Supplements for surgical recovery, as included in Prism Integrative Acupuncture's post-surgical recovery toolkit
Prism Blog, Surgical Recovery, Transgender Wellness

Best Supplements and Herbs for Surgical Recovery

What Herbs and Supplements Help with Gender Affirming Surgery Preparation and Healing?

When preparing for your gender-affirming surgery, there are many natural remedies and supplements to speed healing and make your recovery more comfortable. Knowing what to take, and when to take it is important. Always check with your doctor and/or surgeon before taking any supplements or herbs.

Things to Avoid: 

When preparing for gender-affirming surgeries, there are certain herbs and supplements that should be avoided in the days leading up. While each individual is unique, I tend to err on the side of caution, recommending stopping all herbs and supplements seven days before surgery. Do not take any supplements that your surgeon does not approve. 

  1. Avoid vitamin E, fish oil, omegas, ginkgo, and garlic at least seven days before surgery, as these can act as potential blood thinners.
  2. Avoid St. John’s wort, feverfew, bai shao, devil’s claw, dan shen, ginger, dong quai/dang gui/angelica, goldenseal, saw palmetto, reishi, echinacea, ephedra/ma huang, kava, ginseng, licorice, and valerian at least seven days before surgery, as these can either potentially cause excess bleeding or interfere with anesthesia.
  3. Avoid green tea and chili peppers at least 24 hours before surgery, or longer if your surgeon advises. 
  4. Avoid teas that contain herbs like hibiscus or mulberry leaf, which may lower blood pressure or blood sugar, at least seven days before surgery.

Supplements for Pre-Op: 

Leading up to your surgery, treat your body to supplements and herbs that will lead to faster healing overtime. Taking care of your body before gender-affirming surgery is key to a positive recovery. These supplements can help get you there.

    1. Vitamin D: Having your vitamin D and iron levels tested during your pre-op blood work can give you more information on whether or not you should supplement with the two. If you do decide to supplement with vitamin D, take 2000-5000 IU per day with food if not included in your multivitamin.
    2. Zinc: Taking 30-50mg of zinc per day with food for four to six weeks leading up to your surgery can speed healing post-op.

 

  • One month before your surgery, begin to take:

 

    1. A multivitamin with 25-50mg of B vitamin complex to boost immunity and reduce stress on your nervous system.
    2. 50mg of CoQ10 a day to reduce the stress of surgery on the heart and improve recovery.
    3. 500-1000mg of vitamin C a day to aid with wound healing.
    4. Milk thistle to detox the liver to prepare for successful anesthesia.
  1. Probiotic: Two weeks before surgery, begin taking a probiotic blend with acidophilus and bifida to reduce the risk of post-surgical infection.

Supplements for Right After Surgery: 

Help your body heal as fast as possible with these three herbs and supplements, taken right after surgery if your surgeon allows, or as soon as you get home.

  1. Dramamine Natural: Dramamine Natural is just super concentrated ginger, which studies show can be just as effective as metoclopramide, a common anti-nausea drug, at reducing nausea.
  2. Vitamin C: Take 500mg of vitamin C to help flush out the anesthesia and encourage collagen growth and repair. 
  3. Tea: Make a nourishing post-surgery tea of nettles, oatstraw, horsetail (equal parts), and rosehips (pinch); full of nourishing vitamins and minerals that speed healing.

Supplements for Post-Op: 

Check with your surgeon about when to begin taking supplements after surgery. Some surgeons will recommend waiting a few days before restarting supplements and herbs. This supplement plan should last for one month post-surgery, unless otherwise noted. After your supplement plan, return to your regular supplements and herbs as recommended by your healthcare providers. Don’t take anything that interferes with your regular medications and don’t stop taking your regularly prescribed medications around surgery unless your surgeon directs you to do so.

    1. Herbs for constipation: If you’re dealing with constipation, senna, aloe, and burdock are all gentle herbal supplements for post-op. You can take them with your surgeon prescribed stool softeners.
    2. Fennel: Drink fennel tea for gas pains.
    3. Vitamin C: Take 300mg-1g of vitamin C per day to help with wound healing. Vitamin C is required by the body to make collagen, the connective tissue in the skin that helps healing and prevents blistering. It also helps to strengthen the immune system and fight off infection. A good way to get vitamin C is through rose hips and camu camu berries. You can stop taking this after two weeks, unless it’s already part of your regular supplement regimen.
    4. Selenium: Eat a brazil nut everyday to give your body selenium, which is necessary for healing.
    5. Bromelain: Take bromelain for inflammation and bruising. It boosts the immune system to reduce pain, bruising, tenderness. Bromelain should be taken in doses of 1000-1500mg three times a day on an empty stomach, which is necessary. You can stop taking this after two weeks.
    6. Quercetin: Another anti-inflammatory supplement is quercetin, which can be taken in 1000mg doses up to two-three times daily to reduce swelling and reduce the tendency to develop hypertrophic scars.
    7. Willow: valerian, kava, and poppy teas can help ease pain, although they shouldn’t be combined with pain medication.
    8. Tea: Make a post-surgery tea of burdock (to aid with constipation, skin healing, lymph circulation, and liver detox), red root and cleavers (to help with lymph circulation, skin healing, and swelling), horsetail (silica for skin healing), gotu kola (for circulation), nettles, and echinacea. 

 

  • CoQ10: 100-200mg, aids in rebuilding cell walls and protects the skeletal muscles in the body.
  • B6: 250mg two times a day to reduce swelling (or use a multivitamin). This can be stopped one week post-surgery, unless it’s already part of your regular supplement regimen.
  • Milk thistle: to detox anesthesia from the liver; do not take at the same time as other medications or herbs.

 

  1. Zinc: 30-50mg per day for wound healing. You can stop taking this after two weeks.
  2. Probiotic: with acidophilus and bifida to reduce the risk of post-surgical infection.
  3. Omega 3s: 2000-3000mg of omega 3, like fish oil, per day to reduce inflammation and improve circulation. This should be lowered to 500-1000 mg per day after two weeks.
  4. Arnica: 30C of homeopathic arnica five times a day to reduce pain, bruising, and swelling.
  5. Vitamin D: 2000-5000 IU of vitamin D per day with food.
  6. Healing skin salve: Make a healing skin salve to use after stitches are gone of aloe, calendula, comfrey, plantain leaf, selfheal, yarrow, rosemary, and sage

Remember: If you can’t eat, drink, and/or urinate, or have a fever, chills, an infection, trouble breathing, unusual bleeding, redness, feel unwell, or have a hot feeling in the surgical site, call your doctor or go to the emergency room. Ask your surgeon what signs you should look for regarding post-surgical complications.

Get acupuncture home visits in Berkeley, Oakland, and the greater Bay Area to improve your recovery: www.prismacupuncture.com/appointments

This information is for educational purposes only, please consult a healthcare provider before exercising and always follow your surgeon’s advice.

How LGBT Inclusion Can Grow Your Acupuncture Practice
Acupuncture, For Providers, Prism Blog, Transgender Wellness

Free Webinar for Practitioners!

Did you miss last weekend’s free Gender 101 webinar for practitioners?

You can still catch the replay!

I am so honored to have participated in Lhasa OMS, CSOMA, and Smarty Practice’s ‘Love Your Practice’ digital summit last weekend, where I led a 1-hour training on ‘How LGBT-Inclusion Can Grow Your Patient Base.’ We reached 900 people!

Check out the replay online.

Creating an LGBT-Inclusive Practice Can Grow Your Patient Base

Katrina Hanson, L.Ac. – Prism Integrative Acupuncture

Click here.

Want to learn more?

Check out my upcoming 4-credit CEU class (CA pending): The LGBT-Inclusion Toolkit, Upgrade Your Acupuncture Practice.

Find out more: https://prismintegrativeacupuncture.com/lgbt-inclusion-webinar/

Four queer patients of color, including masculine of center nonbinary transgender patients and trans men
Prism Blog, Surgical Recovery, Transgender Wellness

Six Steps to More Comfortable Binding: Part One of Six

Guest blog from Sandy Baird DC of Riverstone Chiropractic


According to a Health Impact Study published in the Culture, Health, and Sexuality Journal, 97% of people who wear a binder experience uncomfortable side effects such as neck pain, shoulder pain, back pain, and trouble breathing.

Other than limiting the time you spend in a binder, changing/washing your binder often, and avoiding unsafe compression methods such as duct tape and ACE bandages, there are several steps you an take to decrease the discomforts associated with binding.

This collection of tips comes both from my personal experience wearing binders as well as my clinical experience in treating the musculoskeletal complaints that my clients experience from binding.

  1. Practice daily movement and stretching

Increasing circulation and stretching key muscles in your body can help release some of the tightness that builds up from the daily postural stress associated with binding.

One possible routine would start with five minutes of movement of your choice (walking, dancing, jumping jacks, etc) to increase general blood flow to your muscles.

Then spend 30-60 seconds performing each of the following stretches:

  • Trapezius muscles:
    • From a seated or standing position, tilt your right ear towards your right shoulder, imagining your neck growing long towards the sky before settling into the tilt.
    • This should bring a stretching sensation into your left neck muscles and trap muscles (the chronically tight muscle between your head and your shoulder.
    • If you want more of a stretch, you can reach up with your right hand and gently apply a bit of overpressure, being careful not to crunch your head down, but instead allowing more length in your neck.
  • Pectoralis minor muscle:
    • Find a doorway you can walk through.
    • Bring your right arm up and out to your side like a goalpost
    • Then place your right elbow and right wrist against the doorframe.
    • Your elbow should be level with your shoulder.
    • Slowly lean your torso forward into the door opening while keeping your elbow and wrist in contact with the doorframe.
    • If this stretch creates any pinching sensation in your shoulder, you can alternatively lie atop a foam roller placed vertically along your spine (head and hips supported) and drop your arms out to the sides.
  • Side stretch:
    • Reach your arms overhead if that is available to you, or plant your hands on your hips.
    • On your inhale, reach and lean upwards and over to your left side.
    • If your arms are overhead you may want to grasp your right wrist with your left hand.
    • You should feel a stretch along the right side of your body through your ribcage.
  • Cobra stretch:
    • lying face-down, place your hands under your shoulders with your palms down and fingers pointing forwards.
    • Draw your elbows back and in towards your sides so your shoulders won’t hunch up by your ears.
    • Then press up gently until you feel a generalized stretch through the front of your chest and abdomen.

Look out for next week’s post for tip #2!

The stretches, self-muscle work, and strengthening exercises are from my full core and glutes strengthening program available for purchase at www.engineeringyourbody.com. And if you are interested in exploring muscle-work or joint adjusting to alleviate your muscle and joint pain, you can find out more about my practice at www.riverstonechiropractic.com.

In happiness and health,

Dr. Sandy Baird, DC

Oakland Chiropractor Sandy Baird

 


Bio:
I’m Dr. Sandy Baird, DC. I’ve been providing bodywork in the Bay Area for over ten years now. First as a massage therapist, and now as a doctor who combines soft tissue work with joint adjusting. I feel that it’s important for queers to have a safe space to have their bodies worked on. Many of us already shoulder a lot of extra stress and tension from being constantly judged, worrying about what bathrooms we should use, and having to actively resist and fight back for our rights as our new state of “normal”.


References:
Health impact of chest binding among transgender adults: a community-engaged, cross-sectional study: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13691058.2016.1191675

 


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our free hormone health mini e-course.

Sandy Baird DC of Riverstone Chiropractic
Prism Blog

Featured on RiverstoneChiropractic.com: Acupuncture and Post-Surgical Care

Hi everyone! I’m so excited to share my newest article, which was featured on riverstonechiropractic.com (my favorite—and LGBTQ-focused!—chiropractor). Click to read more.

“In Chinese medicine, surgery is considered to block the flow of the meridians (similar to nerve and blood vessel damage in Western medicine). Improperly healed scars and old scar tissue can have the same effect, potentially causing pain, sensation loss, decreased circulation, and even impaired internal organ function depending on the depth of the scar tissue. Acupuncture as soon as possible after surgery helps to promote healing, reduce pain, swelling, and bruising, and prevent scar tissue from forming. Once the bandages are removed, scars can be worked on directly to prevent adhesions and reduce the appearance of scars. Cupping massage is also used to treat surgical scarring and adhesions to underlying tissues, and moxa can be used for post-surgical pain as well as reducing scars…

Surgical scars that are at least two weeks old can be worked on with acupuncture. Such treatments not only reduce scar pain, but also help to break up scar tissue and adhesions, increase local circulation, and aid healing. This leads to less noticeable scars and a reduction in keloiding. Scars may not only be cosmetically undesirable, but may also have an impact on health…”

Click to read more.


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.

 

a rainbow, symbolizing Prism Integrative Acupuncture's commitment to LGBT health
Acupuncture, Prism Blog, Transgender Wellness

Chinese Medicine, Natural Transition, and the Gender Binary

Chinese Medicine, Natural Transition, and the Gender Binary. A guest post on Tynan Rhea’s website (founder of postpartumsex.com).

A few excerpts:

Yin and yang are often associated with female and male energy respectively, which leads to the misconception that Chinese Medicine is inherently binary and therefore inappropriate for trans medicine. It is true that most diagnoses in Chinese medicine refer to the interaction between opposites: hot and cold, internal and external, excess and deficient, yin and yang, among others. However, yin and yang, though often associated with male and female energy, are more accurately represented by masculine and feminine.

The great thing about Chinese Medicine is that we always work from a constitutional root. We look at the person’s tongue and feel their pulse to identify the root of a person’s pattern and work on that as well as the symptoms. The goal is always to bring the patient into alignment with their constitution, not to change them based on societal expectations of their sex and what their hormone profile will look like.

I see many trans men pre-testosterone present as yang (testosterone) deficient and many trans women pre-estrogen present as yin (estrogen/progesterone) deficient. Treatment in this case affirms their identity and assists their transition. Once folks have been on hormones for a while, sometimes testosterone depletes yin and spironolactone (a testosterone-blocker) depletes yang. In this case, it is appropriate to tonify the depleted energy to bring the person back into balance. This does not in any way counteract their transition, it gently balances and keeps them healthy and aligned with their constitutions. Similarly, an intersex person with yin deficiency would be treated differently than an intersex person with yang deficiency, regardless of their chromosomes or type of intersex diagnosis.

Read more


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.

 

 

Supplements to support trans men while taking testosterone, including liver and cardiovascular heart health
Endometriosis, For Providers, Prism Blog, Surgical Recovery, Transgender Wellness

Supplements for Surgery

Supplements and Surgery:

You most likely know already that there are certain supplements and medications that you should avoid before surgery. Mostly these are supplements and medications that can cause excess bleeding, as well as those that can interfere with the anesthesia.

Surgeons’ opinions vary on which medications and supplements are okay and when to stop taking them. You should follow your surgeon’s recommendations to the letter. These suggestions will likely be more conservative than the ones you receive from your surgeon, because in holistic healthcare, we are interested in helping you achieve optimal health, not just the absence of disease. You can choose to follow these recommendations only if they fit with your surgeon’s recommendations as well. Do not take any supplements or herbs which you know you are allergic or sensitive to or which your doctor or surgeon has told you to avoid.

What to Avoid Before Surgery:

It is most important to avoid potential blood thinners for at least 7 days before and 3 days after surgery. Your surgeon may tell you to avoid them for even longer, depending on the type of surgery you are having. This includes any prescription blood thinners as well as garlic, ginkgo, vitamin E, fish oil/omega 3, and aspirin, ibuprofen, aleve, and other NSAIDs.

Some surgeons may also recommend that you avoid St. John’s Wort, dong quai/dang gui/angelica, feverfew, goldenseal, ginseng, ginger supplements, saw palmetto, reishi, echinacea, ephedra/ma huang, kava, licorice, and valerian for 7 days before and 3 days after surgery, as these can cause excess bleeding.

I tend to err on the side of caution, stopping all herbs and supplements (and any medications your surgeon tells you to avoid) 7 days before surgery.

Most surgeons say that tylenol is okay to take before surgery as needed, but don’t take it if you can avoid it since tylenol can be hard on the liver and your liver is already going to be stressed by the anesthesia. Check with your surgeon when deciding what to take.

Ideally, avoid alcohol, tylenol, and anything else that is hard on your liver 1 month before and after surgery to allow your body to safely process the anesthesia. This obviously does not apply if your surgeon prescribes or recommends tylenol before or after surgery.

Get plenty of sleep, exercise, stay hydrated, and avoid sugar (to keep your immune system healthy) in the month before surgery, and always!

Before Surgery Supplements:

There are certain supplements that can help you recover faster from surgery and risk less side effects. It is helpful to start taking these at least one month before surgery. Do not take any supplements that your surgeon does not approve and remember to stop your supplements one week before surgery.

Starting one month before surgery:
A multivitamin with 25-50mg of B vitamin complex
50 mg CoQ10/day: reduces stress of surgery on heart, improves recovery
500-1000mg/day vitamin C: necessary for wound healing, helps your body produce collagen
Milk thistle: detoxes the liver to prepare for successful anesthesia
2000-5000 IU vitamin D/day with food if not already included in your multivitamin

Starting 2 weeks before surgery, add:
30-50mg zinc picolinate/day with food: necessary for wound healing
Probiotic blend with acidophilis and bifida: reduces risk of post-surgical infection

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After Surgery

After surgery, start off with broths, including bone broth, fresh juices, soups, and other easy to digest foods like oatmeal. Green drinks and whole food based protein shakes are also great when you’re not up for eating real foods yet. Stay away from sugary drinks like gatorade and pedialyte, starches, breads, and crackers, as they can deplete your immune system and cause constipation.

After Surgery Supplements

As long as your surgeon says it’s okay, take 1000mg vitamin C as soon as you get home from the hospital and continue daily. Vitamin C is necessary for wound healing, helps your body produce collagen, and helps your liver break down the anesthetic.

Some surgeons will recommend waiting a few days before restarting supplements and herbs. As long as your surgeon says it’s okay, the day after surgery, start taking Resinall E from Health Concerns (three tablets three times per day, available by prescription from Prism) or 1000-1500 mg standardized bromelain 3x/day on an empty stomach. This helps speed recovery and reduce swelling and bruising. It is mandatory to take it on an empty stomach, otherwise it will just help digest your food but not have any effect on swelling and bruising.

Starting 3 days after surgery, add:
250mg B6 2x/day (or substitute your multivitamin if it contains B6): reduces swelling
100-200mg CoQ10/day: reduces stress of surgery on heart, improves recovery
Milk thistle: detoxes anesthesia from the liver
30-50mg zinc picolinate/day with food: necessary for wound healing
Probiotic blend with acidophilis and bifida: reduces risk of post-surgical infection
2000-3000mg omega 3 per day: reduces inflammation and improves circulation
Arnica 30C 4-5x/day: reduces pain, bruising, and swelling
2000-5000 IU vitamin D/day with food

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After one week post-surgery:
You can stop the B6/multivitamin, unless this is part of your regular supplement regimen

After two weeks post-surgery, you can stop taking:
Vitamin C or return to your usual dose
Zinc
Arnica
Bromelain
Lower your fish oil/omega 3 dose to 500-1000mg/day

One month post-surgery:
You are done with this supplement plan! Return to you regular supplements and herbs as recommended by your acupuncturist and doctors.

Happy healing :)


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.

 

video screenshot of Katrina Hanson LAc talking about how acupuncture can help the LGBTQ community
Acupuncture, For Providers, Press, Prism Blog, Transgender Wellness

Acupuncture and Trans Medicine

Just a little throwback to this video about my gender-inclusivity activism at my alma mater, the Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine College (AIMC) Berkeley. It’s so wonderful to reflect on how much my practice and my knowledge has evolved; all with the support of my wonderful patients. This has been a long process and I’m looking forward to continuing the journey with all of you!


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.

Katrina Hanson LAc of Prism Integrative Acupuncture, a lesbian queer acupuncturist in Oakland, Bay Area, California
Prism Blog

The Story Behind Prism

The story behind the name:

I created Prism Integrative Acupuncture to fulfill a community need for transgender-inclusive, integrative hormone care. I focus in transgender wellness, but also in fertility, menopause, and other hormone-related issues. So, in thinking of a name, I wanted something that was at once clearly LGBTQ inclusive, but not exclusive to everyone else.

I like ‘Prism’ because it not only brings up a visual of a rainbow, and thus flags queer inclusive, but it also implies multifaceted-ness. One stream of light through a prism can create an entire rainbow.

I like this image both in reference to identity as a prism, but also to healing as a prism; a multifaceted, integrative process. I don’t just do acupuncture in my practice. I also prescribe herbs, discuss nutrition and lifestyle, supplements, interpret lab results, and confer with a patient’s western providers. Holistic medicine to me is not natural medicine only, it is integrative, it incorporates everything that can help a person so you can get the most well-rounded and effective care possible.

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My story:

I’ve been passionate about herbal medicine for as long as I can remember; likely the result of being raised by a botanist with a deep love of plants. This passion sparked my interest in the holistic health field and was enough to get me interested in starting AIMC Berkeley’s rigorous 4-year Master of Science acupuncture program, where I could study not only the herbs I love but also acupuncture and so many other amazing healing modalities. Through the clinical program at AIMC Berkeley, I interned at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital and San Francisco’s Homeless Prenatal Program, as well as at AIMC’s school clinic, which allowed me to practice acupuncture in a variety of environments and with a broad spectrum of patients.

I went into the program with the intention of focusing in LGBTQ medicine, and this continues to be a driving focus of my practice, in addition to my specialty in hormone regulation. I love guiding patients through times of hormonal upheaval, allowing them to stay grounded despite the emotional turmoil that often accompanies times of illness. My favorite part of my job is watching people regain ownership of their healing process, reconnect with their bodies, and make positive changes in their lives.

In addition to maintaining a private practice, I am also a guest lecturer at AIMC Berkeley, teaching students about supporting transgender health and creating an LGBTQ-friendly practice, as part of their Masters curriculum. In my spare time, you can find me hiking or camping with my partner and our dogs.

Katrina Hanson MSOM DiplOM LAc
Founder, Owner, Acupuncturist


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.

a trans knowledgeable doctor talks to a trans patient
Prism Blog, Transgender Wellness

Transgender HRT: What are my options?

We ALL have the same hormones, just in different amounts and we USE different amounts of them too. Furthermore, we can change how our bodies use the hormones we already have. Every body makes progesterone from cholesterol, and that progesterone can turn into estrogen OR testosterone. The estrogen and testosterone in our bodies can also convert back and forth (estrogen to testosterone and vice versa). This is the reason you want to get your hormone dosages right: if you take too much, your body is just going to convert it into another hormone to maintain balance in your system. This could actually counter the desired effects of the hormone you are taking: too much estrogen in your system and your body will start converting it to testosterone, counteracting the changes you want to make.

Coming up with a plan for your body: There are many different options for transitioning, even when just using synthetic hormones. Most commonly, estrogen and spironolactone (a testosterone-blocker) are prescribed for trans women, and testosterone is prescribed for trans men. Testosterone is generally available in injectable or topical form, and estrogen is most commonly used in injectible form, though it is also available in pill form.
However, there are many other options as well. Progesterone helps to build tissue and can often be useful for developing breasts (used internally or externally with estrogen) or muscle tissue (used internally with testosterone). It can also help even out the emotions, preventing ups and downs that estrogen and testosterone can cause, as well as reducing side effects like bloating and water retention.
Aromatase is what turns testosterone into estrogen, so you can take extra aromatase instead of (or in addition to) taking estrogen. Likewise, you can take aromatase inhibitor to prevent that testosterone from turning into estrogen, instead of taking testosterone. There are many options for prescription hormones; it’s important to talk to your doctor about what will work best for your body.


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.

A transgender woman wearing a leopard print femme top
Acupuncture, Prism Blog, Transgender Wellness

The Three-Part Recipe for Natural Transitioning

What does natural transition mean?

In contrast to using prescription hormones and/or surgeries, natural transition usually involves some combination of social transition, presentation transition, herbs, acupuncture, and/or nutrition.

Herbs: Herbs are a desired alternative to HRT for many people who wish to experience only mild changes, rather than the more drastic effects of prescription hormones. Herbs alone may cause slight breast growth (feminizing herbs), or slight facial hair growth (masculinizing herbs). They can also be used to reduce hair loss, ease pain from binding and gaffing, and much more.
For most people, herbs aren’t going to change your hormones drastically alone, so someone might choose to start out taking synthetic hormones and, once they’ve achieved the effect they want, use herbs to lower their dose of synthetic hormones or switch to herbs entirely. Herbs can maintain the hormone levels and characteristics you’ve built up with synthetic hormones. This is a good alternative to the sometimes unpleasant side effects of long-term synthetic hormone use.
Herbs are also great at reducing side effects of prescriptions hormones, like hot flashes, acne, hair loss, vaginal dryness, blood pressure imbalance, edema and bloating, and many other effects.

Acupuncture: Acupuncture is most well known for its effects of reducing pain and speeding healing. It is in fact great for reducing chest tightness, back pain, and skin lesions from binding and gaffing, as well as reducing pain and swelling and speeding healing after surgeries. Acupuncture can also be used to reduce the appearance of scars, including keloid scars, improve circulation to reduce the chance of blood clots and edema, and regulate blood pressure. It also soothes anxiety and depression, improves sleep and digestion, and generally aids your overall well-being.

Nutrition: Foods alone won’t cause notable changes, no matter how strict of a diet you follow. However, certain foods do have the ability to change our hormone profiles, most notably those that are estrogenic. By increasing or decreasing estrogenic foods in your diet, as well as by eating a balanced diet aimed at encouraging detox and flushing out of other hormones, nutrition can be an important part of your transition plan.


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.

 

a trans man and a trans woman cuddling
Acupuncture, Prism Blog, Transgender Wellness

20+ Ways Acupuncture Supports Transgender Wellness

Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture have thousands of years of experience in dealing with hot flashes, low libido, erectile dysfunction, vaginal dryness, menstrual spotting, and hair loss, among other symptoms. Many of these treatments can be applied to transgender care, to complement hormone therapy during transition. Additionally, acupuncture has been shown to greatly reduce recovery time from surgery and help with post-surgical problems such as lack of sensation and scarring. Acupuncture and herbs can be used to stimulate hair regrowth, stop uterine spotting, and ease side effects of prescription hormones. We happily work with MDs, surgeons, and other healthcare providers to give you the most well-rounded care possible.

Acupuncture and herbs may help to:

  • Ease menstrual, uterine, post-hysterectomy, and ‘psychosomatic’ cramps
  • Reduce PMS/PMDD and cyclical bloating
  • Reduce spotting and breakthrough bleeding
  • Ease symptoms of endometriosis and fibroids
  • Soothe vaginal dryness and atrophy
  • Ease candida/yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis (BV)
  • Reduce pain with sex and increase orgasmic capacity
  • Improve fertility, and help restore fertility post-T
  • Improve prostate health and reduce swelling and inflammation
  • Increase erectile capacity
  • Balance hormones to soothe ups and downs
  • Speed effects of pharmaceutical hormones
  • Reduce hot flashes and night sweats
  • Reduce post-surgical pain, speed healing, and reduce scarring
  • Reduce compression pain, chest tightness, and skin lesions from binding and gaffing
  • Improve circulation to prevent blood clots
  • Reduce edema and water weight
  • Regulate low and high blood pressure
  • Reduce and restore hair loss
  • Reduce fatigue
  • Improve sleep
  • Benefit memory and concentration
  • Reduce stress and soothe anxiety
  • Lift depression
  • Boost your immune system to keep you healthy through the seasons

    All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


    Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

    Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.

A transgender woman with long hair
Acupuncture, Endometriosis, Fertility and Pregnancy, For Providers, Menopause and Beyond, Prism Blog, Surgical Recovery, Transgender Wellness

Treating Post-Surgical Constipation

photo credit: Practical Cures on flickr CC

Constipation is extremely common post-surgery, especially in combination with constipating pain killers, less physical activity, and irregular fluid and food intake. Often a bowel movement is required before a hospital will let a patient go home, so encouraging this process is especially beneficial to get you home sooner.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is extremely useful for alleviating postoperative constipation. Studies have shown that patients receiving regular acupuncture post-surgery actually perform better (have more frequent, easier,  less painful, more complete bowel movements) than those taking laxatives or stool softeners.

Points on your arms, legs, and abdomen are most frequently chosen for this purpose, especially points on either side of your navel and points on the stomach and large intestine ‘meridians’ (lines along the body in Chinese Medicine, sort of like dermatomes).

Acupressure

Several of these points can also be used at home as acupressure points for constipation. Press each point lightly (no more than an inch deep for abdominal points, about the pressure of holding hands for arm and leg points) for about 30 seconds at a time:

Massage

Belly massage is also helpful. You can find a Chi-Nei-Tsang practitioner near you, or watch this video demo to perform a similar belly massage yourself. You can also refer to the illustrated steps available here. There are many methods of breathing exercises for constipation as well that massage your belly from the inside!

Herbs

Acupuncture can be complemented with some herbs that stimulate bowel motility like:

Nutrition

Hydration is key. Drink plenty of water and incorporate more warm foods and beverages to wake up your digestive system gently. Try ginger tea, hot water with lemon, and bone broth. If you urinate more frequently than every 2 hours you may be drinking too much or too fast. If you urinate less frequently than every 5 hours you are dehydrated!

Eat warm, easy-to-digest foods like rice porridge, oatmeal, and mashed sweet potato or yams. When you’re ready, try lamb or vegetable and mushroom soup. Give your family and friends recipes to make for you during your recovery, such as: Magical Mineral Broth, Congee, and Almond flour ginger cookies.


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.

For more herbal estrogens, ideas, and resources see my previous posts: Feminizing Herbs and “The Basics.”


Further study:

  Acupuncture at ST25 and BL25   Acupuncture at LI11 and ST37   Acupuncture at ST25, BL25, LI11 and ST37   Medicine:oral use of mosapride citrate: 4-week oral use, 5mg, three times daily 0.5 hour before meal   Total
SBMs [1]
[units: times per week]
Mean (Standard Deviation)
  2.7  (1.9)   2.5  (1.7)   2.9  (2.0)   2.9  (2.8)   2.8  (2.1)
Bristol scale [2]
[units: units on a scale]
Mean (Standard Deviation)
  2.8  (1.3)   2.9  (1.4)   3.0  (1.5)   2.7  (1.4)   2.9  (1.8)
Degree of straining during defecation [3]
[units: participants]
0   5   8   9   5   27
1   63   60   68   59   250
2   68   69   58   72   267
3   30   35   28   31   124
no defecation   2   0   2   3   7

 

Scar reduction therapy
Acupuncture, Endometriosis, Fertility and Pregnancy, For Providers, Menopause and Beyond, Neuropathy, Prism Blog, Scar Reduction, Surgical Recovery, Transgender Wellness

Acupuncture for Scar Treatment

Why Should We Treat Scars?
Scars may not only be cosmetically undesirable, but may also have an impact on the health of the individual. This is especially true for very large scars; scars with abnormal coloration, lumpiness, numbness, tingling, itchiness, heat or cold sensations, achiness or pain, tenderness to touch, and muscle restriction.
Such scars and associated adhesions can indicate or lead to nerve and blood vessel damage, decreased range of motion and muscle strength, increased likelihood of future injury, and chronic pain (especially pins and needles, tingling, and numbness). Scars are especially notable on the torso, where underlying adhesions can impair bowel function, chronic pelvic pain or infertility, depending on the site of the scar.
In Chinese medicine, significant scars are considered to block the flow of the meridians, (similar to the nerve and blood vessel damage pointed to by Western medicine) causing not only pain and decreased circulation, but also potentially impaired internal organ function depending on the meridian affected.

Scar Treatment with Acupuncture and Herbs
Scars that are at least two weeks old can be treated with acupuncture and herbal medicine.
A 2014 study used local acupuncture (“surrounding the dragon“: using needles directly around and through the scar) with distal points (4 gates and ST36). After eight treatments in 5 weeks the scar pain had reduced from a 7/10 to a 1-2/10. Such treatments can not only reduce scar pain, but also help to break up scar tissue and adhesions, increase local circulation, and aid healing. This leads to flatter, smaller, less noticeable scars and a reduction of keloiding.
Moxibustion (a gentle warming treatment achieved by burning dried mugwort), may also be used. Small amounts of moxa may be burned directly on the skin -with a sesame oil cream as a medium to prevent burns- around the scar, or a stick of rolled moxa may be burned above the site to warm the area. Both methods are pleasant and effective.
Topical herbs can also be very beneficial for scar healing. It is generally best to apply your liniment of choice over the affected area before bed and cover with a tshirt (or other clean soft article of clothing depending on the site of the scar), so that it has plenty of time to soak in without washing or sweating which would interfere with product absorption during the day.

Which Topical Should You Choose?
  • Prism’s Scar Oil has frankincense and other essential oils that break up scar tissue in a tamanu oil base, a great oil for reducing the appearance of scars, including keloids.
  • Zheng Gu Shui is beneficial for deep scars that may have adhesions to underlying tissues (for example surgical scars). They can improve local circulation, healing of the scar and the area that was injured, and reduce associated pain. It is better for healing and restoring health to the area than for cosmetic scar reduction.
  • Wan Hua Oil prevents scarring, increases blood circulation, reduces swelling, and helps regenerate damaged tissues. Once the wound closes, massage the oil directly over the scar daily to prevent scarring and promote healing. This option is best to prevent cosmetic scars from surgery. It is also effective for scars from burns.
  • Aloe aids scar healing and reduces infection and swelling. If used during the healing process it can reduce the formation of scars. Be sure to use 100% aloe (fresh is best), not aloe with alcohol or other additives that can dry and irritate the area.
  • Ching Wan Hung oil promotes healing and new tissue growth, reduces scarring, and prevents infection. It is especially effective for scars from burns.
  • You can also use castor oil compresses, to break up deeper scar tissue and adhesions, but I don’t recommend this for new scars that are still healing (or any open wounds).

Note: Many people recommend the usage of Vitamin E on scars, but newer research shows that Vitamin E does not help reduce the appearance of scars, and in the case of surgical scars can actually make scars more visible due to the development of irritation or contact dermatitis.


Providers: read more about acupuncture scar treatments from Skya Abbate, DOM.

Additionally, my colleague, Dena Gold LAc, suggests a Japanese style version of surrounding the dragon that involved needling slightly outside the scar, towards and under under the scar superficially enough that the needle falls rather than roots. Dena also suggests checking the fire points of the channel the scar intersects and if they are tender, needle the metal and water points of that channel before treating the scar directly.


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.

For more herbal estrogens, ideas, and resources see my previous posts: Feminizing Herbs and “The Basics.”