I knew one kind of health: nutrition. And I knew how to do it well.
I'm eating all the colors of the rainbow, exercising regularly, my blood work is great, my body feels good- that's all there is to it right?
Turns out there's another side of the health coin I was ignoring this past year, unintentionally: mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Basically the stuff in life that makes us happy, and makes me me. Makes me feel a connection to people, myself, and the universe around me. The stuff that melts the stress away.
We all lost a lot of this in Covid pandemic times.
So I may have been eating healthy this past year, but was I "healthy"? How were my stress and anxiety levels? What was I doing for myself to stay happy and positive? What was I doing to heal myself mentally and spiritually after a pregnancy loss?
Well in an attempt to explore the other side of that coin, among many other things, I found Chinese Medicine. It is in my nature to look for holistic healing options before turning to western medicine. I believe in both, but that they should work together, so I set on a path to learn more about eastern medicine first.
Yoga (Hinduism) had already taught me about prana- a universal energy and breath that flows in and around the body. In Chinese medicine they call this vital energy Qi. In Christianity, they call it God. The Japanese call it Reiki. It's the connection you make inside yourself when you are truly present, and is what connects you to unconditional love. It's that buzzing happy free flowing energy that you have probably felt before when you are doing something that truly aligns with you.
All ancient beliefs stem from two things in life: Matter (the body) and this Energy (life force). I happened to be doing great with Matter (the body) part but not so great with the Energy (life force) part.
If you need a visual of this life force, look into "Kirlian photography", as seen in the photo below. A photographer discovered how to capture the energy or "aura" of certain objects with a specific camera technique. This is that energy life force that isn't just an idea, it is something actually proven by science that surrounds all living beings.
"It holds the body’s innate intelligence, the intangible yet measurable way we maintain what’s known as “homeostasis,” or the body’s ability to regulate its internal environment to create good
health. But qi is also understood to be part of a larger pattern, a grand energy field, through which we are all interrelated."
- Jill Blakeway, Energy Medicine
In Chinese medicine, if your Qi (life force) or "homeostasis" is out of balance, it may result in more obvious health problems.
For me I was lucky enough to stumble upon a New York based Chinese medicine practice The Yinova Center that specializes in these imbalances, specifically when it comes to fertility. After losing a pregnancy I was ready to get my hormones back to normal, reduce my anxiety, and feel more balanced.
By complete coincidence after exploring Yinova's website, I noticed the founder of the practice was the author of a book I had recently read, Jill Blakeway. I took it as a sign.
I signed up to do virtual consultations with one of their practitioners, and here is a summary of what happened:
With a few questions, and even by looking at my tongue we determined together what she assumed was a luteal phase defect.
A women's cycle is broken into these 4 phases:
My luteal phase (the warming yin phase) was too short. In Chinese medicine, basically, I was out of balance.
There was too much cold (yang) in my body and not enough heat (yin). This made sense to me because as "healthy" as I am, my body always runs cold. My hands and feet are always freezing. And without realizing it I was always eating cold foods like salads and smoothies. With a short luteal phase I probably wasn't producing enough of the hormone progesterone that is needed for a successful pregnancy.
But what fixes that?
Here is a full list of what I did based on my Yinova practicioner's suggestions:
Weekly Acupuncture: to regulate blood flow (that "life force energy") and to get that "heat" back in my body. I worked with this acupuncturist in Switzerland that specializes in fertility and hormone imbalances. Based on where I was in my cycle he did acupuncture on certain points once a week for a month.
Warming Foods: Every meal was cooked. No more smoothies or salads. Added warming spices cardamom and cinnamon to morning oatmeal. Introduce wild salmon once a week. Ate cooked root vegetables like sweet potatoes and seeds like sesame and sunflower. Drank tea and warm water all the time. More on eating to support specific phases can be found here
Acupressure: For 10 min a day I massaged certain pressure points on a list that was sent to me based on what phase of my cycle I was in to help balance a yang deficiency in the same way acupuncture does.
Moxibustion: Moxa (well known for it's ability to turn a breeched baby) is a dried plant used to warm and stimulate certain acupuncture points. When burning moxa it gets very hot so it works well for bringing heat back into the body. Based on the directions I was sent and what phase of my cycle I was in, I hovered and moved the moxa over certain acupuncture points for a few minutes throughout the week.
Chinese Herbs: Designed and prescribed specifically to me by my Yinova practitioner. I had one set of herbs in pill form to support the follicular (yin) phase and another to support the luteal (yang) phase.
Chaste Tree Berry Supplement: to naturally support progesterone production in the luteal phase. Supplement found here or at any health food store. Took only during luteal phase and is advised to stop once implantation or period happens.
Wore socks to bed and always dressed warmly especially since it was winter time.
A western medicine doctor could have just seen a short luteal phase, tested my hormones, and prescribed me a progesterone pill to take during that phase, but this looked at solving the bigger picture. Chinese medicine looks at the entire body and all of the phases of the cycle because they believe it is all connected.
Getting to the root of a problem (like maybe the stress of Covid and being abroad was causing this imbalance) instead of throwing a pill at a symptom. All of the Chinese Medicine techniques I did worked at moving blood stagnation and regulating that qi energy to rid me of stress and steady my hormones
If you want to read more about all of this and how acupuncture works (the real proven science behind it) I loved Dr. Jill Blakeway's book Energy Medicine (and she also writes one specifically for fertility called Making Babies).
Two months after falling in love with Chinese medicine and acupuncture, I was home in the U.S reunited with friends and family, feeling like the best version of myself, with all the stress relieved from trying for a baby, and I found out I was pregnant.
Sometimes you can be eating and working out perfectly and not realize you're anxious and that your overall energy needs a reset. That both the Body (matter) and the Energy (life force) need to be cared for. When the mind, body, and spirit are in balance, I believe that the universe works in your favor, and miracles always show themselves.