Happy Qi Xi! Traditional Chinese Festival

If it rains heavily on Qi Xi’ Eve, some elderly Chinese will say it is because Zhinu, or the Weaving Maid, is crying on the day she met her husband Niulang, or the Cowherd, on the Milky Way.

Most Chinese remember being told this romantic tragedy when they were children on Qixi, or the Seventh Night Festival, which falls on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month, which is usually in early August. This year it falls on Thursday, August 24.

As the story goes, once there was a cowherd, Niulang, who lived with his elder brother and sister-in-law. But she disliked and abused him, and the boy was forced to leave home with only an old cow for company.

The cow, however, was a former god who had violated imperial rules and was sent to earth in bovine form.

One day the cow led Niulang to a lake where fairies took a bath on earth. Among them was Zhinu, the most beautiful fairy and a skilled seamstress.

The two fell in love at first sight and were soon married. They had a son and daughter and their happy life was held up as an example for hundreds of years in China.

Yet in the eyes of the Jade Emperor, the Supreme Deity in Taoism, marriage between a mortal and fairy was strictly forbidden. He sent the empress to fetch Zhinu.

Niulang grew desperate when he discovered Zhinu had been taken back to heaven. Driven by Niulang’s misery, the cow told him to turn its hide into a pair of shoes after it died.

The magic shoes whisked Niulang, who carried his two children in baskets strung from a shoulder pole, off on a chase after the empress.

The pursuit enraged the empress, who took her hairpin and slashed it across the sky creating the Milky Way which separated husband from wife.

But all was not lost as magpies, moved by their love and devotion, formed a bridge across the Milky Way to reunite the family.

Even the Jade Emperor was touched, and allowed Niulang and Zhinu to meet once a year on the seventh night of the seventh month.

This is how Qixi came to be. The festival can be traced back to the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220).

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TCM v.s IVF

More and more customers come for advice on IVF. I tried to summerize on how TCM helps with IVF today.

 

What is In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

Very basically, this is how it works. The woman’s ovaries are stimulated with drugs to produce a number of ripe eggs, which are then collected by a needle inserted through her vaginal wall. The eggs are then placed in a Petri dish in a special medium and mixed with a sperm sample that was provided while the eggs were being collected. Embryologists monitor the fertilization of the eggs and the development of embryos over the next 5 days. At the 5 day mark, one or two embryos will be returned to the uterus and any remaining embryos will be frozen for implantation during future cycles.

 

Couples using IVF have a pregnancy rate of 29 percent. Women younger than 38 have a slightly higher success rate (38% live birth rate) and those over 38 have a lower success rate (8-20% live birth rate depending on age). Women over age 42 have little chance of conception with IVF over natural methods.

 

 

How can TCM contribute to a good outcome in an IVF cycle?

According to TCM, various reasons cause infertility, mostly they’re “sheng xu” (deficiency of kidney), “gan yu” (depressed emotion),” tan zu” (stagnation of bad fluid), “xue yu”(stagnation of blood). TCM improves these conditions through traditional Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture to

 

-increase ovarian responsivity (and reduce FSH levels if they are elevated)

-increase estrogen levels if they are low

-enhance follicle/egg quality

-improve sperm vitality

-relieve side effects of drugs

-increase endometrium thickness where it is too thin

-increase implantation rates

 

Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine

Treatment with Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine does not influence the number of eggs ovulated but rather focuses on how well the eggs are nourished and stimulated to grow and travel down the fallopian tubes. It can also increase the number, motility, and genetic quality of sperm

 

Acupuncture

The use of acupuncture has a very good effect and enhances IVF results. There is no restriction with its use. Acupuncture is useful in facilitating movement in the fallopian tubes and preventing spasm of the fine muscles in the walls of the tubes.

 

Acupuncture improves the outcome of IVF in four ways:

  1. Can alleviate the side effects of medical      treatments and improve response to hormonal stimulation.
  2. Can improve the blood flow to the uterus and      ovaries
  3. Can alleviate tension which is caused by these      extremely stressful procedures
  4. Can calm the uterus to prepare it for      implantation

 

When ovaries are functioning well, they are responsive to stimulation by FSH and the estrogen levels will be high. High estrogen levels prime endometrium development, stimulate more follicles and possibly contribute to better quality eggs.

 

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for preparation of an IVF cycle:

TCM emphasizes quality over quantity in IVF clinics. Kidney-Jing (essence) is the quality of inheritance that is being ignored in IVF clinics. Some studies are showing an increased risk of low birth weight and birth defects in IVF and ICSI (Intracytoplasmic sperm injection) babies. TCM is free of side effects and risks to mother and baby, is time-tested, and holistic. One thing about TCM that patients should be patient with is the fact that it is a bit slower acting than most western medical procedures. Often women become pregnant in the few months that they are preparing themselves for the IVF procedure as a result of TCM.

 

Suggested Treatment Plan:

Time: 2 months of treatment at least, longer time is possible to be required based on patients’ condition.

Methods: Acupuncture together with Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine.

Frequency: 3 times in a week for 2-3 weeks at first.

1-2 times in a week afterwards.

 

TCM v.s Breast Cancer

Currently in China, TCM is widely used to cure different types of cancer, together with western medicine, operation, radiation therapy and etc. Among all kinds of cancer, TCM has the most effect on breast cancer due to its special advantage in Gynecology.

In ancient TCM literature, breast cancer is mentioned as “ru yan” (literally translated in English: The hard stone in breast.).

“Toxicity” has been mentioned since then to describe the cause, development, and the metastasis. According to TCM, breast cancer is formed because of “liu ying fu du” and “qi qing yu du”, which can be simply explained as “toxicity accumulated by the outer environmental invasion” and” toxicity generated inside in the body due to improper emotional outbreak”. “Stagnation and its accumulation by bad fluid together with coldness” is the core reason that breast cancer develops. “The spreading of such stagnation and accumulation” is the reason for cancer metastasis. The treatment guidelines, based on the causes of breast cancer, are “ruan jian san jie”, “san jie pai du”, and “fu zheng chu xie”, which can be simply explained as “resolving the hardness”, “clearing the stagnation and dredging the flow”, and “detox and strengthen the body resistance”.