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Poppy Seed Oil May Be a Viable Alternative to IVF, According to Study

by Acupuncture Fredericksburg

Poppy Seed Oil HSG IVF Fertility

There is a less costly — though no less effective — alternative to IVF as a treatment for infertility.

Researchers from the Netherlands and Australia, led by Professor Ben Mol from the University of Adelaide's Robinson Research Institute, found that a procedure called hysterosalpingography (HSG) can significantly boost women's fertility rates.  

The findings were published in The New England Journal of Medicine. Mol also presented the results at the 13th World Congress on Endometriosis in Vancouver, Canada.

HSG, also known as uterosalpingography, involves the injection of an oil- or water-based solution into the fallopian tubes. It's commonly used to detect and diagnose any abnormalities in the uterus, including but not limited to uterine malformations, pelvic inflammatory disease, tubal occlusion and Asherman's syndrome.

However, studies also suggest that HSG — using oil and/or water contrast — has the potential to enhance fertility.

Oil vs. Water

In Mol et al's research, dubbed the "H2Oil study," a total of 1,119 women from 27 hospitals in the Netherlands were chosen to participate in the multicenter, randomized trial.

The selection was based on whether the women were between 18 to 39 years old, whether they've had spontaneous menstrual cycles, whether they've been trying to conceive for at least a year and whether they have any conditions (e.g. endocrine disorders, tubal diseases, iodine allergies) that could adversely affect the outcome of the trial.

Of the study's participants, 557 were administered with an iodized poppy seed oil solution known as Lipiodol® Ultra-Fluid, while 562 were given a water-based solution. The injections were randomly assigned to the women.

From the oil group, 220 (39.7 percent) were able to have an ongoing pregnancy, while 161 (29.1 percent) from the water group had the same. Live births occurred for 214 (38.8 percent) in the oil group, and 155 (28.1 percent) in the water group.

Aside from increased fertility, HSG has another important benefit. Its cost is only a fraction of that for IVF, creating a viable alternative for couples who are otherwise unable to afford conventional fertility treatments.

Limitations

The researchers acknowledged that further studies need to be done on the exact mechanisms of HSG as a fertility treatment. Previous studies suggest that the oil helps remove debris from the fallopian tubes, and makes the uterine environment more conducive to conception. However, these theories have yet to be conclusively proven.

There were also concerns about the safety of HSG using oil contrast. One case linked oil contrast with fat embolism, though is this an extremely rare complication. Overall, the trial demonstrated that the procedure had little to no adverse effects on the participants.

The H2Oil study was conducted with the approval of the institutional review board and ethics committee of the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam, as well as the board of directors from all participating hospitals. Data monitoring was conducted according to the Good Clinical Practice guidelines by dedicated research nurses, and all participants provided written consent to the trial.  

The study was supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), and did not receive any form of compensation from the manufacturers of Lipiodol® Ultra-Fluid.

Sources:

http://bit.ly/2HCc0Tv
http://bit.ly/2qNZ4lf

 

How to Relieve Sciatica with Nerve Flossing

by Dr. Chantal Ali, D.C.

Nerve Flossing for Sciatica Acupuncture Fredericksburg

Sciatica is a general term that describes pain that travels down the back of the leg. This pain is generated from the sciatic nerve, which starts from the low back and runs down the back of the leg, all the way to the bottom of the feet. Because of it’s long pathway through the body, the sciatic nerve can get irritated in more than one place. So if you are experiencing sciatic pain, it is important for your medical provider to figure out where the exact entrapment site is to treat your condition appropriately.

One of the places the sciatic nerve can get irritated is where it originates at the low back. This is called “true sciatic pain” and is caused by irritation of the nerve root at the low back. The nerve root can be irritated by things like arthritic changes, degenerative disc disease, or a herniated or bulging disc.

Another cause of sciatic pain is Piriformis Syndrome. The piriformis muscle runs perpendicular across the sciatic nerve in the gluteal region, crossing the nerve’s path on its way down to the foot. If the sciatic nerve gets irritated in this area, it can send pain down the leg. Read more about how to release the piriformis muscle here.

Treatment for sciatic pain depends on where the source of the irritation is, so it is important to get a medical professional to examine you to determine the best course of action. If any exercises that are described here cause pain or worsened pain, stop and contact a medical professional.

Neural floss for the sciatic nerve:

One of the treatment options for sciatic pain is neural flossing or nerve flossing. Neural flossing is a movement-based technique that we teach our patients to maintain the health of nerves. A healthy nerve is able to slide along its tract in the body as we move in daily activity. However, with static positions like desk jobs, the nerves lose this natural movement. With neural flossing, we introduce this movement specific to the nerve’s pathway, sliding it back and forth to improve nerve health and function.

There are two steps to the sciatic nerve floss:

  1. In a seated position, extend one knee up and point the toe towards the ceiling. Look up towards the ceiling.Nerve Flossing for Sciatica 1 Acupuncture Fredericksburg
  2. Bring the knee back down to a relaxed position, and look down towards the floor.Nerve Flossing for sciatica 2 Acupuncture Fredericksburg

    Perform 10 repetitions per leg.

About the Author:
Dr. Chant Ali DC Movement Beyond YogaDr. Chant is a clinician with a passion for movement-based exercise through appropriate strength and mobility. Through her blog articles, she explores the pros and cons of yoga and other body-weight training options and provides a musculoskeletal perspective on popular topics. You can read more health tips on her website, Movement Beyond Yoga.

Relieve Sciatic Pain with this Simple Stretch

by Dr. Chantal Ali, D.C.

How to Stretch Piriformis muscle to relieve sciatic pain

Sciatica is a general term that describes pain that travels down the back of the leg. This pain is generated from the sciatic nerve, which starts from the low back and runs down the back of the leg, all the way to the bottom of the feet. Because of it’s long pathway through the body, the sciatic nerve can get irritated in more than one place. So if you are experiencing sciatic pain, it is important for your medical provider to figure out where the exact entrapment site is to treat your condition appropriately.

One of the places the sciatic nerve can get irritated is where it originates at the low back. This is called “true sciatic pain” and is caused by irritation of the nerve root at the low back. The nerve root can be irritated by things like arthritic changes, degenerative disc disease, or a herniated or bulging disc.

Another cause of sciatic pain is Piriformis Syndrome. The piriformis muscle runs perpendicular across the sciatic nerve in the gluteal region, crossing the nerve’s path on its way down to the foot. If the sciatic nerve gets irritated in this area, it can send pain down the leg.

Stretch for the piriformis muscle: Thread the Needle

One stretch for this type of pain is the Thread the Needle stretch. It can be used to stretch and relax the piriformis to take pressure off of the sciatic nerve.

Laying face up, bring your right leg across your left thigh, creating a figure 4. Bend the left leg up and grab onto it with your hands.

Piriformis stretch for sciatic pain acupuncture Fredericksburg va

You should feel a stretch in the right buttock area. Pull gently on the left thigh towards your head will deepen the stretch.

Piriformis stretch for sciatic pain acupuncture Fredericksburg va

About the Author:
Dr Chant Ali DC Movement Beyond YogaDr. Chant is a clinician with a passion for movement-based exercise through appropriate strength and mobility. Through her blog articles, she explores the pros and cons of yoga and other body-weight training options and provides a musculoskeletal perspective on popular topics. You can read more health tips on her website, Movement Beyond Yoga.

What Is the Best Heart Rate for Fat Loss?

by Acupuncture Fredericksburg

What is the best heart rate for fat loss
(Image source: pixabay.com)

Hint: It's not 220 minus your age.

As you know, tracking your heart rate during exercise is important. Aside from showing how intense your workout is, your heart's beats per minute (BPM) is also a good indicator of overall cardiovascular health.

But what makes a "healthy" heart rate? What heart rate should you aim for during exercise to meet your fitness goals? Answers to those questions (and more) are below.

What Your Heart Does

The main function of your heart is to pump blood, which carries oxygen, throughout your body. In general, a lower heart rate is better — especially if you're at rest — because it means your heart isn't working too hard and wearing itself out too quickly.

Even during exercise, when your heart rate goes up due to your body's increased need for oxygen, it's important that you don't overexert yourself to the point that you'll increase your chances of injury. You need to find a balance between raising your heart rate enough to enjoy the full benefits of exercise, and keeping it low enough to avoid stressing your body.

That's where calculating your target heart rate comes in.

Use the 180 Formula Instead

Traditionally, the target heart rate is calculated as the difference between 220 and your age (also known as your maximum heart rate), multiplied by a percentage based on the intensity of the activity you're engaged in.

For example, if you're a 30-year-old engaged in moderate intensity exercise, your target heart rate is between 95 to 131 beats per minute — since your maximum heart rate is 190 (220 - 30), and your BPM for moderate intensity exercises is between 50 to 69 percent of your maximum heart rate.

Although the 220 formula is appealing for its simplicity, clinician Dr. Phil Maffetone found that athletes who use the formula often end up overtrained, or experiencing problems during workouts. To work around this, Dr. Maffetone created the 180 formula as follows.

  1. Get the difference between your age and 180.
  2. Add/Subtract from the result, depending on your fitness and health profile.
  • If you're currently recovering from a major illness or injury, subtract 10.
  • If you're injured, suffer from illness on a regular basis, or train for inconsistent periods of time, subtract 5.
  • If you train consistently for at least four times per week, and haven't suffered any of the above, don't add/subtract anything.
  • If you train consistently for at least two years, haven't suffered any of the problems mentioned in the first two points, and have progressed in competition without injury, add 5.

The result will be your ideal maximum heart rate during exercise. It may seem a little slow at first, but over time your body will quicken its pace at a lower heart rate, lightening the stress on your heart without sacrificing the intensity required to stay fit.

Keep in mind, however, that the formula isn't applicable across the board. If you are over 65, under 16, or someone who is taking medication/has a heart condition that precludes you from intense exercises, it's better to consult a professional who's familiar with the 180 formula.

What do you think of the 180 formula? Have you tried it out for yourself? Give us a nudge in the comments, or have your say over at our Facebook page.  

 

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Keep Your Thyroid Healthy With These 4 Foods

by Acupuncture Fredericksburg

Foods to Eat to Keep your Thyroid Healthy

Feeling lethargic for no reason? Having problems like dry skin, drastic weight changes and irregular bowel patterns? If so, you could have a thyroid problem.

Your thyroid is arguably the most important gland in your body. Located below your larynx or voice box and above your collarbone, the thyroid gland secretes hormones that affect almost all your organs. That's why signs and symptoms of thyroid problems manifest all over your body, rather than in just one area.

To improve your thyroid function, or to keep it functioning optimally, try these foods on for size.

Seaweed

Take it from the Japanese: Seaweed is one of the richest sources of iodine, a mineral crucial to the proper functioning of your thyroid. Without iodine, you risk goiter (enlargement of the thyroid gland), hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), and cognitive impairment in your fetus if you're pregnant.

You can buy edible seaweed like kelp, wakame and nori from most Asian markets, or order it online. Be careful not to consume too much of this food, though: Too much iodine can be just as bad for you as not enough of it.  

Aside from iodine, seaweed also contains vitamin A, vitamin C and calcium. Since these aren't as abundant in seaweed as iodine, however, it's better to look for richer, more accessible sources of the aforementioned vitamins and minerals. 

Seafood

Luckily, seaweed isn't the only seafood rich in iodine. In fact, if a food comes from the sea, chances are it's rich in the mineral that keeps your thyroid in good shape.

For example, cod contains 99 micrograms of iodine, which is already two-thirds of the recommended amount of iodine you should consume every day. There's also shrimp (35 micrograms of iodine per three-ounce serving), tuna (17 micrograms for the canned version) and lobster (an incredible 100 micrograms per 100-gram serving). Most of these are low-calorie, so you can add them to your diet minus the guilt.

Dairy Products

Don't have a seafood market near you? No worries. You can still grab your daily dose of iodine from the dairy section of your supermarket. When researchers conducted a study on U.S. children in 2013, they found a positive link between the children's dairy intake and their body's iodine levels.

But if you're concerned about the amount of calories from most dairy products, you can opt for healthier alternatives like yogurt. Aside from being light and convenient to eat, yogurt packs a whopping 58 percent of the recommended daily iodine intake into every cup.  

Beans

If you want a healthy source of iodine that isn't seafood, beans are a good option. Navy beans contain 32 micrograms of iodine (21 percent of the recommended daily iodine intake), while green or string beans have 3 micrograms of iodine (2 percent of the recommended daily iodine intake). You can mix these up with other foods to make them more palatable.

Other rich and healthy sources of iodine include cranberries, strawberries, almonds and dark green leafy vegetables. If you want to add anything else to this list, or if you have other thoughts about this post, please let us know in the comments below, or share via Facebook and Twitter.

Sources:

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8 Acupuncture and Natural Health Podcasts You Can Listen to On the Go

by Acupuncture Fredericksburg

acupuncture and natural health podcasts fredericksburg va

When you have a jam-packed schedule, you often have to choose between several, equally important tasks. For example, should you spend the next 30 minutes exercising on the treadmill, or reading a longform article about natural health?

Fortunately, thanks to modern technology, you can now do both without compromising either. If you need to kill time, or you want to keep your mind occupied while performing a repetitive task, here are some of the acupuncture and natural health podcasts you can listen to. 

For acupuncture:

Yin Yang Podcast

Aside from acupuncture, podcasters Chris Powell and Travis Spire-Sweet also cover traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). While the Yin Yang Podcast is mainly geared towards professional acupuncturists, anyone with even a casual interest in TCM will find the show engaging, hilarious and informative. Download their episodes from iTunes, Stitcher and SoundCloud.

The Chinese Herb Health & Longevity Show

For those who want to delve deeper into the history and philosophy of TCM, The Chinese Herb Health & Longevity Show may be your cup of tea. Here, Dr. George Lamoureux brings his knowledge of acupuncture, as informed by Daoist teachings, to the table alongside John Bonds of JingHerbs.com.  

Everyday Acupuncture

Acupuncture can often seem like a mysterious, esoteric art beyond the understanding of non-practitioners. Actually, that's not the case, as shown by host Michael Max in this podcast. Here, Max explains everything you need to know about acupuncture in plain, practical language. His episodes run between 45 to 60 minutes, making them perfect for one-hour lunch breaks, or when you're stuck in traffic. 

The Jolt Files

If you can only spare a few minutes, you might prefer The Jolt Files instead. Packed into 8-12 minute formats, each episode is a concise discussion of topics related to acupuncture and natural health. You can also listen to it from your browser here, though episodes 1 to 6 are only available on iTunes. 

For natural health:

TedTalks Health

It's exactly what it sounds like: a series of TED talks about health, fitness and nutrition. Sometimes, they cover subjects you wouldn't be comfortable talking about in public, such as mental illness and defecation, but they treat it with the skill and finesse typical of a TED talk. Episodes can also be downloaded straight from TED.com, in case you're unable to use iTunes.

Psychology of Eating

Want to change your eating habits? Hosts Marc David and Emily Rosen will teach you how through this podcast. David has over three decades of helping people change their perspective on eating, while Rosen is the Director of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating.  

Life By Design

If you believe in taking charge of your health, happiness and success, this is the podcast for you. Hosted by Dr. Kresimir Jug and Dr. Jamie Richards, Life By Design will inspire you to change your life for the better, one day at a time. 

The Secrets of Qigong Masters

Curious about qigong and tai chi? Learn more about these Chinese exercises with Lama Tantrapa, the creator of Qigong Coaching. Tantrapa does an excellent job of explaining the concepts of qigong, tai chi, meditation, yoga and other holistic health topics in easy-to-understand, everyday language.  

Know of other, high-quality podcasts related to acupuncture and natural health? Share them in the comments below, or sound off on social media!

How to Relieve Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Naturally

by Acupuncture Fredericksburg

how to relieve carpal tunnel syndrome naturally acupuncture fredericksburg

You've had a numb sensation in your fingers for a long time, but you didn't think much of it. One day, a sharp pain suddenly shoots through your wrist and up your arm, forcing you to stop your work. It gets to the point where the discomfort is so unbearable, you wonder whether you'll be able to work as usual from now on.

If that sounds familiar, chances are you have carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). It's usually caused by the swelling and compression of your median nerve when your wrist is subjected to repetitive motions, though genetics and medical conditions like rheumatoid arthritis (RA), Type 1 and 2 diabetes and hypothyroidism may also play a part. Left untreated, CTS can significantly impair your ability to perform even the simplest of tasks by hand.

To treat this disorder before it's too late, here's what you can do.

Use a Wrist Splint at Night

If you do this for at least six weeks, you can relieve discomfort in your median nerve, according to a study published in the January – March 2015 issue of the Journal of Hand Therapy. You can also use the splint during the day, though you'll want to take it off when you're about to work. Otherwise, your hands' tendons will get strained, and your CTS might get worse.

Perform Tendon-Gliding Exercises

In one 2011 study, it was shown that tendon-gliding exercises — combined with conventional treatments — were more effective than nerve-gliding exercises combined with conventional treatments. You can see examples of these exercises through this guide courtesy of the Mount Carmel College of Nursing. 

Have a Regular Dose of Vitamin B6

When researchers gave a daily dose of 120 mg Vitamin B6 to a group of CTS patients for three months, they found a significant improvement in symptoms. That's because Vitamin B6 facilitates the development of neurotransmitters — i.e. chemicals that transport signals between nerve cells — and CTS is essentially a nerve disorder. Fortunately, Vitamin B6 can be found in a wide variety of foods, such as:

  • Chicken
  • Beef Liver
  • Tuna
  • Shrimp
  • Carrots
  • Spinach
  • Bananas
  • Milk

Make Your Workplace Ergonomic

When your posture is out-of-alignment for hours at a time, it can amp up your risk of musculoskeletal disorders like CTS. If you're an office worker, for example, you can ergonomically optimize your workspace by adjusting the height of your equipment (i.e. desk, keyboard, monitor), refraining from slouching on your desk, and taking breaks once in a while. 

Treat It With Acupuncture

A 2012 study published in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences showed that acupuncture can be just as effective as — if not more effective than — wrist splinting. The study also cited previous research, where it was suggested that acupuncture worked even better than oral steroids. If other natural treatments haven't worked for your CTS, give acupuncture a try.    

Carpal tunnel syndrome doesn't have to throw your life out of whack. As soon as symptoms appear, be sure to consult a medical professional, undergo all the necessary treatments and practice self-care to avoid these types of disorders in the future.

Sources:

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