Herbal supplements from around the world claim to increase the ability to conceive and carry a child full-term. This is music to many a woman’s ear, as the mental, physical and emotional stress from trying to conceive and dealing with infertility can crack even the strongest gal. From ancient Chinese medicine to the balmy shores of the Mediterranean, herbal supplements may be the answer you’re looking for when looking forward to a baby.
Working to restore energy and balance to the body, Chinese medicine prescribes 4 herbs to promote fertility. They are; Dong Quai, Ligusticum, Rehmanii and White Peony. Together they are said to “promote pelvic circulation, and in doing so, restore blocked energy passages that otherwise block fertility” (1). Because of their stimulating effects it is suggested that you do NOT take them during your period (stop taking them as soon as you start menstruating and start them as soon as your period is over) and that you stop taking them as soon as you think you are pregnant. They are called the Dong Quai Four and are sold together.
Vitex is a powerful herb formally known as Vitex agnus-castus and also called “chaste berry” or “chaste tree”. Inside Vitex is a combination of essential oils, flavonoids and iridoid glycosides. Found in the Mediterranean, it has been used for thousands of years (writings from Hippocrates in the 4th century BC mention Vitex) for gynecological issues, in Germany it is used for the treatment of PMS; hence it has a reputation for fertility treatment. The effects Vitex seem to be on the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus gland which together produce and release the hormones needed for a healthy reproductive system, GnRH, FSH and LH. GnRH (Gonadotropin-releasing hormone) stimulates the release of FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinizing hormone) which prepare the egg for release, i.e. ovulation.
Vitex may help regulate the production and release of these reproductive hormones, making it helpful to promote fertility.
A fertility treatment from Native Americans is called black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa). This plant is still used for treatment of menopausal symptoms, night sweats, hot flashes, mood swings, and has been used to relieve menstrual cramps, the pain of childbirth and snake bites. When it comes to fertility black cohosh may help regulate hormones, GnRH, FSH and LH, (similar to Vitex) thus promoting ovulation and fertility. Black cohosh may also slow the fertilized egg from traveling down the fallopian tube too quickly, implanting before the uterus is ready.
Herbal “medicines” have been used for hundreds of thousands of years and are still a first choice for some people. The positive health benefits of herbal medicine are similar to using healthy nutritional choices to stave off disease or ailments. It is possible to promote natural fertility without the use of chemical medicines, but nothing is guaranteed, in Eastern or Western medicine. As always consult your physician before taking any herb because some herbs will react negatively with prescriptions you are already taking such as hormone medication or blood thinners.