TCM Basics and How It Treats Baby’s Breech and Infertility in Women

tcm treats infertility in womenTraditional Chinese Medicine is partially known for treating infertility and baby’s breech in women via acupuncture and other treatments. In the following I would like to discuss with you basic concepts about TCM and my personal clinical experience in successfully helping my patients achieve pregnancy and correcting baby’s breech positions.


Basics about Traditional Chinese Medicine

According to TCM, qi and blood is the foundation for a physical being, whereas meridians are channels for connecting different innate organs and transporting qi and blood inside the body. The introduction of acupuncture and Chinese herbs can not only regulate qi and blood circulation and replenish both, but help adjust the secretion of hormones as well.

Specifically speaking, TCM sees herbal medicines as a type of materials that nourish body constitutions; meanwhile, it uses acupuncture to invigorate meridians as well as qi and blood circulation (in the original Chinese texts, this concept reads “中药调体质,针灸活经络”).

Besides, acupuncture plays an important role in regulating the metabolism and balancing hormones inside the body. It does so by stimulating meridians and particular acupuncture points as well as triggering the body to go through a series of sophisticated mechanisms. Acupuncture rebalances the body by triggering neurotransmitters instead of relying on external hormonal injections or other kinds of hormones not naturally produced by the body.

The entire process is effective and barely has any side effect, helping a weak physical body become stronger and achieve balance in qi and blood, and yin and yang. This is what Traditional Chinese Medicine refers to an optimal state of health and well-being. In the original Chinese texts, it writes: “阴平阳秘、精神乃至.”


TCM Helps Women with Infertility and Baby’s Breech

Women’s physical conditions are different men’s.

According to Chinese Medicine, women experience different stages in their lifetime than what men have to go through. That is because women have their own special physical constitutions different from men’s. There are six important stages that a woman would need to experience: menstruation, leucorrhea, pregnancy, delivery, menopause, and post-menopause. Every stage has its own characteristics and areas that need their special attention. TCM, as an observational medicine with a long history on the topic of women’s health, has accumulated rich experience. In China, in every big hospital, TCM Obstetrics and Gynecology (OB/GYN) Department is one of the major departments, from which you can see TCM is playing a very important role in women’s health in the country.

Recently, in the US, more and more people have realized the value and unique contribution of TCM to women’s health, especially in infertility supporting treatment and in improving menopause-related health conditions.

As an example of how TCM can help women suffering from infertility, in the first four months this year, I was able to help three women successfully become pregnant with a combination of acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine and “medical diet”, also known as “dietary therapy” or “food therapy”.

Among my patients, some came to me after failing in three to six attempts of trying In Vitro Fertilization (IVF); others were simply not ready for IVF, but would like to give Traditional Chinese Medicine treatments a try. After carefully evaluating their conditions including their ages and other factors, I then suggested treatments for about three to six months. Luckily, in the end, they were able to become pregnant with healthy fetus. I feel honored to be able to apply my knowledge and expertise in the process of helping them achieve pregnancy, which is an important reason and motivation for me to continue my work in this area despite a lot of challenges and efforts.

From here, I would like to specifically mention one Chinese medical doctor named Kerong Xie, owner of Seattle Acupuncture and Herb Clinic in NE Seattle. As an acupuncturist and herbalist for more than 17 years, I am amazed that, at her job, she was able to help the patients achieve pregnancy even when they were refused by IVF centers because of their age, high FSH levels, poor reserves of eggs, irregular menstruation cycles and other conditions.

Besides TCM’s contribution in effectively treating women’s infertility, what most women do not realize is that TCM can also help late-stage pregnant women with their baby’s breech positions. Specifically speaking, acupuncture and moxibustion can help correct a baby’s breech position with a successful rate of 70 – 80%.

These simple and invasive traditional Chinese medical techniques are able to help a good number of women avoid cesarean section, commonly known as “c-section”.  To these days, I have been receiving patients referred by obstetrics (OB) doctors to correct baby’s breech. The positive results the patients have received so far have been able to convince both doctors and patients of the value in moxibustion to deal with baby’s breech issues.

As a matter of fact, helping women achieve pregnancy and correcting baby’s breech are not the only two roles that TCM can play. Traditional Chinese Medicine is deep and wide like the ocean. Women’s health is a big topic; and I believe TCM can deal with a wide variety of issues in this area because of its long history and rich clinical experience.


External Therapy in TCM for Variable Pain and Inflammation

external treatment

external treatment using herbal medicine

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), external therapy is an important part of a treatment program and has its own special value. Sometimes, it can achieve amazing results, and it is irreplaceable.

 I didn’t have a profound understanding of external therapy until last year when I broke my arm in East Tibet. On the top of the mountain in Jiuzhai valley, I tripped and fell down heavily. At that time, I couldn’t get any medical help,  and could only use the local herbal patch, a bandage and mountain snow to bind around my elbow.

My son and I had to take an eight-hour bus trip from a mountain area to get to Chengdu in Sichuan province. My whole arm and hand were black and blue and swollen. We went back to Beijing from Chengdu, I got the X-ray showing that I had fractured my  elbow and had a severe tear in my triceps. I visited the institute of traditional Chinese medicine, and they told me surgery was necessary.

Due to an insurance issue, I couldn’t get surgery in Beijing, so a doctor gave me some herb medicine pills for pain relief and anti-inflammation. As an acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist with pharmacist background, I didn’t take any western medicine during the whole procedure. I wanted to see if herbal medicine  could help with at least part of the recovery from the injury.  Well, it certainly did.

It was more than 20 days later when I came back to the US. I did need surgery to repair the triceps and bone in order for my muscle strength to come back. The surgery was very successful and I suffered very little.  For pain,  I only took one oxycodone. After the surgery, my cast was removed after a few weeks and  I found I could not bend my arm to my shoulder. My whole injured right arm, which is my predominant arm,  was rigid. Even with physical therapy the range of movement and flexibility improved very slowly.

I thought of herbal external therapy of TCM, so I started to use it every day. Each time after I did the herbal compress I felt improvement almost immediately. The range of the movement and flexibility improved quickly. I got back to work and daily activities.

From my own experience, I started to use more external treatment for patients in my practice. And it has achieved very good results. I started collecting from experts different external herb therapy formulas and began to use them  for some patients who had  already tried other therapies without success.

For example, my contractor’s niece, a young lady from California, had severe heel and foot pain. She had a lot of difficulty going up or down stairs, even just a few steps would cause a lot pain. She tried a western treatment for almost six months, even though the medicine made her stomach hurt. She quit her job and came out east to see her uncle. While I was listening to her describing the symptoms, I looked at her foot. It was very swollen and discolored. She asked me if I could help. I felt she had tried so many treatments already that she didn’t trust that mine would work, but I just told her that although I couldn’t guarantee the result I would try my best. I gave her a prescription for topical use.

One month later, she and her uncle came to see me and told me she was 90% better. She no longer had any problem going up and down stairs or walking. She said the other foot started to hurt,  and I told her to continue use the prescription. When I saw her again three weeks ago, she had totally recovered. She can even now help her uncle with some construction work . This year,  in addition to the acupuncture treatments, I recommended the use of  external treatment for patients to do at home for  different parts of the body, shoulder, knee, back, neck, etc. All achieved good results.

From all my clinical experiences, I realize that external herbal treatments in TCM can be an important part of a treatment program, especially since they are safe, effective, and not very expensive.

Electro-acupuncture and pain control

“Dear Ming,

I am so grateful for the END of the constant nerve pain (a big pain in the ass). After 2 acupuncture treatments with the stimulation of the TENS machine, my pain was gone.

It has been over 6 months since my treatments and I am pain free. Sincerely, Donna C.”




electro acupunctureMy client Donna brought my memory back to my first day I met her. It was several years ago, she showed up in my clinic by her friend’s referral. She was bending over her body, obviously, she had severe pain in her back. I thought that she looks pretty young, but her body was curved, which does not match her age. She told me she was a dancer, and she had a lot of injury, especially her back. She had a lot of chronic pain and acute pain. Especially she had middle back nerve pain and pain done to the buttock and leg.


I started treating her with acupuncture and herbal patches, these methods took some effects. But at the meantime, she went to the pain specialist, get cortisone shot, and after that, she suffered more sharp nerve pain, I believe she called doctors and complained. Every time when she came, her whole back stuck a lot of herbal patches. I looked at her severe pain, I thought maybe she needs some special treatment. I started the electro- acupuncture for her, usually I don’t use this so often.


I recalled many years ago, in Mass General “carpal tunnel syndrome” research, we used electrical acupuncture, with pretty good results to relieve the pain. After three times treatment for her with electrical acupuncture, the miracle happened, severe nerve pain was totally gone. Until now, five months later, pain hasn’t come back. She sees me less often, and does not need herbal patches over the body. I used the same machine to treat other patients, like neropathy, and achieved results as well. Patients decreased the use of pain medicine, the sensation of the pain burning changed from moderate to mild. I think I will use electroacupuncture more often for different kinds of pain.



Effectively Treating Gastrointestinal (GI) Disorder with Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine

ming at herb store

“I feel so much better after working with Ming Li. She helped me with a long-term digestive problem – after 10 visits or so, I was back to normal. Ming was very clear about my need to change my diet and eating habits in addition to using acupuncture. I highly recommend her services – it made a big difference in my life!

Still feeling good – no problems!”


I have many digestive ailments – Acid Reflux, Ulcers and IBS.  I’ve also had Pancreatitis and Diverticulitis. For years I endured severe stomach pain and diarrhea.  At various times, my gastroenterologist has prescribed Zantac, Prilosec and Nexium.  The last few years, I’ve been on Prevacid. I was referred to Ming by my cousin.  Since I started acupuncture with Ming, my stomach pain and diarrhea are practically non-existent.  It’s like a miracle!

I’ve referred at least 7 people to Ming, including my son and daughters.  I have nothing but praise for Ming and Acupuncture, and anyone having Ming as their acupuncturist should consider themselves fortunate.”



If you ask the acupuncturist or herbalist, what problem will have the best result of using acupuncture and herb medicines. Maybe different acupuncturist or herbalist gives you different answer depending on their personal experience and training. But for me, I’ll tell you Gastrointestinal (GI) disorder, at least, is one of the best results from acupuncture and herb medicines. They are fast, benign and long lasting in many perspectives.


I feel traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) on treating GI disorder have a lot of special and dramatic values comparing with western medicine. Western medicine has its own advantage, such as using endoscope to detect cancer and body structure problems, this is irreplaceable and cutting-edge medical science. However, western medicine target more on the symptoms and signs, so the function of western medicine became narrow when used in treatment, and a lot of medicine have to be used the whole life, which result in a lot of severe and harmful consequences. For example, long time using of anti-acid will cause patient easy to get GI infection disease because acid is very important for body. Acid is part of digest juice, and body’s digestive process cannot lack of the acid. Taking the anti-acid medicine may also destroy the important barrier for bacteria. Many years ago, from my family member’s case, I already noticed this. I asked question and looking for the solution. I talked to my patient and the medical doctor about my opinion of this.


Fortunately, now even main stream realize the consequence of using anti-acid medicine. On the New York times, there is a big article talking about this. It’s not only anti-acid drug, but also another common problem, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), gluten intolerance (celiac disease) or wheat allergy, all of these diseases are patients and doctors headaches, and western medicine had no successful treatment. But we used the TCM, especially differentiation in patient, and achieved much better result for a lot of cases. Some of my patients used to be every day, or every week onset, but after my treatment, they had significant improvement, and in some cases, they don’t have big onset for years, maybe we can call it clinical recovery. For more information, please refer to the testimonials.


Here are the two main points of the difference between eastern and western medicine in curing GI disorder:

1. From thousands of the years, because of the history of China and the developing country’s condition, Chinese as a nation tend to have more Gastrointestinal than western society, that’s why in TCM we have famous scholar Dongheng Li, who constructed the treatise on the spleen and stomach from both research and clinical practice based on huge population. We have rich treatment method, acupuncture, herb formula, self-health-care, life style changes, medical diet, etc.

2. TCM not only focus on symptoms and signs, but also helps the improvement of the entire body and restores the internal organ balance, which means re-harmonizing the relationship among different organs, because TCM is not isolating each organ, they look at the relationship and interaction of each organ. For example, emotional problem and stress may affect digesting system, cause the irritable bowel syndrome and acid reflux, which related with lever (lever has more connection with the emotion in TCM). Similarly, GI disorder also related with many organs, such as stomach, kidney and spleen. All of the treatments aim to restore the balance of the entire body, not only cure the symptoms such as acid, diarrhea and gas. If the patients maintain therapeutic life style changes, the rewards will be much more than you thought. The majority don’t need to take anti-acid drug, or very narrow restricted food, or expensive probiotic formula all their life time. That’s why treatments are more successful, benign, and long lasting.


If you think my points give you some inspirations, that makes my day. Hope you enjoy the rich food, clean water, fresh air, and appreciate what you have.  Hope you all stay healthy!


What Can Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine Treat?

Chinese HerbsChinese medicine is a system which can affect your health in the following ways:

  • promotion of health and well being,
  • prevention of illness
  • treatment of various conditions

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can be effective as sole treatment methods, or as a support or adjunct to western medical treatments for many illnesses.  The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes the use of acupuncture in the treatment of a wide range of medical problems, including:

  • Digestive disorders: gastritis and spastic colon, constipation, diarrhea. 
  • Respiratory disorders: sinusitis, sore throat, bronchitis, asthma, recurrent chest infections, 
  • Neurological and muscular disorders: headaches, facial tics, neck pain, rib neuritis, low back pain, sciatica, osteoarthritis.
  • Urinary, menstrual, and reproductive problems.

National Institute of Health (NIH) has concluded that acupuncture eases certain pain disorders and nauseous.

In addition to the above conditions, acupuncture is very helpful to address emotion and stress related conditions. More studies have shown that acupuncture can regulate the body’s immune system.

Chinese herbal medicine is more widely practiced than acupuncture in China and other Asian countries. Chinese herbs can address a broad variety of conditions than acupuncture. In some cases, Chinese herbs are more effective than acupuncture, such as hypertension (high blood pressure), hypercholesterolemia (high blood cholesterol), diabetes, arthritis. Chinese herbal medicine has shown impressive result in treating these health problems.

How Different is Chinese Medicine from Western Medicine?

As a Chinese medicine practitioner, I often see patients who had been treated by western medicine previously, usually for years, but received little or no success in treating their illnesses.  Many people who had been helped by Chinese medicine or saw others did became “devout converts”, and vowed to never return to western medicine anymore.Continue Reading

Side Effects of Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs?

I am often asked about the side effects of using acupuncture and herbal medicine.  It is an important question as that might be the one holding you back to enjoy the benefit of Chinese medicine. Using acupuncture and Chinese herbs usually have little side effects.  Both methods have been used safely for centuries by well-trained Chinese practitioners.Continue Reading