Acupuncture, Chinese Herbs & Supplements

Treating Infertility in the Philippines with Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs

treating infertility//

Retrospective Research on Treating Infertility with Chinese Medicine

Article: The Effectiveness of Chinese Medicine in Treating Infertility in the Philippines

Author’s Key Points

  • In following up on 572 out of 1653 infertility cases that were reported at St. Francis Natural Health Care (2006-2014), 173 infertility cases were chosen for review from the 370 success cases.
  • Of these cases researched, all patients shared the same Chinese medicine differential diagnosis: Spleen and Kidney Yang Deficiency.
  • Western medicine diagnosis for these same cases ranged from PCOS, to immune-related, endometriosis, uterus fibroids, premature ovarian failure, fallopian tube problem and “unexplained.”
  • Of the 173 participants treating infertility, 98 received a combination of acupuncture (30 min sessions), moxa and Chinese herbal medicine treatment; while 75 participants opted out of herbs, going only with acupuncture and moxa.
  • Average course of treatment was 6.5 months, with no herbs taken during menstruation.

Acupuncture points used

Basic Points

The main points used calm the Spirit, nourish qi and blood, gently move the blood, and warm the Spleen-Stomach:

  • DU24, DU20, UB4 (bilateral), LIV3 (bilateral), ST36 (bilateral with moxa)

Follicular Phase Additions

During this phase, more yin tonics and local points are included in the prescription:

  • SP8, R12, ST25 (bilateral), R4, EP Zi Gong Xue (bilateral), SP6 (bilateral), Master Tong Points Huan Chao and Fu Ke (alternate, L/R)

Luteal Phase Additions

Points added during this phase strengthen the Heart-Kidney-Tian Gui-Chong-Ren axis:

  • P6 (left), H7 (right), K9 (bilateral), SP4 (right), K3 (left).

Chinese Herbal Formula Used

Yu Lin Zhu Formula

  • Ren Shen 2-4g
  • Bai Zhu 2g
  • Fu Ling 2g
  • Lu Jiao Zhuang 2-4g
  • Shu Di 2-4g
  • Dang Gui 2g
  • Chuan Xiong 2g
  • Tu Si Zi 2-4g
  • Du Zhong 2-4g
  • Bai Shao 2g
  • Chuan Jiao 2g
  • Zhi Gan Cao 2g

Patients were prescribed Yu Lin Zhu to warm the Spleen-Stomach and tonify the Heart-Kidney. They took one pack per day with warm water, divided into two doses. The following adjustments were made based on affecting factors:

Follicular phase additions

Increased dosage of yin tonics.

Luteal Phase Reductions

Removal of blood movers Chuan Xiong and Dang Gui.

Other Modifications

In the case of Liver qi stagnation, Xiao Yao San was added at 4-6g.

In the case of blood stagnation, Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang was added during the ovulatory period at 4-6g.

In the case of Kidney deficiency with weak Ming Men fire, You Gui Wan was added at 4-8g.

Fascinated yet?

How could all these women with diagnoses ranging from PCOS to endometriosis receive the same Chinese medicine diagnosis? It’s amazing, Chinese medicine! Our diagnostic system is notably different from Western medicine, we’re able to feel and see the different organs’ health through the pulse and tongue, as well as assess heat and cold in the body based on these same factors combined with other symptoms and signs. Want to experience it for yourself? Come on in for an appointment!

Not ovulating? Check your NSAIDs.

Not ovulating? Check your Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs.

The results of a new study show that diclofenac, naproxen and etoricoxib significantly inhibit ovulation in women with mild musculoskeletal pain. Of the women receiving NSAIDs, only 6.3 percent (diclofenac), 25 percent (naproxen) and 27.3 percent (etoricoxib) ovulated, compared with 100 percent of the control group. (Source: Science Daily)

Not ovulating? Aleve might be a problem.

2015 Study on NSAID use and Ovulation

OP0131 Effects of Some Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs on Ovulation in Women with Mild Musculoskeletal Pain

Key Points

Not ovulating? Low pregnancy rate? Acupuncture may help.

Acupuncture treatment has been shown to increase ovulation and fertility rates in various populations, such as:

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

A 2013 study found “repeated acupuncture treatments resulted in higher ovulation frequency in lean/overweight women with PCOS and were more effective than just meeting with the therapist. Ovarian and adrenal sex steroid serum levels were reduced with no effect on LH secretion.”

IVF/Failed embryo implantation

Researchers published their findings in 2013, citing “acupuncture and moxibustion increased pregnancy rates when used as an adjuvant treatment in women undergoing IVF, when embryo implantation had failed.”

How does acupuncture positively effect infertility?

Western medicine would describe acupuncture’s positive effect differently than Chinese medicine, because of our differing diagnostic systems. In the medical review “Acupuncture for infertility: Is it an effective therapy?” researchers describe acupuncture’s positive effect on infertility as being likely due to the treatment’s ability to:

  • modulate “the central and peripheral nervous systems, the neuroendocrine and endocrine systems, the ovarian blood flow, and metabolism.”
  • improve “the outcome of IVF-ET, and the mechanisms may be related to the increased uterine blood flow, inhibited uterine motility, and the anesis of depression, anxiety and stress.”
  • show a “positive role in male infertility, the mechanism of which is not yet clear.”

For us East Asian Medicine Practitioners, we would say acupuncture helps balance heat and cold in the body, as well as excess and deficiency. Our common diagnoses for infertility may include (but are not limited to) Liver and Kidney deficiency, qi and blood stagnation, or pathogenic heat. Depending on the diagnosis, symptoms and treatment plan would differ.

Can acupuncture help me?

If you’re not ovulating and would like to find out how acupuncture might be helpful for you, consider an evaluation with a licensed acupuncturist. Had great success with fertility after seeing an acupuncturist? I’d love to hear your story in the comments!


goji berries for bpa-induced reproductive damage
Chinese Herbs & Supplements

Goji Berries: Nature’s protection against BPA?

Duke of Argyll's Teaplant  (Lycium barbarum) on BPAGoji Berries against BPA-induced reproductive damage

In a 2013 study on mice, researchers concluded polysaccharides in goji berries (a medicinal known to Chinese herbalists as “Gou Qi Zi”) were able to both “protect the testis and epididymis from BPA induced injuries” as well as “reduce the damage of BPA on spermatogenic cells.” They explain the medicinal’s effect as gonadotropin-like, helping to regulate the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis, while also suppressing damage of lipid peroxidation and other peroxide radicals on DNA. The authors note that in another study, the polysaccharides have further been shown to “increase the weights and coefficiencies of testis to normal level.”

Chinese medicine has been using goji berries (also known as lycium fruit or barbary wolfberry) for a very long time. The first written record for Gou Qi Zi dates back to 500 CE, found in the Ming Yi Za Zhu text by Tao Hong-Jing. In Chinese medicine, we prescribe goji berries to nourish blood and the body’s fluids. It’s particularly beneficial to the eyes in case of overuse and deficiency. (I love to cook it into carrot soup for double eye-happiness!)

Bayas GojiIt makes sense that researchers are now finding it can be helpful for protecting the reproductive system in the face of potential BPA-induced damage, as Gou Qi Zi has long been used to support the [Chinese medicine] Liver, Kidney and Lung. These organs in Chinese medicine relate to the immune and reproductive systems. While it’s not a medicinal for everyone (there are contraindications for excess conditions, caution in pregnancy and digestive concerns for those with weak systems), it’s by and large considered a superfood and a commonplace item that can easily be found in most natural food stores.

What’s BPA? Where is it found?

BPA stands for Bisphenol A, a chemical used to harden certain plastics (e.g. baby bottle, water bottle, etc). It’s also an endocrine disruptor that mimics estrogen in the body. Alternatively, BPA can block the effect of stronger natural estrogens, inhibiting estrogen function. In 2011 NPR reported on a study published by scientists at PlastiPure and sister company CertiChem just earlier that year, citing “more than 90 percent [of over 450 plastic products tested, including many labeled BPA-free] released chemicals that mimic estrogen.” For this reason, it’s considered a “xenoestrogen.”

While by and large the argument about BPA has centered around its use in plastic, the chemical is ubiquitous, found in everything from thermal paper (e.g. paper receipts) to the lining of canned foods to dental sealants and cosmetics. According to WebMD, “[m]ore than 90% of us have BPA in our bodies right now.”

What about alternatives to BPA in plastics?

Goji berries against BPA-induced reproductive damage View on Science News

Plastics labeled as “BPA-free” aren’t necessarily free of alternative endocrine disruptors. A common replacement is BPAF, a fluorinated version of BPA, which has also been shown to induce estrogenic activity through binding to estrogen receptor. BPAF is equally ubiquitous, found in everything from plastics to electronic devices and optical fibers to even the lining of your dishwasher.

The “double-edged sword” of BPAF

BPAF is considered to be even more problematic than BPA. Science News reports, “Indeed, the fluorines bind to ER-alpha [estrogen receptors] some 20 time more effectively than BPA does, and to ER-beta almost 50 times more effectively.” Jan-Åke Gustafsson, molecular endocrinologist at the University of Houston, explains the chemical as a “double-edged sword,” by which it increases ER-alpha (estrogen receptors) activity and shuts down ER-beta’s countervailing functions; ultimately BPAF “shift[s] endocrine action toward greater toxicity.”

What are the risks of BPA/F exposure?

There is still a lot of debate on the subject. The FDA maintains the chemical is safe given the level of exposure from contaminated foods/beverages. The Environmental Magazine, however, quotes “[o]ver 200 laboratory studies have linked low-dose BPA exposure to a host of health effects.” WebMD lists the following areas of concern:

  • Hormone disruption
  • Brain and behaviour problems (migraines, anyone?)
  • Cancer
  • Heart problems
  • Possibly obesity, diabetes and ADHD

BPA-risks specific to women

Environmental Health News goes on to cite a study conducted at Harvard University in concluding “[e]xposure to bisphenol A (BPA) at levels commonly found in the general population may cut a woman’s chance of getting pregnant if she is undergoing fertility treatment…. The pregnancies failed because the embryos did not attach to the uterus.” For more on the correlation between BPA levels and implantation failure, see: Urinary Bisphenol A Concentrations and Implantation Failure among Women Undergoing in Vitro Fertilization.

And now here’s a curveball — BPA has even been shown in cell culture to block the effects of breast cancer chemotherapy by “apparently by altering expression of proteins involved in apoptosis, or programmed cell death.”

BPA-risks specific to men

In a 2011 study on male workers exposed to BPA on the job, researchers found, “Compared with men who did not have detectable urine BPA levels, those with detectable urine BPA had more than three times the risk of lowered sperm concentration and lower sperm vitality, more than four times the risk of lower sperm count, and more than twice the risk of lower sperm motility.” In a 2012 study on male rats, BPAF was shown to inhibit testosterone production by altering the genes and proteins in the testosterone biosynthesis pathway.

What can you do to protect yourself against BPA?

Reduce risk

As much as possible, try to avoid:

  • Plastics (especially when heated by the sun or microwave, as the heat can break down the plastic and result in greater amounts of BPA leached)
  • Canned goods
  • Thermal receipts
  • Dental sealants that use BPA

While there are some companies that have started offering BPA-free cans, given the risk of BPA alternates such as BPAF I can’t in good conscience suggest them as a preferable option. That said, there are countless options available when it comes to replacing plastic with ceramic, glass, or stainless steel.


If you already have stores of BPA in your body (which is likely), you might consider tag teaming with a healthcare professional in finding ways appropriate for your constitution and lifestyle to clear out as much of it as you can.

See your herbalist

And now we can add, see your herbalist! Find out is Gou Qi Zi is right for you before consuming.

Studies Cited