To continue answering this question from a client...
"Are the herbs that are included (in my GPS Fertility program) in addition to the supplements you previously recommended?"
My answer in Friday's email was so long that I decided to finish off today. If you missed Part 1 about supplements, here it is.
On to herbs today...
To recap from Friday, supplements are meant to fill in nutritional deficiencies.
Consider it an insurance policy, you don't know if you need it (for the most part) but it's better to have it. Just in case...
So at minimum, you need to have a good quality prenatal.
Sorry to burst your Willy Wonka bubble but gummy vitamins don't count - they're just glorified candy.
Anyhoo, herbs work differently.
As practiced in Chinese Medicine, herbs are a very sophisticated healing system that's been developed for over 3000 years.
They're like medications but natural in the form of plants (stems, roots, flowers, leaves, seeds. bark) and animals.
Each part has different properties and actions.
For example, the leaves of a plant are used differently than the roots. In the case of Dang Gui (sometimes spelled Dong Quai), one of the most popular Chinese herbs for women's reproductive system, the root is used exclusively.
The way they're prepared also affects how they act. Fresh ginger cools the body down - great for reducing fevers. On the other hand, dried ginger warms the body - excellent for women with "cold" uterus as a contributing factor in fertility issues.
And like medications, they're prescribed according to your diagnosis or more accurately, pattern.
Patterns are determined based on your signs and symptoms which can change and placed in a different framework than western Medicine.
So something like "poor egg quality, low ovarian reserve, or premature ovarian failure" (all diagnoses) which seems comprehensive enough are broken down in Chinese medicine to more specific patterns like:
Kidney yin deficiency
Kidney yang deficiency
Spleen Yang deficiency
Liver blood stasis
Patterns usually present in combinations to account for the different body systems and functions.
Herbs are then given according to the patterns.
You can't learn about Chinese herbs with Dr. Google since they're rarely prescribed as single herbs, like in Western herbal medicine.
They're usually part of a formula.
Partly to take advantage of the synergistic effects of combining different herbs. 1+1=3 idea.
Partly to reduce potential toxicity. Even though they're natural, if used improperly, they can potentially cause harm. This is especially true when working with fertility as we want to use herbs safe for pregnancy, even during the conception stage since the 2 weeks after ovulation is an unknown period.
Herbs are optional when compared to supplements.
When used correctly, they can get results more quickly. You have to work with a trained herbalist though. NEVER, EVER self-prescribe Chinese herbs.
Repeat after me..."I will not take Chinese herbs without working with a trained herbalist."
It took 4 years for me to learn the ins and outs of Chinese herbs and how to use them effectively. The textbooks are deadly dull and great for insomnia. You will NOT learn how to use Chinese herbs from the internet.
It's like me doing my own taxes as a business owner. Really, really stupid. Cuz I don't know what I'm doing. I would pay a lot more taxes without a CPA's help.
So if you want herbs as part of your fertility regimen, work with your local acupuncturist who usually has herbal training.
Or, if you don't have one, you can work with me: fertilityeggspurt.com/gps
Hope you enjoyed your little foray into the complex world of Chinese herbal medicine. :)
All my best,
Julie Chang, L.Ac.
Natural Fertility Eggspurt