Middleway Medicine Blog

Fertile Soil and Soul

by Ann Zimmerman, L.Ac.

My parents did not garden much, but my grandpa always kept a big vegetable garden and “pet” walnut tree. Whenever I visited with him, we would tinker in his garden: weeding, transplanting, turning soil, adding compost, and my favorite–picking ripe veggies. After moving to college in Northern Florida, I started my first garden. It was perfect and it was a tiny 2 ft x 2ft square, sandwiched between a parking lot, air conditioner, and my apartment door. Now, I appreciate my youthful zest to take on any piece of earth I could find. Despite this little piece of forgotten soil being far from fertile, it did not matter to me at 18 years old. However, I intuitively knew that I would need to nurture this soil before I could expect plants to grow.   

In Chinese medicine we recognize that one’s body’s fertility, like the earth’s, depends on how their ecosystem is nourished. Commonly, the concept of fertility is limited to reproduction or a certain age-range for people, but fertility is actually the greater expression of one’s health. Fertility can include our willingness to be receptive, nourished, and grow emotionally and spiritually; it certainly does not need to be limited to the ability to conceive or limited by menopause.

My clinical practice in Talent is focused on fertility. Weekly, I collaborate with couples as they endeavor to expand their families. When we begin our work together, we always look at the body like a garden. How is the soil and how is the weather internally? Can we change the soil or climate to make conditions better for fertility? Maybe it needs more or less heat, moisture, nutrients, or maybe the soil is rocky. Often we do adjust the physical weather and fertility returns and sometimes Western medical intervention is needed.  But always we talk about how to be more fertile as a whole being, beyond making a baby. Sometimes in the journey to reproduce, couples learn that what they are seeking is not a baby, but to feel more fertile in their soul. We explore together the emotions and negative effects of stress and limiting belief systems. We redirect the body’s focus to the parts that have been starved for attention and healing. 

Spring is the season of fertility. We can feel the rising of new energy as the days grow longer and the weather warmer. The will to remove old debris and make way for our new ideas and projects is the natural rhythm of this season. The impulse to clean our surroundings is mirrored in our body’s desire for more salads and healthier foods.  As we adapt to this new season, ask yourself how you can be more fertile. What can you do to adjust your own soil to make you more receptive, nourished, and pulsing with life? What do you need to clear away or nourish to encourage new growth?

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Fertility Enhancement and Chinese medicine

by Ann Zimmerman, LAc.

baby feetMany women get pregnant easily and many do not. Research estimates that 1 in 6 couples in the US struggle with getting pregnant. Optimizing the likelihood of getting pregnant and staying pregnant is an area where the tools of Chinese medicine have something special to offer. Rather than looking at fertility challenges as simply a problem with ovaries, or a specific hormone, Chinese medicine approaches fertility as a women’s natural state of balance. Compromised fertility results from imbalances within the network of organs, hormones, and energy systems of the body.

It is very common these days to combine Western and Eastern fertility treatments. Women and men often look toward Western medicine first believing that there must be something really wrong with them and sometimes there is. The bigger the barrier to getting pregnant the more successful Western treatment tends to be: for example with blocked fallopian tubes, prolific endometriosis, or very compromised sperm the diagnostics and surgeries offered can greatly enhance the outcome. In cases if ovulation issues or symptomatic menstrual cycles fertility drugs can make drastic impact. The assisted reproductive technologies of IUI(intrauterine insemination) and IVF(in vitro fertilization) can be the answer for couples with greatly compromised sperm, same sex couples, or simply successful when nothing else works for no known reason. The cost and side effects of these treatments are significant, rarely covered by insurance, and plain stressful.

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Endometriosis and Acupuncture

by Clark and Ann Zimmerman, L.Ac.

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine is one of the few natural treatment options that can be profoundly helpful for women suffering from endometriosis. This condition, which occurs when the tissue that lines the endometrium is found to be growing outside the uterus, is a painful and sometimes debilitating condition that affects 10 to 20% of American women of childbearing age. The typical symptoms are severe menstrual cramping, irregular menstrual bleeding, lower back pain, pain after intercourse, fatigue, and occasionally difficulty in conception.

Endometriosis is seen as a sign of blood stagnation in Chinese medicine. This can be due to blood deficiency, kidney deficiency, or excessive internal cold. Each specific pattern tends to respond very well to treatment. There are some cases of endometrial growth, however, that are so pronounced that surgical intervention is necessary. Most mild to moderate cases can be treated with Chinese medicine.

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