Are you looking for a way to get pregnant naturally? Chinese medicine boosts fertility in several important ways. Most of us don’t think about our fertility until it’s time to get pregnant. We dutifully start prenatal vitamins, establish a relationship with an OB-GYN and work to come off birth control. For most women today, this thought process begins once both career and committed relationships become more established. If we spoke to a Chinese medicine practitioner, they would tell us that we are entering this fertility conversation a bit late.
Disclosure: This post was written by Dr. Taz Bhatia and contains affiliate links to her books at the bottom of this post. If you decide to purchase one of her books, it won’t cost you any more, but a small amount of the proceeds will go to towards supporting our work at Mamavation. Thank you!
In Chinese medicine, the entire balance of women’s hormones and fertility were seen as a fundamental piece of women’s health; not a specialty or a once yearly visit. Instead, the ups and downs of our hormonal rhythms were influenced by our food, the health of our digestive systems, our nutritional needs, stress and emotions. A Chinese medicine practitioner would take the time to do an extensive history to understand these “fertility influencers”, all while studying your face, tongue and pulse to get physical clues about your overall health. Fertility was seen as a sign of health and vitality for a woman — and the loss of it, a sign that something may be wrong.
Fortunately, if we apply the principles of Chinese medicine to our health, we can continue to optimize fertility, sometimes more effectively than if we apply the technology that modern medicine affords us. Here are the key fertility principles in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
Food as Medicine
Food is an essential component of Chinese medicine, and a fertility or hormone optimizing diet in TCM included foods that were thought to “build” blood and energy, and supply key nutrients for hormone balance and productions. These foods were also considered warming foods to nourish the hormones. Including at least 2-3 servings of the following foods can optimize your fertility.
• Chicken, Salmon — High Protein Source, B vitamins
• Leafy Greens — including Kale, collard green, mustard greens, broccoli
• Spices — Clove, ginger, cinnamon, fenugreek
• Black Sesame seeds
• Burdock root
Your digestive health impacts fertility, and Chinese medicine reminds us of this repeatedly. In TCM, the digestive system impacts how hormones are broken down, metabolized and used by the body. A sluggish digestive system or gut symptoms like constipation, reflux or bloating were also signs that the hormone system would not be operating at its best. Add probiotics and digestive enzymes to keep your digestive system humming and your hormones balanced. A number of studies are showing that supplementation with probiotics improves fertility hormones.
The role of “miracle” micronutrients in our hormones is another concept inherited from Chinese medicine. Low iron, B vitamins, and missing fats prevent hormones from functioning optimally. For these reasons, Chinese medicine practitioners would often recommend drinking a few cups of broth daily for fertility. The broth was thought to contain iron, B vitamins, fat and the amino acids needed for fertility.
The Stress Factor — Manage Your Qi
Stress and emotional distress were major blocks to fertility in the Chinese medicine model. Chinese medical practitioners would look for signs of stress by examining the face, tongue and pulse. Acupuncture is used to “unblock” areas of stuck energy or qi in the body that in turn affects hormone balance. Looking at research today, we know that acupuncture essentially lowers our cortisol response, calming down the nervous system and facilitating healing.
The importance of sleep is stressed in Chinese medicine as well. Sleeping consistently was critical to female hormonal health, and one of the many reasons fertility can be hampered. While eight hours of sleep is important, sleeping from midnight until 5 am was seen as critical for hormone health.
Adapting Chinese medicine principles to modern fertility planning has helped so many of my patients realize their dreams of having a family over the years. Fertility is one of the benchmarks of our overall health as women and often a wake-up call to put all the pieces of our health together. Chinese medicine is one system of medicine that gives us the tools to do this effectively.
This post was written by Taz Bhatia, MD. Taz Bhatia, MD, is a board-certified physician, specializing in integrative and emergency medicine, pediatrics and prevention, with expertise in women’s health, weight-loss and nutrition. She is the author of “What Doctors Eat” and “The 21-Day Belly Fix”. Personal health challenges in her twenties combined with a broken health-care system motivated Dr. Taz to pursue an alternative definition of health and healthy living. Early in her medical practice, as a young resident, Dr. Taz began searching for answers to her own health issues. Studying various systems of medicine, she found a wealth of information not yet taught in conventional medical schools. It led her to opening her now nationally recognized practice, CentreSpringMD (formerly Atlanta Center for Holistic and Integrative Medicine). Dr. Taz and her team work to find a patient’s core health problems, their center, in order to spring them forth in health, pulling from multiple systems of medicine, including integrative, functional and holistic medicine.
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