How can Chinese herbal medicine help optimise your fertility?

Chinese herbal medication is the most potent form of traditional Chinese medicine for the simple reason that it involves continuous intake (often daily) of medication over a period of time. Whilst acupuncture balances the body’s energy through the external use of needles, herbs alter the body’s energy and correct functional imbalance through medication tailored to the needs of patients. It is worth noting that patients who suffer from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome for example are prescribed different herbal formulas.

Chinese herbal medicine aims to correct the body’s underlying imbalances rather than symptoms. It uses a combination of herbs to correct underlying deficiencies or remove obstructions. Specifically for fertility, herbal formulas have been developed by practitioners through the centuries to help women enhance their reproductive potential through harmonising the endocrine system, which regulates the menstrual cycle. Hormonal imbalance can be a symptom of blood and Qi stagnation i.e. when the blood and energy flow is not smooth or blocked.

Every herb has its own characteristics and effects, and combining different herbs helps to increase their potency and minimise any unwanted consequences. Rather like a football team working together to strike, defend and score goals, the herbs work together to achieve maximum benefit for clients. The basic formulae are often modified according to the person and their problem.

Herbs can come in a dried form, or as herbal capsules, tablets, ointments and creams. Dry herbs are available only on prescription, from a practitioner. They are more powerful than capsules or tablets, but are often more expensive. They are also more time-consuming to use, because they need to be brewed into drinks. The resulting brew may taste rather bitter, because most herbs are derived from roots, tubers or tree bark and the stems of plants, flowers or seeds.

Practitioners will often prescribe dry herbs first, because of their potency. Because they are so powerful, long-term repeated prescriptions of dry herbs can be harmful. Practitioners often change the formula, after a while, to maximise the benefits and minimise any risks. Once the condition improves or stabilises, capsules or tablets can be used instead.

People are sometimes concerned about animal products being used in traditional Chinese medicine. Some treatment programmes do include such products for their medicinal properties, but the majority of remedies use only plant materials.

Prof. S. Au, OBE
TCM HealthCare, London

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