Case Study:

Tracy was born in Korea and came to Boston when she was 25 years old for her master’s degree in Wellesley College. She is very fit, exercises regularly and eats a lot of fruits and vegetables. There are two kinds of food that make her very happy: spicy food and ice cream. At Wellesley College, a very rich alumna donated a large amount of money to provide various kinds of flavored ice cream for free. Tracy would have a small bowl of ice cream after her spicy lunch or dinner. She had so much energy with the stimulation of her spicy food that she finished her master’s degree in biology within two years at Wellesley College. She met a very nice researcher at MIT in Boston. They soon got married in one of the churches in Needham. After a few months, Tracy got pregnant. They decided to buy a house in Needham because the school system is good.

Tracy has a regular period every 26 to 28 days. A few months after her Wedding in Boston, she started spotting when her period was due. She thought that this was the regular period because she tended to spot a few days before and after her period. Thus, her regular period could last 8 to 10 days with some cramps, which sometimes caused infections, such as UTI. She thought that the infections were just part of life; she would take an antibiotic for a week, then the infection would go away. This time, she did not get the UTI, but she never got a full flow of blood, and the spotting kept going for more than 10 days. She decided to visit her gynecologist at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, and, surprisingly, she was told that she was pregnant.

Tracy had a normal HCG when she was 7 weeks pregnant, but her spotting continued intermittently. She was not worried initially, but the spotting continued through 7 weeks of the pregnancy after she saw the little heart beating fast inside her uterus when she went to see the endocrinologist at Boston Medical Center. The newly-wed couple was very excited about this little new life, but the spotting worried them. The doctor at Boston Medical Center recommended endometrial biopsy if the spotting continued after 12 weeks. Usually after 12 weeks, when the placenta is well formed and progesterone reaches a very high level, there is less chance to have a miscarriage. Tracy followed the doctor’s direction and had an endometrial biopsy when she was 12 weeks pregnant. The endocrinologist could not find anything wrong in the uterus lining. However, after the endometrial biopsy, the spotting became progressively worse, with more and more fresh blood, until she had a miscarriage at 16 weeks into the pregnancy. The sudden drop of progesterone after the miscarriage put Tracy into a depressed mood. Every time she saw a pregnant lady passing by or heard that a co-worker delivered a healthy baby, she started crying. After having hope for a new life for 16 weeks, she ended up needing to have a DNC to clean up her uterus lining so that the spotting would stop after the miscarriage. She came to the Boston acupuncture clinic because, after reading the acupuncture and hormone balance book, she thought that her miscarriage might be related to her imbalanced hormones, due to the stress before and after the wedding in a fancy hotel in Boston.

After her Boston acupuncturist went through her diet and life style, she recommended that Tracy cut down on her spicy food because it can cause inflammation in her uterus lining and produce internal heat. In Chinese medicine, the internal heat can cause a miscarriage; that is why we use one of the herbs called Huang Qin to treat miscarriage. Tracy was told that the spotting could be related to inflammation of her uterine blood vessels. Also, the ice cream with bad fat and sugar can make the inflammation worse. Tracy was so traumatized by the miscarriage that she was determined to change her life style.

It was not difficult for Tracy to stop eating ice cream because it was not part of her diet when she was growing up. By 18 years old, a person’s eating habits are well formed; that is why it is so difficult to change a childhood habit. Tracy’s Boston Acupuncturist told her to think about how her blood vessels and nerves become inflamed with each spoonful of the ice cream because the bad fat and sugar can gradually block the small blood vessels in her uterus, her heart and brain, leading to endometriosis, fibroids, a heart attack and dementia. As an intellectual person, she did not want to lose her memory, and, besides, she had no free access to ice cream after graduating from Wellesley College. However, to stop eating spicy food was very difficult. Her Chinese acupuncturist told her that she should combine acupuncture treatment while she is trying to cut down on spicy food because the acupuncture can help her produce more endorphin, dopamine and serotonin, which would reduce her craving for the spicy food. With each acupuncture treatment in Needham, it became easier to reduce the amount of the spicy food she and her husband consumed. She noticed that her spotting on the days before and after her period became shorter and shorter, and the cramps went away. Furthermore, her skin did not look as red as before (she had been told that she might have rosacia when she visited a dermatologist in Dedham). Also, a patch of eczema that she had had on her elbow area almost totally disappeared. After 3 months of acupuncture treatment twice a week, Tracy now has a much shorter period, lasting only 4 to 5 days, and is no longer depressed. She decided to have another month of acupuncture treatments before trying to conceive naturally again.

Read more: Infertility chapter of “Acupuncture and Hormone Balance” on page 330 in www.lulu.com