Nestled in Panay Avenue, close to Roces Avenue, in Quezon City, there is a convent under the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God (SMIC) where one of the nuns is an acupuncturist. Her name is Sr. Regina Liu (her Chinese name is Shengrong Liu).
This unassuming woman is behind a number of happy pregnancies, ones that were deemed unlikely, even impossible. She doesn’t have to tell me. I can see it in the number of babies’ pictures lining her shelves. Sr. Regina Liu has helped countless couples conceive through the ancient healing medicine of acupuncture.
Could acupuncture solve infertility?
According to Sr. Regina Liu, acupuncture offers no guarantees, just like any kind of fertility treatment. “However, more often than not, acupuncture is effective for ‘unexplained infertility’ cases. Usually, these types of situations have to do with hormonal imbalance and stress. In cases of tubal adhesion or blockages due to inflammation or endemetriosis, I usually ask the patient to see a doctor because a more aggressive treatment is needed or maybe even an operation. Acupuncture is more of a natural and conservative way of healing.”
Smartparenting.com.ph conducted a Q&A with Sr. Regina Liu. Read on and find out why you or any of your friends who are trying to conceive should consider acupuncture as an alternative.
In Chinese medicine, what causes infertility? How is acupuncture a remedy for infertility?
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a complete medical system which includes: acupuncture, Chinese herbs, oriental massage, nutrition and exercise. Medical communities throughout the world are integrating this medicine into their healthcare systems. The TCM emphasis is placed on understanding and treating the underlying cause of each individual’s imbalance.
It is very different from Western medicine in that it is holistic rather than specific. In Western medicine, the emphasis is on specialization. That’s why if you have an eye problem you see an eye doctor. If you have a heart problem, you see a heart specialist. In TCM, the entire body is related and individuals are treated uniquely. In the case of infertility, there may be many possible causes. However, as an acupuncturist, I don’t just look at the reproductive system. The reproductive system is related to the whole body, to your environment, to your work, and to your stress levels.
I’ll give you an example. In TCM, the kidney, the liver and the spleen are all related to your reproductive system. Did you know that your liver controls your emotions and your blood flow? Your kidney doesn’t just have to do with your urine and bowel movements, it also has to do with the flow of energy in your body.
Another factor in reproduction is your body’s essence. There is such a thing as the body essence that you inherit from your parents, your body essence that is established before birth (pre-heaven) and your body essence after birth (post-heaven or what you could call nutrition and environment). The essence that you inherit from your parents gets consumed by your body as you grow older. The only way to restore it is through nutrition.
Acupuncture is the insertion of fine needles into the body to stimulate and balance the flow of Qi (or Chi), which is the body’s natural energy or life force. These points have been mapped by the Chinese over a period of two to five thousand years. Recently, electromagnetic research has confirmed their locations.
Acupuncture is a way to tap your body’s natural channels of energy (or Chi) to stimulate your own body’s healing. TCM theory explains that either an imbalance or a blockage of the energy (Chi) circulating through the body causes pain and disease. Acupuncture allows Chi to flow to areas where it is deficient and away from areas where it is excessive. In acupuncture, we simply stimulate points in your body that will release hormones or any of your body’s natural chemicals so that they can do their job more effectively. That’s why it’s a very natural way of doing things. Nothing is introduced to your body. Your body produces its own medicine.
What can a couple expect from an acupuncture treatment? Does it hurt? Are there any side effects?
Usually, I read the lab results first to know whether the treatment is for the husband or the wife. Each treatment is unique and depends on the patient. It definitely doesn’t hurt. However, I’ve had patients who just faint at the sight of a needle. That can’t be helped. The most you’ll feel is a pinch. There are no side effects in acupuncture other than maybe some slight bruising where the needle entered. This usually disappears in two days.
How long does an acupuncture treatment for fertility last?
It depends, younger patients take less time. A typical treatment will last two to three months. For some patients who are rushing for an IVF (in vitro fertilization) procedure, I’ve worked with a timeline of less than a month but I ask the patient to come in twice a week. The actual acupuncture treatment itself takes no more than thirty minutes.
Are there things a couple can do to increase their chances of conceiving?
It’s important for the couple to have a healthy lifestyle first. How can they bring up healthy kids if they themselves are not healthy? There are two major areas they can improve their lifestyle:
- Diet – Don’t eat junk food. Eat a lot of fresh and natural food. Don’t drink too much cold beverages. Take lots of soup instead.
- Rest and Relaxation – Stress plays a major role in reproduction. Sleep early and get enough rest. That’s the best way for you to prepare your body to conceive.
What can you say to critics of acupuncture?
Most likely, people object to acupuncture because they don’t know much about it. It helps to be better equipped with information. Do your own investigation. In my case, I did not just study TCM, I also studied Western Medicine. I know how these two can work together. I suggest to people to find out as much as they can on their own. I’ve known of a lot of medical doctors who refer their patients to me because they’ve seen results from what I do.
My experience of Acupuncture: Painless and Relaxing
Assuring me that it’s safe for pregnant women, Sr. Regina Liu asked me to lie down in one of the four or five cubicles of the clinic. As I was lying prone, she showed me the needles and how thin they were. First, she asked me to show my tongue to her. Apparently, that was one way for her to check the flow of my Chi. I had to do this several times until she felt it was time for her to insert the needles.
When she started inserting some on my scalp, arms and legs, I could scarcely feel them. The most pain I felt was a pinch. After all the needles were in place, she put some herbs on two of the needles on my legs and lit them up like incense sticks. The smell was very potent. According to her, the main Chinese herb of the Moxa was called mugwort in English. She then dimmed the lights and told me to just rest. With not much light and piano music playing in the background, I fell asleep. I hardly stirred when her assistant replaced the Moxa with a new batch. After what felt like more than 30 minutes, she woke me up and told me that my session was done. She said it was good that I felt relaxed enough to sleep. “This acupuncture treatment will ensure that your baby is strong,” Sr. Regina said, smiling. And I have no doubt that it will.
Sr. Regina Liu has been practicing Chinese medicine for more than twenty years. She took her master’s degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine from the Academy of Chinese Culture and Health Sciences in Oakland, California. She is a California licensed acupuncturist and herbalist. Contact her through: (02)373.5503; (0917) 541.5464; or firstname.lastname@example.org. Her clinic is located at St. Francis Health Care Clinic, No. 19 Panay Avenue, Quezon City. Each session approximately costs Php 700.