I am passionate about Natural Killer Cells Acupuncture. Natural Killer cells have recently been associated with recurrent pregnancy loss. This can happen as early as within a few weeks to later stages of pregnancy.
Hi, I’m Ilana Sowter (Doctor of Chinese Medicine) and I’m a Fertility Acupuncturist in Melbourne, Australia.
Natural Killer Cells Acupuncture
I am blessed to have been supporting women with fertility for almost a decade. I’ve seen some who have been trying for a longtime without the success of conception. This is ether naturally or with recurrent failed IVF embryo transfers. Eventually, these women have been tested for Natural Killer cells (NK cells) in the uterus. If high levels of uterine NK cells are found, an appropriate diagnosis is made and treatment is prescribed. Most of the time, a successful pregnancy results.
This is very significant! Many people do not understand why they cannot get pregnant today. They have had myriads of medical testing and IVF. To find the reason for the unexplained fertility is precious on this heartbreaking journey.
Consider that many of these women have had IVF cycle and miscarriage after miscarriage. That is, until the diagnosis of NK cells is made.
However, it is not so simple nor clear. There is a real controversy with reproductive immunology. Some doctors don’t believe that high levels of NK cells in the uterus do not cause infertility.
What Are Natural Killer Cells?
Natural Killer Cells are a type of white blood cell (lymphocyte). NK cells naturally occur as a part of your immune system. They are found all over the body. The NK cells that affect fertility in the uterus have marker CD56. One study found that there was an association with the activation status of uterine NK cells and an increased risk of reproductive failure in fertility patients. This was whether or not they had endometriosis.
What Do Natural Killer Cells Do?
They have a very important job in your body! Firstly, these cells detect and eliminate foreign cells that can cause cancer or infection. So having normal Natural Killer cell levels is a good thing.
We have a problem when there are too many! High levels of uterine NK cells can cause immunological infertility because they attack the embryo or growing foetus. Thus, causing auto-immunity.
Causes Of Natural Killer Cells
- Endometriosis & Adenomyosis
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
- Fibroids & Myomas
- Vaginal Bacterial Infections & STIs
- Stress, holding tension & too much busyness
- Pelvic trauma & misalignment
- Cancer, trauma & localised lesions
- May be associated with other health issues such as hypothyroidism or diabetes.
How Do Natural Killer Cell Levels Increase?
It all comes down to inflammation. All the above causes create inflammation locally in the uterus and endometrial tissue. Inflammation stops blood flow, then brings heat and swelling to the area. Blood, lymph and vital substance stop flowing as needed. This creates a calling for high levels of immunological cells to come to the area.
Thus, chronic inflammation can lead to auto-immunity. This if fine when needed acutely. The problem arises when the inflammatory risk to the area has subsided, but the high levels of NK cells have not reduced as they should have.
Natural Killer Cell Expression
New medical theories suggest that abnormal expression of Natural Killer cells (CD56) have abnormalities on the cell surface markers. This is what is associated with risk factors for recurrent pregnancy loss. Fukui et al. (2015) conclude that intravenous immunoglobulin treatment may be effective for these women due to NK cell abnormality.
Fertility Natural Killer Cell Testing & Diagnosis
Is a medical examination conducted via a blood test, with or without a uterine biopsy. Testing is also controversial as some doctors believe it is invasive and carries risks. Most women who need testing have high reproductive morbidity, or failure.
Obviously, your fertility specialist usually decides whether you need Natural Killer cell testing or not. If your fertility specialist is experienced in this area, they will know best how to diagnose you. Here are some examples of NK cell testing that occur at Melbourne IVF.
Personally, I practice Natural Killer Cells Acupuncture to support the medical immunosuppressive treatment holistically.
Natural Killer Cell Testing Is Needed If:
- You have had 3 recurrent miscarriages at less than 35 years.
- You experienced at least 2 recurrent miscarriages at more than 35 years.
- Also if you have had repeated IVF implantation failure (2 or more unsuccessful fresh IVF cycles).
- A red flag is if you have been diagnosed with unexplained infertility. NK Cells can be a cause of unexplained infertility.
- Gynaecological illness can create an association. For example, if you have endometriosis, this can cause inflammation of the endometrium. Inflammation of the endometrium can cause Natural Killer cells.
Medical Theory Of Natural Killer Cells In The Uterus
Immune testing in reproductive failure tends to be varied and sways between doctors. Some doctors believe in this theory, especially considering more research and evidence is available to suggest it is true. Often women will seek a second opinion if they have still have no result and their doctor has dismissed the possibility of Natural Killer cells as a cause of infertility.
Dr. Gavin Sacks is a leading IVF Specialist and pioneer regarding NK cells. He has pleaded for the medical industry to drop the arguing over NK Cell Theory validity. He has asked doctors to at least test their patients and then decide. Notably, he wisely states,
“Patients have real problems that need pragmatic solutions rather than theories.”
Sacks claims that the most significant advance in reproductive immunology in recent years is understanding the maternal immune system. It plays yet an active role in the establishment of pregnancy (Sacks, 2015).
Medical Treatment Of Natural Killer Cells
All in all, medical treatment of Natural Killer Cells calls for immune suppresion. It will vary according to your fertility specialist. It may include and range from progesterone, clexane, prednisone and intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) from embryo transfer or ovulation to 12 weeks or as prescribed.
Safety Of Medical Treatment For Natural Killer Cells
The safety of medical treatment for Natural Killer cells remains undecided. Given reproductive immunology is highly controversial, doctors fail to agree as to whether it is safe to administer treatment or not.
Moffat & Shreeve (2015) caution that treatment is unsafe. Scientists do not know the exact mechanism of action for intravenous immunoglobulin therapy. Sacks (2015) asserts it has very minimal side effects. It is suggested that close clinical observation and a supportive laboratory work-up are essential to its efficacy (Han, 2017).
Steroid treatment is also effective although side effects and unwanted symptoms occur.
One form of commonly prescribed medical treatment for NK cells is the Bondi Protocol.
What Is The Bondi Protocol?
The Bondi Protocol is a combination of medical immunosuppression against NK cells. The Bondi Protocol is a drug regime pioneered by Dr Gavin Sacks. It involves a prescribed dosage of prednisone and clexane medications. This can be taken from before embryo transfer to a set date within the pregnancy. Sacks has it deemed to be effective, affordable and easily accessible to women with high NK cells.
Side Effects Of The Bondi Protocol
There are side effects. Clexane is a medication that prevents blood clotting. NK cells are believed to coagulate the blood. Clexane can cause thrombocytopenia and increased bleeding with women of lower body weight. Hence it is recommended to monitor blood counts during treatment. It can interact with other forms of medicine. Including Chinese herbs, which is why you should only take Chinese herbs from an experienced Chinese herbalist. Pregnant women receiving clexane are at a higher risk of bleeding.
Clinical trials show that clexane can cause anaemia, bleeding, blood disorders, liver/gallbladder issues, confusion and allergy.
Prednisone is an anti-inflammatory medication. It is classed in corticosteroids. Functionally, it acts to calm the nervous system down.
Adverse effects associated with prednisone vary. Patients can experience insomnia, headache, exhaustion, muscle weakness, mood swings, nightmares, to stomach and digestive issues.
Causes Of Natural Killer Cells In Chinese Medicine
When I treat patients with high Natural Killer cells, I always address the presenting pattern, underlying cause and your constitution. All from a Chinese medicine perspective. If you have high levels of NK cells, it is worth trying Natural Killer Cells Acupuncture.
Absolutely, this includes both Chinese Herbs and Acupuncture.
Traditional Chinese Medicine Patterns often associated with high NK Cells include;
- Kidney Deficiency
- Blood Stagnation
- Liver Qi Stagnation
- Kidney Yang
- Spleen Yang Deficiency
- Spleen Qi Deficiency
Blood Stagnation & The Uterus
Women naturally have a tendency to form blood stagnation in the uterus. This can be from stress, anxiety to repressed emotion. Many of you cannot express how you feel and it seethes inside. This causes disharmony internally. It knots the qi and leads to blood stagnation. It can also lead to other issues like uterine polyps.
Blood stagnation is also caused from lifestyle. If you swim during your period and drink lots of iced fluids and cold food this clots the blood internally. This is very bad for your fertility and wellbeing as a woman.
Women tend to get cold easily. So it is vital to keep your body warmer than usual! Keeping your body warm allows blood to flow, and prevent inflammation. Looking after your blood through diet and lifestyle also improves this. Natural Killer Cells Acupuncture improves blood flow to the uterus and reduces inflammation.
Diet & Natural Killer Cells
I have seen some patients who are very healthy and have wholesome diets with NK cells. However, these women also had pelvic trauma or gynaecological imbalance which led to inflammation. Diet plays a key role given that there is so much junk in our food today.
A standard Western diet is apathetic of wellbeing.
Processed flours, sugars and cheap vegetable oils all place stress on the body and affect the reproductive hormones. Lack of good fats and Omega 3s omit the essential building blocks for healthy eggs and sperm. Changing your diet for the better can give you a rewarding benefit that influences inflammation and NK cells.
Chinese Medicine & Natural Killer Cells
A combined treatment of the medical protocol for NK cells with Chinese Herbs and Acupuncture may provide the mother with a holistic treatment and reduce the severity of side effects which range from reduced foetal growth, mood swings, bloating, digestive upsets and insomnia.
Chinese Herbs support your immunity to regulate it, prevent overdrive and support the kidney energy (adrenals) which is critical for good fertility and health during pregnancy.
Dr. Ilana (Chinese Medicine) regularly works with IVF and fertility specialists to ensure that you get the best available holistic treatment.
Numerous studies have analysed this. Natural Killer Cells Acupuncture is essential to increase your chances of success.
Natural Killer Cells Acupuncture
Acupuncture is renowned for it’s anti-inflammatory effects. It functions to move qi and blood, which is useful for both the uterus and inflammation. Mori et al. (2013) found that Acupuncture reduces pain and NK cell activity. Natural Killer Cells Acupuncture is a holistic approach to supportive NK cell treatment. There is little current research available on Acupuncture for the treatment of high NK cells. A systematic review informs us that Chinese Medicine is the most used modality for the prevention and treatment of miscarriage (Li et al, 2014). It also affirms that Chinese Medicine can be effectively used with medical treatment for miscarriage prevention. Over 340,000 pieces of literature were identified. The overall effectiveness of Chinese medicine for threatened miscarriage was 90%. As always, more rigorous studies are required to establish this.
Metaphysical Aspects Of Natural Killer Cells: Lack Of Self-Love
Louise Hay associates stress with auto-immunity and the way NK cells behave. The growing epidemic of stress, lifestyle disease and auto-immune disease pertains to a very simple cause, that of not loving yourself for who you are.
Lack of self-love is a growing problem. If you are ready to be a mum and bring your baby into the world, would you like to show your baby what true self-love and acceptance is? It is the most wonderful thing to teach your child and watch them love themselves unconditionally.
Holistic Treatment For Natural Killer Cells
A Chinese Medicine Consultation aims to support you and your underlying imbalance through diet, lifestyle, acupuncture, cupping, moxa and Chinese herbs. Dr. Ilana (Chinese Medicine) also considers the mindset which is what she believes leads the body.
If you want to help yourself get better and sort this imbalance, get in touch!
Natural Killer Cells Acupuncture is a safe and supportive treatment for your fertility.
Natural Killer Cells Acupuncture Consultations
If you are in need of support on your fertility journey and especially believe that NK cells are affecting you, Ilana is the experienced, caring and holistic health expert to support you. A tailored program can ensure your body is performing at its peak optimally for better conception and pregnancy.
At Femme Vital Acupuncture in Inner North, Melbourne, expect the best holistic health consultation, tailored treatment and advice with 10 years experience supporting natural fertility with acupuncture and Chinese herbs.
You’ve found the right place for Natural Killer Cells Acupuncture in Melbourne.
Call Ilana on 0466866450 or send her an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Skype consultations available for international clients.
Copyright © 2019 Ilana Sowter · All Rights Reserved
Fukui, A., Kamoi, M., Funamizu, A., Fuchinoue, K., Chiba, H., Yokota, M., Fukuhara, R. & Mizunuma, H. (2015). NK cell abnormality and its treatment in women with reproductive failures such as recurrent pregnancy loss, implantation failures, preeclampsia, and pelvic endometriosis. Reprod Med Biol. Oct; 14(4): 151-157. Published online 2015 Apr 11. doi: 10.1007/s12522-015-0207-7.
Giuliani, E, Parkin, K, Lessey, B, Young, S & Fazleabas, A (2014). Characterization of Uterine NK Cells in women with infertility or recurrent pregnancy loss and associated endometriosis. Am J Reprod Immunol. Sep; 72(3): 262–269. Published online 2014 May 8. doi: 10.1111/aji.12259
Han, J.W. (2017) The Efficacy and Safety of High-Dose Intravenous Immunoglobulin in the Treatment of Kawasaki Disease: How Can We Predict Resistence to Intravenous Immunoglobulin Treatment? Korean Circ J. Mar; 47(2): 179-181. Published online 2017 Mar 8. doi: 10.4070/kcj.2017.011
Li, L., Leung, P.C., Chung, T.K.H. & Wang, C.C. (2014) Systematic Review of Chinese Medicine for Miscarriage during Early Pregnancy. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. doi: 10.1155/2014/753856.
Moffat, A. & Shreeve, N. (2015) First do no harm: uterine natural killer (NK) cells in assisted reproduction. Hum Reprod. Jul; 30(7): 1519-1525. Published online 2015 May 7. doi: 10.1093/humrep/dev098
Mori, H., Kuge, H., Tanaka, T.H., Taniwaki, E., Hanyu, K. & Moriwasa, T. (2013). Effects of acupuncture treatment on natural killer cell activity, pulse rate, and pain reduction for older adults: an uncontrolled, observational study. J Integr Med. Mar; 11(2): 101-105.
Sacks, G. (2015). Enough! Stop the arguments and get on with the science of natural killer cell testing. Human Reproduction, 30 (7): 1526-1531. https://doi.org/10.1093/humrep/dev096