Whether you’re hoping to conceive or simply want to support one of TCM’s “vital signs,” there are plenty of medicinal foods and herbs you can integrate to help enhance fertility. Seen as a sign of overall health and balance within the body, fertility indicates the healthy expression of Qi (the body's vital energy) and the harmonious interaction of the highly interconnected organ systems. For men, fertility is largely evaluated by sperm health, whereas for women it can be assessed by a well-balanced menstrual cycle and ovulation. Fertility is closely connected to robust Jing and Kidney health, good circulation and optimal Liver function, and the abundant, harmonious flow of Qi.
Although the factors influencing (in)fertility are unique to each individual, of the highest importance when it comes to fertility promotion is nourishing Jing and supporting Kidney health. Jing is our “essence,” often referred to as the primal energy or our original life force, and is the constitutional foundation inherited from our parents. As the energy that gives our bodies form and substance, Jing governs birth and development, the propensity for vitality and longevity, and reproductive function and fertility. Because Jing is concentrated in the Kidneys, it is understood in TCM that the Kidneys govern fertility and reproductive health. The balance between Yin and Yang here is reflected in healthy reproductive capacity, as Yin Jing determines fertility and Yang Jing determines potency.
Many of TCM’s foremost fertility-enhancing foods and herbs are Kidney tonics that specifically nourish Yin Jing. Here are some of our top, time-tested recommendations:
- Eggs: Supremely nourishing and incredibly nutrient-dense, including nutrients that are specifically beneficial for reproductive health, eggs are replenishing to Yin Jing. This humble but powerful superfood is rich in choline, an essential nutrient for fertility and pregnancy that’s been shown to support both female egg health and male sperm motility, while also functioning as an ally for those with endocrine disorders. It’s additionally a great source of folic acid, which can help mitigate problems with ovulation and enhance sperm count. Eggs contain B-complex vitamins, which are important for hormonal balance and energy production, as well as minerals like iron and zinc that support reproductive health.
- Eucommia: A primary Chinese herb for tonifying the Yang Jing functions of the Kidneys, while also nourishing Yin Jing to an extent, Eucommia is an excellent ally for enhancing fertility in both men and women. It is also enlisted for its hormone-regulating effect, supporting a healthy menstrual cycle and overall reproductive functioning. Eucommia is traditionally called upon for the support of a strong, sturdy skeletal structure and musculature, which is considered essential for reproductive health and supporting the growing fetus during pregnancy; it is even indicated for threatened miscarriage. Indeed, it’s commonly used to support the health of the uterus, which is of course foundational for fertility and successful implantation.
- Wild-caught fish: Valued in TCM as a fertility-enhancing food thanks to rich nutrient stores, the ability to help preserve Jing, and the nourishment of Yin Jing. Fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, and herring, are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, including EPA and DHA. Omega-3’s have been shown to improve egg quality, embryo survival rates, hormone production, and semen quality. Fish is also a great source of high-quality protein – essential for building and repairing tissues, including the reproductive organs. Sufficient protein intake also supports the production of healthy sperm and the process of ovulation.
- Goji berries: Revered for centuries in TCM, these little red berries are highly valued for their ability to replenish Jing, nourish the Blood, and harmonize Yin and Yang energies in the body – all of which is foundational for fertility and reproductive health. Considered a tonic for the Kidneys, Goji berries nourish Yin Jing, supporting male and female fertility, hormonal balance, and the substances/fluids indicated in reproductive function. Goji berries primarily affect the Kidney and Liver channels, and Liver health is also crucial to healthy menstrual cycles, hormone balance, and fertility as this organ-meridian channel is responsible for overall Qi and Blood regulation, ensuring that the reproductive organs receive the life force required. These beautiful fruits also support healthy sex drive, ovarian health, and sperm count. You can find them in our Beauty blend, which additionally features He Shou Wu and Schizandra, making it a great fertility ally for both men and women.
- Black Sesame Seeds: Black sesame seeds are believed to support fertility and reproductive health due to their nourishing and tonifying properties. These seeds are especially beneficial for nourishing the Kidneys and Liver in TCM, and are another food to support Yin Jing. By strengthening the Liver, black sesame seeds enhance its capacity to optimally regulate the menstrual cycle and promote overall reproductive health. They also contain phytoestrogens, which are plant compounds that can have a modulating effect on hormones for women, and are additionally another good source of essential fatty acids that support fertility in both men and women. We’ve shared a lot of great black sesame recipes on our blog, including this Yin-nourishing latte.
- Deer Antler Velvet: Deer Antlers are regenerative, so this substance imbues us with that same capacity for regeneration and, one could reasonably presume, support in generating new life. The primary indications of Deer Antler Velvet include Kidney Yang deficiency, Jing and Blood deficiency, and weakness of the sinews and bones – all of which we have covered as fundamental to robust fertility. In fact, this TCM superfood is one of the most prized allies for preserving and replenishing Jing, as animal substances are considered even more beneficial than plants or minerals for this purpose – due to their genetic similarity. Deer Antler extract contains hyaluronic acid, which has been shown to support implantation and offers great promise as an adjunct IVF therapy. Rich in minerals, collagen, amino acids, and growth factor to support a robust constitution, it enhances reproductive health (especially for impotence and uterine deficiency that leads to infertility). Further, growth hormone has long been utilized to support fertility, and Deer Antler Velvet is a potent source thereof. Our soon-to-be released Warrior blend is a wonderful fertility-promoting offering for men.
These are just a few of the many excellent superfoods available to support you in enhancing fertility; some other favorites include Pine Pollen, Schizandra, Jujubes, and He Shou Wu. Wishing you true nourishment and fertile soil to nourish all of your dreams!