Have you ever consulted Dr. Google? If you have consulted Dr. Google for information regarding herbal medicine for infertility treatment you likely won’t get far (or get pregnant). Many of the herbal medicines recommended can be helpful, but my two favorites have research supporting their use.
Licorice root and white peony.
The combination of licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) and white peony (Paeonia lactiflora) has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of infertility. These two herbs have mainly been studied in the treatment of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which can be a common cause for infertility. PCOS is a collection of symptoms including small cysts on one’s ovaries, hormonal abnormalities and/or irregularities in ovulation and menstruation. Adding in white peony and licorice might be helpful in treating infertility even if you do not have the diagnosis of PCOS.
Peony and licorice balance hormones in a variety of ways:
1. Decrease total androgen load
Androgens – usually thought of as just male hormones, like testosterone, BUT play an important role in a woman’s total hormone balance. High androgen levels in a female can contribute to infertility because they impede normal follicle development of the ovary and a normal follicle is needed to produce a mature egg.
2. Decrease total and free testosterone
Not only does licorice reduce total androgens, but it specifically reduces total and free testosterone. Another interesting study demonstrated that licorice taken with spironolactone (a common medication prescribed for PCOS) lowered the risk for an androgen flare in women with PCOS. Go, licorice!
3. Support conversion to estrogen
Peony contains a constituent that acts on aromatase activity in the ovary. Aromatase is an enzyme that converts androgen hormones to estrogen. Peony helps this conversion and therefore helps to lower that total amount of androgens that could be impeding fertility. This is really important because without enough estrogen ovulation will be erratic.
4. Additional benefits
One reason I love to use herbal medicines in my practice is because one herb will have many benefits and using a blend of herbs often leads to synergistic effects and more benefit. For example, licorice support’s the body’s natural stress response (great to have on board when there are fertility issues!), it has anti-viral properties and the liquid tincture tastes delicious! Peony is used in a variety of hormonal conditions from menstrual pain to menopause.
If you have been dealing with infertility it would be worth your while to give the combination of licorice and white peony a try!
Arentz, Susan, et al. “Herbal Medicine for the Management of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and associated oligo/amenorrhea and hyperandrogenism; a review of the laboratory evidence for effects with corrobative clinical findings.” BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 14 (2014).
Armanini, Decio, et al. “Licorice Reduces Serum Testosterone in Healthy Women.” Steroids 69 (2004): 763-766.
Armanini, Decio, et al. “Treatment of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome with Spironolactone plus Licorice.” European Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Biology 131 (2007): 61-67.
Trickey, Ruth. Women, Hormones and the Menstrual Cycle. Crows Nest:Allen and Unwin, 2003. Print.