Interview with Dr. Celine Leonard, author of the book Wu/Leonard/Haeberle, Female Infertility and Reproduction
Dr. Celine Leonard has been working at the Merrion Fertility Clinic in Dublin Ireland since 2002 and treats patients undergoing fertility treatment. She is an expert in acupuncture and herbalism and wrote the book Female Infertility and Reproduction with colleagues.
Naturmed: Celine, Congratulations to you and your colleagues on publishing this brilliant book. What was the intention in writing this book?
Dr. Celine Leonard: Many thanks for your congratulations! It has taken many years of work for all of us and I am so glad it is finally done. Back in 2008 when Esther Denz said it was a pity that Dr Wu’s work was not in book form, I volunteered to do it since I had a background in teaching and I knew the value of the material. My intention in helping to write this book was to provide a really clear guide for western practitioners working in the field of gynaecology and infertility so that they could increase their diagnostic skills and become both more confident and more competent in their clinics. Most of us do not have the hospital setting there is in China but we can use the wonderful material given by Dr Wu to help support us in our work. This is a book I wish I had had when I was starting out. It takes material that was available and expands it for us for clinical purposes. There is also much material here that has not been available before in the west and I wanted it to be as clear and accessible as possible.
Even though there is much information about biomedicine, the focus is always on using the patterns of Chinese medicine in conjunction with it. This book will help practitioners deal with the complex issues we can face every day in clinic and in our interactions with biomedical doctors and biomedical medicines/procedures. It is a textbook of integrated medicine but it is always focussed on how best to use TCM. Chinese medicine is a wonderfully sophisticated and effective system of medicine. Used with confidence in the Fu Ke clinic it is of enormous help to women seeking assistance with pain or cycle disorders and difficulty in conceiving children.
Naturmed: Many young therapists are thinking about starting a new practice in the fields of gynaecology and reproductive medicine. How would you suggest they start?
Dr. Celine Leonard: If they follow the layout of the book, they will see that the Part 1 gives clear instructions in the basic patterns of infertility and in learning to deal with cycle disorders as laid out in Chinese medicine gynaecology. Studying Part 1 material carefully will help practitioners build skills to relieve the pain and suffering cause by cycle disorders when they meet them in clinic. Learning how to regulate the cycle is also a crucial step in treating infertility. There are always also clear instructions on how the material is used when a woman is seeking to conceive. Secondly, studying Part 1 carefully will also help practitioners build the skills that will be needed for dealing with the biomedically defined gynaecological diseases laid out in Part 2. Many of the strategies taught in Part 1 become important in dealing with diseases laid out chapter by chapter in Part 2. Part 2 will help the practitioner understand how to treat gynaecological conditions like endometriosis and myoma while helping a woman to conceive.
Naturmed: In the book Female infertility, which you have written with your colleagues, you describe in a very practical way how TCM and Biomedicine can be used for certain gynecological complaints and reproductive medicine. Celine, how general are these case studies and how can they be adapted to individual needs of your readers?
Dr. Celine Leonard: The case histories were chosen to illustrate how the material of each chapter is put into practice. They are also important since they illustrate what a powerful, sophisticated tool Chinese herbal medicine is and how effective herbal formulas are when they are modified to match the patient’s changing condition. Chinese medicine if often used to great effect as the primary treatment but it can also used when a patient is undergoing fertility treatments. When it is used as an ‘adjunct’ therapy in ART, it can counterbalance any negative side effects of the biomedical procedures/medications, protect the patient’s constitution and well being and increase the success rate of ART cycle and help secure any subsequent pregnancy.
Naturmed: Besides numerous acupuncture points, there are also numerous TCM formulas with Chinese herbs? How important is the use of Chinese herbs for these complaints rather than Western herbs and can one rely on the safety of Chinese herbs?
Dr. Celine Leonard: Chinese herbal medicine is part of the spectrum of therapies available to the practitioner. It is different from western medicine since each herb has said to have a particular taste, temperature and directionality and to enter particular channels. This makes it really sophisticated and adaptable. The practitioner will use the same method of pattern differentiation as in acupuncture so there is a continuity which is not there with the western herbal tradition. Chinese herbs are rarely used in isolation but are prescribed in formula where they assist each other, counterbalance each other and deal with many different issues. For instance a formula may be used to build the resources for pregnancy but the herbalist can choose an assistant herb or herbs to deal with other issues such as anxiety, poor sleep, constipation or diarrhoea according to the constitution of each particular person. Herbs are generally taken twice daily so there is a cumulative effect which is hard to match with other therapies. As to the safety of Chinese herbal medicine, it is really important to make sure that the supplier can assure the quality and purity of the herbs. The better herbal companies have their herbs batch tested to make sure that they are correctly identified and that there are no impurities. The better the quality, the better the effect.
Naturmed: Many recipes come from old TCM classics. How important do you think is the knowledge of the old classics in the practical implementation of gynecological complaints and fertility treatment?
Dr. Celine Leonard: There is always a formula explanation given with each prescription. I wrote the formula explanations and the modification explanations to try to make the intention of the formula as clear as possible. However, the formulas are always named in pinyin so the practitioner has all the information needed to go to Formula textbook such as Formulas and Strategies, look up them to learn about the original formula, see the modifications that Dr Wu has used and understand how it is adapted to help patients. This means that the practitioner can use the book to create a path of further study if they choose to do so.
Here a contact to Celine Leonard: www.chinesemedicineworks.ie
A comprehensive clinical manual of integrated Chinese Medicine
Here you can order the book by Dr. Yuning Wu, Dr. Celine Leonard, Dr. Michael Haeberle, Female Infertility & reproductive Gynaecology (with cases by Esther Denz).
For German customers: Hier zum Buch.