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Health • Pregnancy • Conception • Body / Mind / Spirit

to fertility in your food,

“The Infertility Cleanse is another excellent resource from Tami Quinn and

environment, and lifestyle

Beth Heller (of Pulling Down the Moon) where

Is your physical health and the environment you live in affecting your chances of conceiving? New clinical research suggests that gut health, chronic inflammation, poor diet, and environmental toxins may be at the root of infertility. This guidebook offers women a holistic approach to cleansing the body and mind in preparation for conception.

changes are simple and yet meaningful, complimented with yoga and meditation instruction. Pulling Down the Moon offers this approach to balance all that goes into successful fertility treatment and pregnancy. Don’t wait— get yours now!” —Dr. Angeline Beltsos, Medical Director of IVF, Fertility Centers of Illinois

Tami Quinn and Beth Heller are the co-founders and codirectors of Pulling Down the Moon, Inc., Integrative Care for Fertility (ICF ™) that has changed the standard of care for infertility. Both are registered yoga instructors and members of the International Association of Yoga Therapists and The American Society for Reproductive Medicine. They are also co-authors of Fully Fertile, and live in Chicago.

Tami Quinn & Beth Heller

Step-by-step guidelines take you through a three-part program of nutrition, yoga, and stress-reduction techniques. The detoxification program targets both the internal and external sources of toxicity that may be having a negative impact on your fertility. With cleansing techniques from many healing disciplines, this program has been carefully created by a team of leading integrative fertility specialists.

empowerment using dietary

Infertility Cleanse

How to overcome the toxic challenges

$18.95 • £12.99

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7/28/11 8:42 AM

The Infertility Cleanse Detox, Diet and Dharma for Fertility

Tami Quinn, Beth Heller

Š Tamara Quinn, Elisabeth Heller 2011 The rights of Tamara Quinn and Elisabeth Heller to be identified as the authors of this work have been asserted by them in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1998. First published by Findhorn Press 2011 ISBN: 978-1-84409-508-7 All rights reserved. The contents of this book may not be reproduced in any form, except for short extracts for quotation or review, without the written permission of the publisher. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data. A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. Cover and Interior designed by Damian Keenan Printed and bound in China 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 Published by Findhorn Press 117-121 High Street, Forres IV36 1AB Scotland, United Kingdom t +44-(0)1309-690582 f +44(0)131-777-2711 e info@findhornpress.com www.findhornpress.com

Table of Contents Dedications .....................................................................................................................................  6 Foreword by Dr. Alice Domar .....................................................................................  7 Our Stories .......................................................................................................................................  9 Tami’s Cleansing Moment .........................................................................................  9 Beth’s Cleansing Moment . .........................................................................................  13 Disclaimer .........................................................................................................................................  16 Introduction ..................................................................................................................................  17 Section 1 C hapte r 1 C hapte r 2 C hapte r 3 C hapte r 4

Awareness and Proactivity . ............................................................................................  19 The Body’s Detox Processes .....................................................................................  Are We Our Own Biggest Source of Toxicity? ......................................  Challenges From the Environment ..................................................................  Breath, Yoga, And Fitness .......................................................................................... 

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Section 2

Cleansing the Mind ................................................................................................................  83

C hapte r 5 C hapte r 7

Toxins of the Mind ............................................................................................................  84 Cleansing the Mind ..........................................................................................................  91 The Karma Component ..............................................................................................  111

Section 3

Lifestyle Cleansing: Putting It All Together . ..............................................  123

C hapte r 8

The Cleansing Power of Food ................................................................................  124 The Cleansing Power of Water .............................................................................  148 The Cleansing Power of Yoga .................................................................................  157 The Cleansing Power of the Breath .................................................................  187 The Cleansing Power of Awareness .................................................................  192

C hapte r 6

C hapte r 9 C hapte r 1 0 C hapte r 1 1 C hapte r 1 2

References .........................................................................................................................................  199 Index .......................................................................................................................................................  203

Introduction

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What is The Infertility Cleanse?

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W

hen we set out to write this book, we wanted to take a laywoman’s stab at understanding the impact of toxic lifestyle factors on a woman’s fertility and ability to conceive. The volume of interest about this topic from patients, the scientific community, and the media made us feel, as fertility specialists, that we needed to get to the bottom of this heated issue. When we first presented the topic to our publisher—a book we naively chose to call The Infertility Cleanse—we were optimistic that we would be able to clearly define toxicity for the audience, and help women eradicate it to improve their fertility. But as so often happens, a topic that at first seems cut and dried in theory reveals its true nature the moment you sit down at your computer to actually write about it. And that was the case this time. Toxicity, it seems, is everywhere. It’s in our water bottles, the food we eat, and the air we breathe. Moreover, we are not simply passive inhabitants of a toxic wasteland; we are also active participants in the creation of mental, emotional, environmental, and physical toxicity through the ways we live our lives. In fact, the more we delved into the issue of toxicity, the more depressing the story became, and we began to look at each other and wonder how anyone ever gets pregnant or delivers a healthy child! But as we dug deeper, the story changed and something else emerged. Nature has not left us defenseless in a toxic world. Somehow, despite all of the toxicity surrounding us, flowers are still blooming, trees are still growing, rain still falls, and families are still created. There is a resilience in nature that inspires us and gives us hope. Rather than wallow in doom and gloom, we decided we would turn our energy to the ways our amazing bodies and spirits can overcome toxic challenges—a lifestyle cleanse, so to speak. We reject the idea of toxicity as merely an external process—something from outside of ourselves trying to get in and cause harm. We believe toxicity is also something created internally that in turn manifests itself outwardly. Toxicity is a symbol of everything that’s going wrong— patterns of stress, poor diet, inadequate sleep, and insufficient respect for the environment. When we looked at toxicity this way, we had an epiphany: We each have a choice to change our lifestyle and choose another way to be. And that’s what this book is all about.

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I n f e rtilit y C l e a n s e

In many ways this book is a call to become a pioneer, to begin to look at different ways we consume and create things. While our patterns of consumption and creation may or may be not be related to our ability to conceive, they are ultimately related to our ability to flourish. The ability to thrive is the ultimate definition of fertility. That is what we mean by an Infertility Cleanse.

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Chapter 1

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The Body's Detox Processes

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ach day our bodies are deluged with hundreds of things that could be called toxins. According to Webster’s Dictionary, a toxin is defined as “a poisonous substance that is a specific product of the metabolic activities of a living organism.” Toxins are a normal part of the natural world. Our bodies produce toxins, chemicals in our environment can be toxic to our bodies, and even mental health practitioners have co-opted the term to describe mental processes that can be harmful to our well-being. The important thing to realize is that toxicity is not something new to the human body. For this reason, doom-and-gloom scenarios about the environment and our fertility must be taken seriously but also taken in stride. The keys to limiting the effects of toxins in our daily life are awareness and proactivity.

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Awa r e n e s s : T h e M a n y So u rc e s o f Tox i n s

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While some toxins (i.e., poisonous chemicals) are dangerous in small amounts, most of the substances we talk about in this book are toxic only when the body’s ability to metabolize and excrete these substances is overwhelmed or imbalanced. There are three main sources of toxins in our lives: environmental toxins, metabolic toxins, and xenobiotics.

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1. Environmental Toxins

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Environmental toxins come from the external environment. They are absorbed through the lungs (air pollution, smoking, fumes, cleaning products, certain artificial fragrances, etc.), through the food and drink we consume, and even through the use of some health and beauty products (perfumes, lotions, and skin care products). Toxins in the food supply enter the body through the digestive system and move directly to the liver, where they are cleared for excretion. Some examples of environmental toxins include: H o r m o n e s i n O u r F o o d S u p p ly: Our food supply is a significant source of chemicals, hormones, and hormone-like substances. In later sections of the book, we discuss the most significant sources of hormones and toxicity (animal products and pesticides) and strategies to reduce our consumption of these substances. Hormones in meat, dairy, and endocrine20

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T h e B od y ’ s D e to x P roc e ss e s

disrupting pesticides (see below) can mimic the activity of our own endocrine hormones and disrupt normal function. E n d o c r i n e D i s r u p t o r s : Of particular concern for fertility is a family of exogenous toxins called endocrine disruptors. According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, endocrine disruptors are substances that interfere with our body’s hormonal systems and cause adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in humans and wildlife. They are associated with infertility and cancer, as well as developmental problems, and are found in many places, including pesticides, plastics, industrial byproducts, building materials, and pollution. Unlike other toxins that must be ingested in large amounts before they cause problems, the hormones in the endocrine system that these chemicals mimic act in minute concentrations in our body. Many researchers believe that tiny amounts of endocrine disruptors have the potential to cause enormous damage. Common endocrine-disrupting chemicals include DDT, PCBs, Bisphenol A, and pthalates. These substances and their impact on health and fertility are discussed in greater depth later in the book.

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2. Metabolic Toxins

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Many of us don’t realize that we may be our own biggest source of toxicity. The byproducts of normal cell metabolism and other physiological processes that originate in our body tissues are all toxic when they are not metabolized properly. Diet, overweight, stress, and a weakened digestive system can allow these substances to build up and begin to cause disease. Examples of toxins that result from our body’s metabolic processes include excess hormones like insulin or estrogen and the byproducts of chronic inflammation and oxidative stress. These potential sources of toxicity are explored in the next chapter. Here are a few examples of metabolic processes that can become toxic: Es t r o g e n D o m i n a n c e : Too much estrogen circulating in a woman’s body is thought to be a contributing factor toward infertility, endometriosis, and fibroids. During a woman’s childbearing years, estrogen is made in two places: the ovaries and the adipose tissue (fat cells). Body fat is biologically active, and women who are overweight or obese may manufacture levels of estrogen in excess of healthy levels. In addition, the way a woman metabolizes estrogen is important to their health, too. Later we examine the different paths estrogen takes on the way out of the body and how these metabolic pathways can influence the amount and type of estrogen circulating in the body. S t r e ss a n d i t s M e ta b o l i t e s : The stress hormone cortisol is a case of a good hormone gone wrong. Secreted by the adrenal glands, it evolved as part of our human response to danger and is called the “fight-or-flight” hormone. When out of control, stress can be one of the most toxic processes in our life. 21

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Chapter 6

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Cleansing the Mind

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n this chapter, we begin to look at the kinds of thoughts that challenge us when we’re trying to conceive. As part of the Cleanse Lifestyle, we will ask you to a) identify negative thoughts, b) inquire into the nature of thoughts, and c) begin to explore the concept of Awareness, a powerful teaching from yoga that allows us to step into the flow of life in a radical way.

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M e n ta l Tox i n No. 1 : Soci a l I s o l atio n

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Couples undergoing IVF mentioned social isolation as a recurring stressor in their treatment. We might wonder then if social isolation also contributes to the kind of stress that causes infertility? You know the kind of isolation we’re talking about. The kind that says you can’t attend your cousin’s baby shower or meet your mommy friends at the park, or the kind that keeps you away from social activities at the office due to doctor appointments and concern over “sharing too much” about your personal “situation.” Could feelings of isolation impact our psychological well-being so much that it can actually impact our fertility? Some well-documented studies show psychosocial factors such as isolation and depression are the number one predictor of mortality in patients with heart disease and heart failure (Friedmann et al, 2006). Another study shows that people living in a culturally similar community who have the support of others actually have lower rates of heart disease. Yes, the kind of social isolation that comes from being infertile can be a source of stress and even depression. There’s no research yet on social isolation and infertility, but if depression can negatively affect IVF outcomes and social isolation causes depression, it makes sense that there could be a correlation. Remember, the lonely monkeys we mentioned earlier in the book. Therefore, it’s important for gals trying to conceive to find and receive the appropriate support they need for this process. The question then becomes, what kind of support network or friends do you have? If your friends are the Fertile Myrtle type or tell you to “just relax and it will happen”—just the kind of friends who participants in the study cited as causing stress for them—you may 91

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I n f e rtilit y C l e a n s e

need to rethink your friendships. What you need are girlfriends who get it—and let us tell you, there are plenty of them out there. Infertility affects one in eight women in the United States. Every time we sit down to a business meeting at Pulling Down the Moon, the person across the table inevitably shares a personal fertility story with us: “I went through it myself,” or “my sister just had a baby after eight years of trying,” or “my best friend just miscarried.” The problem is women just don’t want to share, because they’re not sure it’s safe territory or an appropriate topic. As far as we’ve come in bringing social issues to the forefront of human consciousness, infertility is still in the broom closet! We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but if we don’t give it to you straight, no one will. Human reproduction is a primal instinct. Women, in particular, can feel hard-wired to bear a child or be a mother. Anthropologists tell us we are the gatherers and stokers of the home fires. As a result, many women will stop at nothing to accomplish the goal of having a baby, and when it doesn’t happen, we sometimes feel ashamed, want to withdraw, or have the misperception that our bodies are broken. Men, on the other hand, may come to this journey from a different perspective. While many men are completely supportive of their wives or partners, fertility can still be very closely linked to virility for them. We’ve all heard the braggadocio male—the one who announces that his wife is pregnant due to his strong swimmers or his “A-Team” or “his boys.” Isn’t it ironic that more than 30 percent of all infertility issues are due to the male factor? We share that statistic during some of our couples classes at Pulling Down the Moon and many of the guys look around the room like, “It ain’t this male, so it must be you.” If your spouse or partner is also in denial, remind them that it takes two. On the other hand, we had a couple come to Pulling Down the Moon for our “Dealing with Disappointment” program, and the wife comforted the husband during the entire program as he cried his eyes out about the grief and disappointment he was feeling and his inability to talk about it with his male peers. There are many things men can do to enhance their own fertility, including a visit to the urologist to check under the hood. A healthy diet that supports sperm production, a decrease in alcohol consumption, quitting smoking, wearing boxers instead of briefs, and refraining from “spanking the monkey” (masturbating) before and during their partner’s ovulation period are also supportive techniques. One of the fertility doctors we work with at Fertility Centers of Illinois laughs when she tells the story about how this topic is approached with couples in her office. She says that most women can’t imagine that their husband or spouse would be regular masturbators, so they often don’t take her seriously when she mentions this during their initial consultation. The men, on the other hand, know exactly what she’s talking about. Remember that a little bit of abstinence in this department can go a long way. 92

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C l e a n si n g t h e M i n d

You can have the most wonderful spouse or partner on the planet, but that doesn’t mean they make good “girlfriends.” Remember if women are hard-wired to gather and men are hardwired to hunt and fix things, most of us will be hard pressed to find a male partner who wants to hear our every thought, insecurity, idea, and emotion when it comes to trying to conceive. Girlfriends who are also trying to conceive, on the other hand, are a true gift! Find support groups like those offered through Resolve, the AFA, or at your local fertility clinic. Be physically present. While online chatting or support groups can be nice, they can also lead to an enormous amount of unnecessary stress when you plug into the crazy lady whose story should be a made for TV movie or whose doctor was related to Mr. Hyde. When we wrote Fully Fertile a few years back, it was our intention that women everywhere could use the book as a way to create support groups in their local areas. The second edition of the book now contains a workbook and instructions on how to start a group near you. We are happy to report that Fully Fertile book clubs are popping up all over the place, so perhaps you’d like to start one, too.

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It Takes a Village: Find Yours

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Over the years, we’ve learned from our own personal experiences with infertility and our work at Pulling Down the Moon that the life of a gal trying to conceive can indeed be discouraging and lonely. It’s easy for us to share our infertility stories with you now, two kids and many years later, but it wasn’t that way in the beginning. Tami writes:

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I didn’t tell anybody I was trying to get pregnant. I didn’t want to continually be asked about It, and I didn’t want to feel like a failure at it. One of my close friends was having a devil of a time trying to get pregnant, and I remember being a mute when she brought it up. I somehow felt that if I didn’t talk about it, it didn’t really exist. To me, verbalizing the fact that I struggled with getting pregnant was like jinxing the whole process and, in my mind, I felt certain that if I spoke of it, I was sure to never get pregnant. It’s funny how superstitious we get in times of crisis. Instead of reaching out, I retracted like a turtle in its shell. There is something profound that happens when you come out of your shell and become part of a group.

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In yoga, we often use the word sangha, which is a Sanskrit term referring to the idea that when liked-minded people come together, the power or intention of the group is magnified. We saw it for years in our Yoga for Fertility classes. Women who practiced the postures as a group and then came together for discussion every week felt supported and often healed by the group. Many got pregnant, many were able to move toward second solutions, and many told us that 93

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I n f e rtilit y C l e a n s e

Kriya (Cleansing) Exercises

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Kriya are cleansing exercises that help to dislodge toxicity and open important energy channels. These particular kriya are fertility-specific and stimulate the musculature and fascia of the low back, hips, and the feet, opening the apana energy channel. Hips and feet are linked to the downward flow of energy that helps to ground us and make us feel emotionally secure. These exercises can be done daily.

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Ch a k r a V r ks a s a n a

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Chakra Vrksasana is a wonderful warm-up for the low back, hips, and breath. This three-part kriya exercise is done in two phases: 1. Begin in Table Pose, on your hands and knees 2. Take a deep inhale and then exhale, round your back like an angry cat and sit your seat back on to your heels (Child Pose). 3. With your next inhale, return to Table Pose.

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Repeat 4 times, using your breath to set the pace of the movement.

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Try to take your time moving between Table Pose and Child Pose, feeling the spine as it rounds and the muscles of the back becoming warm. Feel how the breath and the movement become synchronized.

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Infertility Cleanse