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Traditional Chinese Medicine for Infertility

Diet and Exercise

The Chinese believe that diet is one of the three sources of qi (the other two are heredity and environment) and the foods we eat directly influence the excesses and deficiencies in our bodies. They view diet as an extension of herbal medicine and believe it is a way to increase qi, moisture, and blood, and to aid organ function.

According to traditional TCM practitioners, diet is based on the five elements (fire, earth, metal, water, and wood) and eight guiding principles (internal/external, heat/cold, deficiency/excess, and yin/yang). They believe foods have yin and yang, warming and cooling, drying and moistening properties; and as a result, certain foods are beneficial to certain people, depending on who they are and their present condition. For instance, eating salads (cool, moist, yin food) is not recommended for a person who has generally a low basal body temperature (BBT). Conversely, meat such as lamb (warm, yang food) can help a "cold" barren uterus.

In addition to diet, TCM includes a form of exercise called qi gong, which is believed to optimize the flow of qi in the body. Qi gong is not considered a direct therapy for infertility; however, it may be useful for reducing stress, anxiety, and depression many people diagnosed with infertility experience. Qi gong incorporates posture, movement, breathing, meditation, visualization, and conscious intent in order to cleanse or purify the qi.

Tui na Massage

Tui na massage is a complete system of body alignment using acupressure, stretching, and gentle manipulation to restore balance and harmony. It is both a treatment as well as a preventative therapy, and can enhance and hasten the effect of herbs. In addition, the practitioner's sensitive hands can detect significant diagnostic information, and touch adds a deeply compassionate level to the act of healing. The liniments and oils used in massage also provide an additional channel for herbs to work.

Massage affects not only the physical body but also the qi body and the mental body (emotions, thought, and spiritual faculties). Since both mental and physical health depend on a smooth and abundant flow of qi, massage can effectively treat all three levels. Tui na seeks to establish a more harmonious flow of qi through the system of meridians, allowing the body to naturally heal itself. It is closely related to acupuncture in its use of the meridian system.

If you are undergoing modern fertility treatments and wish to begin TCM, tell your reproductive specialist. It's beneficial to find a TCM practitioner who is affiliated with a modern medical center so your reproductive specialist and TCM care providers may work together.

To find a TCM practitioner in your area, go to the American Association of Oriental Medicine Website or The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.

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