about the gut brainin axis, and their impact on fertility. First of all, there’s nutrient absorption and metabolism. The gut microbiome aids in the breakdown and absorption of nutrients from our diet. Of course, balanced good digestion, . We’re going to be able to successfully absorb nutrients.
Certain gut bacteria are responsible for producing essential vitamins and metabolizing hormones. There we go with the hormone, the hormonal aspect or the hormonal connection imbalances in the gut microbiota can impair nutrient absorption leading to deficiencies in key nutrients that are required for reproductive health like folate, iron, and vitamin D.
Estrogen metabolism is another important thing about the gut estrogen. A hormone that we know is crucial for female fertility undergoes a process called metabolism in the gut. Imbalances in the gut microbiota can alter the process leading to imbalances in estrogen levels. Excessive levels of estrogen or the accumulation of certain estrogen metabolites can disrupt the delicate hormonal balance that is necessary for conception and successful pregnancy.
Remember, we have to carry it through from successful conception through successful normal natural birth. A normal, healthy birth, rather normal, healthy birth. Healthy mom is the ultimate goal. Continuing with estrogen metabolism in the gut, estrogen is needed for proper ovulation and thickening of the uterine wall for pregnancy Balanced estrogen, but excess estrogen can cause irregular periods and prevent ovulation, thereby causing
Infertility or fertility challenge. Further, estrogen dominance has been linked to endometriosis and P C O S. Estrogen deficiency, on the other hand, can cause. Amenorrhea, which is absence of periods, which leads to anovulation, disorders of ovulation, actually account for 30% of female for infertility. So here we go again with the importance of the gut and hormones.
Estrogen has an important role in male fertility as well. It affects multiple organs and tissue in the male. A deficit or a surplus of estrogen can hinder the male libido and spermatogenesis, which is an inappropriate increase in extra diol, which is an estrogen steroid hormone that has been shown to lead to a decrease in sperm production.
And also too little estrogen in males has shown to have a causative effect on erectile dysfunction. Stress and mental health. As I said earlier, the gut brain axis, the gut is a bidirectional communication pathway between the gut and the brain, and it plays a vital role in mental health and also in stress regulation that can lead to things like anxiety and depression.
Stress can influence the gut microbiota composition, which in turn can affect fertility, high levels of stress, can disrupt hormone production, interfere with ovulation and reduce sperm quality. It’s why I would love to have the time to do a retrospective study of when couples give up or decide to adopt how many get pregnant, and it’s, I
Think it’s a, seems in my fertility practice like it’s a fairly large number, and I’ve always surmised that it’s because their level of stress goes down, their level of struggle goes down. Gut health and the thyroid. When there is an imbalance in the microbiome, it impacts immunologic and metabolic functions.
A study in 2015 found that hypo and hyperthyroidism were associated with small intestinal bacteria overgrowth, or what’s called sibo. And other studies have found a relationship between dysbiosis, which is an in general name for imbalance or inflammation in the . Gut and thyroid nodules. Underactive thyroid can affect fertility in a variety of ways.
It causes decreased cellular energy, meaning less mitochondria on ovarian cells leading to irregular or absent periods. It may increase prolactin, which suppresses ovulation, and it may lead to a decrease insulin sensitivity, which means more insulin in the blood. Increases androgens, which then disrupt ovulation and is especially detrimental to women who have P C O S.
Fortunately, there are steps that individuals and couples can take to optimize their gut health and enhance their fertility. Eat a balanced diet, okay? Blah, blah, blah. We hear that all the time, right? Modern medicine suggests eating a diverse range of whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and fermented foods to promote a healthy gut microbiome.
these foods provide essential nutrients and promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. Chinese medicine recommends eating what we call earth foods, right? Ones that are sweet in nature or taste sweet according to the theory of Chinese medicine, not . Cakes and cookies and are earth colored, so yellows, oranges, browns, and also warm in temperature.
Again, either warm physically, like we’ve actually warmed it up or warm in nature according to the theory of Chinese medicine. Now prebiotics and probiotics. Probiotics are live bacteria that can be found in certain foods like yogurt, or they can be taken as supplements. They can help restore the balance of the gut Bacteria.
Prebiotics, on the other hand, are non-digestible fibers found in certain fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and they nourish the gut bacteria. Also, there’s stress reduction to help couples engaging in some stress. Reducing activities such as exercise, meditation, and mindfulness can positively impact both gut health and subsequently fertility.
These practices do help regulate the gut brain axis and promote a healthier gut microbiota.
Research has found that women with recurrent pregnancy loss, A number of miscarriages show a higher prevalence of undiagnosed gut disorders. In particular, women with recurrent pregnancy loss were found to have abnormal gut permeability, which was found to contribute to the inflammatory reactions in the body that we talked about are earlier.
The researchers hypothesize that the inflammatory reaction caused by dysbiosis may be contributing to miscarriage pathogenesis. And they recommend that proper diagnosis and treatment of intestinal disorders in order to improve pregnancy outcomes. Very important for those particular women. Further, the gut microbiome is responsible for converting bound estrogen to free active estrogen according to a recent review.
Without a healthy microbiome, estrogen metabolism and function becomes impaired and can lead to a number of health consequences, including endometriosis, P C O S, hyperplasia and infertility or fertility challenge. It seems that we are finding out that treating the gut microbiome to modulate estrogen levels should be considered as a future treatment or a current treatment for estrogen mediated diseases, including infertility.
An interesting meta-analysis found that women with unexplained infertility, so that’s. The problem when your doctor says, oh, sorry, you’re infertile, and we don’t know why. They have a three and a half, 3.5 times higher odds of having celiac disease. In fact, it’s estimated that an Good percentage of women struggling with unexplained infertility actually have undiagnosed celiac disease, and it’s been suggested that unexplained infertility may actually be the first sign of celiac disease in some women.
Now, as I mentioned earlier, chronic inflammation may impact recurrent pregnancy loss. It also may cause decreased progesterone, which leads to implantation failure and the development of autoimmune processes that impact fertility. Now, women may think that this doesn’t pertain to them because they don’t have any gut symptoms.
Unfortunately, the absence of gas, bloating, stomach pain, Does not necessarily indicate good gut health, although the token symptoms of gut dysfunction do indicate something is wrong. A complete absence of symptoms does not indicate that you have a properly functioning digestive tract. They might be having regular bowel movements, no cramping, no gas, but it by no means guarantees that their gut is in good shape.
In fact, you can feel pretty good. It turns out, as I’ve seen in with people’s pulses for years and years, they tell me they don’t have any digestive issues and it turns out that they actually do. So some non digestive symptoms that may be a red flag with your fertility patients include . Constant hunger or cravings.
Now that would be earth and stomach, maybe stomach, heat, brain fog and diminished memory, kidney and earth, joint and muscle pain. Again, kidneys and earth or chronic fatigue, kidneys and earth or signs of estrogen deficiency or dominance, kidney and earth. So you can see all of these non digestive symptoms include Earth in our medicine.
So food allergies are another thing, as well as seasonal allergies. Those are earth and metal. Those can be an early red flag. Frequent colds and flu, earth and metal skin issues like eczema, acne, rosacea. Earth and metal or autoimmune issues, earth and metal. So again, you can see earth involved in these maybe red flags for fertility issues.
And as you can see in the bottom, there’s my pulse diagnosis diagram. And you can see that infinity symbol, which is literally the attachment of sign waves this way, sign waves that way, which is yang and yin. You can see that all of the organ systems need to be balanced and communicating with each other.
If we are going to create a warm, fertile environment for proper conception, successful conception, and a healthy birth, healthy mother. All right, so next time we are going to talk in part two about fertility and the importance of earth and a little more specifics about particular foods, ideas for combinations of foods.
Again, we’ll probably talk about the importance of pulse diagnosis and some ideas. In that realm. And so I wanna thank you for listening and also thank the American Acupuncture Council for allowing me to present this information. You can see my teaching website, which is lucas teachings.com, or contact email@example.com, which is my private practice site.
So I’ll see you next time. .