Nourish the Soil Before You Plant the Seed
by Dr. Lorne Brown B.Sc, Dr. TCM, FABORM, CHt
Infertility – defined as the inability to get pregnant after one year of unprotected intercourse – affects one in six couples in North America. The good news is that if neither you nor your partner has a structural infertility problem, such as blocked fallopian tubes, there is a lot you can do to naturally improve your fertility.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbs have been used for centuries to optimize reproductive health and boost fertility. And there is a growing body of Western medical studies that show the benefit of acupuncture and Chinese herbs for natural conception and for enhancing in vitro fertilization (IVF) (see studies below).
In Chinese medicine, the most important time to improve your fertility is during the 3-4 months before conception occurs.
Western medicine now knows that the specific egg that is selected to ovulate each month is recruited 3-4 months before ovulation, so it is during this crucial period that a woman’s hormone levels and overall health most affect the development of the potential egg and the uterine environment for receiving the embryo.
That’s why in Chinese medicine we say the best way to achieve a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby is to nourish the soil before you plant the seed. In addition to acupuncture and herbal therapy, Chinese medicine uses diet, exercise, and stress reduction to rebalance the body and restore fertility.
Fertility acupuncture improves energy flow by inserting hair-thin needles into specific energy points of the body that are linked to the reproductive organs.
Acupuncture has been shown to:
- Increase IVF pregnancy rates and live births
- Reduce stress.
- Balance hormones.
- Improve blood flow to the reproductive organs.
- Improve sperm count and motility
- Assist implantation and reduce miscarriages
If you are having fertility acupuncture, you should aim for two to three treatments per week to receive the best results.
A number of recent studies have shown that for woman undergoing IVF, acupuncture at the time of embryo transfer can greatly improve the chances of implantation and successful pregnancy.
Chinese Herbal Therapy
Particular Chinese herbs are specially compounded to treat any underlying deficiency that may be contributing to fertility problems and to replenish and nourish the reproductive system.
Herbal treatments are effective for regulating the menstrual cycle, optimizing the quality of the eggs, treating conditions like PCOS and endometriosis, and balancing fertility hormones.
The Fertility Diet
Both current research and ancient Chinese practice show that healthy eating to increase fertility is based on natural, whole foods, and a plant-based, anti-inflammatory diet.
The Acubalance Fertility Diet incorporates 2,000 years of Chinese medicine food therapy, current nutritional research, and a groundbreaking study based on the Harvard Nurses’ Health Study that tracked over 18,000 women. The results of the study found a six fold increase in fertility in women whose diet and lifestyle included the six following factors:
1) Slow Carbs
Slow carbohydrates are a group of carbohydrates that when digested slow the rise of blood sugar. They include beans, peas, lentils, whole grains, vegetables and most fruits. Eating slow carbs helps to minimize insulin resistance, regulate blood sugar, balance fertility hormones and prevent gestational diabetes.
2) Plant-Based Foods
A plant-based diet means that most (but not necessarily all) of your diet is based on plant foods, including a rainbow of high-fibre, fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. These foods are loaded with antioxidants and phytonutrients that counter inflammation (a common cause of infertility) and nourish your reproductive system.
In addition, you can enjoy deep water fish like salmon twice a week, grass-fed beef or bison two or three times per week, and free-range poultry and eggs two or three times per week. Depending on your diagnosis, you may also enjoy small servings of whole-fat dairy —including yoghurt and your favorite cheese.
3) Healthy Fats
Healthy fats and oils are those that are pressed naturally from whole-plant foods (coconuts, nuts, seeds, avocado, olives) and short-lived, deep sea fish such as salmon, herring and mackerel. Healthy fats combat cellular inflammation and improve hormonal sensitivity.
4) Healthy Weight
Maintaining your optimum weight by eating a whole foods diet, watching portion size, and exercising daily is crucial for fertility. Strive for a body mass index (BMI) of between 20 and 25 and a waist circumference (WC) of less than 35” for women and less than 40” for men
To download your free copy of the Acubalance Fertility Diet, go to www.acubalance.ca/fertility-diet/acubalance-fertility-diet
Dr Lorne Brown B.Sc, Dr. TCM, FABORM, CHt is the founder and clinical director of Acubalance Wellness Centre, the first Traditional Chinese Medicine clinic in British Columbia completely dedicated to reproductive health and fertility.
You can go to the website of the American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine (www.ABORM.org) to find practitioners in your area who have been certified by the ABORM.