Monday, November 9, 2015

Dr. Serena faced off with Dr. Eletto on embarrassing issues like dandruff, bad breath, and excess gas. See what we had to say!

Click here for the link: That's Embarassing!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Week 40 - Placenta Consumption?

Official due date is today and I'm still pregnant...and I'm very ready to meet him!

One of the many phone calls I plan to make immediately postpartum is for my Placenta.  I am going to have my placenta picked up and prepared into capsules - all within 72 hours of delivery.  Yeah yeah, so it sounds weird and trendy. Lately it's been getting attention since celebrities are doing it (like Kourtney Kardashian, Alicia Silverstone, Janauary Jones).  But this isn't a new trend.

I have been planning to do this since my Chinese Herbal Medicines classes a decade ago.

Placenta (or zi he che) has been in the Chinese Herbal Materia Medica - considered a Chinese 'herb' - since the 1500s!  It literally translates to 'purple liver vehicle', which suggests that it's a vehicle that benefits the liver.

  • In fact, it is a strong liver and kidney tonic and may be helpful for those with fertility issues and kidney qi deficiency.  
  • Full of nutrients and blood, it's also a powerful blood and Qi tonic, which is perfect for the postpartum mom to help with lactation while tired and recovering from childbirth.  It also claims to help with postpartum depression - which oftentimes may makes sense since it may be a 'blood deficiency' pattern in Chinese Medicine.
Although placentophagy is not well-researched and not FDA-approved, for me, it's important that my placenta will be processed properly.  I found someone with the APPA (The Association of Placenta Preparation Arts  These APPA providers have gone through their training program emphasizing proper sanitation according to OSHA/EPA guidelines, respect for the placenta, proper biohazard disposal, etc.  

The national average cost of placenta encapsulation service is anywhere between $150-400, plus separate fees for tinctures, salves, prints.

So this is not for everyone, but for me, this organ has been a life source for my son, and it would be a such a shame to just throw that into biohazard waste.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Week 39 - Is it possible to help induce labor?

Home stretch!  This week Dr. Christine and I will start with stronger labor acupuncture treatments. Today, I'm one week from the due date - but you know, babies are rarely born on their actual due date so I have no expectations.  :-)

I want to discuss other techniques I suggest for my patients for inducing labor.  There are some that I personally DO NOT advocate because I find them too harsh (blue cohosh, black cohosh, castor oil).

Instead I prefer these methods:
  • Evening Primrose Oil - evening primrose oil is high in GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) which is a precursor to certain prostaglandins needed to 'ripen' or soften the cervix.  
    • starting week 34 - can take 500mg of evening primrose oil orally twice per day
    • starting week 36 - can insert 1-2 capsules (softgels) vaginally before bedtime (it will dissolve while you sleep!)
    • starting week 38 - can increase to 2-500mg capsules orally twice per day
  • Nipple Stimulation - produces oxytocin (which is considered a 'love' hormone) which brings on labor contractions as well as dilation of the cervix.  In fact, pitocin is the drug they use for labor induction which is synthetic oxytocin.
    • I suggest some major nipple stimulation with the breast pump - 15 minutes each breast twice per day (1 hour total).
  • Sex - a double whammy; semen contains high levels of prostaglandins and oxytocin is secreted, so go have sex!
  • Walking - the thought here is that walking (gravity) causes the baby's head to press on the cervix which may stimulate the release of oxytocin.

Might as well try it:
  • Food:
    • Spicy food -  thought to irritate the intestines and get things moving
    • Pineapple - contains bromelain which may soften the cervix

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Week 38 - Acupuncture for Labor Support

Many times we get mamas-to-be who come in at 39....40....41+ weeks because they are approaching an induction date and want desperately to avoid a medical induction.  Acupuncture is often mentioned as something that can help speed things along - and I've seen it to be quite effective (within 24 hours of treatment even!!!!).  I've also seen it make help labor progress quickly (<6 baby="" hour="" i="" labor="" with="">).

But, there are also times when acupuncture doesn't result in a natural induction.  My opinion is that acupuncture prepares the body for labor and will NOT induce or cause labor when the body/baby is not ready.  Acupuncture is a safe, gentle way to direct the body to do what it needs to do....when it's ready.

One Austrian study concludes that acupuncture supports "cervical ripening at term" and can shorten the time till delivery after the due date (Rabl 2001).  According to Western Medicine, it is thought that acupuncture with electro-stimulation may stimulate the release of prostaglandins and oxytocin.

According to Chinese Medicine, labor starts when:
  • yang energy becomes greater than yin energy
  • Qi and blood flow more freely
  • and the doors of the uterus open
Last week, I started receiving acupuncture for labor support (at week 37) where the points that were NOT to be used during pregnancy were needled with light stimulation.  And Dr. Christine and I have decided to do more aggressive needling next week at 39 weeks.

Each pregnancy is different, so here at Serenity Natural Health, we decide on a plan with each individual patient, to the patient's comfort level.  Acupuncture for labor support can start as early as week 36.  And some of our patients may want to start early with more aggressive treatments (in the case of an early induction with gestational diabetes, for instance) -- others prefer stronger treatment after the due date.

I'll definitely keep you posted on how it goes - I just know that he moves a LOT during and after treatments.  :-)

~Dr. Serena


Rabl M, Ahner R, Bitschnau M, Zeisler H, Husslein P.  Acupuncture for cervical ripening and induction of labor at term -- a randomized controlled trial.  Wein Klin Wochenschr.   2001 Dec 17; 113(23-24):942-6.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Week 37 - Moxibustion for Breech Baby

Luckily, I'm not dealing with a breech baby.  My little man is head-down and low in my pelvis, readying for his birthday!  But this is an issue that does come up in 7% of pregnancies (at week 32).

As early as 32 weeks, the doctor or midwife may start to feel for the baby's position, and if breech is suspected, s/he may send you for an ultrasound to confirm whether the baby is head up or head down. (BTW - we want the baby to be head down for birth.)

In fact, acupuncture (well actually moxibustion) to turn a breech baby is quite successful!  This is best done between weeks 32-37 when the baby is still small and mobile enough to move easily within the womb.

One study in the UK found that women who did moxibustion were 2x more likely to turn their breech babies than those who did not do moxibustion (Manyande 2009).  Also moxibustion showed to have few side effects and was noninvasive compared to external cephalic version (ECV) - which is a procedure with manual turning of the baby on the mother's abdomen performed by a doctor.

At Serenity Natural Health, we have mom come in for an acupuncture appointment where we will perform acupuncture, moxibustion at the little toe, and teach mom-to-be how to do moxibustion at home.  Babies tend to move a lot during acupuncture!  And sometimes baby flips during treatment. Butt more often, baby may take its time, so it's important to do moxibustion at home for at least 15 minutes twice per day at each toe for at least 10 days or until baby turns.  If you suspect that the baby has turned - double check with you obstetrician or midwife before continuing with moxibustion.

Moxibustion is safe, as it allows baby to turn on its own without stress or force.  And it doesn't always work - I had one patient whose baby did not turn due to umbilical cord issues, so in her case, not-turning was a good thing!


Manyande A, Grabowska C.  Midwifery.  2009 Dec 25 (6):774-80.  

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Week 36 - Maternity Leave

My last day before Maternity Leave is Friday, February 20th.  I plan to return in early April on a part-time basis to start.  I will keep you all posted of that schedule as soon as that's figured out.

The GREAT news is that is that the wonderful Dr. Christine will be covering for me while I'm on leave and available:
  • Tuesdays through Fridays: 9am till 8pm
  • Saturdays: 9am till 7pm
**Please NOTE: Dr. Christine will be away the first week of March (1st till 9th). There will be no acupuncture available that week.  If you need, an appointment I can refer you to acupuncture colleagues in the area.**

I will still be checking my emails on a daily basis and available for quick questions & supplement orders/refills.  I will also be available for naturopathic (phone) consultations during this time.  I will NOT be taking any new patients for phone consults during my leave.

For quicker updates, please follow me on social media.  I'll be sure to post pictures on Instagram!  :-)


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Week 35 - Babyproofing the Home

I'm not talking about locking up cabinets and getting electrical outlet covers - I figure I have more time to do that (once he's mobile) - instead, I'm talking about reducing toxic chemicals in the household.

We moved to a 2-bedroom in the Fall to accommodate our growing family, and how serendipitous that our landlord (prior occupant) was also passionate about keeping the apartment toxin-free!  She mentioned using only non-toxic paint (yay, minimal off-gassing) and household cleaners.  :-)

VOCs in paint is a big concern.  It's that paint smell that you have to air out.  VOCs stand for 'Volatile Organic Compounds'.  Some organic chemicals have been linked to cancer but the more immediate effects are: eye irritation, nose and throat inflammation, allergic skin reaction, nausea, headaches, dizziness, visual disorders, fatigue, and memory disorders.  Long-term exposure (painters) can develop damage to the kidneys, liver, and nervous system. 

We wanted to paint the nursery and other parts of the apartment to make it feel more homey and used:
  1. Benjamin Moore Natura paint which is zero-VOC and zero emissions, available in all the Benjamin Moore colors.  
  2. Lullaby Paints which claims to be the safest paint available with even food grade ingredients.
:: ::
The bigger topic here is what to use to clean the home.  This actually wasn't a big transition for us, as I've been researching and using non-toxic cleaning products in our home for years now but now I'm doing my research for baby products.

My top resource is the EWG's Guide to Healthy Cleaning {EWG = Environmental Working Group}. It rates products based on: 1) whether it contains hazardous ingredients, and 2) whether companies give full disclosure of ingredients.  They are rated letter grades A to F.

At home I use Planet's Laundry detergent, which is available in liquid and powder versions at an A rating (Planet 2x Ultra Laundry Detergent, For HE & Standard Machines & Planet Ultra Powdered Laundry Detergent, Hypoallergenic).

But others that received A ratings are are easy to find are:

  • Seventh Generation Natural Powder Laundry Detergents (in different fragrances) and their Natural Laundry Detergent Packs, Free & Clear.  Please note that the liquid version of Seventh Generation doesn't make the grade, so make sure to buy the powdered version {this is what my clinic laundry is washed in}.
  • Martha Stewart Clean Laundry Detergent (liquid)
  • Ecover ZERO Laundry Liquid Concentrate (liquid)
  • Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value 2x Concentrated Laundry Detergent (liquid)
  • Ology 2x Laundry Liquid, Free & Clear
  • The Honest Co. Honest 4 in 1 Laundry Pods, Free & Clear
For bleach, the non-chlorine bleaches are the only ones that make the grade:
  • Ecover Non-Chlorine Bleach Powder and Liquid
  • Seventh Generation Chlorine Free Bleach, Free & Clear (liquid)
  • Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda Detergent Booster & Household Cleaner
  • OxiClean Laundry Baby Stain Soaker
Unfortunately the database doesn't have a lot of the baby detergents on it - and the ones there don't rate well.  Right now I'm considering the Honest pods, Dapple, and Eco-Nuts.

I like to support local companies so I use the following for handwashing - which are NOT rated on the database:
  • common good dishwashing soap - I love this company because I can refill their beautiful glass bottles (I also love to reduce plastic use/waste) and their ingredients are plant and mineral based.
  • At the office I use the Green Depot Liquid Dish Soap.  Again I can bring this for refills at the Green Depot at 222 Bowery, which isn't too far from my office.
For my dishwasher at home, I use:
  • Seventh Generation Automatic Dishwasher Powder, Free & Clear, which scores an A on the database  :-)
  • Ecover Rinse Aid (also scores an A!)
Others that are good are:

  • Babyganics Foaming Dish & Bottle Soap, Fragrance-Free and Citrus
  • Planet Ultra Dishwashing Liquid, Hypo-Allergenic
  • Earth Friendly Products Wave Auto Dishwasher Gel, Fragrance-Free and Organic Lavender
  • Seventh Generation Automatic Dishwasher Detergent Concentrated Pacs, Free & Clear
  • The Honest Co. honest auto dishwasher gel, free & clear
  • Nice! Dishwasher Packs Single Dose Detergent
Rinse Aid
  • Seventh Generation Rinse Aid, Free & Clear
For the bathroom, I could do better, right now I use the Ecover toilet bowl cleaner which scores a B (not bad but could be better).  Better toilet bowl cleaners are:
  • Seventh Generation Natural Toilet Bowl Cleaner, Emerald Cypress & Fir
  • Earth Friendly Products Toilet Cleaner, Natural Cedar Scent
For Tub & Tile, the only one that rates well is the Seventh Generation Natural Tub & Tile Cleaner, Emerald Cypress & Fir.

Personally I'm minimalistic and use all-purpose cleaners for the tub & tile and kitchen surfaces.  Do I really need a different product for each room?  Again I use common good all-purpose spray.  Many people make their own vinegar based sprays which are great too!!!  I also use (all A's):
  • Bon Ami Powder Cleanser for tougher spots (like the tub)
  • Ecover Cream Scrub
Other great all-purpose cleaners are:
  • Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds Liquid Cleaner and 18-in-1 soaps
  • Arm & Hammer Baking Soda
  • Earth Friendly Products Orange Plus All Purpose Everyday Cleaner
  • Whole Foods All Purpose Cleaner, citrus; Whole Foods All Purpose Concentrated Cleaner, Pine; Whole Foods Green MISSION Organic All-Purpose Spray Cleaner & Degreaser, Lemon Zest; Whole Foods Market Green MISSION Surface Cleaning Wipes, Minty Fresh 
  • Planet All-Purpose Spray Cleaner
Glass Cleaners
  • Citra-Solv Citra Clear Window & Glass Cleaner
  • Whole Foods Market Glass Cleaner, unscented
  • Ology Glass Cleaner
:: :: 
I didn't include all the A cleaners, only the ones I see a lot at the market.  Please check the database for others and other categories.

Happy Cleaning!!
~Dr. Serena