Herbs and Supplements

Here is a list of herbs and supplements I recommend that all assist with fertility, miscarriage and general well-being.

On a Sunday I just repack my week of vitamins in to one of those containers with the Monday – Sunday compartments so I don’t have to sit and open 10 bottles every morning.

supplement organization

N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC)

This really is a super supplement!  NAC has been proven to boost the chances of pregnancy continuing past 20 weeks by 190%! Need I say more? But I will;

so what is NAC? It is an amino acid derivative and it acts as an antioxidant and also boosts the activity of another critical antioxidant inside cells, called glutathione.  It is commonly used as an antidote to poisoning from overdose of acetaminophen (Tylenol or paracetamol).

For women with PCOS; it also boosts pregnancy rates by 40%, lowers miscarriage odds by 60%, boosts ovulation rate from 1% to 49% and boosts progesterone and endometrial thickness which is great for the 2 week wait!

a Research study showed that by acting as an antioxidant, it may counteract the effect of aging on egg quality.  in fact, research by some of the same researchers indicated that N-acetyl cysteine reduces oxidative stress, reduces chromosomal damage, reduces chromosomal instability, and improves egg and embryo development.

The dosage is up to 600mg per day

Gymnema

Gymnema is an ayuredic herb grown in Asia.  It has been used traditionally for diabetes and weight management.

High blood glucose levels in women can prevent an embryo from implanting in the uterus and may cause a miscarriage before the woman even knows she is pregnant. (common with women that have PCOS or are diabetic)

This herb has a “sugar blocking” action on taste buds and the small intestine. Gymnema blocks the typical paths that sugar molecules take during digestion, delaying the absorption of sugar. This plant has the ability to lower high blood sugar levels in people with hyperglycemia, typical in diabetics.

The dosage: 200mg twice per day

Vitex/Agnus Castus/Chaste berry

This is really a wonder herb! It takes a while to work thou so be patient, It works slowly to level out all your out-of-whack hormones.  Clinical research shows that Vitex may start working within 10 days, but full benefits may not be experienced until 6 months or longer. For PMS, results are normally seen by the second menstrual cycle, but for lasting changes it may need to be taken for up to a year or more depending on how long the imbalance has been present.

The understanding around Vitex is that it has a supporting and regulating effect upon the pituitary gland. The pituitary is known as the “master gland” because it controls many vital bodily functions such as sending chemical signals to the ovaries, telling them how much hormones to make.

Dosage:      Capsules: 900-1,000mg a day          Tincture: 60-90 drops a day

Maca

Maca is a root veg that grows high up in the Andes mountains, it was discovered by Incan farmers feeding it to their livestock, they noticed how they became healthier and livelier, they consistently fed the maca to their livestock and noticed that they were having healthier and many more babies.  Not long thereafter people started to use maca for their own fertility benefits.

Containing 31 different minerals and 60 different phytonutrients, Maca is a nourishing food for the endocrine system, aiding the pituitary, adrenal, and thyroid glands (all involved in hormonal balance.) Maca has the ability to affect key hormones in both women and men without containing hormones itself.

Regarding male infertility; A human study of 9 men who were given Maca for 4 months at 1,500 – 3,000 mg a day, showed the men experienced an increase in libido, sperm count and motility of sperm.

Dosage is 500-3000mg per day, I just take a capsule with my morning pills and put a tablespoon in my daily fertility smoothie, it makes it so malty and delicious! *if you are a bit of an insomniac like me, then dont take this at night as it is slightly energising.

Royal Jelly

Royal jelly is a substance secreted by worker bees to provide food for the queen bee. This jelly contains hormones that make the queen bee extremely fertile and increase her lifespan. Based on this natural role, royal jelly has long been recommended as an alternative medicine in the fertility context.

Royal Jelly is rich in amino acids (29 to be exact), 10-hydroxydecenoic acid (10-HDA), lipids, sugars, vitamins, and proteins. It contains vitamins A, B complex (including folic acid and inositol), C, D and E, and also has ample levels of iron and calcium, as well as other minerals. Royal Jelly also contains acetylcholine, which is needed to transmit nerve messages from cell to cell. 10-HDA is thought to be its major therapeutic constituent as it has been shown to have antitumor activity. Because Royal Jelly contains a wide variety of nutrients that are essential to proper health and organ function, it is very easy to see how it can help assist fertility.

Dosage: 500 – 3000mg per day, half in the morning and half at night.  Please, I hate to state the obvious, but if you are allergic to bees, then DO NOT take royal jelly or any bee products.

Myo-Inositol

Myo-inositol is now routinely recommended for women with PCOS because it appears to restore normal ovulation, improve egg quality, and prevent gestational diabetes. If you have PCOS, taking a daily myo-inositol supplement for several weeks or months could be the missing link that allows you to become pregnant naturally. Myo-inositol may also improve fertility in women who do not ovulate or who have insulin resistance. There is a possibility that myo-inositol could also reduce miscarriage risk by lowering insulin levels, but further research is needed.

Please note that Myo-inositol should be used with caution if you have schizophrenia or bipolar disorder because there is a theoretical risk of exacerbating manic episodes.

The dose, shown to be effective in clinical studies, is 4 g per day, divided into two doses: half in the morning and half at night.  I take a product called Inofolic, its folic acid and myo-inositol in one. (1 sachet in the morning and 1 sachet at night)

Please don’t buy D-Chiro-inositol – it has not been studied enough but may have just the opposite effect: reducing the number and quality of eggs.  The early studies showing a possible benefit of D-chiro inositol have overshadowed the more recent studies showing that the supplement simply does not work or may do more harm than good.

Omega 3

Flax oil and fish oil are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 acids have been shown to help fertility by helping to regulate hormones in the body, increase cervical mucous, promote ovulation and overall improve the quality of the uterus by increasing the blood flow to the reproductive organs.

Omega-3 fats also contain two acids that are crucial to good health: DHA and EPA. These two acids have been shown to help many forms of disease. Low levels of DHA have been linked to depression and other mental health issues. During pregnancy, a lack of DHA may be associated with premature birth, low birth weight and hyperactivity in children.

Coenzyme Q10

or CoQ10 for short, is a small molecule found in just about every cell in the body, including your eggs. Recent scientific research has revealed just how important this molecule is to preserving egg quality and fertility. Along with many other benefits, adding a CoQ10 supplement may have the potential to prevent or even reverse some of the decline in egg quality that comes with age. Anyone trying to conceive can likely benefit from adding a CoQ10 supplement, but it is particularly helpful if you are in your mid-30s or older, or have fertility problems such as diminished ovarian reserve.

CoQ10 is made in just about every cell in the body, so it is not technically a vitamin, and we do not need to obtain it from foods. But as we age, the body may not be able to make enough CoQ10 to keep up. Some foods do contain a substantial amount of CoQ10, such as sardines, But studies have shown that increasing intake does not make much difference to CoQ10 levels in the body because even the foods with the highest content, such as sardines, really don’t have that much. You would have to eat about three pounds of sardines every day to get the same amount of CoQ10 found in a typical supplement dose.

So to improve your egg quality, a supplement form is really the only practical approach.

So what type ot buy and how much to take?

The standard form in supplements is called ubiquinone. This form is not very soluble, so is not absorbed well. The second form is called ubiquinol. This is the one you want.   More than 95% of the CoQ10 in circulation is in this reduced ubiquinol form,  and that is the form you want to buy because it is more easily absorbed.

If you just see a label that just says “CoQ10” without more information, you have to assume that it is the poorly absorbed ubiquinone because ubiquinol is more expensive to produce. Instead, you should look for the specific word “ubiquinol” on the label, or “active antioxidant form,” or “reduced form.

The dosage should be around 100-200 mg ubiquinol (or 200 -400mg ubiquinone)

Alpha Lipoic Acid

Alpha-lipoic acid is another supplement that has well-established antioxidant properties and therefore benefits egg quality and embryo quality and may lead to a healthy pregnancy for older women.

There is also some evidence that alpha-lipoic acid improves fertility. For example, laboratory studies have found that this antioxidant can improve egg maturation and embryo viability.

The dosage around 600mg per day.  Alpha-lipoic acid may also be better absorbed on an empty stomach, so to get the most from this supplement, you should take it 30 minutes before or 2 hours after eating.