Chinese medicine(CM) has a particular interest in fertility, probably driven by emperors who wanted to ensure the provision of heirs. The earliest of CM texts have sections devoted to menstrual disorders, infertility, prevention of miscarriage, childbirth, post natal and lactation issues. Even though modern CM practitioners often use the results of hormonal blood tests as a guide, their treatments for fertility are still based on re-enforcing Qi and Blood, moving Qi and Blood and preserving the Jing in both male and female partners.
Fertility and good health are dependent on the abundance of Qi, Blood and Jing. Pathologies of any of these substances causes not only fertility issues in both female and male, but also poor functioning of the body. In this article I shall describe the nature, function and pathologies of the Qi, Blood and Jing substances. A detailed discussion on the relationship between fertility issues and pathologies of the substances warrants a separate article.
An excellent resource for further information on the substances can be found here
My definition of Qi is:
“Qi is the glue that holds the universe together”.
- Qi is in all things, yet can’t be seen or measured.
- The effects of Qi can be witnessed or felt.
- Qi and the body are inseparable.
- Qi performs the following general functions in the body – transforming, transporting, holding, raising, protecting, and warming.
Some specific functions of Qi in the body are:
Digestion, transporting and transforming of food
Reproduction, menstruation, growth
Drives blood circulation
Some examples of Qi pathology in regards to fertility are:
- Qi deficiency – anemia, low libido,
- Qi sinking – prolonged menses, breakthrough bleeding, heavy sinking pain in legs
- Qi stagnant – irregular menses, PMS, period pain
- Qi rebellious – premenstrual migraine.
In Chinese medicine the term Blood denotes everything to do with the blood. It is not only blood itself but includes its nutrients, circulation, storage, production and menstruation. Blood warms the body, and provides nourishment to skin, nails, hair, tendons, muscles bones and organs.
Some examples of Blood pathology in regard to fertility are:
- Blood deficiency – no menses or light flow
- Blood stagnation – period pain, stop-start menses, clots
- Blood congealing – fibroids, ovarian cysts
- Heat in the Blood- menorrhagia (excess heavy bleeding)
The closest western understanding of Jing is endowment. Some people with strong Jing seem to be born strong and live healthy long lives. Those with weak Jing are beset with illness and die early.
Strong Jing is necessary for good fertility and healthy offspring.
Pre-natal Jing of a foetus is created by both parents supplying some of their own Jing. If the parents have strong Jing then the foetus will have strong pre-natal Jing.
Post natal Jing is created by eating good food, drinking fresh water, breathing clean air, and following a regular daily rhythm which includes exercise and adequate rest. It is important that post-natal Jing replenishes the Jing, otherwise precious Jing will be lost and wasted.
This ancient CM theory is similar to the current concept of epigenetics. Many epigenetic studies indicate that inherited genetics play a large role in the overall health of a person. Moreover environmental factors such as diet, exercise, stress, clean air, and chemicals also influence the expression of the genes.
Jing is stored in the Kidney (i.e. CM Kidney organ) but has a fluid nature and circulates all over the body. Combined with Qi, it forms the foundation of Shen (Mind).
It presides over the major phases of development in life:
- In childhood, Kidney Jing controls growth of bones, teeth, hair, brain development and sexual maturation. Weak Kidney Jing may lead to poor bone and teeth development, stunted growth, and mental retardation.
- At puberty, Kidney Jing controls reproductive function, menses, fertility and normal development into adulthood. Amenorrhoea is often related to weak Kidney Jing.
- Conception and pregnancy are guided and controlled by Kidney Jing. Where Kidney Jing is weak, there may be infertility, chronic miscarriage and other such problems.
- Kidney Jing declines naturally, producing the characteristic signs of aging such as menopause, loss of hair and teeth, impairment of memory, etc.
Jing is a precious substance, which should be guarded. Poor diet, overwork, stress, alcohol, excessive sexual activity and illicit drugs all waste Jing. The way to conserve Jing is to strive for balance in all life activities.
Chinese medicine displays a unique understanding of women’s physiology and it can be particularly effective in the treatment of fertility issues. Make an appointment with Dr Estelle Abbas at Beachbox Physiotherapy on 03 9036 7700.