Season 1, Episode 46

The Ultimate Fertility Guide with Christina Burns

In this episode, we welcome fertility expert and author, Christina Burns, who shares her insights on natural therapies such as acupuncture, herbs and supplements. She explains how these natural therapies can help regulate hormones, improve ovarian function, enhance overall health and increase the chances to conceive.

Christina also believes in the power of lifestyle changes, such as reducing stress levels, improving nutrition, and regular exercise, to improve fertility outcomes. She provides practical tips and advice for couples trying to conceive, including strategies for optimizing timing and frequency of intercourse.

Throughout the episode, Christina and Dr. Lorne Brown discuss the various factors that can impact fertility and how both men and women can take steps to improve their chances of conception. Christina shares through her personal experience what it’s like to live with PCOS and what she has learned from having the condition.
Overall, the episode touches on other common fertility issues, such as low ovarian reserve, unexplained infertility, age-related fertility challenges, egg quality issues, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, amenorrhea, autoimmune infertility, and endometriosis.

Key Topics:
● Male involvement in fertility treatments.
● Advanced testing of sperm and its benefits.
● Importance of preconception care and a holistic approach.
● Understanding natural approaches to fertility.
● Preparing for conception both mentally and physically.

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Read This Episode Transcript

Lorne Brown:

By listening to the Conscious Fertility Podcast, you agree to not use this podcast as medical advice to treat any medical condition in either yourself or others. Consult your own physician or healthcare provider for any medical issues that you may be having. This entire disclaimer also applies to any guest or contributors to the podcast. Welcome to Conscious Fertility, the show that listens to all of your fertility questions so that you can move from fear and suffering to peace of mind and joy. My name is Lorne Brown. I’m a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine and a clinical hypnotherapist. I’m on a mission to explore all the paths to peak fertility and joyful living. It’s time to learn how to be and receive so that you can create life on purpose.

Today on the Conscious Fertility Podcast, I have my colleague Anne friend Christina Burns, and she is a doctor of Chinese medicine. She’s a fellow of the A B R M, that’s the acupuncture and TCM Board of Reproductive Medicine. We have broken bread and learned together many times in Vancouver at the Integrative Fertility Symposium. And she has recently published a book that she’s taken from her experience where she’s been in practice since 2004. Her practice is in New York and her clinic name is naa and her book is called The Ultimate Fertility Guide. Actually, I’m going to bring it up here, the Ultimate Fertility Guide, and I had a chance to read through it and I wanted to have Christina to talk a little bit more for my listeners about her approach to fertility and all the things they can do while they’re trying to conceive naturally using natural approaches or with I V F. So Christina, welcome to the Conscious Fertility Podcast.

Christina Burns:

Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be here.

Lorne Brown:

Now, why did you write the book? Let’s just start with that. This is a great looking book and it’s got so much material, the ultimate fertility guidebook. Why did you write this, Christina?

Christina Burns:

So I wrote this because I found that over the years that the women and couples that I was seeing, especially the women, were very hungry for knowledge. The women I see, I always say it’s more of a type A demographic. And when you start trying to become pregnant, especially if you’re having challenges, it becomes a very type A ordeal. You want to know everything you possibly can. You want to be doing everything you can, whether it’s nutrition supplements, how to exercise or not. And so the conversations that I was having over the years with fertility patients, I found that I was obviously doing a lot of acupuncture and eastern medicine, but a lot of it was questions about what should I eat? What should I not eat, what supplements can I take? What other ways can I optimize my fertility? And there was this desire I noticed from these patients that I was seeing to really take charge and I was inspired by that. And so as I was giving this advice over the years, I started developing handouts, I was giving out handouts, and it ended up being this kind of educational experience on top of the treatment that I was doing. So eventually I thought let me put this all into one resource so that it can be available to more people and hopefully help as many people as possible

Lorne Brown:

And an excellent resource it is. And again, we’ll put a link to the book in our show notes, and today we’re going to explore kind of an overview of your approach to helping men and women optimize their fertility while they’re trying to conceive. Now, you have said mostly women. So I want to ask you this question, is it mostly women that you’ve seen in your practice? That’s been my experience, even when it’s diagnosed as male factor, I’m just wondering if it’s just something in Vancouver, Canada or is it something you see? Is it a global issue that the men may not be as involved with fertility treatments as women are?

Christina Burns:

Oh, it’s absolutely the case. Also just that I think it’s a woman’s nature to seek solutions and to not have ego get in the way. Men are proud, you are one, right? And I do find that the fertility industry as a whole kind of downplays male factor infertility because they basically say, oh, it’s fine. We’ll do icsi sperm injection and then it doesn’t matter that your sperm is a terrible kind of thing, which I believe on many levels is not the case. I think that if we were having males play more of a role in this fertility journey, then I think outcomes actually would be better. But to answer your question directly, it is absolutely correct. I see mostly women. If I see men, it’s usually for a short period of time leading up to them giving sperm for an IVF cycle or something because they’ve been persuaded to do so.

Lorne Brown:

Persuaded as you shared, the outcome would probably be different if more men were involved. And as you shared icsi sometimes as a way to bypass where they’ll do that rather than change diet, lifestyle, supplements, acupuncture to improve the sperm quality. I wanted to give a shout out to two of our episodes that we had Dr. Paul Turik, who’s a reproductive urologist on one of her episodes. I’m looking for that right now as we chat to give you a number. Oh, that was episode number 31, and we had doctor, she’s a medical doctor and trained acupuncturist. Olivia Pojer talks in episode 19 about sperm and in their looks sitting on both their podcasts, they both share that more and more unexplained infertility and early pregnancy loss is being connected or attributed to often male factors. And it’s hard to often diagnose male factors. Just because your sperm parameters look good doesn’t mean you’re going to give life. And as you shared, our goal is the health of the baby, right? Better outcomes. And so we don’t want to just grab any sperm and icsi. Ideally, we’d like the men to do some preconception care like the women do. Yeah,

Christina Burns:

I mean, I think part of the issue is that more advanced testing of the sperm, like DNa fragmentation testing, is still very controversial. Is it valid? Is it not valid? But in my opinion, if you’re able to do a form of testing that can show more free radical oxidative damage, more inflammation in the system, then that’s valuable for saying, okay, well we’re not sure yet about what outcomes if this influences outcomes. But if you use your logical mind, you would think it probably does. If oxidative damage affects egg quality, why wouldn’t it matter for sperm?

Lorne Brown:

Right? And they’re starting to show that it does. So it takes two to make a baby sperm and egg at this stage of the game. And so it’s good to have, if you’re not using say, donor sperm or you’re using sperm of a known person, then you want that to be at its peak fertility potential at the time of conception or insemination. Let’s talk about your approach. So I kind of want to go into the big picture to some of the details. So when you see whether trying to conceive naturally with I V F in an ideal situation, is there a time that you want to have to work with them to support them to see change, to see a shift to help them optimize their fertility?

Christina Burns:

Absolutely. I mean, if we were looking at an ideal scenario, I would love to see somebody three to six months from trying before trying, and that’s really to get their mind and their body into a good place. And if we’re working on issues of egg quality, if we’re working on issues of failed implantation or unexplained infertility, there’s so many factors that could be involved. And I believe that a whole lifestyle approach is very important and very effective in restoring the balance needed to conceive a healthy pregnancy. And if you put the time in advance, oftentimes it changes the duration that you’re trying. So the amount of failed IVF cycles or the amount of times if you’re trying naturally that you get your period and are drinking a bottle of wine because you got your period, again, if you do the preconception planning, it is more likely in my opinion that you will have less months of trying.

So it’s like, okay, do you want to put the time in and go through that agony or do you want to put the time in before even starting and get into a better place? Now what I see is generally that people don’t really have the foresight, and I totally understand that. I don’t think I was doing the best preconception planning when I first started and when I ran into trouble myself with my fertility is when I jumped into action. We’re not a preventative society, but I do believe there’s a large benefit to starting in advance if you’re already in the throes of things, just start as soon as possible.

Lorne Brown:

Now, you mentioned just now that you had challenges. So can you share a little bit with our listeners, what was your personal experience? Because you’re a practitioner supporting men and women to optimize their fertility, whether they’re trying to conceive naturally or through IVF, are you willing to share a little bit about your story?

Christina Burns:

Absolutely. I’m an open book. It’s literally in my book with my story. So I have polycystic ovarian syndrome. I’ve had a lot of hormonal issues since my period arrived. When I was a teenager, I had your typical PCOS symptoms. I had ovarian cyst, I had acne, I had trouble controlling my weight, my mood, but it was never diagnosed even despite cysts and things because I had a regular period and because I was athletic, I never got very overweight. And so it went undiagnosed and I just dealt with really unpleasant and mood symptoms well into my twenties when I went to China and did my residency, suddenly my period stopped altogether. And so it went from being very regular to having no period. And when I was doing some medical camps in India, I went and saw a village doctor with an ultrasound and he found that my ovaries were covered in cysts, and he at that point diagnosed polycystic ovarian syndrome, and I ended up using natural methods to restore

Lorne Brown:

My ovaries. So you had to go to India to get diagnosed for PCOS coming from the states. Interesting.

Christina Burns:

So isn’t that so funny? That’s crazy. Yeah. Yeah, because I had seen doctors growing up in Canada and nobody ever diagnosed me. It was so textbook to me, being a practitioner, acne, belly fat, mood issues, cysts on the ovaries coming and going, I don’t know what could be more clear other than me not having irregular periods. And that’s why they call it a spectrum disorder because you have some and not necessarily all the symptoms of the issue.

Lorne Brown:

I forgot that you grew up in Alberta, Canada, and then now you’re in New York, so I forget because you have that nice Canadian part of you. Yeah. Well, you just mentioned that. So you went to India, you got diagnosed, and then you started using some of these natural approaches. You were still doing your training for Chinese medicine when you were doing your residency At this time?

Christina Burns:

I did. So I went to China, I did my residency, and then I decided to go get a bunch more experience doing village acupuncture camps in India and Nepal. So I went and did that. And whilst I was there, that’s where I went to see the village doctor and got diagnosed and it was very upsetting because I didn’t see it coming. At that point, I was not specialized yet in women’s health and fertility. So although I had heard of PCOS, I certainly did not know that I had it. Eventually, I don’t know, maybe six months to a year later, I came back to Canada and I started seeing a practitioner and doing acupuncture. And my period started coming back, but only every 21 days. And so then I added, I didn’t know an herbalist in the area, so I started writing my own herbal formulas and I was able to restore my period to a 27-28 day cycle. Interestingly, a few years later when I was living in New York, I was working in a fertility clinic and I decided to have my AMH tested, and usually with PCOS, you have a high AMH, like 2.53, sometimes six, and I actually had a very low AMH, so which is very atypical.

Lorne Brown:

I just want to say for our listeners, we have them in Europe and Canada as well. The unit she was talking about is part of the American unit system. So in Canada, those numbers would be different. Those would be American values. Just to give them a shoutout on that. I do not know that. Yeah, if it’s over three something in the American values, then it’s kind of like they start to speculate. It could be PCOS, but in Canada, the metric system has different numbers, and so it’d be a different value that you’d have to use. But like you said, you are not the typical polycystic ovarian syndrome and in this case you have actually low AMH.

Christina Burns:

Yeah, so I had a low A M H, and that was, I think I was around 29 when I checked and silly me, I waited until I was 35 to start trying to get pregnant. At that point, seeing a low AMH I probably should have gotten the show on the road. I waited. And then when I finally started trying, I had trouble. I had a miscarriage at about 11 weeks. It was a chromosomal abnormality. And then I had another miscarriage a little bit earlier in another pregnancy, maybe five, six months later. And in that time I started taking herbs and I was doing acupuncture all the while acupuncture was actually helping me to get pregnant very easily. I believe that adding the herbs and changing my lifestyle, lowering stress, getting outside more because it was a very stressful time in my career having started a business. But I believe that the changes I made eventually led to a healthy pregnancy that I conceived naturally.

Lorne Brown:

And you conceive that naturally. And you now have a couple of kids.

Christina Burns:

I have three have three natural conceptions, yes, keeping me busy

Lorne Brown:

And see the women and men uc are so fortunate because not only you have the knowledge, but you’ve had your personal experience. So just to have that relatability and get what they’re going through and have used the medicine and these approaches for yourself must work well for them and also give you the confidence both of you get the confidence because you have that special experience of going through this process yourself.

Christina Burns:

Oh, definitely. And just having been through a hormonal roller coaster, like knowing the power they can have over our mind, over the way we feel in our body, seeing all these women going through IVF, I have an inkling of what it feels like to make your hormones make you feel crazy, and just the deep desire and longing to conceive and what that does to your psyche. It can’t be ignored. You can’t kind of snap out of it. You can’t let it go until you’re there.

Lorne Brown:

And I want to find out the things that you’re seeing in your practice, and we’re going to talk about your approach too, which you kind of shared a little bit from your own personal story, but now that you’ve been practicing since 2004, I’d be curious to see how you’ve put it all together. Polycystic ovarian syndrome is one of the things I really enjoy to treat because no surprise to anybody, when you get good results in something, you tend to like it. And I find Chinese medicine using the acupuncture herbs, which we include diet and lifestyle and supplements. That is Chinese medicine. It’s not just acupuncture herbs, it’s the diet and lifestyle as well. I’ve just seen as you’ve seen people that have had unsuccessful IVF on to conceive naturally or people who don’t cycle or hardly cycle end up getting their cycles back. And so has that been your experience? I know you have it for yourself, but in your practice have you found this as well, something that this modality, herbs, acupuncture, lifestyle supplements are something that they respond well to people that have the diagnosis of PCOS?

Christina Burns:

Absolutely. I often tell people it’s the best fertility issue to have unless you’re like me, where you have low ovarian reserve in the PCOS situation. But I think if you have a high ovarian reserve and you’re willing to clean up your lifestyle a little bit and dedicate yourself to a form of natural medicine like acupuncture and eastern medicine in general, I think it has the potential to transform your life, not only to get you pregnant, but for you to learn how to regulate your hormones forever more.

Lorne Brown:

What are the things that you are seeing in your practice in that you’re supporting women trying to conceive? So polycystic ovarian syndrome, what are some of the other things that are quite common to come into your clinic in New York?

Christina Burns:

Polycystic ovarian syndrome. There’s a lot of it. I see a lot of low ovarian reserve, especially when there’s been IVF failures. They just haven’t produced many eggs. New York is a place where not many people give a lot of time to try naturally, because here you don’t need a referral to go to a doctor. You can just go right to the IVF doctor and start right away. So I see a lot of IVF and I see it for unexplained reasons. There’s a lot of that. There’s a lot of age-related fertility challenges. It just gets harder as we get older. The very ambiguous egg quality issue thing, which may be age related, it might be lifestyle related amenorrhea, just no period at all. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis where you have a thyroid and autoimmune issue together. Autoimmune infertility besides Hashimoto’s, if there’s maybe something going on with the immune system, I’m seeing more and more of that these days that’s causing failed implantation, that’s causing egg quality issues, that’s causing unknown origin, fertility issues.

Lorne Brown:

And do you see, because we just had endometriosis awareness month recently, do you see endometriosis in your practice as well, that kind of diagnosis?

Christina Burns:

Oh, lots. Endometriosis, fibroids, adenomyosis, A lot of that, yeah.

Lorne Brown:

Yeah. You have a busy practice, so of course you’re seeing so many of these different conditions. Let’s talk about your approach. When I look through your book, it was that you had that preconception, ideally spending a few cycles, three to six cycles kind of optimizing. I say nourish the soul before you plant the seed. That Chinese proverb prepares the body for conception, whether it’s natural IVF. So it looks like you do some detoxification.

Christina Burns:

Yes, I do recommend detoxification, at least a gentle detoxification in some cases, especially if there is some known exposure to junk in the system. If you live in a polluted city like New York or if you’ve lived in Asia or something, then I might be suggesting multiple IVF cycles or even one IVF cycle. In general, I’m not recommending very intensive detox regimes like a juice fast or a master cleanse wherein you’re only drinking liquid. I try to keep it very gentle because it’s a lot of stress on the body. The body and the mind are already under a lot of stress. So basically a clean diet is my detox regime, cutting out inflammatory foods, gluten, dairy, sugar, booze, corn, soy for a period of time to just let everything calm down. And so that’s part of the sort of initial cleansing phase. And then at the same time from a nutritional perspective, I’m teaching what foods are good for female hormones, what foods are good for certain conditions?

Lorne Brown:

I resonate with your approach because at our clinic in Vancouver, we’re very similar. We don’t do an aggressive detox. There’s always a case where somebody’s very toxic where we could, but in general, it’s supportive detoxification. And going back to that idea of nourish the soil before you plant the seed, if the soil, the cellular environment has weeds in it or some contaminated soil or big rocks, we want to move the rocks, move out the contaminated soil, pull some weeds, and that’s how you’re doing it through diet. Taking away those inflammatory foods or doing your best to avoid some of the exposure because these things can be impure, and I saw this in your book, it impairs your fertility. It can get in the way of reaching your peak fertility potential, both the egg and spur quality. So love the detox that you share in your book.

You do dietary, you just mentioned supplements, acupuncture, and herbal. Can you share some of your common supplements? I know they change with conditions, but since you’ve had PCOS, it’s something you see a lot. I’d love to hear what you kind of generally like with PCOS and then in general what you would recommend. I’ll remind our listeners for dosing and really for yourself, this is not medical advice. This is just us geeking out and talking to your healthcare provider to see what’s the right supplements for yourself. But I’m curious, in general, what do you find you’re most commonly prescribing your patients?

Christina Burns:

Yeah, so I prescribe some that I find that IVF doctors, they will accept them because one of the things that I encounter with my patients that they are already working with a fertility doctor, then I have to be a little bit conservative about what I’m kind of dealing so that they’ll be able to take it and it won’t be a conflict. So Omega is a supplement. I love it reduces inflammation, increases blood flow. It’s been shown in studies to help egg quality over the age of 35. It helps with implantation because of the lowering of inflammation, the balancing of the immune system, and the thinning of the blood. So I love omega three. I like magnesium a lot and it also is shown to help with egg quality and it relaxes. The person can help you sleep, it’ll help you a lot with bloating if you’re dealing with hormonal type bloating

Lorne Brown:

And the adrenals love it and blood sugar regulator, it’s such an essential nutrient that we are a mineral that we’re depleted in, right?

Christina Burns:

Yes. And so many women are depleted of it. I personally love submerging myself in an Epsom salt, basically magnesium bath before bed every night just as an anti-inflammatory health ritual. So the magnesium is another fave. I love NAC it’s a great one for PCOS,, but it can also be used for egg quality miscarriage prevention. One of the reasons why I love it so much as an antioxidant, it is very helpful for anxiety. And since this is such a tough process to go through, to have a sort of anti-anxiety natural medication that also is helping the fertility aspect is great and magnesium can play that role too.

Lorne Brown:

I want to share something with supplements and see if you think this way as well. Often when I work with medical doctors in general, and this is going years back, but they were like, how can magnesium help with all these things? Muscle pain, anxiety, sleep, p m s fertility or how can the essential fatty acid? And it’s not that because they’re thinking it is like a drug like oh, this is treating this disease. It’s not quite that way. The cell needs this and if the cell has this, it functions and we have health and vitality. If the cell’s lacking, then it breaks down and it can show up as headaches or it can show up as constipation or it could show up as infertility or insomnia. It’s not that it treats all these diseases, it’s that the body needs it and when the body has it, then it can do its innate ability to heal. So I just want to share that with our listeners. So often they’re like, it can’t do all that. Well, it’s not that it’s doing all that. It’s treating these diseases. It’s actually giving your body what it needs so your body can run its regular immune system checks and balances and create vitality. And that’s why some of these supplements that we’re recommending is because it’s part of that you remember the soil guys, it’s part of what the soil needs to be nourishing for the cell in this case

Christina Burns:

To get your body into more optimal functioning order. Because I always tell people that it’s the internal environment that we’re working on. You can say it’s super targeted like we’re working on egg quality, we’re working on uterine lining, we’re working on P C O S. So what we’re doing essentially with our medicine, with our recommendations for your lifestyle or natural medicine wise is really to change the internal environment to be more favorable, to be able to produce better quality eggs, to be able to grow a uterine lining, to be able to metabolize your hormones properly. And my book, the preface of it is really that modern lifestyle is kind of hard on us. It’s very fast paced. We’re eating a lot of processed foods, we’re eating on the fly, we’re not taking a lot of downtime. We’re exposed to a lot of toxins. And so the whole program is basically centered around combating these modern lifestyle challenges, the ways that we are out of balance. So the four kinds of culprits that I outline in the book are inflammation, insulin and blood sugar issues, toxicity and stress hormones. And so when I am making recommendations, it’s generally something to target one of those or all of them at once,

Lorne Brown:

Usually all of them at once. Usually they come in pairs or triplets. A lot of these imbalances

Christina Burns:

Totally, they feed into one another and it’s this vicious cycle.

Lorne Brown:

And so again, you’re like my twin in New York. I love my magnesium, I love my essential fatty acids. I love my L-Cysteine with that great antioxidant glutathione. And there’s many more that I’ll just encourage our listeners to go check out your book so you can see that full list of supplements that you recommend and then talk to your healthcare provider In your personal experience and with your patients, you obviously use acupuncture. Do you have a frequency that you wish your patients would do or is how often are you seeing them or would recommend them coming in to the most benefit from acupuncture?

Christina Burns:

As a general rule, I usually say try to come twice a week. I think most of the research around acupuncture is based on that frequency. When I did my residency in China, people were coming frequently two, three times a week. And I do find that you get very obvious results that way. Now that said, people are busy and there’s often a cost to doing acupuncture. So I say to balance it out with what you’re able to do, if it’s going to cause you more stress financially or with your schedule to get here, then maybe you’re doing it once a week and you’re really taking charge with the lifestyle stuff and taking some herbs or something like that. But as a general rule, twice a week, and we can get more nuanced with it in an IVF cycle or in a natural cycle

Lorne Brown:

And you get the momentum. So if you’re coming in that twice a week for a couple of cycles and your P M SS is diminished or gone, your menstrual pain or clottings gone, your cycles become regular mood sleep, you notice these changes, then you can start to pull back the acupuncture to once a week or less as well. But it’s kind of getting that momentum where the body is now in that homeostasis balance state. So it’s doing it so you can pull the acupuncture away so it’s not twice a week forever,

Christina Burns:

That’s it. It’s like an investment upfront to get this long-term benefit and there’s a cumulative benefit. Now, I don’t know about you, Lauren, but when I see people, they’re generally already in the throes of trying to get pregnant or fertility treatment. I have very few that are doing a preconception planning approach. If it’s preconception planning, I say they can come once a week or if they’re taking a long break between cycles or something like that. But when they’re already in the throes of it, I’m like, let’s get on top of this and assist your body in all of these processes as much as we can.

Lorne Brown:

They often come in between or during an I V F cycle. So we go that twice a week, sometimes even three times a week for those that are having issues building lining. And then if it works, we celebrate, we’re happy. And if it doesn’t, sometimes we have a little bit of time between that and the next I V F to do more impact. And sometimes they go right into another I V F cycle. So we’ll get those three to six months treatments in. But oftentimes we’re doing it in between or during an I V F cycle and just like you we’re supporting. And there’s an ideal way, actually, I don’t think there’s an ideal way. I’ll ask you this because you’ve been in practice almost as long as I have. I’ve been in since 2000. I used to think there was a right way to do this. There general ideas and with frequencies and what to do, but then each individual comes in with their history and their imbalances and their restrictions that can interfere with them coming or doing any of the recommendations. So it really becomes an individualized process and it’s based on each individual and that game plan can change. Has that been your experience as well?

Christina Burns:

Absolutely. I mean, I think that the beauty of this medicine is that it’s individualized. I do see benefits in the short term, but I also see that over time with most people there is even more. So if somebody has a low ovarian reserve, three to six months down the line of doing acupuncture, even if we’re not integrating other things, hopefully there’s some lifestyle changes. I’m often seeing, well, I’m having the report that there’s a higher follicle count when they’re going in. And I think with acupuncture, in my opinion, it is very case specific. There are benefits in the short term, but I think if you can look at it as something that pays dividends over time, then it can be easier to commit.

Lorne Brown:

And in your practice, you are often combining it with Chinese herbal medicine. Your treatments are the same here and more and more as at the time of our recording, it’s becoming more common. Even the IVF clinics where it used to be opposed to it have become more as the research comes out, more willing, especially in their kitchen sink approach place. But I see more and more men and women open to and taking the herbs, they still don’t taste good when we make teas out of them.

Christina Burns:

Oh no, I call them junk juice because junk juice, yeah, they’re just not tasty. But they work so well.

Lorne Brown:

And I always say the first three days, don’t call me to complain. You’re not going to be able to think you’re going to be able to drink this. It’s like licking an ashtray, some of them. But I say by the third or fourth day, you’re like, okay, I can do this. The first day you’re like, there’s no way I’m going to be able to take this. He’s out of his mind with a few curse words, I’m sure day two, the same thing, day three or four for whatever reason, the palate adapts, right? No sugar, no additives to these. So they can be quite bitter.

Christina Burns:

But I also feel like what I’ve had reported from my patients is that, yeah, the initial couple days, as you say, is like, whoa, this is bad. But most people can warm up to the flavor. They crave it, they feel the benefit. It’s doing good things inside your body. And honestly, a lot of the women report that they feel like it helps their skin and their hair. There’s a beauty component,

Lorne Brown:

Well, think of that formula: winging tongue, which is a common fertility formula, which was used in China as a beauty formula to make the lips and the skin vibrant. So of course I have thought of Raja with this heavy bleeding where they’re like, I can’t drink this. And then I remember after a month on it where they’re already seeing a change in that first cycle, she said, is it odd that I like this now I want to drink it. Right. So you probably have had that experience too, where all of a sudden they really enjoy herbal medicine.

Christina Burns:

Oh yeah. Junk juice addicts. I’m one of them. I don’t care how much I’m spending or how gross it tastes because I have grown over the years to trust in how powerful the benefit is. But definitely for my patients, I have a lot of them that even far after they’ve had their babies, they’re still taking it for a variety of other reasons and they love it.

Lorne Brown:

I got to share with you a funny story about my son, who’s now a teenager, but when he was pre-verbal, he and his older brother were outside playing and he’s throwing up, we don’t know why he’s throwing up my youngest. And I asked his older brother, what happened? Do you know why Nate’s throwing up? And he said, yeah, he drank Chinese herbal medicine. And I like trying Chinese herbal medicine. So back in the day we used powder teas, but I used the raw herbs and my kids would see me make Chinese herbs with all the branches and roots and twigs that come in his herbs. Well, Nate took a bucket, filled it with water and put rocks and branches and probably dog crap into the bucket, mixed it and drank it outside and then started throwing up. And after that they didn’t want to, when we say when they were young and we said, we want to go for some Chinese food, they associated Chinese herbal medicine, Chinese. So they’re like, no Chinese food because

Christina Burns:

Traumatized, traumatized by this, I’m super lazy. I get the pharmacies here in New York to cook it for me all. Look, our listeners can’t see this, but anybody who watches the video can see the murky cocktail that I can on a regular basis.

Lorne Brown:

And now my kids, once you start to get sick, I have a formula that I like for early stages. And now if they have something and they don’t want to be sick, they all ask for the Chinese herbal formula. So they’ve gotten over it. But I thought for my listeners for you just to share with you, yeah, it doesn’t taste very good, but people sometimes crave it. In your book, you talk a little bit about the acupuncture and the research that you looked at for the writing of your book. Can you share a little bit for the skeptics? And I’ll say it’s going to be the men most of the time when I see people, it’s the man that says, I don’t know if there’s science for this. I will share with you that there is so much science now on how acupuncture works and also related to fertility, but just the mechanism of acupuncture. But can you share a few points from your book where or why you think acupuncture is benefiting those with reproductive health issues? Oh,

Christina Burns:

Sure. I love research to support our medicine. It’s harder to conduct research for Chinese medicine because it’s so highly customized. We’re not giving a blanket treatment to everyone. So I think, I still believe the magic of our medicine is in the customization, but it’s so effective that we can standardize it. And there are protocols that have been shown to help a lot for men. There was a study that showed that men doing acupuncture twice a week for only five weeks leading up to giving their sperm for an IVF cycle. It showed a very good improvement in embryo quality. So that was interesting. There’s a lot of studies on erectile dysfunction and sperm quality issues for men, for women. A lot of the studies center around IVF and I think the studies in general center around  IVF, because it’s so easy to monitor a more structured process, there’s still a lot of mystery in the land of natural fertility.

So for women, the most famous study was doing acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer before and after embryo transfer. That was a meta-analysis, and I think it’s quite well regarded. There are other studies like the Steiner Vitorin that showed the increase in blood flow through the uterine artery when doing electro acupuncture during the stimulation phase and also other studies to show that acupuncture in conjunction with taking vitamin E and Viagra greatly improved thickening of the uterine lining in women that were having an issue with that. So we can kind of work on many levels, whether it’s growing the eggs, whether it’s fostering implantation, growing the uterine lining, impacting the male side of the equation. And I encourage everyone to look at Lauren’s website on Accu balance because I think you have some of the research available there.

Lorne Brown:

We have some of the research there, and we have our diet book too, where people can look at the diet for fertility because I think it’s those small things like diet that lead to big results. So I do want to remind our listeners that it’s the diet, lifestyle, mind body. I’d love to talk a little bit about MINDBODY because A, we’re on the Conscious Fertility podcast and in your book you talk about this as well. And so where does this play on the journey of growing your family, having a MIND BODY approach and kind of what styles do you like?

Christina Burns:

It’s huge. For me, I think it’s one of the most impactful pieces of this fertility puzzle. I have a chapter in my book, it’s called the Yin and Yang of your Daily Routine, and it’s talking about activity versus mindfulness and rest. So I go into what forms of exercise are favorable for various conditions, PCOS versus lower ovarian reserve and how to structure it for your cycle. And then the other part of the chapter is dedicated to mindfulness practices. So be that meditation, whether you’re doing a silent meditation, whether you’re listening to meditation. When people come to my clinic, they’re listening to a fertility meditation, oftentimes when they’re lying on the table. Positive reprogramming, I would say, I don’t want to say positive thinking. I believe that we actually have to reprogram ourselves because we can tend to become so fearful, cynical distrusting of our bodies and of this whole process that I spend probably a good 20, 30 minutes coaching my patients before doing acupuncture on how to get back in tune, how to trust your body, trust the process, and to stop trying to control it all general to try to slow down a little bit, take a few things off your plate so that your nervous system can calm down.

Lorne Brown:

And I think that’s what is so valuable. The way what you share in your book and how you practice is that slowing down or taking things off your plate, this is about helping the autonomic nervous system regulate. This is what’s going to help with your hormonal balance, the release of the egg implantation, it’s the autonomic nervous system that is running the show, our immune system. And so when we can take off some of that pressure, the stress of it, we free up resources for healing, creativity, and reproduction. So I think it’s undervalued by this mind-body approach and it’s more positive thinking. It really is about reprogramming the subconscious or retraining yourself to develop a relaxed state in the body so it can do what it needs to do. And so I was really happy when I saw that in your book on the mind body approach. It’s a big part of my practice, and again, I think it’s underused right now, but really important.

Christina Burns:

Well, I think it’s really, nobody wants to hear, oh, your stress is impacting your fertility. You need to get less stressed. So I try not to preface it that way. I just try to say, what can we let go of? What is it that’s weighing you down and occupying your thought energy and making you feel tense that we can put to the side for now? And you can revisit later if you need to. And do you need to overschedule yourself to the point of rushing from here to there, to here to there? Because sometimes it’s like people don’t even think they feel stressed. But if you’re constantly rushing, then that is sending a stress response through your body that is impactful for your ovarian function.

Lorne Brown:

And chronic stress just aggravates most diseases. And if you can develop with you on that as well, telling somebody your stress is not going to help with their fertility, that doesn’t work either. Teaching tools and being supportive and holding the space so they can find ways to release the stress and change their program so they’re not reactive because it’s not so much the stressor, it’s how we perceive it. So valuable. And again, you talk so much about this in your book, so thank you for writing that. I think it’s so important.

Christina Burns:

Thank you. Yeah, the whole treatment of fertility and being in this profession, I’m so grateful for because it’s really what I’ve seen is a human being ready to transform their life. And I do feel like a fertility journey is a gift in a really awful package that is a call for you to take inventory of everything in your life and be honest with yourself about maybe some of the things that aren’t serving you, and then start to take those one by one.

Lorne Brown:

It’s interesting, a few of the guests on previous episodes have used the idea that the infertility journey or diagnosis is a wake up call. And for many, they’ve been able to use that to transform their lives, and they get to a place where they don’t like that they’re having challenges getting pregnant, but they are grateful that the wake up call has changed who they are because now they get to, I was going to mention this earlier and I lost my thought, is when you learn these stress de-stressing tools, meditation and you start to feel good and who doesn’t want to feel good? And so if we’re all wound up in tense, we’re not even aware of it, it doesn’t feel good in the body and then you become conscious of it, it still doesn’t feel good in the body. And so again, it’s not enough just to want to feel good or be less stressed or think positive. There’s tools and you play those meditations in your treatment room for your patients that’s helping them unwind, and then you teach them tools and their stuff in your book. Yeah. Infertility can be a wake up call for us as an action to do our inner work so we can heal whether we have a baby or not, we can become whole and complete again where we feel good.

Christina Burns:

Yeah, we’re more on the path. We become so disconnected over time. I think with how plugged in we are, and I think wake up calls come in different forms. Obviously fertility is one of them. Maybe cancer is another. Who knows, right? There’s so many ways that we are woken up that we never would’ve ever wished on anyone. The things that we will learn in this process and how we will benefit ourselves and the people around us and potentially our family, our future family to be

Lorne Brown:

Now, did I miss anything about your approach? You do some gentle detox, you go over diet and lifestyle, you have a mind body approach. You’re using acupuncture and herbal medicine. Did I miss anything that you’re doing in your practice that you’d want our listeners to be made aware of that’s out there and that you talk about in your book?

Christina Burns:

That’s really the gist of it. It’s really an empowerment through teaching people how to live well for their fertility, using catered nutraceuticals and nutrition to enhance fertility. The power of herbal and eastern medicine. I use moxibustion a lot. That is a form of Chinese medicine wherein we burn a type of sage near certain acupuncture points. I know it sounds very woo woo when I say it like that, but it’s very powerful and has been shown in studies to help with male fertility and female fertility. I’ll

Lorne Brown:

Let our listeners know that you can learn more about Christina from her. Go to her clinic website, nauranalife.com. That’s N A T U R N A life.com. And also the title of her book is called The Ultimate Fertility Guide, Everything You Need to Know About Natural Fertility Strategies and IVF. So using these strategies to support you, whether you’re trying to conceive naturally or with IVF, are there any other ways that our listeners can find you, so we can put that in the show notes that you would like us to share? Do you have an Instagram channel?

Christina Burns:

I certainly do. You can find me at Dr. Christina Burns on Instagram or at Nater Live.

Lorne Brown:

Perfect. So we’ll put those in the show notes as well. Christina, it was so nice to see you again here. We’re recording this, everybody over Zoom, and the last time I saw you was in Vancouver at one of the integrated fertility symposiums, and it was just so nice when I saw that you wrote this book because we haven’t been in touch for a couple years to see what you’ve been doing and just the wealth of information that you shared. And so I’m happy now I can share this with the listeners because it’s an excellent book you wrote. So thank you for writing that book.

Christina Burns:

Thank you for having me and for giving me an opportunity to share more of it with our listeners.

Speaker:

If you’re looking for support to grow your family contact Acubalance Wellness Center at Acubalance, they help you reach your peak fertility potential through their integrative approach using low-level laser therapy, fertility, acupuncture, and naturopathic medicine. Download the Acubalance Fertility Diet and Dr. Brown’s video for mastering manifestation and clearing subconscious blocks. Go to Acubalance ca. That’s Acubalance ca.

Lorne Brown:

Thank you so much for tuning into another episode of Conscious Fertility, the show that helps you receive life on purpose. Please take a moment to subscribe to the show and join the community of women and men on their path to peak fertility and choosing to live consciously on purpose. I would love to continue this conversation with you, so please direct message me on Instagram at Lorne Brown official. That’s Instagram, Lorne Brown official, or you can visit my websites Lorne Brown.com and Acubalance.ca. Until the next episode, stay curious and for a few moments, bring your awareness to your heart center and breathe.

 

Dr. Christina Burns’ Bio:
Dr. Christina Burns is a Doctor of Eastern Medicine, Herbalist with a specialization in women’s health and fertility. She began her career at the age of 19 when she began studying nutrition and herbal medicine. Her studies included years spent in China, India and Nepal, where she learned mindfulness and eastern medicine from monks in remote areas. Dr. Burns collaborated with physicians in underserved regions and women’s hospitals. Over the next 9 years, she achieved degrees in acupuncture, herbal medicine, nutrition and spiritual coaching.  Since returning to North America, she has founded a wellness institute in NYC that is focused on helping women achieve their optimal health goals through natural medicine practices, informed nutrition, lifestyle management, and personalized mind-body programs. She is the author of the “The Ultimate Fertility Guidebook” and is a frequent speaker on the topic of women’s health and wellness. She currently resides in NYC with her husband and 3 children.

Hosts & Guests

Lorne Brown
Christina Burns

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