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3.8 Herbs and female infertility

Problems:

By Roy Upton (herbal.got.net).

There are a number of options to try for <this person>. I have worked with infertility for many years with a decent degree of success. As I do not know what is specifically the cause of <this person's> infertility; i.e. inability to conceive, incompatibility with sperm, low level infection, inability to maintain the pregnancy due to insufficient progesterone levels, etc. I will provide some general rules of thumb. Most of what I will outline is based on traditional Chinese medicine.

Gynecological imbalances are considered to be associated with poor pelvic circulation which prevents the gynecological system from being as healthy as it can be. Most botanical formulas are geared to promoting pelvic circulation. The most commonly used are formulas that include at least four herbs; Dang Gui (Angelica sinensis), Ligusticum, Rehmannia, and White Peony. This is a classic Chinese formula known as Dang Gui Four and can be found in any Chinatown and some health food stores. There are many variations of this formula. Another is called Women's Precious, or Eight Precious Pills. Either would be a good general formula to try. They should not be used during bleeding, menses, and generally not during pregnancy.

Another botanical to use in conjunction with any Dang Gui-based formula is Chaste berry (Vitex agnus-castus). Vitex is a progesterone agonist which can help to minimize the risk of miscarriage. In addition, it can also stimulate ovulation. It works specifically by enhancing pituitary function, thus improving ovarian function. A few other herbs that I add either to the Dang Gui formula or to the Chaste Berry are False unicorn, Partridge Berry and Cramp Bark. I sometimes recommend a thyroid glandular as well, and insure the woman is not anemic or borderline anemic.

The basic protocol is to utilize the Dang Gui Four formula in conjunction with Chaste Berry throughout the month except during menses. We could get fancy and give one formula during the estrogenic phase of the cycle, and the Chaste Berry for the progesteronic phase, but this is seldom necessary. I use custom- blended teras or ready made commercial formulas. My suggestion would be to go to a health food store, TCM practitioner or naturopathic physician and ask which are the best Dang Gui/Chaste Berry products available. You have to be diligent in getting a decent product. There are many Dang Gui products consisting of only Dang Gui, or which are not put together that well. There is also a lot of bogus chaste berry floating around on the market, especially that available from Chinatown. One of the more popular capsuled products is 85% millet, and is largely ineffective.

Lastly, it is important to encourage those trying to conceive to look at conception just as you would look at a garden. Before you ever plant a seed you cultivate the soil. In this case, you do not want to attempt conception for at least three cycles, ideally six cycles. Both the man and women should be brought into this process by recommending the man use herbs that increase sperm count and motility (Ashwagandha, Astragalus, Kidney tonics, avoiding excessive sexual activity and hot tubs, etc.). The woman should also be exercising regularly, focusing on improving abdominal tonicity. Kegels are excellent exercises to try. This is to insure adequate tonicity of tissue internally so implantation can hold.

Focusing on nutritional well-being is very important for obvious reason, even if the women is not anemic. This basic protocol has worked in dozens of women that I have worked with, with conception taking place anywhere from 3 weeks to four months. I do not know of anyone specifically that it has not worked for, but this may be due to the fact that if it didn't work they may not have come back to me, or went on to try something else. I have had several women who continued to use the Dang Gui formula even after conception, one for up to six months because she forgot that I told her not to use it during pregnancy. The reason it is generally contraindicated is because it increases blood flow, something you do not want to do in pregnancy. However, once the system is healthy and conception takes place, nothing short of a strong abortive is going to dislodge the fetus. She had a normal pregnancy, and the baby was apparently healthy and happy.

I hope this helps. Best of luck.



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