“Natural Medicine for Fertility: Supplements, Herbs & Spices” by myMindBodyBaby
Guest post by Dr. Corina Kibsey, ND
Globally, infertility affects over 48.5 million couples (data collected over a 5 year period, 2010), and is rightfully therefore a growing concern. More and more people are looking for natural options to support their fertility health. With the aid of Naturopathic and fertility Doctors, natural medicine can often be used to complement fertility treatments. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Fertility supplements for women
There are some vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that have shown promising results for fertility support. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Coenzyme Q10, called CoQ10 for short, has been shown in preliminary human studies and animal models to help improve egg quality in women.
Arginine is an amino acid that has been sown in this pilot study to help to improve blood flow to the uterus. Studies have also shown that arginine can improve the efficacy of in vitro fertilization (IVF), so this is a good supplement to consider if you are undergoing a course of IVF.
Zinc is a mineral. This small study based on animal models supports the theory that women who are deficient in zinc have higher rates of infertility, as well as higher rates of poor pregnancy outcomes (low birth weight, miscarriage, etc.).
Fertility supplements for men
It seems much of the emphasis is on female fertility, however, there are many options for natural fertility support for men. These include vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
Sperm are highly susceptible to oxidative damage. Since vitamin E is an antioxidant, this review shows positive affects on maintaining quality of sperm.
Like vitamin E, vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant. This review shows its efficacy in its role to help decrease damage to the DNA of the sperm.
Selenium also has antioxidant properties. Studies have shown that selenium can also help to improve sperm count.
Zinc is a mineral. Research has demonstrated zinc’s ability to improve sperm parameters, which include their count as well as motility.
This review is showing vitamin B12 supportive qualities for improving sperm count. This therefore, is a natural fertility support option for men to consider if tests have shown he has a low number of sperm.
L-carnitine is an amino acid that men may want to consider using as a natural fertility support. This review shows promising affects on helping to improve both motility and sperm count.
CoQ10 is helpful in both males and females as a natural fertility support. In men, coQ10 can be helpful for improving overall sperm parameters, meaning sperm count, motility, and overall quality of the sperm.
Fertility herbs for women
There are also some herbs that many believe help to support women’s fertility health and early research shows promising results. As always, be sure to check with your naturopathic doctor or fertility specialist before starting a new treatment.
Often just called “vitex” for short. In this double blind placebo-controlled study it showed that taking this herb can help stimulate the release of luteinizing hormone (LH). It also can help to decrease prolactin, which inhibits fertility when it is too high. Vitex helps to increase the luteal phase, which is a fairly common occurrence in women with infertility. Overall, vitex is a good choice if your luteal phase isn’t ideal or if it has been determined that you are not ovulating.
Commonly called angelica, this herb has been shown in this vivo animal study to improve metabolism inside the uterus itself. Angelica is also thought to assist with overall hormonal control of the menstrual cycle. This herb is not only used in Western herbal medicine, but is also a herb used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). TCM practitioners often prescribe angelica to women with light or scanty periods, as it helps to build blood.
More commonly known as black cohosh. Black cohosh has been used for centuries as it is thought to stimulate luteinizing hormone. This then leads to ovulation and production of progesterone. This herb is an option for women in their 40’s who require more luteinizing hormone to balance out the follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) that increases as ovaries ages.
Fertility herbs for men
Women aren’t the only ones who can benefit from herbal fertility support. There are some great choices for men out there, too.
You may have never heard of Lepidium meyenii, but chances are you have heard of maca root, and they are one and the same. This small, in vivo animal study showed that Maca root helps to improve overall sperm parameters, including sperm count and motility.
This is another herb that is useful in natural fertility treatments for both men and women. Men who have tested positive for anti-sperm antibodies may benefit from tribulus.
As rates of infertility continue to rise, more research is being completed on pharmaceutical and naturopathic options to support fertility health. Before beginning any new treatment ensure you speak with your healthcare practioner first.
Kitchen Cabinet Herbs and Spices to Support Fertility
A note from Michelle, Registered Nutritionist
Outside of its subtle sweetness and amazing aromatics, cinnamon has long been touted for its blood sugar lowering properties (also seen in this study). Why should you care? Blood sugars in check likely mean better hormonal balance – two key factors for women struggling with hormonal concerns such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).
This staple herb can be found in most kitchens and is known for its pungent and peppery taste. But beyond the kitchen, oregano has been used medicinally for ages for a variety of maladies. And, while more human-controlled trials are needed, this herb contains several potent antioxidants – substances that prevent damage (oxidation) to cells. Specifically for men, oxidation as been linked to reduced sperm count, motility, mobility and abnormal morphology.
For a quick lesson in sperm and a delicious sperm-friendly recipe to go with it, check out Nuts for Nuts and Seeds for Seeds: Top Foods for Male Fertility.
In women, the warming properties of ginger have been touted by herbalists for its ability to increase blood flow – specifically to our lady parts – helping to deliver blood and other vital nutrients.
Similar to oregano, ginger is also loaded with potent antioxidant health benefits which help to play a protective role to tissues and organs involved in reproduction.
Emerging evidence is showing blood sugar modulating effects of this herb in animal trials which is positive for those struggling with blood sugar related issues, obesity and PCOS.
This spice is another nutritient-packed food that has been shown to help reduce inflammation and support fertility. Check it out why in this article.
Dr. Corina is a naturopath in the GTA, working out of various locations of Triangle Physiotherapy. Dr. Corina struggled with digestive health for most of her life, to the point where she couldn’t remember what normal digestion felt like. Once she discovered natural treatments for digestive problems, she was able to realize how healthy she could feel. Dr. Corina is now passionate about bringing this knowledge to others, so that they don’t have to suffer like she did. She wants to help people feel like the best version of themselves.