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TCM - Real or Not always...?


#1

I am writing this with a heavy heart and not much confidence - but I am always hopeful. I live in a tiny tiny town…without much to offer (we have 1 grocery store if that helps set the bar.)

I have tried to research much online and have come across 2 TCM practitioners and made the long drive to see them (each separately and for a period of time.) All I have managed to do is waste my time and deplete what little savings I did have. My health insurance doesn’t cover any type of TCM.

I would like to know if anyone (that is genuinely skilled in TCM can help me or guide me in some way?)

I did have a 4cm cyst removed from my left side (it was attached to the tube and ovary, but not complicated according to my obgyn surgeon). Everything looked “good” no endometriosis or any scaring to report. She said she did a “light D&C” as I didn’t need much and to start trying to conceive. Otherwise no issues internally that I am aware of.

I am TTC (just started actually) and have not had much luck with western medicine, I was dismissed before even starting as my AMH level is very low (0.371) it started out at 0.401 (in Feb) and after 4 months of making this long drive for TCM Treatment it is now (today) even lower than before…quite disheartening.

The 1st TCM - sold me a ton of pills…after 3 months of no improvement in any areas I decided to try the 2nd TCM, she puts needles, leave me lay for about 45 minutes and comes back and removes them. Nothing more. She doesn’t really try to sell me much, and rushes in and out of the room without much explanation. I am completely lost. Is this how TCM is supposed to be? Is this the best there is?

Of course I would love to be able to travel to a bigger city, if finances allowed and see someone there…but that is not an option for me currently. So I guess my question is, does TCM have a place for those that aren’t in populated areas? That don’t have buckets of money to unload? Someone that is just looking to feel better? To gain overall health?

I never dreamed I would be in this position, but I met my partner late in life…if only I were 25 and conceiving were not work. But that is not the case, I am now 41 with low AMH and not sure there is a treatment for me.

The 2nd TCM person did send me to a lab for bloodwork…

Day 3 labs were:
Estradiol = 52.1
LH = 3.7
FSH = 12.3

Day 22 labs were:
Progesterone = 0.901
(Altho my BBT Chart shows a definite dip on day 14, then spike on day 15 and the temperature stays up for 6 days, then falls sharply. The day after the 1st fall I start spotting and spot for 4 days before my period starts. Period is heavy 2 full days, then light 1 day, then stops. There is clotting, but the blood is all bright red - no dark brown or black looking blood.) My cycle is approx 24 days long, with ovulation normally on day 13 or 14, with a 8 to 10 day luteal phase.

What is wrong with me? What is going on?

I am taking a thyroid medication (Nature Throid) 1 grain daily. And those numbers are good.

I do not drink soda or coffee - occasionally I will have tea, but less than once a week I would say.

I do not consume gluten at all (was diagnosed Celiac in Sept of last year via bloodwork only, no biopsy was taken - doctor said my numbers were so high it was not required.) I Also never had any GI Symptoms…no diarrhea or abdominal pains - just extremely tired. But I did give up all gluten and never looked back.

After all the blood work I started on the following supplements daily per doc suggestion:

320mg Magnesium Glycinate
500mg Vit C
Ferrasorb Iron supplement (low iron in labwork)
Mitocore multivitamin (4 capsules daily is dose)
1,000mcg Folate (I have MTHFR genetic mutation)
200mg CoQ10
30mg Zinc

My Blood Pressure is 121/79 my pulse is 63 - this is all fairly normal give or take a few on different days/times.

I DID have a healthy, normal pregnancy when I was 29 - didn’t even try and it happened. Now I Seem completely broken…with no relief in sight.

I am attaching a picture of my tongue (it would only allow 1 picture so I hope this is enough?), not sure if you can guide me or say much…but as I said I am hopeful still. Thank you in advance.


#2

Before I get into a longer discussion I have a couple questions:

How long now, total, have you been trying?

How many treatments did you actually receive from each practitioner (not total length of time you worked with them)?

Do you know the formulas the first practitioner put you on?

Does the second practitioner practice herbal medicine at all? Did they agree/disagree with any of the first practitioners herbal formulas?

How long have you been diagnosed with a thyroid condition?

In very general terms your condition is of course treatable. From your tongue alone you clearly have some issues, likely longer term, that need to be worked on and you have shorter, weaker cycles which need to be strengthened. Fertility is often difficult and requires a good amount of experience to obtain reliable results. That said, the time frame may not quite be what you are expecting - it depends greatly on the individual condition of each patient but in general you are looking at a minimum of 3 months of treatment and then somewhere between that point and 1.5 years. There are a host of variables, but again from looking at your tongue alone I would put you in the 9 month category and that is with proper herbal formulas - with acupuncture alone it would likely be longer.

The reality is you can get pregnant anytime during treatment, but at the very least you would want to see far less glossiness on the tongue and have your cycles pushed out closer to 28 days with no spotting before, minimal to no clotting, etc. Technically you are not treating fertility, but all of the underlying hormonal functionality thus enhancing pregnancy.

Again, fertility treatments are difficult even with people with a lot of experience. Even in the western realm with IVF, for example, you have generally sub 50% rates of success - with no particular increase each time you try. I’ve had patients who have tried naturally for 6 years get pregnant after one treatment and I’ve had people who have had failed up to 9 IUI’s and 6 IVF rounds and get pregnant naturally after 9 months of treatment and nearly everything in between. So certainly many folks come in as their last ditch effort after everything else has failed. In my experience, anyhow, we have fairly large success rates with only a few exceptions that turned out to be genetic issues either on the female or the male side. At times we are working in conjunction with western treatments and at times they are being avoided or have been given up on. For the most part it is a natural function of the body and their is almost always hope - having had a pregnancy at 29 is a good sign because at least you know at one point your body functioned well.


#3

Thank you very much for you reply Chad, I will try my best to answer your questions in the order you asked…

TCM#1 - saw once weekly for 6 weeks.
TCM#2 - saw randomly since 1st of April, for 6 appointments.

TCM #1 did not know about TCM #2 as I had not yet seen her, and TCM #2 had nothing to say about TCM #1, no agreement or disagreement. To the best of my knowledge, TCM #1 said I had blood stagnation (i think) and my liver was sluggish so he was working to improve that and the rest would come in line. He treated me once for anxiety as well. Mostly he put the needles in my legs, arms, and forehead. Also, he would touch or twist the needles at the end of the session and he said this was to ‘activate’ the channels he’s treating. It would feel kind of like a zing…or tiny zap or shock, but not painful. Edited to add: TCM #1 just got back with me and said this: “You were on a Shen Calming Treatment Plan - and taking An Shen Bu Xin and Jia Wei Xiao Yao Wan”.

TCM #2 has yet to share with me what she thinks or is treating, apart from infertility. And this week she told me she thought me taking the Vitex robbed my yin and we needed to rebuild that back up. (no idea if this makes sense to you?) I have been contemplating starting the Vitex again to see if it helps lengthen my luteal phase and lower my FSH, and raise my LH…but her saying this scares me. What if I do more harm than good?? When I asked her about Vitex - she said TCM was her area, and she didn’t know about Vitex. .(Edited to add, I tried to ask again what was my treatment/diagnosis in a different way and she replied: “You have Liver Kidney Yin Deficiency”.)

Also, I don’t know if this helps…? But TCM #2 always puts the needles in the same place, lower abdomen, stomach, inner knee, foot and the bend between my thumb and finger. She never twisted or touched the needles after treatment, just took them out… never any zing or shock. (which is the right way??) One treatment she also stuck small square tapes with little dots on 4 different points and told me to leave them there and if they came off to replace them if/until my period started. But I’ve no idea the purpose? She also uses cupping on my lower back and up my spine, after she has removed the needles, then she applies some type of rose oil on my lower abdomen and says “all done”.)

More details about each below…

The First Man I saw, I started Acupuncture treatments mid-february and went every week after (3 weeks in Feb) and then every week again in March up until my surgery on March 23rd to remove the cyst on my left ovary (so again once weekly for 3 weeks so first man was a total of 6 treatments or 6 weeks). Those treatments were all with the same man. He gave me 2 different chinese herbs during that time, one was called “An Shen Bu Xin Pian” - I was taking 2,2,6 of those pills. The second herb was “Jia Wei Xiao Yao Wan” (by Guang Ci Tang) and these were ‘tea pills’, and the dose started at 16 pills 3 times daily, and he bumped me up to 22 pills 3 times daily.

The second person I saw was a lady, and I saw her after my surgery at the end of March. So my first appointment with her was the 1st week of April. She didn’t want to see me as often, and my next appt was in May (1st week, and 3rd and 4th weeks). Then I had to go out of town for a family wedding and didn’t get to see her again until June 26, and again July 5th. So it looks like I have seen her a total of 6 times as well. She didn’t put me on any herbs right away. But in May put me on something called “Shao Fu Zhu Yu Wan” 6pills 2 times daily, for 7 days starting on the 2nd day of my cycle. She only had me do that one cycle (not exactly sure what that was doing?)

I tried to reach him today to ask him what formula or treatment he used on me, but I have not heard back from him yet.

She also sold me some capsules she called “holding tea capsules” And they came in a ziplock bag, she said she compounds those herbs herself. There were 100 pills in the bag and I was to take 3 pills, 3 times daily from ovulation on unless or until my period started.

The last appt she gave me another ziplock bag of pills called “Cu Pai Luan Tang”, there is 50 pills in this bag, and she told me to take them from cycle day 10 and to take 9 pills daily, divided in 3 doses for 10 days. I have yet to take any of these pills as I am currently in cycle day 8 as of today.

One thing the second lady did is comment on my thryoid TSH numbers, my medical doctor said they needed to be lower because my T3 and T4 for terribly low and in order to achieve that my TSH number would also end up low. My medical doctor had my TSH at 0.98 and was pleased with my numbers and that put my T3 & T4 in the normal range, the lowest part of that range…but still normal. When I started with second lady, she told me my TSH Was too low to conceive and told me to cut my thyroid medication (Which is nature throid) in 3/4. So I did that for about 3 weeks, retested my TSH thru the 2nd lady and my TSH was 1.28, she said still too high, and told me to reduce it by half. Did that, and retested again my TSH is now 1.58 - BUT my hair is now falling out. Soooo I contacted my medical doctor desperate to know what to do, she was not too happy that the acupuncturist instructed me how to take prescription medication and told me to immediately get back on the dose she had me taking. The 2nd lady never checked my T3 or T4 (she was sending me to a lab to have this lab work done). So I asked her 2 days ago and she sent me to have those checked as well, but I have yet to get the results.

I also contacted her and asked her the name of my treatment or formula she is using and she only replied back one word “infertility”. Not exactly sure if that is what you were looking for?

The second one I told about the first one, but she made no comments or claims about him or his practice and didn’t say if she agreed or not. But said she could most definitely help me to get pregnant and raise my AMH in no time at all. But that has yet to happen. She hasn’t mentioned any food or lifestyle choices I should follow…and I feel more than lost and hopeless at this point. As my goal is truly to get better and regain my health.

To the best of my knowledge I was doing fine healthwise, until about May 2015 - when I noticed a red ring appear on my tongue. I freaked out went to the dentist then doctor, where they both told me it was nothing to worry about and said it was “Geographic Tongue” and it was common enough, but harmless. This bothered me. I continued to wonder about it, but then my health went sliding fast, I was beyond exhausted daily, cud hardly manage the day to day functions and if given the opportunity would have gladly slept the day away. But I felt like something was REALLY wrong. I kept searching for answers, and seeing different doctors to be told by each I was fine. Finally a functional medicine doctor I found 3 hours from my home saw me - she ran about 15 different blood tests and found out I had celiacs disease, low iron, low D3, magnesium deficient, as well as wrong dose of thyroid meds becuz my T3 and T4 were extremely low. So that was Sept of 2016. I have been on all those supplements and doing everything she said to do to improve my health and numbers. All of which she said looked good the end of March 2017. (at least until I changed my nature throid when the 2nd acupuncturist told me to…she wasn’t happy about that.) Also, I am not sure of the importance of this? But my only celiac symptom (physically speaking) was the geographic tongue (which other docs dismissed) and chronic hives…like daily from 2015 on. I was taking Zyrtec daily, up to 4 times a day to get relief from the hives. I stopped once I had a celiacs diagnosis and went to as needed only, and it dropped significantly. I still have hives from time to time now, but mostly if I scratch without thinking…they pop up. Its annoying, but not as horrible as before giving up gluten. So I have always connected my hives to a gluten sensitivity or food allergy.

Thyroid condition I have been diagnosed with for the last 8 to 10 years I guess, but was previously on Synthroid (for years) - without it really helping me feel any better.

One thing I might add, before my surgery to remove the cyst…my obgyn was just ‘watching it’ and would do an ultrasound every 3 months to make sure it wasn’t growing. During this time my cycles were horrible and beyond painful. I would have cycles where bleeding was ranging from 10 days to 14 days to 18 days…and the full cycles would be up to 40 days. So when I started seeing the functional medicine doctor she recommended I try Vitex (or chaste tree berry). First cycle I took it my cycle dropped to 24 days, with 5 days of bleeding. I thought I had found the miracle cure. Second cycle taking vitex I had severe pain exactly 2 days before my period. So bad I ended up in the ER thinking something was exploding. But nothing found, except the cyst/tumor they were watching. Third cycle same severe pain, altho normal in length since starting the Vitex. I decided to stop the Vitex after 2.5 months because I wasn’t sure if it was causing my pain. So I stopped, but the 2 day pain before my cycles continued - but exactly 2 days only each month, then period would start as normal.

After having the cyst removed end of March (soonest they cud schedule me for surgery) The severe pain before my cycle left. It was a huge relief. But now, my cycles are too short at 24 days only. I have had 28 days my whole life, without fail…until the cyst/tumor came in 2016 and made them long, then I feel like the vitex made them short. And now I don’t know how to get them back to the ‘normal’ length.

I guess my sense of being lost and urgency comes from this…I have NO idea if I Am on the right path? Or even a good path? Do I go back to the 1st TCM guy? Do I stay where I am with TCM #2? Do I seek someone different altogether?

IVF is not an option for me at the moment financially, and I am not sure it ever will be - so was very hopeful I could regain my health naturally and proceed from there. Also, each and every ObGyn I try to connect with is a good 4 months wait to get in to see, and its not easy waiting and doing nothing. I did make another appointment with the ObGyn that did my surgery, and that I was able to get into this coming Thursday - she is also 3 hours from me. But I am not sure what she will suggest or what is even safe at this point? I Do not want to be put on some strong prescription drugs that are going to further deplete my system…and how on earth does one even know?

So what would be your best recommendation at this point? I don’t know how or where to proceed for the best treatment from this point forward. I googled your facility and you are almost 9 hours drive from me, one way. Not exactly a trip I could make on a weekly basis.

Thank you again, I do appreciate your help and any information/guidance you share.


#4

I am not sure this matters…? But thought of it after the fact so thought I would add this in…just in case as well as a bit of a timeline of my health below.

I was 100% healthy to my knowledge beforehand.

Although I have always been a “worrier” by nature and had higher anxiety than anyone in my family, with a bit of OCD. Also, I have always been a huge sweater…meaning it doesn’t matter if its cold or hot outside - I am sweating. Even if I FEEL Cold, I usually still sweat. This past year I eliminated a lot of toxic products (deos, soaps, shampoos, etc.,switched to natural things) and I think its gotten better, or maybe just wishful thinking? I am also thirsty alot more than most, and I drink a ton of water daily. (blood sugars always test normal though) I also have am very pale (porcelain ivory makeup still seems a bit dark for me)…:roll_eyes: and have never been able to tan to save my life. I also don’t carry any extra weight in my mid-section, but do in my hips/thighs/bum. Sorry if this is information overload - but thought it might help since you’re not face to face to do an evaluation.

In 2004 I had an emergency c-section due to pinched umbilical cord. Delivered healthy baby. I was 29.

In 2009 I had to have my gallbladder out, wanted to keep it and try natural treatments, but ended up in the ER without a choice.

In 2014 - terribly stressful job, (like left in the ambulance stressful…then ended up leaving that job shortly after - wayyyy too stressful.)

In May 2015 - Geographic Tongue showed up…as well as chronic daily hives, cant exactly remember which came first…hives or tongue. But both came this year.

In Dec 2015 - cyst/tumor was found in lower abdomen, and obgyn watched in every 3 months with ultrasounds. Long cycles went on most of the year, until I switched doctors in Dec 2016. Switched docs and Surgery was then scheduled to remove.

In Sept 2016 - Diagnosed with Celiacs disease and several deficiencies, supplements added, gluten given up. Supplements seem to be helping - numbers are good.

March 2017 - tumor/cyst removal.

April 2017 - Genetic testing done, found out I have the MTHFR genetic mutation as well as a few others.

May & June - trying to conceive, but was told not possible with my low AMH. Still trying. I am 41.

Thought maybe that timeline would help in some way? If not,feel free to ignore totally :slight_smile:


#5

Chad…I am guessing I may have overwhelmed you with information in my previous reply - sorry about that, I have a tendency to give way more info than necessary in the off chance that it may help in some way.

I would really love to know your thoughts on the “Cu Pai Luan Tang” that she has given me to take. I would need to start it tomorrow based on her advise. But would love some input on whether this is the right path for me? Or if I should stop before I do more harm than good? That is my biggest worry right now…the going backwards instead of forwards.

Hoping to hear from you. Thanks in advance.


#6

The “reinforce kidney ovulation formula” is a fine approach around ovulation. In general the worst that can happen with Chinese Medicine is no or limited results with approaches that are not quite right - so I certainly wouldn’t think along the lines of one formula (particularly one that is usually only taken for a few days at a time) causing more harm than good and making you “go backwards” - that type of thinking will do more harm in my opinion than anything your practitioner can do.


#7

And for what it’s worth the second practitioner (the one who prescribed the current formula) seems more on track with what you will need than the first from what I can get from the written information. Both her dosing and treatment approach seem more in line with what I would be likely to consider.


#8

Thank you very much Chad. I appreciate your response.

Also, i appreciate this board… it’s a wealth of information that i just happened to stumble upon… so thank you for sharing your knowledge in such an open way.


#9

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