acupuncture for fertility

Acupuncture and IVF

According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 1.6 percent of all infants born annually in the United States are conceived using assisted reproductive technology or in vitro fertilization. In vitro fertilization or IVF is big business. The average cost of an IVF cycle costs $12,000, and that doesn’t even include the medications that can run between $3,000 and $5,000. 

This is where acupuncture may be able to assist. Many fertility doctors are now recommending acupuncture, as it can improve a woman’s chances of conceiving by up to 60 percent. There have been multiple studies conducted that show the rates of live births nearly double in cases where acupuncture was used. 

Acupuncture treatments can improve blood flow to the uterus. This has been verified through the use of ultrasound. Increased blood flow to the uterus can create a more hospitable environment for implantation of an embryo. 

Another factor that plays heavily in the world of conception is a woman’s stress levels. When a woman is undergoing in vitro fertilization, she is under a lot of stress, both physically and mentally. This can lead to increased amounts of stress hormones that are actually detrimental to the body and may inhibit fertility.  Again, this is where acupuncture treatments can help. Regular acupuncture treatments have been shown to decrease overall stress levels, making the fertilization procedure a little easier for the body. 

Lastly, acupuncture has been shown to improve the response of the body to in vitro fertilization medications. IVF medications cause multiple follicles to grow, and the higher the number of mature eggs retrieved, the greater the likelihood that one of those eggs will get fertilized, resulting in an embryo for implantation into the uterus.

It is usually recommended a woman begin acupuncture a couple of months prior to the IVF procedure. This will increase the chances of conception. Here, Eastern and Western medicine work very well together. If you’re considering in vitro fertilization, acupuncture might be a welcomed addition to the mix.

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Acupuncture for Autoimmune Conditions

Autoimmune diseases are a collective group of disorders that plague nearly 50 million people in the United States today. When a person suffers from an autoimmune disease it means their own immune system is attacking the body and altering or destroying the tissues. Autoimmune diseases include things like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Crohn’s disease, pernicious anemia, multiple sclerosis, irritable bowel disease and Parkinson’s disease.

Conventional medicine can diagnose 100 different autoimmune conditions. Unfortunately, the treatments available to people with these disorders is not as plentiful through conventional medicine. It typically involves the use of pharmaceuticals that can have side effects that are as bad, if not worse, than the symptoms of the disease itself. And even worse, many people are told they have no options. This is where Traditional Chinese Medicine can be beneficial.

Many factors play into an autoimmune disease. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) looks at the body as a whole, allowing the patient to get a more complete treatment. Research has shown that acupuncture causes responses in nerve cells, as well as in parts of the brain. By utilizing acupuncture, those suffering from an autoimmune disease can, over time, reprogram their brains and cells to perform as intended.

The use of electroacupuncture may prove useful for people suffering from autoimmune diseases too. Electroacupuncture emits mild electrical stimulation to acupuncture needles. This gentle stimulation triggers the body to produce hormones that suppress pain and inflammation. This helps raise endorphins circulating in the bloodstream. Endorphins are the body’s natural painkillers.

Chinese herbal formulas can also be very effective in the treatment of autoimmune diseases. When acupuncture and Chinese herbs are combined, the effects can be quite favorable. The herbs will actually compliment the acupuncture treatments by extending the effects of the needles. Many times this will shorten the number of treatments required, as the patient will start to see results sooner.

Many people dealing with autoimmune diseases also experience high levels of stress because of their disorder. It can be very stressful trying to lead a “normal” life with severe pain and other symptoms. Studies show acupuncture is very relaxing, and it helps reduce excess cortisol levels in the brain that contribute to chronic stress.

As autoimmune sufferers start to see improvements with acupuncture treatments and herbs, they may also be able to do things they couldn’t before, like exercise. Exercising not only improves blood flow, but it also increases immunity. Exercise also increases the amount of endorphins in the body. So just by receiving regular acupuncture treatments and herbal supplements, those suffering from autoimmune diseases may be able to lead a much more normal life with a lot less pain and suffering.

If you are dealing with some type of autoimmune disease, consider giving Traditional Chinese Medicine a chance. The outcomes may be life changing.

5 Reasons to Get Acupuncture for Low Back Pain

Statistics show 8 out of 10 people will experience low back pain at some point during their life. Seeking medical treatment for back pain is very common. Typically, back pain is fleeting and can be easily resolved with rest, heat, and an occasional anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen. However, once the damage is done, the recurrence of back pain can be as high as 50%. Part of this is because as we age, things like muscles and tendons become less flexible and pliable. It is also very well known in the United States that people are too sedentary and this leads to excess weight gain, creating added pressure on the body, especially the low back. 

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a medical system that dates back nearly 3,000 years. However, TCM has a lot of validity to offer in the age of modern medicine. Thousands of studies have proven acupuncture, just one of the modalities used in TCM, can be very beneficial in the treatment of low back pain. Here are five reasons why someone should consider getting acupuncture to treat low back pain.

  1. Acupuncture has no harmful side effects.  In comparison to most Western medical approaches to treating low back pain, acupuncture is the clear winner. There are no real negative side effects associated with acupuncture treatments. There may be slight bruising or a little tenderness after the treatments, but that pales in comparison to the side effects from most pharmaceuticals or surgical procedures. Even regular ingestion of ibuprofen can deteriorate the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, eventually leading to ulceration.
  2. Acupuncture is personalized healthcare.  One thing truly different about TCM is every patient is treated differently. There could be 10 people with the exact same Western medical diagnosis in an acupuncturist’s’ office, but they may all be treated differently. This is because not everybody’s root cause of the ailment is the same. This makes acupuncture treatments very personalized.
  3. Acupuncture reduces inflammation.  Back pain is frequently accompanied by joint inflammation in the spinal column. Acupuncture promotes the release of vascular and immune-mediating factors that actually decrease inflammation. Usually when inflammation is decreased, so is pain.
  4. Acupuncture improves sleep.  Low back pain can frequently disrupt sleep. With regular acupuncture treatments, not only is the pain and inflammation of back pain decreased, but so is the sleep interruptions due to the aforementioned pain. This is just one of the positive side effects of acupuncture.
  5. Get your life back.  Regular acupuncture treatments can improve a person’s overall well-being.  And when it comes to low back pain, life can be changed dramatically. People sometimes have to miss work due to the pain and lack of sleep caused by the pain. But acupuncture can change all of that, allowing people to resume regular everyday activities.

For anybody who has ongoing low back pain, the five reasons listed above should give you hope acupuncture can provide relief. Call the office today at (406) 272-0474 to book an appointment for your low back pain! 

Acupuncture for pain relief

Plantar Fasciitis

Welcome to flip flop season! It’s finally summer!

It may feel good to finally slip on those flip flops or sandals, but these types of foot wear can be tough on our feet. Sandals tend to lack the good support and cushion that our feet need, which can result in plantar fasciitis or other aches and pains in our feet.

What is plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is a common condition affecting the feet. Inflammation of the fascia in the bottoms of the feet lead to pain. The pain can been in both feet or in just one. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including overuse, overweight, poor footwear, and tight calf muscles.

How can acupuncture help?
Acupuncture is great to:

  • Reduce inflammation
  • Increase circulation
  • Relax tight fascia or muscles

With less inflammation, increased circulation, and the relaxation of tight muscles, the area has a chance to heal and is given relief from pain.

What else can I do?
In addition to acupuncture, it is important to make some other changes. Some things to try at home include:

  1. Getting new shoes: invest in some new shoes or shoe inserts to provide your feet with good support. Shoes that are worn daily should be replaced about every 6 months.
  2. Stretching: focus on stretching tight calf muscles as well as the bottoms of the feet.
  3. Contrast therapy: alternate heat and ice on the feet. This can be done a number of ways. Try setting up 2 basins of water, one with cooler water and the other with warm water. Place feet in the warmer water for about 3 minutes, then switch to cooler water for about 30 seconds. Repeat the cycle about 3 times. This can be done daily or even multiple times per day.
headaches, migraines, pain relief

Migraine Relief with Acupuncture

Last week, I had the pleasure of being a part of the Advanced Care Hospital health expo and visiting with many of the employees and their families. The most commonly asked about condition was MIGRAINES! And yes, acupuncture can be an excellent treatment option for migraines!

Many struggle with migraines and the symptoms that may accompany them such as nausea, vomiting, light sensitivity, sound sensitivity, and others. The intensity of symptoms can significantly impact a person’s day.

Luckily, there are treatment options, most common being medications. For some, these can be an effective option. But for others it may not be enough.

Acupuncture can be an awesome option if you’ve recently started getting migraines or if you’ve been having them for years. Recently, more studies have supported the effectiveness of acupuncture for treating migraines, showing reductions in frequency and intensity of migraines.

Acupuncture can safely be combined with other therapies you may be doing such as medications, Botox injections, massage, lifestyle modifications, and others. Often, combining acupuncture with other therapies can improve the overall effect and outcome.

Interested in trying acupuncture for migraine relief? Give me a call at (406) 272-0474 or book online!

auricular acupuncture, acupuncture billings, mt

Auricular Acupuncture

I’m a huge fan of using acupuncture points around the ear, but my patients are often confused why I choose to use points in this area when they’re coming in for something like foot pain.

What Is Auricular Acupuncture?
The ear is considered a microsystem of the body, meaning the entire body is depicted on the ear. So, points on the ear can be used to treat symptoms in any part of the body. Auricular acupuncture points are commonly used for drug detoxification, weight loss, and anxiety or emotional issues. Points on the ear can be combined with body points to increase the effect of treatment.

Take The Benefits of Auricular Acupuncture Home!
One of my patients’ favorite part of treatment is being sent home with ear seeds. Ear seeds come from the vaccaria plant. The seeds are attached to the ear with a small piece of tape. The pressure from the seed sitting on the skin, stimulates the acupuncture point for a few days. The effects of acupuncture treatment can be prolonged with the use of ear seeds. After 5 days, the seeds should be removed and new seeds can be applied. Many patients report improved symptoms, decreased stress, and improved sleep with the use of ear seeds!

Interested in more info? Check out this clip!

Acupuncture vs. Dry Needling – What’s The Difference?

Dry needling is increasing in popularity. In 2016, dry needling by physical therapist in Montana became legal. So, more and more, I come across individuals confused about the difference between acupuncture and dry needling.

Here’s the difference:

Acupuncture is performed by licensed acupuncturists with a minimum of 3 years of training and at least a Master’s level education. Training includes Eastern philosophy and sciences as well as Western sciences like anatomy and physiology, microbiology, and Western clinical sciences. In addition, acupuncturist typically graduate with 1,000 hours of clinical training treating patients with acupuncture.
Dry needling is performed by physical therapists or other health care practitioners. Typically, these individuals are also highly trained and educated in their field. However, the training in regards to needling usually comes from a weekend course.

Acupuncture aims to treat the whole person, creating balance in the body so it can function optimally, heal, and repair. Acupuncture targets symptoms like pain, digestive issues, or fertility while also improving the overall function of the body. Treatment takes into account the person’s overall constitution from an Eastern perspective while also considering related structure, musculature, Western diagnoses, and neuroanatomy.
Dry needling focuses on pain conditions by releasing tight muscles. Treatments typically revolve around releasing trigger points that may be contributing to pain. Many patients experience soreness for a few days after treatment due to the focus on trigger point release.

Here’s the similarities:

Both use thin, filiform needles to encourage change in the body.
Both are based on science and backed by research.

Acupuncturists can work hand in hand with other healthcare providers such as physical therapists, chiropractors, MDs, PAs, and NPs in order to create an integrated treatment plan. Each practitioner can focus on their specialty, while providing optimal outcomes and results for patients.

The Many Health Benefits of Ginger

I have to admit I was pretty excited when we finally got a good layer of snow here in Billings, but I’m a baby when it comes to the cold weather! Luckily, there’s a very popular Chinese herb (that I’m sure you’ve heard of) that makes a super warming and delicious tea.

Ginger, or sheng jiang, is an herb found in many Chinese herbal formulas. It’s in so many formulas because it’s such a beneficial herb! Often, it’s added to balance out the formula so that none of the herbs are too harsh or cause digestive upset. But, it can be used alone for many health benefits too! Ginger is great for:

  • digestive upset – the warming property of ginger makes it great for promoting healthy digestion. Try ginger for an upset stomach or after indulging in a large meal.
  • nausea – many people experience nausea, whether it be from motion sickness, morning sickness, or chemotherapy. Ginger is a safe and well known remedy to combat nausea naturally.
  • common cold – ginger is considered a diaphoretic, which means it promotes sweating. During a cold, it will seriously warm you up and encourage your body to sweat out that cold.

Here’s how you can make a cup of warming ginger tea for yourself!

  1. Bring 2 cups of water and 6 slices of fresh, peeled ginger to a boil and allow to boil for about 10 minutes. Feel free to add more ginger or boil longer for a stronger tea.
  2. Remove from the heat, remove slices of ginger, and pour into your favorite mug! A little honey can be added for taste if desired.

So easy and so delicious. Great to calm an upset stomach, promote healthy digestion, reduce nausea, or just warm up on a cold January day!


quit smoking, new years resolution, acupuncture, billings montana

New Year’s Resolution: Stop Smoking!

With a new year, many people make resolutions for a happier, healthier life! For many, this resolution may be to stop smoking. This is no easy task, but thankfully, there are lots of tools available to quit smoking with acupuncture being one of them!

A specific acupuncture protocol has been developed to target nicotine addiction as well as other addictions. The NADA (National Acupuncture Detoxification Association) protocol includes 5 points on the ear. The entire body is depicted on the ear, so using points on the ear can be extremely effective for treating the whole body. The NADA protocol includes these points on the ear:

  • Shenmen – reduces stress and anxiety. Promotes overall relaxation.
  • Sympathetic – balances the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems and improves circulation.
  • Lung – focuses on lung health and addiction related lung issues.
  • Liver – promotes detoxification.
  • Kidney – seen as the root of Qi. Promotes overall health and balance in the body, physically and emotionally.

This point combination powerfully combats cravings while also creating overall balance in the body to reduce associated symptoms like anxiety, weight gain, irritability, and restlessness. Additional points will be added to the treatment based on your unique presentation.

Often, a series of treatments will be needed to continue supporting the body through the detoxification process. Acupuncture can be combined with many other tools including nicotine patches, gums, lozenges, etc. to help you reach your goal! To stop smoking is not easy task, but this new year, approach your resolutions with the support of acupuncture!

acupuncture for weight loss, acupuncturist in billings montana, acupuncture clinic

Acupuncture & Weight Loss

With the holidays right around the corner, many feel stressed about the extra pounds that come with all those holiday treats. Often, I’m asked if I can do acupuncture for weight loss. Here’s the answer: Acupuncture can help support healthy weight loss, BUT diet modifications and exercise are still the most important tools to get the job done and reach your desired weight.

Acupuncture creates overall balance in the body. By re-establishing balance in the body, it can function optimally, metabolizing what you put in and efficiently getting rid of the waste. Acupuncture helps balance out the emotions too. Reducing stress, depression, and anxiety can put a halt to unhealthy eating habits that we turn to for emotional support. Specific cravings can also be targeted with acupuncture. Got a sweet tooth? Acupuncture can help reduce cravings, making it easier for you to make healthier choices.

Acupuncture treatment for weight loss will usually focus on using points in the ear in combination with body points. In Chinese medicine, the entire body is depicted on the ear, so a huge variety of conditions can be treated by just using ear points. After the treatment, the practitioner may send you home with ear seeds. Ear seeds sit on top of the skin and are attached with a small piece of tape. The small seeds sits on top of the acupuncture point to continue stimulating that area to prolong the effect of the acupuncture treatment. Ear seeds can be left on for 3-5 days and need to be pressed on daily to stimulate the point. Keep in mind, weekly acupuncture visits will be needed initially to encourage and support optimal weight loss.

Acupuncture can be an excellent tool for weight loss when combined with diet modifications and regular exercise. Happy holidays!