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Emma's Blog
Viva Mayr
Posted February 07, 2017

Every year I spend time studying with Dr Stossier at Viva Mayr clinic in Austria. I am there mainly learning ‘the cure’, as it is known, based on the Mayr principles. Spending time resting the system and simplifying the diet allowing the body time to rejuvenate and increase energy to function optimally is a really worthwhile investment in your health.



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Rose Cannonballs
Posted February 07, 2017

A perfect Valentine's Day treat, rose settles the heart energy and these balls build up qi (energy)



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Warming Turmeric Chicken Soup
Posted January 12, 2017

The UK can be cold and damp and at this time of year your body craves warm, nourishing and hearty food that warms the body from the inside out not the raw cold “detox” salads advocated by many. Including warming spices in your food adds flavour and stimulates the digestion. Serve with vegetables in season.



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IVF 'add on' Treatments - Are They Worth It?
Posted December 07, 2016

IVF “add-ons”; a shock and a scandal?  No, not really.  For anyone working on the coal face of fertility treatment, add-ons are a reality driven by patient demand.

I have worked in this industry for over 20 years and have supported thousands of couples through IVF.  Couples come to me to help them find a way forward; often when they feel like they are not getting anywhere with conventional medical pathways.  I sit very much in the central ground; I work with IVF clinics and I support couples to conceive naturally or through IVF.  Because of this I have a unique insight into the world of IVF and of natural conception.

The BBC Panorama report on IVF “add-on” treatments last week caused quite the furor in the world of fertility treatment.  IVF add-ons have become commonplace as increasingly patients want to do as much as they can to improve their chances of IVF success.  This is hardly surprising, given that, on average, only one in four IVF cycles will result in a live birth.  The research commissioned by Panorama and carried out by Oxford University’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine found that most add-on treatments were not supported by high-quality evidence of efficacy. In fact it found that 26 of the 27 treatments had insufficient evidence.

These add-ons include pre-implantation genetic screening (PGS); endometrial scratch (which was the only add-on clinically proven to show some benefit); and additional bloods and immunology testing, to name but a few...



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Brussels Sprouts
Posted December 07, 2016

This Brussels sprouts recipe is full of goodness: sprouts are a rich source of folate, manganese, vitamins B6, C and K. So they will help with your nerves this Christmas. Chestnuts are a great tonic for the digestion and dukkah adds essential fatty acids. The citrus peel makes this dish more digestible and moves stagnation in the digestion - something we generally all need after over indulging. My Number One Christmas recipe for flavour and function.



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Pregnancy over 45
Posted November 03, 2016

Having a baby in your 40s is no picnic; from the start the stats are stacked against you.  After 40 a woman's chance of natural conception is a mere 5% each month.  The risk of miscarriage increases as does the risk of gestational diabetes.  Not to mention stretch marks, prolapse, exhaustion and other supposedly ‘minor’ pregnancy ailments.  The risk of birth defects are high; a 40-year-old woman has a 1 in 105 chance of having a child with Downs syndrome.  At 44 it is 1 in 35, and a 46 there is a 1 in 20 chance.  BUT there is another side to this story...



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The Body Mind Gut connection
Posted September 30, 2016

What do you know about your microbiome? Victoria explains the science behind the new health buzz word…

The human microbiome is the community of microbes that live on and in the human body.  These tiny organisms play a vital role in the overall health of our bodies.  The oldest form of life on earth, human evolution owes a lot to the presence of these microbes, as we were able to utilize their genetic capabilities to help our bodies do things we would otherwise not be capable of – providing an evolutionary ‘short cut’ which enabled us to eat and digest the varied diet essential to the development of modern homo sapiens. They remain absolutely crucial to our digestion, immune system and reproductive function.



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Book Review: Live Well Live Long by Peter Deadman
Posted September 25, 2016

The first thing to say about Live Well Live Long is that it is beautiful. The second is that it is rigorous. This already makes it a winner for me.

 

Live Well Live Long is the right weight and colour and it feels good to touch. These things are important. However, we all know that you cannot judge a book by its cover and the content is no less pleasing. This book explores the Chinese tradition of nourishing life, known as Yangshen. The Chinese are light years ahead of us in this area, yet in the past have lacked sound research to back up such traditions. This book bridges the gap, and is full of modern lifestyle research to validate the ancient teachings with the aim to improve and preserve health.



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5 Fertile Things to do this Autumn
Posted September 14, 2016

September for me always represents getting stuck back into routine 'back to school time'. I adore the summer and that expansive feeling ahead of you, doing things instead of having things to do. But all good things have to end and, as the days get shorter and the energy retracts, it is natural to bring a little more discipline back into life.



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Cavolo Nero, Chestnut and Oyster Mushroom Stir-fry
Posted September 14, 2016

Chestnuts are now in season and, as well as being warming and nourishing in nature, they are extremely high in polyphenols that help maintain the gut's microbial balance. Although classified as a nut they contain more starch and less oil than nuts and are nearer ‘energetically’ to grains. Because of their warming function it makes them an idea food for fertility, especially for you Cold types. They tonify the Yang of the body helping to improve vitality and optimise the function of the nervous system.



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Beetroot & Pumpkin Seed Pesto Salad
Posted July 29, 2016

This simple salad pairs the earthy flavours of beetroot with a punchy pesto dressing. The beets are rich in nitrates that relax blood vessels and improve blood flow and the pumpkin seeds are a good source of zinc for sperm motility.



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The Two Week Wait
Posted June 23, 2016

Anyone who has done an IVF cycle knows the emotional torture that is the “two week wait”. In IVF this comes after a period of much intervention and attention; so much to do, going to clinic, looking at the growing follicles, injecting yourself, egg collection etc. There are many things to do and to keep you busy. But when it all stops and you are left to your own devices it can be quite a stressful time.



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Fats for Health
Posted June 22, 2016

If your BMI indicates that you are under or overweight, taking small steps to gain or lose a little weight can often be enough to improve ovulation. But what to eat to maintain a healthy weight or to gain or lose a little? The current controversial debate on low-fat versus low-carb has been further fuelled by the recent publication of a report by the National Obesity Forum and the Public Health Collaboration which claimed that public health dietary guidelines urging low-fat diets are having “disastrous health consequences”. This has left many confused – particularly those who have tried to adhere to a low-fat diet for years – about how much and what types of fat to eat.



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Spring in the Fertility Kitchen
Posted May 10, 2016

Spring is energetically a season of renewal and activity. Just as the plants begin to sprout and shoot up, we also come out of our own hibernation, begin new projects, and naturally wish to eat a little less and a little lighter to match those green shoots. Plants that grow above the ground naturally contain the type of energy which is good during this time. However, it is also a time of transition when it comes to the climate, and temperatures may still go up and down before settling. Always take care to keep warm during the Spring whenever chilly days return, and continue to eat plenty of slightly sweet foods such as squash, carrots, rice, ginger and cardamom. 



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The Rice Dilemma
Posted February 11, 2016

Victoria: Rice feeds more people than any other cereal in the world and the cultivation of rice may date as far back to 10,000 BC. In ancient India brides threw rice into the sacred fire as symbols of fertility and this ritual prevails to this day by the custom of throwing rice at a wedding.

 

Should you ever eat white rice? Moderation is my mantra but I am always being asked about individual foods and the question of white rice crops up often.



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Spelt and kefir pancakes recipe
Posted December 11, 2015

Victoria and I are big fans of kefir, so good for the gut. In this recipe, soaking the kefir overnight is a traditional method that breaks down phytic acid in grains that reduces the absorption of important minerals for fertility health.



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Top 5 Fertility Tips
Posted November 02, 2015

It’s National Fertility Awareness Week and, rather than concentrate on scare stories about declining fertility, I wanted to suggest some simple ways that all of us can have a positive impact on our own fertility…



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Nourishing Your Earth Energy
Posted September 11, 2015

We have recently entered the season of late summer, which runs from the end of August through to the Autumn Equinox (23 September). This season belongs to the Earth element, the time of harvest and when the trees are heavy with fruit. After the light Fire energy of the summer, this is a more tranquil time of transtion between Yang and Yin.



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Squash and Spelt Soup with Seasonal Relish
Posted September 11, 2015

Serves 4-6

 
1 medium butternut squash, roasted and chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely diced
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
100 g cavolo nero or spring greens, shredded
150 g spelt
1 dried chilli, crumbled (optional)
1 litre chicken broth
1 tbsp olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper
freshly grated parmesan
 
For the cobnut relish:
2 large handfuls of cobnuts (or use hazelnuts) 
large bunch parsley, finely chopped
Sea salt and black pepper


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Edible Flowers
Posted July 07, 2015

Grow them in your garden, in the borders, a vegetable patch or in window boxes if that is all you have. Cooking with flowers is good for the Heart energy and can help alleviate anxiety and create calm. These cheerful little souls brighten up any dish so add them liberally during summer months to lift the spirit and calm the mind...



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Birds, Bees and Baby-Making
Posted July 07, 2015

There has been a great deal in the press recently campaigning for women to have babies before the age of 30 and for the facts about fertility to be taught in school. Like so many issues, the real message has been distorted by sensational press reporting. “Women Warned to Have Babies by 30” the headlines cry. Not so helpful for the many 30 somethings who are not yet mothers and not yet in a position to become a mother.

 

I am not denying that we need to inform women of the facts regarding their fertility. The problem is the facts may not change the outcome and many women remain childless in their 30s for a myriad of reasons, not simply a lack of information. The original message behind the press reports is sound; fertility does decline with age and the older we get the harder it is to have a baby. But of course not every woman is in a position to have a baby at 30 and scaremongering only serves to add more anxiety to an already fraught situation. Anxiety is the enemy of fertility and every headline spreads fear and terror into the heart and womb of many a single 30 something. 



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Calves' Liver and Sage Butter
Posted May 25, 2015

During the Menstrual Tonic, small amounts of foods such as liver and kidneys provide wonderful nourishment. They are intensely blood nourishing, as are dark green leafy veg such as mustard leaves, cavolo nero, watercress and kale. 



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Radish, Crab and Turmeric Congee
Posted May 25, 2015

Congee is simply slow cooked rice in much larger quantities of water than we are often used to. The rice is cooked until it breaks down and turns the liquid thick and creamy. It has a mild, sweet flavour and is incredibly easy on the digestion so is very nourishing and healing. Grains in general are rich in Qi, but our digestion can find it hard to absorb the good nutrition inside them if we don't prepare them properly. Hard grains can be too much for our digestion, especially if it is slightly weakened. With congee, the rice is softened and broken down, so that the stomach can easily digest it and Stomach Qi even increases as you eat. Congee is mild and perfect for adding other flavours to, from warm stewed fruit in the morning to fresh ginger, chicken and sesame oil as a nourishing evening meal.



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Sesame Eggs and Kale
Posted May 22, 2015

Everything in this quick recipe is good for you! We have sesame seeds, eggs, coconut oil and deep green leafy kale; a blood nourishing, Qi nourishing breakfast or brunch that tastes amazing.



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Making Kefir at the Land Gardeners with Amber Rose
Posted May 22, 2015

Victoria Wells

Earlier this month I had an incredible day with Amber Rose learning how to make kefir and lacto pickles. It was held in the beautiful organic walled garden of the Land Gardeners. Ever since, I have been nursing my kefir grains and feling joyful and proud creating kefir milk and used it for smoothies, chia pots and kefir cheese. 



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Increasing Fertility Awareness
Posted April 20, 2015

It is National Infertility Awareness Week and so I wanted to write a post that I hope will be shared many times in that it aims to help improve women's understanding of reproductive health. It is why I ask at the end of my book Total Fertility that the reader might pass the book on to a younger woman in their life who may also benefit from increasing their own fertility awareness.

Everything I do as a practitioner aims to help to bring my patients back into balance, whether that is the hormonal ebb and flow through the month, balance of energy or balance within the mind. When our bodies and minds are relaxed and focused, we eat well but not obsessively, we energise ourselves with exercise while taking rest when we need it. 



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Kuku Sabzi - Leek & Herb Frittata
Posted April 01, 2015

This dish is eaten on Naw-Rúz, the celebration of the Persian New Year. It literally means ‘new day’ and falls at the spring equinox. The green herbs symbolise rebirth and renewal and the eggs symbolise fertility. This version uses wolfberries, long used in Chinese remedies as an aphrodisiac.



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Watercress and spinach soup with quails eggs
Posted April 01, 2015

for your libido...



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Bone Broth: Chicken
Posted April 01, 2015

As far as I am concerned many ailments can be cured by a few days rest and a good chicken broth.

You could not have failed to notice the resurgence of the ancient tradition of bone broth or Jewish penicillin as it is sometimes called. I for one am delighted as it is one of the single most nourishing foods you can eat. I always try to have a fresh batch in the fridge and some spare in the freezer.



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A Valentine's Recipe for Rose Cannonballs
Posted February 13, 2015

The documentary March of the Penguins is the story of a remarkable fertility journey of one species. Each year, as they have done for millennia, the Emperor penguins leave the comfort of the sea to walk single file over the ice to their traditional breeding grounds, enduring blinding blizzards, to meet, court and mate with a lifelong partner.

 

The creation of life is a miracle in all species...



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Magic Soup
Posted January 29, 2015

My good friends Kate Adams and Nicole Pisani are about to publish their wonderful new cookbook, MAGIC SOUP, and asked if they could include my chicken soup alongside other medicinal and traditional soups like kitchari and Good Woman's Soup. Those who know me know that I am the biggest fan of soups, so nourishing and balancing.

 

This is the Queen of soups. As one of my old teachers would say, even the making of it is something of a ritual; it’s not only about eating but also connecting to the essence of the bones and heart of ourselves. Gathering the ingredients, putting them in a big pot and watching the transformation take place is a bit like alchemy. 

 


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Who Stole Our Sex Lives?
Posted January 20, 2015

“For to the bee a flower is a fountain of life − and to the flower a bee is a messenger of love − and to both, bee and flower, the giving and receiving of pleasure is a need and an ecstasy”.

Khalil Gibran

In the 1950s, sex was a good option of an evening when we had little to distract us. Now we can choose to watch TV until late, use computers to catch up on work we didn’t manage to finish in the day, and there is often little distinction between work and home life. So sex can come quite low down on the list of priorities, particularly if both partners are working.



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"Five Healthy Things"
Posted December 16, 2014

1. Start the day with hot water and lemon

2. Add fermented foods and pickles to your diet

3. Boil your tukey bones for bone broth

4. Stop eating before 7pm

5. Drink mostly herbal teas



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Stress and Fertility
Posted November 12, 2014

ARE YOU TOO STRESSED TO CONCEIVE?

One of the questions I am frequently asked is, 'does stress impact on fertility?' Increasingly, patients complain of being 'stressed about eing stressed!' A recent study from America studying 501 couples for up to 12 months found there was a 29% reduction in fertility and a twofold increase of infertility in the coules who demonstrated high levels of stress (Lynch et al, 2014).   

Actually stress in moderate amounts can improve our performance and keeps us focused on a goal. However, when this is sustained over a period of time, our bodies adopt a 'fight or flight' response, which prompts the adrenal glands to secrete cortisol (stress hormone) and adrenaline into the blood stream. This is a survival reflex. It is essential that our bodies are allowed to fall back into a relaxed state so that basic functions such as heart rate, blood pressure and digestion can return to normal. This is what I see frequently in clinic; the body is not able to relax and go back to normal because we are trying to fight on too many fronts. Increasingly people are running insanely busy lives and trying to juggle too much, which can lead to burnout and may affect our ability to conceive. 



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Fermented Foods
Posted November 12, 2014

IF YOU DO ONE THING THIS YEAR ADD FERMENTED FOOD TO YOUR DIET

Fermentation is an ancient form of food preservation, the healing properties of which have been appreciated by many cultures for many centuries. Examples of traditional fermented foods are Japanese fermented pickles, Korean kimchi and German sauerkraut. Slightly more common, everyday fermented (or cultured) foods such as yoghurt, sourdough breads, dill pickles and miso all aid digestion. From a Chinese medicine view, sour flavours support the Liver energy and move stagnation of Qi, both of which will help keep the digestion moving. Many people suffer from Stagnation in the intestine. Sedentary lifestyles, emotional issues and too much Damp forming food, including sugar and alcohol add to the problem. Even apparently healthy juices and raw (unfermented) foods can cause Stagnation in the intestines; leading to a weakened and compromised digestive system, bloating, gas and discomfort.



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Pumpkin and squash
Posted October 24, 2014

Late summer into autumn is the time of Earth energy, the colour of burnt orange, reds and yellows - I love this time of year with when the sun is bright, the sky is blue and nature gives us its last blast of vibrancy before the vail of winter descends. Pumpkins and squash are plentiful and they are so good to eat and very nourishing for the Stomach and Spleen energy. Salads are for the hottest of summer days and now that the weather is colder roasted vegetables and stews are order of the day.



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Fertility to Family - IVF Support
Posted October 17, 2014

The number of IVF cycles performed each year has increased steadily since 1991 and in 2011 approximately 47,000 women received over 60,000 IVF or ICSI treatments, 4.3% more than 2010.  Between 2009 and 2010 the overall live birth rate per cycle started has remained steady; 24.1% in 2009 and 24.5% for 2010.  Two thirds of the women receiving fertility treatment in 2011 were aged 37. The average age of women undergoing IVF treatment was 35. The recent figures are still to be published but my guess is we will see another increase as more and more couples are turning to IVF to help them start a family.



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Sex in a Tent - Festival Fertility
Posted July 09, 2014

Festivals are a brilliant way to retreat from everyday life, relaxing out doors with fellow human beings and sharing in the celebration of music, humanity, food, nature and a good time. Learning to let go and enjoy is becoming increasingly important as our lives become busier and busier and our free time is eroded away but work and other commitments. I relish being anywhere away from emails and texts and long for the days when it was hard to get hold of people.  



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Ask Your Mum
Posted June 19, 2014

Every woman contains within her the essence of her mother, her grandmother, great grandmother and every woman that has gone before her. The mother daughter relationship therefore holds within the emotional and physical building blocks for life. Our mother has such a profound influence on pre sent and future health.

So how did mothers get so over looked in the fertility story? Looking through many books on the subject they barely get a mention. Perhaps a reliance on medicine and science and testing has overtaken intuition. But this is science - biologically we are likely to suffer from similar conditions to our mothers. The women in your family are a huge resource of information that can offer an opportunity to optimise fertility.

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Exercise for Fertility
Posted June 19, 2014

Exercise is vital for our general health, well-being and fertility. Numerous studies confirm that many aspects of our health can improve through the right kind of exercise and that a lack of exercise can be a cause of disease. So exercise is good - simple. Well not quite, not all exercise is equal and many people are getting it wrong.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists give suggestions for exercise once pregnant but there is little information about how much to do while trying to get pregnant. But for two weeks of the month you may well be pregnant. It, therefore, stands to reason that if the right kind of exercise is a consideration during pregnancy, it needs to be a consideration while trying to conceive too.

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The January Detox
Posted June 19, 2014

The idea of detox and 'cleansing' is not an idea that is central to Chinese Medicine, it is an idea that has come out of Western naturopathy. It is derived from the belief that toxicity is a major cause of disease and a fundamental belief that the body is 'dirty' or 'unclean'. Personally I think it has its roots in guilt; it peddles the belief that it is OK to live out of balance and to overindulge, because you can always go on a detox and that will put everything to rights again. I call it the 'detox to re-tox' mentality.

A good seasonal cleanse in the spring is a good thing in a patient that is damp and hot and could do with simplifying the diet and increasing exercise. Mothers naturally purge and detox in the days following childbirth, hence the nights drenched in sweat to help eliminate the toxins accumulated during pregnancy . This should be followed ....

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