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  • Dr. Singh, ND

Colonial Times to 1900's and present: Herbal Fertility Treatments

Herbal Remedies have been used in various systems of medicine for centuries and possibly millennia. From Ayurvedic medicine in India, Traditional Chinese Medicine, to North American Settlers from the colonial period from 1585.

The documented use of Herbal Remedies for Fertility can be traced back to the Colonial period from 1585-1763 when Poor Richard’s Almanac was printed.

During the Revolutionary Era, Early Republic, National Expansion, the Civil War, and the Industrial Era, the knowledge of herbal medicine was passed down in printed books and by word-of-mouth from Midwives at the time. A large influence was also present from the knowledge provided by healers from indigenous tribes about the treatment of specific maladies with certain herbals.

Some of the Herbals Used to treat Gynaecological Conditions Included:

  • Black Cohosh: The word ‘cohosh’ means pregnancy in the Algonquian language. It was approved by the German E Commission for the treatment of symptoms related to menopause. It was used by the eclectics to help restore regular menstruation. Today, black cohosh is a commonly used herbal remedy to support ovulation in Women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). It has also been used as an “anodyne” to help relieve excessive pain from menstruation and to help in the treatment of severe postpartum depression.

  • Viburnum prunifolium (Black Haw): this herb has reputation throughout the centuries to be a cornerstone treatment for menstrual pain (analgesic for the uterus and ovaries) and to help prevent miscarriages. During a darker time in our history, prior to slavery was abolished, planters would force the workers to drink a tonic with this herb to prevent miscarriage, even though pregnant Women would use cotton root herb (a known abortifacient) to try and terminate their pregnancies. According to a physician’s report from Texas during that time, he never saw the use of this anti-abortive herb fail on the plantations. This herb has also been used during pregnancy to help alleviate pregnancy related pain or cramps.

  • Angelica archangelica: traditionally used as an emmenagogue, this herb was believed to help improve blood flow to the uterus and was used in Women with irregular or absent periods. Chemical analysis of the herb has shown that it contains Isoquercetin, a flavonoid that reduces the impact of leukotrienes on the uterus. Leukotrienes are compounds which increase contractions of the uterus, and isoquercetin may therefore reduce uterine contractions. It is also used in formulas along with other herbs to aid in the treatment of endometriosis and may potentially improve pregnancy rates in Women suffering from Infertility as a result of endometriosis.

  • Blue Cohosh: Traditionally used in late pregnancy to help stimulate labour, case reports have suggested that blue cohosh may increase the risk of tachycardia in the newborn and contains compounds that have been observed to be toxic for the heart muscle and cause constriction of the coronary arteries.

  • Vitex: this herb has long been used in the treatment of infertility. It is known to help support the length of the luteal phase of the cycle and support progesterone levels. It has also been suggested to play a role in the treatment of endometriosis. It can also suppress secretion of prolactin levels in Women under high amounts of stress. Prolactin has a negative effect on the pituitary gland and suppresses the secretion of important neuroendocrine hormones (LH and FSH), so decreasing prolactin levels may be helpful in improving fertility.

This article is in no way a replacement for medical advice or medical care, it is advised that anyone concerned about their Health should speak with their Naturopathic Doctor or Primary Care Provider.

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