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The Practical Herbalist

Fertile Fields and Infertility

The topic of infertility demonstrates the fundamental difference between traditional medical systems and the modern biomedical model. As a herbalist I look at patients very differently than I would if I were a medical doctor. Yet I do have to understand how the biomedical community thinks in order to truly help patients navigate their options.

There are a lot of reasons that we are seeing an increase in interest in infertility. The most common factor is age. More people are trying to start a family later in life and there are more high-tech solutions available that allow people to start a family later. Biomedical medicine can identify and quantify many of the chemical and physiological shifts in the body as it relates to the reproductive system. That forms the basis of treatment. What materials seem to be higher or lower than the norm and can we provide a way to alter those materials. This is a very mechanical approach to treating the patient. In fact this is a strength, particularly when infertility is caused by a structural abnormality. Structural problems require a physical solution (surgery or other ways to circumvent the structural problem).

Traditional medical systems like Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) look at the body as a dynamic system. In many ways the thought process is much more akin to gardening. The assumption is that we cannot "fix" the system, but rather can help it to do what it does naturally. In many cases the goal is not unlike preparing a field for planting. Getting everything prepared just right, makes it more likely that the process of repro- duction can proceed. TCM first looks to identify the dynamics that are specific to the functioning of the reproductive system of the patient. Then that in turn determines lifestyle, diet and treatment options that may affect how the system operates. In this way the natural rhythms or management of the body systems can be altered closer to a dynamic that allows for the complex system of reproduction to occur naturally.

The gardening analogy can be taken further. The best gardens are determined not by how much water or sun there is but rather on the skill of the gardener to apply knowledge to the system. There has to be just enough water, not too much fertilizer, etc. When there is harmony and balance, then the garden will thrive. Fertility is not about the most powerful drug or herb, but rather is in the judicious application of many factors. When those factors are well regulated into a harmonious balance then the field will be ready to sustain the creation of new life.

For more detailed infertility information go to Acubaby

David Bock

This article was from David's LakeCountryOnline.com column, "The Practical Herbalist"

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David Bock, C. Ac., Dipl. OM, FABORM
Wisconsin Certified Acupuncturist
National Board Certification in Oriental Medicine
Fellow American Board Of Oriental Reproductive Medicine

Bock Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine
888 Thackeray Trail #206
Oconomowoc, Wisconsin 53066