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8 Strategies to Optimize Thyroid Function for Fertility

Thyroid imbalance affects the physical body and the energetic body. If the thyroid is not functioning correctly, it can create an obstacle to fertility.

Audrey Guss, L.Ac., specializes in the treatment of thyroid, adrenal gland issues, digestive issues and chronic health conditions at Well Women Acupuncture in Los Angeles. Here, she shares 8 strategies to optimize thyroid function for fertility:

  • Reduce inflammatory foods. Inflammatory foods like sugars, wheat, and processed foods can inflame the body and burden the thyroid. Ensure that each meal includes adequate protein and healthy fats (coconut oil, butter, nuts, avocado, etc.) which will help reduce sugar cravings and also keep the thyroid happy.
  • Reduce intake of raw cruciferous vegetables and soy. Cruciferous vegetables including cabbage, broccoli, rapini, kale, brussel sprouts and cauliflower can decrease thyroid function which can be a problem for those with an under-performing thyroid. If you enjoy cruciferous veggies, cook them prior to consuming. That will reduce their goitrogenic quality and render them thyroid friendly.
  • Eliminate any digestive disharmonies by taking probiotics. Twenty percent of T4 to T3 conversion (two thyroid hormones) take place in the digestive tract. Infections and dysbiosis can hinder this conversion. Dysbiosis is an imbalance of bacteria in the gut where by infectious bacteria outnumber the beneficial bacteria that should be present. That imbalance sets us up for yeast and bacteria overgrowth. Taking probiotics is a good way to “re-populate” the beneficial bacteria.
  • Manage stress and get enough rest. The adrenal glands are closely related to the thyroid. In my practice, I have yet to see a person who has a thyroid issue who does not also have an adrenal insufficiency. Taking care of adrenal health can positively impact thyroid wellness. Get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep per night; note that 8 hours is ideal.
  • Reduce your toxic load. Parabens and chlorates (often found in cleaning supplies and body products), and pesticides can hinder thyroid performance. Environmental Working Group (EWG) consumer guides are a good resource for information about which products to buy or avoid.
  • Express Yourself. As energetic practitioners, we look for disharmony in areas of spiritual and emotional areas. When we hold our feelings and thoughts inside we can get energetically stuck in the throat chakra (the fifth chakra). Standing up for ourselves, vocalizing our feelings or using creative outlets (writing, drawing, painting, dancing, etc.) for self-expression can help release energetic blockages.
  • Correct any mineral deficiencies or excesses. Adequate selenium, copper, zinc and iodine are all essential to thyroid health. Using an iodine urine loading test or hair analysis is a good way to get an accurate picture of proper mineralization. Green vegetables are an excellent source of minerals, however if deficiencies are apparent, additional supplementation may be necessary.
  • Get acupuncture and a herbal/ supplementation consultation. In our office we use both acupuncture and herbs to help regulate the thyroid. Acupuncture treatments can be effective to either increase energy or calm the body. An individualized herbal and/or supplementation plan can also address underlying causes of thyroid dysfunction.


If you think your thyroid is not functioning correctly, try the above strategies to restore balance, and click here to schedule an appointment to address these issues with Audrey Guss, L.Ac.

*This blog post originally appears on

The 3 Best Ways to Increase Your “Fertile Confidence”

The 3 Best Ways to Increase Your "Fertile Confidence" -- Well Women Acupuncture

If you’ve been diagnosed with infertility or you are trying to conceive after miscarriage, likely you struggle with feelings of vulnerability, self-doubt and disappointment.

To have these feelings appearing month after month can take a toll on your “fertile confidence” — your belief in yourself and your body’s ability to have a successful pregnancy and parent a child.

Women who have a high level of fertile confidence are more likely to create a positive outcome, even when the odds are stacked against them.

So, how can you create more confidence that you are on track after a huge or recurring disappointment?

At Well Women Acupuncture, we’ve seen first hand that women are able to rebuild their fertile confidence by finding these 3 attributes inside themselves:


    • A willingness to do some personal discovery work. In order to strengthen the belief that a baby is possible (especially when odds appear to be stacked against us), we’re required to find the willingness to believe that we can make necessary changes that will create a new & different outcome.


    • A commitment to heal and release pain from loss. Trying to conceive after a miscarriage or when facing constant disappointment requires making the commitment to say goodbye to the pain of a loss, or staying committed to the process of healing in general, especially when we feel like giving up.


  • The courage to be vulnerable and share emotional feelings with trusted friends about the ways in which we are growing and coping with feelings of inadequacy, frustration and doubt.

Rebuilding fertile confidence is an “inside job,” but it’s possible if you dig deep enough and stay determined to find these attributes inside yourself.

To learn more tools you can use to develop and strengthen your sense of fertile confidence, join us inside The Seed Fertility Program: An online course created by Well Women Acupuncture founder Danica Thornberry.

Walking for Hope!

Danica at the halfway point of the RESOLVE Southern California Walk of Hope.

Danica at the halfway point of the RESOLVE Southern California Walk of Hope.

This past Sunday (September 21st) was my birthday, and I celebrated 44 by walking a mile with hundreds of people determined to bring awareness to the frustration that millions face when they try to get pregnant, but find themselves unable to bring healthy, full-term babies into the world (see more on Walk of Hope, sponsored by Resolve Infertility).

Not only did the “Seed Team” land in the top ten donations made to the Resolve charity, but also it was wonderful to bring information about The Seed Fertility Program to this crowd of people who really appreciated being introduced to something new that they can participate in to recover their power in this often disappointing and heart-breaking field.

Danica sharing Seed wisdom at the RESOLVE Walk of Hope.

Danica sharing Seed wisdom at the RESOLVE Walk of Hope.

I spoke to many people — doctors, women (some mothers, some still trying), husbands, nurses, program coordinators and actresses… all of whom know this subculture of women, and whom know how these women are working to turn their disappointments into opportunities to become a mother.

I left with gratitude in my heart, for my own two healthy, “against the odds” children, Kira and Jack. I also felt grateful that spiritual evolution is coming to this world of infertility. We are finally uniting – acupuncturists, massage therapists, doctors, authors, models – all of us are coming together – to help others keep the faith. The faith that with enough courage and determination, we can become parents… if that is what we set our sights on.

Blessings and continued support to those on the path to baby.

Do We Pick Our Personalities?


By Danica Thornberry

dreamstime_l_17976408While walking home from school last week my six year old asked me, “Mama, Do we pick our personalities?”

My response to her was “Well, I don’t know about that, but I believe that when we are spirits deciding to come into a body, we probably choose what lessons we will try to learn.”

She seemed totally satisfied with that answer, and her question revealed once again to me that we really are in the throws of a “spiritual age”…and it has us all thinking about things we once took for granted.

Her question got me thinking about what I chose to learn this time around.

I guess I chose a “spiritual” personality because I opted to be someone of service to women in need…and this choice mandates that I practice self-care, patience and lots of reframing.

Over the last 15 years I’ve worked with thousands of patients and helped them transform their disappointments and pain into a much more meaningful existence.

In doing this for so long I’ve learned how to love the life I have. It wasn’t always the case for sure, and “loving life” isn’t always easy or how I would describe myself each day if anyone asked; but at least it’s on my radar now and something I can say I have experienced more as I get older.


“Embracing spirituality” isn’t easy. It usually involves surviving painful disappointment or some type of huge change. But it is possible, and it seems to be knocking at our door… in the form of opportunities to move beyond our comfort zone, and into our better self.

Everyday we have a list of reasons to not feel certain about what our future holds, or 12 new reasons why we can’t trust things to happen how we would like.

But every time we allow ourselves to “free float in uncertainty”, every time we find new ways to calm our high levels of anxiety… we raise our vibration. We feel stronger. We become more spiritually attuned to what we need or what we need to do next, in order to get to a more peaceful place in life.

As humans, we make choices all day based on the type of personality we picked. Take a moment to ask yourself what personality YOU chose and why; then decide if you are fulfilling that path…

seed course d hug


Why Wear Green In March?

julieBy Julie Grados, Acupuncture Intern

While preparing for acupuncture exams, I stepped outside for some fresh air. I was struck by all the green around me. As I absorbed the healthy energy of so many green plants, I pondered the connection between green, springtime and a healthy liver. With spring approaching, I made a vow to emphasize green (green foods, green clothes, green imagery) to help keep myself aligned with nature’s intended increased energy. After all, March isn’t just about St. Patrick…

Check out these other great reasons to embrace green all month long!

Starting March 5 – “40 Days of Lent” begin, but we do not need to be Catholic to welcome a 40 day window of self-improvement! It’s a special opportMandala das Herzchakraunity to create change in our lives either by modifying our diet, habits, or lifestyle. Think about one thing that you would love to change about yourself… Whatever it is, emphasizing green can help you energetically set the change in motion, as green is the color of change!


Woman running on meadowMarch 8 – “International Women’s Day” is a national celebration for women to honor our greatness and feminine energy. Who knew?!  Celebrate the great woman you are! Wear a fresh, feminine, flowy green skirt, dress or scarf to energize your female energetic center and your Heart Chakra. Balancing the heart energy can simultaneously clear and nourish your heart so that you can experience love in a genuine way. Let the color green open up your heart and help you honor the awesome, loving woman you are!

Clover quarterfoil in hand

March 17 — St. Patrick’s Day celebrates a Catholic saint who advocated for human rights and spoke highly of women. In his writings, St. Patrick speaks of women as valuable and courageous individuals. Choosing green on this day honors this Irish Saint who truly saw the beauty and power of women!


And lastly, March 20th is the Spring Equinox, marking the beginning of the Spring Season. In Chinese medicine we associate green with a healthy liver system. Green balances our liver energy to help cleanse our bodies both physically and energetically. Taking a walk in nature to observe the green scenery, or imagining a sphere of green light encircling your body can recharge your liver energy and help with spring cleaning and spring projects. All of these activities will encourage the movement and proper flow of liver energy.

The therapeutic effects of the color green are immense. I encourage you to fully experience the healing effects of green; in your wardrobe, while taking a walk, while enjoying a fresh salad of spring greens… Let the green vibration encircle your body. Not only will you be in tune with the season but you will also feel more relaxed, energized and more emotionally centered!

~Julie   Hands hugging green fresh grass in shape of heart

Haircut = Spiritual Crisis?

It’s funny how we can go from feeling confident in one moment to questioning every aspect of ourselves, mere seconds later.

I think it took about 2 minutes for my hairstylist of five years to follow through on my request to give me 5 extra minutes in the morning – “Make my life easier!” I demanded, as what was supposed to be a routine trim turned into a full-on hair cut of more than 8 inches of healthy hair. Did I mention that my impressionable 6 year old daughter had accompanied me that day, preventing the chance for the sylist to say “Are you sure you really want to do that?” The pressure was on, I had to commit to this decision. I told him I wanted to chop it and be different for awhile. And then it happened.

My girl looked at me, then looked at the huge pile of fluffy blond hair on the floor, and again looked to me to see my reaction. “Ah, this is great! So much easier!” I exclaimed, similar to a recent tweet (“Short hair, don’t care!”) by Taylor Swift, who apparently had her long hair whacked while on stage. Inside I thought “Oh God!! What have I just done? And merely weeks before I’m scheduled to do a public speaking engagement at the Fertility Planit conference?!” “Christ.” I thought, “This is a disaster.”

hair crisis

Ok, I will admit; simultaneously I felt freed. Happy. Excited even! The prospect of a fresh new look and less time being spent blowing out long locks was going to be nice after having a pound of hair constantly weighing me down and causing almost daily headaches from wearing various up-do’s for the past 10 years.

I surprised myself with the way that I let this decision uproot me. I’m usually so grounded! Recall that people come to me for help getting grounded. But here I find myself, ridiculously going back and forth in indecision about what to do next, feeling insecure about other decisions I make, and unnecessarily judging myself harshly even weeks later.  Luckily I had years of counseling grief patients to make it clear that my new neurosis had arisen from a loss of the familiar.  This latest “spiritual crisis” triggered a renewed appreciation for the word vulnerablity.

So being the spiritual person I claim to be, I committed to going deeper to figure out why this was getting me so worked up, when normally it wouldn’t be such a big deal. Hair “grows back”, yes, but it symbolizes many things, especially for women in my position (mid-forties with two small children in tow, and growing some kind of public presence). For starters, can hide in long hair. We can be perceived as younger with longer hair. We can play with long hair: twist it up, let it down, smell it, pull it off our faces, feel sexy… My longer hair gave me something to do and suddenly it’s missing, and I feel a little less like myself as a result. There it is.  I got stuck processing the loss of the relationship with my hair .  Who cares that several people think it looks “better”?

While this is truly the last thing I would want to admit to a public forum, I think it’s worthwhile. Sociologist and brilliant public speaker Brene Brown has a very popular TED talk online that validates my feelings. It’s appropriately called “The Power of Vulnerability” and it’s where she admits having a “breakdown” from telling a crowd of 500 (not to mention the internet!) that she felt vulnerable. She makes a joke about running to her therapist to fully analyze her “breakdown”, whereby she was told “It sounds like you are having a spiritual crisis.”

Hers is an awesome talk about how allowing ourselves to be vulnerable is where innovation, creativity and change are born. So I feel comforted knowing that someone as well received as she has walked this walk before me. I’m still okay! In comparison to other things going on, this is a small change for me. It’s my ability to adapt and embrace change that reflects a healthy spirit, and we as women want to remember that.

Enjoy the talk by Brene Brown. While watching, be sure to notice her hair. She looks fabulous.


Restore Important Minerals With This Simple Winter Recipe

The New Year typically brings abundant energy, as everyone is optimistic about improving their lives and reaching goals.dreamstime_m_463822

It’s a great, almost manic time for many people. Ah, if only we didn’t have to use so much of this new energy reconciling the toxic effects of holiday foods and stress!

Instead of enrolling in exercise bootcamps during these winter months and going against the season’s natural inclination to stay inside and move less, I suggest to my patients that they simply add more greens to their diets.

There are very simple foods that can be prepared easily which have tremendous positive impact on our female health! 


I had the good fortune of crossing paths with Jade Rosenberg, a recipe developer from New York. She happened to visit the Well Women office precisely when I needed some new recipes to support The Seed Fertility Program

Going forward, Jade will periodically feature recipes that are beneficial to our hormone health, fertility or wellness and pertinent for the season. Quick to make and sure to delight, Jade’s recipes are something to look forward to for the year ahead!

Here’s a Well Women recipe passed on to patients for over 10 years during the winter season to help restore the important minerals lost to high acid, sugary foods combined with the stress of socializing and finding “perfect” gifts.

Mineral-Rich Leafy Greens 

1-4 Servings, depending on amount of greens used



  • 1 bunch of any of the following leafy greens, chopped:
  • Collard greens
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Chard
  • Beet tops
  • Broccolini
  • 1 cup water


There are two flavor options to choose from for this recipe:

Option 1 (Basic)

  • 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Option 2 (Asian)

  •  2-3 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar


1. Clean the greens.

2. In a large skillet, over medium heat, add the oil (from Option 1 or 2).

3. Add all of the greens and the liquid. Sauté the greens for 5-8 minutes until the greens are bright and wilted. Keep an eye on it – don’t allow greens to burn or become dry.


6 Ways to Find Balance During The Holiday Season

One of the challenges we face in our society is that our holiday season schedules hardly ever mesh with the natural rhythm of the season. Winter should generally be a time for rest and restoration. Temperatures grow cooler and daylight hours lessen, suggesting that we sleep more and conserve energy. Trees lose their leaves and some animals enter hibernation. It is what we call a time of “yin” in Chinese Medicine – a quiet time.

However, for most of us, our winter schedules are not a time of yin. Instead, it is often the busiest season of the year. On top of our regular schedules, many of us have the added pressure of thoughtful (or last minute…) gift shopping, late night holiday parties, travel or families visiting, baking and cooking, and often indulging in sweets in lieu of more nourishing foods.

When you compare our winter agenda to what nature encourages, it’s easy to see how our bodies and spirits can get out of balance, particularly our adrenal glands.

The adrenal glands are two small glands which play an essential role in the amount of energy we can access and utilize. As we push ourselves to get more done during the holidays, we place an increased demand on our adrenal glands and immune system, allowing fatigue, irritation, and depression to take over.

Here are a few simple ways to take care of your adrenal glands and whole being without sacrificing too much of the fun and excitement of the holiday season:

1. Maintain a healthy blood sugar – Try to include some protein and healthy fat with every meal. If you indulge in sugary treats, try to make sure you add some protein before, with, or shortly after your goodie. Blood sugar is important to adrenal health and restoration, as well as helping with mood regulation.

2. Balance a night out with a night in – Enjoy your holiday parties and evenings out on the town, but follow it up with a relaxing night in staying warm. Getting enough rest and sleep will help ensure a strong immune system.

3. Exercise moderately – Even though there are less light hours, try not to sacrifice your exercise routine entirely (some light yoga or an evening walk to admire the Christmas lights count!)

4. Meditate – Honor the time of yin with some self-reflection by working in some meditation and stillness into your life. A few minutes of slow deep breathing or a guided meditation can be very grounding and restorative.

5. Find time for yourself – With the expectations that come with the season, try to find at least a few minutes per day for yourself and indulge in an activity that you enjoy (reading, hiking, a good tv show, playing with your children etc.)

6. Remember the true meaning of this season! – The holidays are a time to enjoy and be with your loved ones. When we look back on our favorite moments, it’s not a “perfect gift” or finding the perfect outfit that we will remember or value most. By staying in the moment and focusing on the blessings instead of the stressors, you will likely create better memories for yourself and everyone!

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or a lack of energy feeling this season, consider coming in for acupuncture or picking up a customized herbal or nutrition protocol. All three can be an effective way to help rebalance and reset the body back to its natural state of health and good cheer.

Click here to contact us to schedule an appointment.

– Audrey Guss

Managing Our Expectations

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. When I was younger, it was always the same small gathering of three – my mom, my brother, and me; regardless, each year my mom would prepare enough food for 15 people.

The other 364 days of the year she was too overworked, tired or recovering from some stress-induced illness to go to the trouble of cooking. But on that one day in November, she would insist on exhausting herself to do all the cooking. Our home would smell so warm and comforting like my grandmother’s, and I remember feeling the fleeting sense of being a “normal family.”

At the time, I didn’t realize this was her way of living up to the high expectations she had for herself to create that sensation for me and my brother, since she was raising us alone. She was successful each time and the fact that she managed to pull it off, probably gave her a sense of huge satisfaction.

Now that I have kids of my own, I wonder what expectations are being set in motion. Am I setting myself up to not enjoy the day by getting too caught up in creating a memorable day for them? As I attempt to find a balanced perspective, I find myself torn between the bliss and nostalgia of Norman Rockwell and the fear and chaos of Home for the Holidays!


“Home for the Holidays”


“Freedom from Want” ~ Norman Rockwell


To manage my expectations and anxiety, I remind myself to MODIFY my expectations… Instead of putting pressure on myself to create a perfect holiday season, I guide myself to explore the overall goal of creating a happy family. I ask “Am I staying in the present moment enough to enjoy what is happening this year, or am I getting lost in what should be happening or what might not happen?” and “How can I make things better?”

At this time of the year in the office I do more counseling than other months, as more patients need to be “talked off the ledge” and guided to answer these same questions for themselves’ instead of getting bummed out that things are not “perfect”.

Whether the person is struggling with an old family dynamic, or the disappointment that they don’t yet have a family or partner of their own, they likely need to vent frustrations or be reminded that even though they may not have reached certain goals by this Thanksgiving, they still have much to be thankful for. This gratitude-based perspective can help calm our anxiety about what isn’t there yet, or ease the pain as we realize our dream may not be slated for us in this lifetime.

Where I used to view expectations as places where my life didn’t measure up to what I had always envisioned for myself, I now see that the term expectation means getting out of life what we EXPECT.

For example, if we expect holidays to be sad, they will be. If we expect to be happy, likely we will be.

Starting in the weeks that follow Halloween, it’s helpful to reframe expectations into the general mindset that it is possible to enjoy what happens. Remember, if after a long day of cooking you turn to see the dog eating the turkey, it’s only a problem if you can’t laugh it off.


Oxytocin and Anna

Without a doubt, the smartest decision I ever made was to ask Anna Werderitsch (formerly Anna Loskutoff) if she would like to practice acupuncture in my office.

After two years of intensely building my practice, I had been diagnosed with Premature Ovarian Failure at age 32. Luckily Anna joined me at that time and she refused to allow me to accept that diagnosis. We decided that during my “rest” days I wouldn’t see patients, but I would go into the office anyway… to see her for acupuncture treatments and nurturing conversation.

Danica & Anna '05

Danica and Anna   ~ 2003

Every time we met I left feeling more in control of my fertility. By talking things out, we came to understand what our teachers meant when they explained that “The uterus is the second heart.”

Those sessions with Anna, my trusted friend and acupuncturist, became centered on releasing my worries, fears and old hurts. Our intention was to repair my “second” heart and make it a safe place for a baby to grow someday.

Fairly soon, it became clear that my situation was improving and likely it was from our conversations, not just the acupuncture. It wasn’t until nearly 5 years later that I realized true healing had occurred — despite my diagnosis, my daughter was conceived on the first natural attempt!

Those vulnerable moments of sharing had worked!

Danica, Anna, & Emily '07

Danica, Anna, & Emily Bartlett   ~ 2006

Over the eight years that Anna worked in my office, we noticed regularly that something “magical” happens in the treatment rooms. In the midst of sharing personal stories and dreams, we were surprisingly able to feel optimistic about even the most challenging patient outcomes and life in general. At the time, we didn’t realize that our boundless optimism came from being under the influence of large doses of oxytocin.

While neither of us intended to create an office space that would store hormones in the walls such as estrogen, oxytocin, endorphins and serotonin, that’s exactly what happened. Over the years all this sharing, conversing, tear-wiping and laughing in the sessions has positively impacted thousands of women.  We were witnessing it most frequently in the form of “infertile” women carrying full-term babies, against the odds.

(from left to right) Virginia Prior, Danica, Anna and Carolin Bennett '07

(from left to right) Virginia Prior, Danica, Anna and Carolin Bennett  ~ 2008

Oxytocin, this understudied “bonding hormone,” has enormous healing potential. Women effortlessly release this magic when they laugh, cry, share… and when they do, from seemingly nowhere, miracles happen. Oxytocin can make even the most cynical person feel as if it is possible to turn things around.

Women with disappointment and despair from various ailments come to Well Women and begin working through life issues such as peri-menopause, infertility and relationship stress. In time they learn to reframe their situations, tap into their emotions and marvel as their situations change for the better.

It’s this phenomenon of the “bonding hormone” that I experienced firsthand several times with Anna, and is what has made the Well Women office such a success.

Well Women Acupuncture began with just Anna and me, talking and healing. It then grew to include several practitioners who have left the practice including Emily Bartlett, Virginia Prior, Carolin Bennett, and Janice Chen. Now there is Jennifer Block, Audrey Guss and Julie Grados. Together we have continued to nurture this oxytocin-rich environment where women tap into their own inner healing source, simply by connecting with each other.

– Danica

The current Well Women Team, ’13! (from top-left): Kaitlyn Connors, Julie Grados, Jennifer Block, Audrey Guss, Danica, Nyjah Westbrooks and Caitlin Phillips. See their full bios on the “About Us” section of the Well Women Website.

The current Well Women Team ~ 2013!
(from top-left): Kaitlyn Connors, Julie Grados, Jennifer Block, Audrey Guss, Danica, Nyjah Westbrooks and Caitlin Phillips.
See their full bios on the “About Us” section of the Well Women Website.