Instructions for cooking your Chinese medicine herbal prescription.

The cooking pot should be either glass, ceramic, or enamel. Inexpensive traditional Chinese ceramic cooking pots are available at the clinic and should be soaked for 3 hours prior to first use.

See your herbal prescription for any variations to the length of time for cooking the herbs (you will generally be informed of any differences both at your consultation and when the herbs are being dispensed).

1. Place herbs in a pot and cover with ___ cups of water (amount differs between different formulas).

2. Bring to the boil, then turn down and simmer until 3 cups remain.

3. Strain liquid to remove the dregs.

4. Take 250ml/day, storing unused portions in a sealed glass container in the fridge (re-heat before consuming). Each bag supplies enough liquid for 3 days.

Granulated herbs are simply added to warm water and down the hatch! Follow with something tasty.

The herbs are generally not considered to be delicious! Drink the recommended dose quickly and follow with something you prefer the taste of. It’s a moment of discomfort for a maximum effect.

Can I have acupuncture to help induce my labour if I have never had acupuncture before?

Yes! We generally recommend our patients come for birth preparation up to six weeks prior to their due date. This enables us to progressively ensure your body is in top condition and ready to birth – hopefully going into labour naturally, if that is what you choose. Research has shown that this approach can reduce labour times and make contractions more effective.

Ideally we like to see you before there is pressure to go into labour, but this is not always possible. Not everyone knows about this type of birth preparation and we receive many referrals from obstetricians, midwives and birth centres recommending women for last minute natural induction. Acupuncture can be very effective, particularly if you are at or past your due dates. You will find more information about acupuncture induction here and you might also be interested to read about our massage induction treatments as well. We find they work well together and many people undertake both to cover all their bases, indulge in the ultimate relaxation prior to the arrival of their baby and of course to increase their chance of success! Read about massage induction here.

Does it hurt?

Acupuncture needles are very fine, single use, sterile and stainless steel. They are much smaller in diameter than hypodermic needles, which need to inject substances into a vein. Acupuncture needles usually come in a small guide tube and are tapped gently but quickly into the skin. They are so fine and insertion is so quick, minimal sensation is felt during needling. No contact with veins or arteries is needed, and therefore in most cases little bleeding is expected when the needles are removed.

The sensation is an interesting dull numbness that the Chinese call “de qi”. This can be a mild to strong sensation depending on the needle technique of your practitioner. Our practitioners tend to needle very gently and any de qi sensation is usually mild. It can best be described as a heaviness, tingling or tightness in the area. There may be a slight pricking when the needle passes through the skin; most people do not even feel this. If there is any sharpness after this, let your practitioner know so that the point can be adjusted to be more comfortable.

Acupuncture and IVF

Acupuncture has been shown to be effective in improving life birth rates in women undergoing IVF. Research so far has focussed almost solely on the effect of acupuncture at the time of embryo transfer so there is not much in the way of evidence for the full scope of acupuncture practice as it applies to IVF. As trained and experienced TCM practitioners, we know that all aspects of Chinese medicine and, in fact, most natural medicine approaches, do not have a magic bullet affect in just one or two treatments. Best results are obtained by continuity of treatment over a period of time – a gradual improvement process. That is why we recommend ongoing treatment before, during and after (assuming you fall pregnant) your IVF process.

We are currently participating in some very exciting research with the University of Western Sydney in collaboration with Melbourne IVF and a number of natural medicine practices who are providing acupuncture to undergoing IVF treatment. The study concludes in early 2015 and we look forward to sharing the results on the blog!

My husband has a low sperm count, we will be using ICSI. Can I use acupuncture to support myself during IVF?

In this case we recommend seeing both partners for IVF support. Even if a woman does not have a specific fertility issue, we will work to optimise her cycle, endometrial lining, ovulation and other factors which can influence her fertility. Of course for men with a low sperm count we would recommend comprehensive treatment using both acupuncture and naturopathy if possible as great gains can be made. While ICSI can overcome the low sperm count issue, it really only chooses the best of a bad lot, so we still need to improve the overall health of the sperm to try to get better results. Your practitioner will give you guidance about duration and frequency of visits

Do I need to disrobe?

In general you will not be required to disrobe for your acupuncture treatment, though areas to be needled will be required to be exposed. This can usually be done with minimal exposure, though at times we will request removal of clothing to facilitate treatment (e.g. we may need you to remove your top in order to needle points on your back). You will always be effectively draped to ensure privacy and warmth. Please feel free to ask your practitioner for additional covering if you are not completely comfortable.