In Latin, acus means needle, and pungere, to pierce. Acupuncture is an ancient form of treatment that originated in China around 200 BC.
According to the method, our bodies have 12 channels through which energy flows throughout the body. These pathways are known as meridians, and each meridian is associated with and affects a different organ system. The life-energy flowing through the meridians is known as “qi”, and guides our physical and mental processes, coordinating the work of the organs and keeping our bodies balanced by regulating their functions.
On these pathways, 360 acupuncture points, or acupoints, were identified. Inserting a needle into each such point will affect different organ systems. Needling these acupoints on the meridians will trigger a physiological process according to the patient’s condition, the nature of the acupoint and its integration with other acupoints. In this process the body treats itself, restores organ function and increases blood flow to release blockages and correct abnormal blood flow.
Acupuncture has been recognized by science as having tangible, proven effects. The body’s response to acupuncture can be demonstrated by imaging blood flow and measuring neurological responses.
Acupuncture uses thin, very short sterile disposable needles and is painless. Sometimes, the procedure is not felt at all. Generally, the acupuncture points chosen are therapeutically related, or their simultaneous stimulation supports actions that promote healing.
In the fertility context, there are meridians that traverse the area of the uterus and ovaries. Accurate professional acupuncture applied to certain points on these energy pathways will cause blood to flow to the reproductive organs and stimulate the area.
In recent years, an increasing number of clinical trials have supported the conclusion that acupuncture has a significant effect on fertility treatments, and notably, on IVF success rates. One of these trials, which I myself managed as lead researcher at the Homerton Fertility Centre at Homerton University Hospital in London, yielded exciting outcomes: outcomes for the patient group which, in addition to the IVF protocol, was treated with acupuncture, were significantly more successful, with more pregnancies and live births compared to the control group, which did not benefit from acupuncture.
About integrative medicine
Integrative medicine, which is steadily gaining momentum across the globe, combines holistic medicine, such as acupuncture, with modern medicine. Integrating the two methods allows for patient-centered care that creates a therapeutic envelope that combines two different schools of medicine, both of which have the same goal – to help the patient and heal her. They maximize the therapeutic potential and lead to healing outcomes that are faster and more effective.
Chinese medicine is based on the “whole person” and takes all aspects associated with the patient into account, such as nutrition and lifestyle. It places emphasis on the therapeutic relationship between patient and healer and the importance of a primary healthcare partner who accompanies the patient throughout the course of her treatment.
On the other hand, conventional medicine treats the specific problem and proposes medical solutions that relate exclusively to the problem, without taking a holistic view of the individual.
The ability to combine the two – to receive a diagnosis based on medical tests and cross-reference it with the diagnosis according to TCM (interview, tongue diagnosis, pulse measurement) – and treat the patient using both methods at the same time, with one complementing the other – is the added value my patients benefit from when they enjoy the best of both worlds.
My collaboration with Professor Shlomo Mashiach, Israel’s IVF pioneer and a leading authority on fertility, allows for the professional and scientific integration of traditional medicine and TCM with the goal of devising optimal solutions for women who are experiencing difficulty in conceiving.