What role does Herbal Medicine play in fertility?
Herbal medicine has been used in China and other parts of the Far East for centuries to treat a wide range of illnesses. It is being used increasingly today in the west to treat women and couples who experience infertility. Herbal remedies can be effective for both male and female infertility.
Herbal medicines or remedies are used as an alternative treatment to western-style medicine, and to heal a wide range of physical and mental illnesses. The herbs originate from plants and plant extracts from a wide variety of natural resources including plant leaves, bark, fruits and berries, flowers, and roots. They are combined by practitioners to create formulas that are based on the individual needs of each person. Those who practice herbal medicine include naturopaths, acupuncturists, and western doctors who have had additional training in the application of herbal medicine.
How does Herbal Medicine work?
Herbal medicine is often prescribed in conjunction with both eastern and western medicine, including acupuncture and ART procedures. Men and women looking to overcome infertility and increase the likelihood of conceiving a child are given herbal medicines in the form of pills, tablets, granules and herbs steeped in teas. It’s common for the course of treatment to last three to six months. Herbal remedies can help to address a number of fertility related problems, including:
- Hormonal imbalance
- Irregular menstruation
- Erectile dysfunction
- Sperm motility problems
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome
- Poor egg quality
What are popular herbs used?
The herbal medicine formula given to a patient is determined by the patient being treated, their age, general health and what specific fertility challenge is being addressed. Some of the most popular and commonly used herbs for women battling infertility include:
- Lady’s Mantle: Builds up the uterine lining and regulates menstruation
- Red Clover: Helps nourish the uterus and relax the nervous system.
- Raspberry Leaf: Restores hormonal balance
- False Unicorn Root: Restores hormonal balance and helps to stimulate the ovaries and encourage ovulation
- Stinging Nettle: Regulates the body’s hormones, ovulation and menstruatio
Popular herbs for men:
- Ginseng: Increases testosterone levels, sperm count, and motility, and improves the quality of erections
- Astralagus: Improves sperm motility and concentration
What are the risks?
Just because herbal medicines come from natural plant sources does not mean they aren’t dangerous if taken incorrectly. Like traditional medications, herbal remedies can create a variety of reactions, and interact negatively with other herbs, prescription medications, and over-the-counter drugs. Herbal remedies are not monitored by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Therefore, it is highly recommended that infertile couples seek TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) physicians trained in herbal therapy.
Natural herbal remedies can cause serious side effects, including heart attacks, strokes, and seizures, as well as dizziness, headache and dry mouth. It is important to seek out a qualified herbalist and to discuss all herbs taken with a physician or other health care providers. As with prescribed medicines, instructions for taking herbal remedies must be followed exactly and any side effects should be reported to a physician immediately.
Do herbal remedies improve fertility?
There are no clinical scientific studies concluding the effectiveness of herbal medicines for the treatment of infertility, or why they might work. For this reason, many doctors practicing in the west do not normally use them to treat their patients. However, there are an increasing number of clinical reports indicating that herbal medicines are helping infertile couples conceive, and as a result, herbal remedies are gaining in popularity throughout the United States.