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Although infertility is usually thought to be caused by problems in the female reproductive system, male fertility issues are on the rise due to increasingly stressful lifestyles of today and their overall impact on health.
Although Western medicine can be very successful, Oriental medicine offers a good alternative, or the two can be practiced side by side. Herbal remedies have been used for thousands of years in China and India to treat male infertility and have the added bonus of providing balance throughout the whole body, addressing all mental and emotional, as well as physical problems.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine there are more than 150 Chinese herbs and plants that treat infertility. Most of them are kidney tonics as the kidneys are the organs believed to be responsible for sexual reproduction. Some of the most common herbs for men are:
Ren shen (ginseng) – increases testosterone and improves sperm count.
Yin yang huo (epimedium), also known as horny goat weed – a powerful yang kidney tonic used to increase male libido, treat low sperm count, impotence and premature ejaculation.
Dong chong xia cao (cordyceps) – strengthens kidneys, a sexual tonic, improves sperm count and mobility.
Deer antler – not strictly a herb but commonly used to tonify kidney qi and fortify yang, build male sexual strength and increase fertility.
Gou qi zi (Chinese wolfberries or goji berries) – although the therapeutic effects of these berries are mild, they are useful as a nutritional supplement for aiding in sexual dysfunction, fertility problems, and invigorating the kidneys.
In Ayurveda, the constitution of the individual can give information on how fertile the person is. In general, the fertility of a Vata constitution tends to be lower than average; Pitta is average in fertility; and Kapha has the highest fertility. There is evidence of the use of herbs and plants to treat male infertility dating back to 5000 BC. Some of the most common ones are:
Aschwagandha – known as Indian ginseng, this herb is a powerful aphrodisiac, helps improve sperm count and mobility and is used for erectile dysfunction. It is also beneficial for treating nutritional problems and is used as a nerve tonic.
Mucuna pruriens (kawach) – the seeds of this climbing plant reduce stress and improve sexual performance.
Safed Musli – reduces stress and treats impotence, low sperm count and premature ejaculation.
Shilajit* – a restorative and rejuvenating tonic made from a herbal substance, shilajit increases primal sexual energy.
Research has shown that acupuncture can boost fertility in men and women, and it is a standard treatment in TCM. Combining acupuncture with herbal remedies often gives even better results.
Note: Although herbs may be purchased online and from herbalists, health stores and natural food stores in the US, it is worth remembering that they are regarded and treated as drugs in China and India. Be sure to consult your doctor before using any herbal products for health purposes. As with any herb, supplement, vitamin or drug, it is best to see a licensed professional to find out what your specific needs are. In Chinese medicine herbal formulas are prepared based on the needs of the individual and should not be given to treat a symptom.
*Counterfeit shilajit is often sold in India and exported to other countries, so be careful to research sources before purchase.
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