Fertility, pregnancy, postpartum, and menopause are considered deeply interconnected phases of a woman’s life course and natural reproductive cycle in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Instead of viewing these phases as points along a reproductive spectrum, we can consider the phenomena of women’s reproductive health as a spiral, which honors its dynamic and cyclical nature. In this spiral, Yin and Yang energies continuously interact and transform in a perpetual dance of death and rebirth; this is true of the menstrual cycle itself, and is a beautiful lens through which to view the reproductive progression over the course of one’s life.
The symbolism of the spiral represents the cycle of life, and brings great meaning to women’s reproductive journeying. The spiral is often seen as a representation of growth and evolution, reflecting the idea that as one progresses along the spiral, they are moving forward in some ways, but also circling back to a previous lesson or predicament, though each time at a higher level or with a new perspective. This concept symbolizes continuous development and transformation, so representative of the reproductive phases of a woman’s life. Each experience builds upon the former – much akin to the phases of the menstrual cycle, the way that Jing (essence) and Qi (vital energy) provide the foundation for Shen (spirit) to flourish, and the abilities of the same medicines to be integrated in new ways.
It may come as no surprise that some of the primary herbs to support women remain the same throughout the phases. This is because: there are many common threads regarding the fundamental approaches to supporting women throughout each one of their distinct reproductive phases; each experience builds upon the robustness of its predecessor; and the fact that herbs are so multifaceted. Indeed, several of these revered allies are present in our new blend Nurture, which was formulated specifically to support women in the postpartum period, but which we have also shared can be a great ally for anyone with blood deficiency symptoms, a common post-menstruation issue.
Herbs for Fertility, Pregnancy, Postpartum, and Menopause:
Jujube date- This medicinal fruit is supremely nourishing to the Blood and Qi, and has been traditionally used to support the overall reproductive system of women. Blood tonics are especially tonifying to the Yin elements of our organ systems, promoting their optimal functioning. As a rich source of vitamin C, it enhances fertility and promotes hormonal balance, partially explained by the vital role Blood plays in the circulation-sex system of TCM, which also governs sexual vitality, longevity, and emotional balance. It’s a popular postpartum ally for its support in replenishing depleted blood and Qi, as well as soothing the nervous system and boosting energy. During menopause, Jujube’s Blood and Qi support can be called upon to help those with symptoms like dizziness, palpitations, memory issues and even organ prolapse. Its Lung-invigorating actions help with symptoms like shortness of breath and excess sweating.
Angelica root- Angelica is arguably TCM’s most important gynecological herb, with a bi-directional and regulating action on the uterus. Also known as the "female ginseng," Angelica supports menstrual cycle regulation, improved circulation, and overall reproductive health. It has long been used in TCM as a treatment for infertility as it helps balance the hormones and nourishes the Blood – essential for both a healthy menstrual cycle and for the cultivation of a hospitable environment for a developing embryo. Considered a supreme Blood tonic, its mastery in rebuilding red blood cells and enhancing blood volume is basically unparalleled, making Angelica a beloved herbal postpartum companion. Its harmonizing action on the hormones is greatly beneficial during menopause, as well, and it is commonly enlisted to help minimize symptoms like hot flashes. Angelica’s soothing effect on the nerves and emotions is always a blessing.
Prepared Rehmannia- This beloved herb is a premier Yin Jing and Blood tonic. Yin Jing is stored in the five primary organs, so ensuring its robustness supports all of these organs in functioning optimally, and is considered foundational to both reproductive health and overall vitality. Indeed, Blood is a primary carrier channel for distributing Qi, nutrients, hormones, and immune cells throughout the body, rendering it intimately involved with the entire body’s activities.
As a fertility aid, Rehmannia is commonly enlisted to nourish Yin and support Kidney function, considered crucial for reproductive health in TCM. Strong Kidney energy, which includes Jing (concentrated in the Kidneys), also plays a role in overall vitality and resilience during pregnancy. During the postpartum period, its rejuvenating qualities and support with burnout prevention greatly support recovery. Its Yin-nourishing properties help alleviate menopausal symptoms like night sweats and dryness.
He Shou Wu- This powerful Yin, Qi, Jing, and Blood rejuvenation tonic is renowned for its longevity and fertility-enhancing properties. Both blood purifying and building, as well as tonifying to the organs, He Shou Wu brings many benefits to each reproductive phase. As one of the most revered Jing tonics, it greatly supports optimal Kidney function, which govern fertility, hormonal balance, and sexual potency, making He Shou Wu a premier fertility tonic for both men and women. Jing also governs birth and development – the constitutional inheritance we give our children, such that it supports healthy gestation (and beyond). Its comprehensive Liver support promotes menstrual regulation for enhanced fertility. By supporting the body in producing longevity-promoting substances, including the most powerful antioxidant SOD, it can support those with oxidative stress, which can increase during pregnancy, potentially into the postnatal period. He Shou Wu’s affinity for the Kidneys is also helpful in postpartum by supporting recovery, wound healing, tissue repair, milk production, emotional stability, and enhanced energy reserves. He Shou Wu promotes healthy aging and can help make the natural transition of menopause smoother, including by mitigating symptoms like insomnia, dizziness, blurred vision, and weakness in the lower back and knees.