The Truth about Herbal Medicine

The Truth about Herbal Medicine

By Mike Berkley, LAc.

Chinese herbal medicine has been used for more than 3000 years to treat various types of pathological presentations including infertility. The main difference between acupuncture and herbal medicine is that acupuncture helps to move energy and improve blood flow throughout the body in general and to specific areas in particular. If for example, one is trying to improve ovarian health and egg-quality, acupuncture can be used to drive blood to the ovaries, generally improving their function and making them more responsive to gonadotropins.

Herbal medicine however actually affects system function. Herbs help to stimulate and nourish what is deficient (low platelet count) and to eradicate what is in excess (elevated androgen levels). Many reproductive endocrinologists do not want their patients to take herbs. The following two reasons are usually given:

1. “Herbs lower fsh falsely because they contain phytoestrogens.” This misinformation would only be accurate if the herbs lowered fsh, and the patient’s estrogen levels rose above 65pg/ml. The fact remains that many patients have their fsh levels regulated with herbal medicine in the context of an estradiol level which remains between 25pg/ml to 65pg/ml.

2. “Herbs can interfere with reproductive medicine.” This is not true.  Herbs actually work synergistically with reproductive medicine. For example, many patients are poor responders to gonadotropins but, when gonadotropins are used in conjunction with herbs the response is frequently improved.

The main reason that your doctor does not want you to take herbal medicine is because she or he is trying to protect you against what they perceive to be a health hazard which may occur as a result of the herbs. Of course these herbs when prescribed by a Board Certified herbalist are completely safe. Health hazards do not occur as a result of taking herbs anymore than health hazards occur as a result of taking Lupron or Gonal-F.

Your doctor should be commended for his or her responsible behavior towards their patient, but, unfortunately their information comes from not having the information; in other words, ignorance.

This attitude may also be manifested by practitioners of Complementary medicine. Many Complementary medicine doctors frequently advise their patients to stay away from IVF or IUI procedures because the “drugs will be harmful.” Of course this is utterly untrue. Once again, it comes from a position of ignorance. Western reproductive medical intervention is efficacious and safe. Think about this: when was the last time that you heard of someone being hospitalized or dying from herbal medicine which was prescribed by a Board Certified herbalist? I have never heard of such a case.

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