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Herbal preparations have been in use in all cultures around the world for many thousands of years. Herbal medicine theory utilises hundreds of different ingredients to bring balance to the body and alleviate illnesses. Herbal medicine can be administered in a variety of ways including raw, powdered, granulated, liquid, pills or capsule preparations.  Herbal formulas should only be prescribed by an accredited herbalist to prevent any adverse reactions.
Raw herbs are usually made into a decoction by boiling them for a certain amount of time and are consumed once or twice daily.  This decoction can also be applied externally as is the case for facial washers. Powdered and granulated herbs are specially prepared to the highest quality and are batch tested for impurities and toxic matter.  Large herbal companies produce this for improved efficacy and patient compliance. Ginseng is probably the most famous, most commonly used, and possibly one of the most powerful herbs in the history of Chinese Herbal medicine. In the case of ginseng root, Chinese farmers noticed centuries ago that it is shaped like a human body with head, arms and legs and therefore they deducted that it would strengthen the Qi, or energy, of the whole body. Ginseng strongly tonifies the source Qi of the whole body, tonifying all of the body’s internal organs as it increases blood supply and oxygen to the brain. So, with the amazing benefits of ginseng, you would think that everyone should be taking it and the more the better, right? The good news is, in an era of baby boomers approaching the age where all of these health issues predominate, there is an herb that could help us live many more healthy years. Joyce Marley is a licensed acupuncturist who provides acupuncture therapy in New Hartford, NY. Antonia Balfour is an acupuncturist and herbalist practicing in Pacific Palisades, California. Antonia holds a Master’s degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine from Yo San University, where she graduated with highest honors.
In 2012 she earned a Diploma of Herbal Dermatology at Regent’s College in London, England with world renowned expert Mazin Al-Khafaji. Toni first became interested in Chinese Medicine while living in Taiwan where she taught English as a second language. Toni completed her bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida where she studied, enjoyed life, and became a licensed private pilot.
Traditional Chinese medicine has been used for hundreds of years to treat infertility and includes the use of acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and dietary and lifestyle therapy. Chinese medicine can be used on its own, or safely combined with modern western fertility treatment.?Studies showing increased success rates of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) when acupuncture is done before and after embryo transfer have made headlines in recent years. Other western treatments such as IUI, GIFT, ZIFT, and hormonal therapies are also more effective when acupuncture is added as an adjunctive therapy.
From a Chinese medicine perspective, the goal of treatment is to bring balance to each patient by addressing their unique “patterns of disharmony” (or areas or imbalance). The channels and collaterals are considered to be a series of connecting passages through which qi and blood flow. This brief explanation of patterns of disharmony just touches the surface in describing the many different ways an acupuncturist analyzes imbalance. We are fortunate to be living where we do and to have options available to enhance and optimize fertility. This medicine may cause adverse reactions other than the intended effects in some patients.

In treatments using Japanese traditional herbal medicine, different Japanese traditional herbal medicines may be used depending on individuals’ symptoms and constitution even when the illness is the same. Being a Chinese Herbalist, his interest extends from more than just prescribing Chinese Herbal Medicine but also includes growing and harvesting his own herbs and teas at home. It is usually decocted separately from other herbs in small amounts of water and at relatively low temperatures to completely extract all of its active ingredients.
In China it is used in emergency situations for patients who have actually gone into shock from excessive loss of fluids, excessive loss of blood or chronic illness.
When there are signs of Spleen qi deficiency, such as fatigue, nausea and vomiting, listlessness, diarrhea, or stomach and rectal prolapse, formulas are given which include ginseng. In China, patients are actually given intravenous infusions of ginseng to treat cardiac ishcemia.
We can only hope that the research and knowledge of the best way to use this herb will continue in this country as it has in China for centuries. She writes Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) health articles about acupuncture and Oriental medicine. She is the co-owner and clinical director of Oasis Palisades, a Health & Wellness Center in the Marquez area of Pacific Palisades. She is a California-licensed acupuncturist and herbalist and a National Diplomate in acupuncture and Chinese herbology, board-certified through the National Certification Commission of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM).
Additional Post-graduate work includes a certification in Acupuncture and Cancer Care from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. One of her students brought her to a traditional Chinese doctor for the treatment of chronic TMJ and neck pain.
Chinese medicine has become increasingly popular as a treatment option as awareness of its effectiveness has grown. Benefits range from improved ovarian and follicular function to an increase in blood flow to the uterus, helping to create a thick, rich lining. In a widely published German study, those using acupuncture with IVF achieved a 42% clinical pregnancy rate compared with only 26% that did not receive acupuncture. Imbalances in these three areas can cause a variety of health problems including difficulty conceiving. Most patients have multiple patterns going on at a time, sometimes as many as eight or ten. Chinese medicine offers us centuries of holistic wisdom, insuring that the whole person is brought to a state of balance and vibrant health.
She is the co-owner and Clinical Director of Oasis Palisades, a Health & Wellness Center located in Pacific Palisades (on the Westside of Los Angeles, between Santa Monica and Malibu). Conversely, the same Japanese traditional herbal medicine may be used according to the symptoms and constitution even when the illnesses are different. One of the oldest principals of Chinese herbal medicine is that the shape, texture or color of a plant or natural substance may mimic certain parts of the body or attributes of certain diseases and therefore suggest a therapeutic correspondence.
Some of the more famous formulas for Spleen Qi deficiency symptoms are Si Jun Zi Tang, Shen Ling Bai Zhu San and Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang. The results were so impressive that she began to study Chinese medicine soon after, ultimately deciding to make TCM her career. Chinese medicine is also used to treat men, increasing sperm count and improving mobility and morphology.

A recent American study involving 114 women showed that 51% of the women who had both acupuncture and IVF treatments became pregnant versus only 36% of the women who had IVF alone. Qi, blood, and body fluids can be weak and deficient, in which case they are unable to nourish the body and function properly. Western medicine provides us with the high tech power of modern assisted reproductive technologies and the ability to micromanage human physiology. When there are signs of Lung qi deficiency such as shortness of breath, chronic cough, or spontaneous sweating, formulas are given which include ginseng. Other areas of promising research show benefits to cancer patients with leukopenia caused by chemotherapy. Antonia has additionally completed post-graduate studies in women’s health and fertility treatment for both men and women. The key to successfully enhancing fertility with Chinese medicine is to bring balance to the body and emotions. In addition, while 8% of the women in the acupuncture group miscarried, the rate of miscarriage in the IVF-only group was 20%.
It’s important to note that these organs in Chinese medicine are not the same as their western counterparts. Ren Shen Ge Jie San is a famous formula for wheezing and shortness of breath due to Lung and Kidney qi deficiency. And even more importantly, ginseng is contraindicated in certain people who are suffering what Chinese medical diagnosis would call excess conditions.
An acupuncturist’s job is to apply the theories of yin and yang to all aspects of the patient. Deficient blood and body fluids might create late periods, dry skin and hair, dizziness, and possibly blurry vision. The Chinese Kidney, for example, may have some of the same functions as the western Kidney, but it is a much broader concept than simply the anatomical organ. Only a practitioner who has had years of training in Chinese medicine diagnosis can properly determine the signs and symptoms of an excess condition.
On the other hand – qi, blood and body fluids can be excess and overflowing in which case they become stuck or stagnant. If the yin of the Kidney meridian is deficient there may be feeling of heat or hot flashes, ringing in the ears, back pain, or dry symptoms such as dry throat, dry mouth, or vaginal dryness. Ginseng has a protective effect on the liver and may have beneficial effects on the symptoms of acute hepatitis. A Kidney yang deficiency creates low libido, frequent urination during the night, cold feet, or pain in the back and knees. In both these cases, it’s likely that the anatomical kidney is perfectly healthy, but both imbalances hinder fertility. To attain balance, these three vital substances need to be strong and healthy in their flow.
Frustration, anger, and irritability are associated with the Liver meridian and cause the qi to become stuck or stagnant.

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