Oriental Medicine Reproductive Health

Prevent Miscarriage with Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Herbal Formula  -​Infertility Treatment with Traditional Chinese Medicine in China 
(Published on RESOLVE Mid-Atlantic Region)By Yun Brown, PhD, LAc  

​Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has been used for 2,000 years in China. TCM uses acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicinals to treat diseases and disorders based on the theory of Yin-Yang balance and many years of natural life observation. It has a long history of use in treating infertility, promoting hormonal regulation and follicular development, and improving semen quality. In this article, we will review four clinical trials of treating luteal phase defect (LPD) and recurrent miscarriage in China from 2004 to 2005.Treating Luteal Phase Defect with TCM in amount or duration, or both, affects approximately 15% of the population of childbearing age. [Editors' note: A luteal phase is the time in a woman's cycle between ovulation and menstruation when a fertilized egg travels from the fallopian tube and into the uterus for implantation. For more information on lutealn phase defect, please see the RESOLVE website, www.resolve.org ].

​Supplemental progesterone therapy before implantation and continued into early pregnancy may help couples experiencing LPD to achieve a successful pregnancy outcome.  But administering progesterone does not cure LPD. The following clinical trials tested acupuncture and  TCM decoction (or herbal mixture) as a cure for LPD. Overall, participating couples experienced an 88% rate of ovulation and the rate of pregnancy was 53-56%.
Clinic Trial One: 60 patients of LPD treatment with Traditional Chinese medicinal decoction,Jing-Ping Xu, New Journal Of Traditional Chinese Medicine, November, 2005, 37(11), 69-70,
​Sixty infertility patients with luteal phase defect were treated with herbs to tonify the kidney and regulate the menstrual cycle. Before treatment, the patients’ progesterone levels were less than or equal to 32 nmol/L. (Progestron levels at 16- 48 nmol /L are considered LPD). After treatment, 53 of the patients had progesterone levels of 48 - 61 nmol/L. The pregnancy rate in the total group was 53.3%.

Clinic Trial Two: Controlled study on acupuncture in treatment of endocrine dysfuntonal infertility,Yang Jiruo, Chinese Acupuncture & Moxibustion May 2005, 25 (5), 299 - 300

​Two hundred and forty infertility patients were randomly divided into groups treated with acupuncture (n=160) or clomiphene (clomid) (n=80). Participating patients were between the ages of 22-36, and had reported infertility for 2-8 years or more.
In addition, they were evaluated according to the World Health Organization Infertile Sterile Diagnostic Standard. All patients basal body temperature (BBT) are single-phase within 3 months meaning they are not showing an increase in temperature associated with ovulation and have low progesterone levels (less than 5ng).
​The acupuncture group started their treatment on menstruation cycle day 12th, continuing for 10 days. Major acupuncture points were: Guilai (St 29), GuanYuan (CV 4), ZiGong (EX- CAI), Zhongji (CV 3), HeGu (LU 4), SanYin Jiao (Sp 6), ZuSanLi (St 36). The Clomiphene group took 50 mg of Clomid orally beginning on menstrual cycle day 5, for 5 days.

The results of this study show that out of 160 acupuncture patients, 142 (or 88%) had a ​ bi-phase BBT (or increase in basal body temperature that indicated ovulation) and an increase in progesterone greater than l0 ng/ml corresponding to the onset of ovulation, or the phenomenon of becoming pregnant. For the clomiphene patients, 58 out of 80 (or 72.5%) experienced ovulation. The pregnancy rate was 65.0% in the acupuncture group and 45 % in the clomiphene group.Miscarriage Treatment with Shou-Tai decoction.

Recurrent miscarriage is a devastating reproductive problem. Twenty to forty percenr of the women with recurrent miscarriage are suffering from luteal-phase defects (LPD). Miscarriage associates the recurrent deficiency of progesterone secretion by the corpus luteum. LPD can cause both follicular and luteal phase abnormalities.

​Following clinical research on 200 pregnant patients who have experienced a previous spontaneous miscarriage, Dr. Kashanian indicates in Gynecologic and Obstetric Investigation, Jan 20, 2006 "A prior spontaneous miscarriage is a risk for the next pregnancy, and the risk of abortion and intrauterine fetal death will increase. Therefore, careful prenatal care is mandatory."In China, Shou-Tai decoction is the first choice to prevent threatened miscarriage and habitual miscarriage. The main ingredients are:  Herba Taxilli; Colla Corii Asini; Radix Dipsaci; and Cuscutae Semen. According to Dr. John Chen's book, Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology, these four ingredients can be used for uterine bleeding during pregnancy, to support pregnancy, and to prevent miscarriage.

Clinic Trial Three: Threatened miscarriage treatment with Shou-Tai decoction (58 patients), Yue-Chan Liu, Academic Journal of Guang Zhou Medical College, Sep. 2004, 32 (3), 91-92
​In this study, 58 patients between the ages of 20 and 36, who have a history of one or two miscarriages take Shou-Tai decoction every day until the symptoms of threatened miscarriage disappeared. After treatment, 38 patients are cured of their symptoms and maintain their normal pregnancy and 15 patients have less bleeding while maintaining a normal pregnancy. Total rate of efficiency is 91.3%. Through follow up, the babies do not appear to be affected by the decoction, and there are no deformities.

Clinic Trial Four: Shou-Tai decoction treat 105 patients of  habitual miscarriageHua Feng, Henan Traditional Chinese Medicine, Nov. 2005, 25 (11),-49
In this clinical trial, 158 patients ranging in age from 26 to 36, most with a history of 3 to 6 miscarriages are divided into two groups. 105 patients are assigned to the treatment group and 53 patients are in the control group. The treatment group takes Shou-Tai decoction and the control group takes a progesterone injection of 125mg, once a day and an HCG injection 500u, once every other day. These therapies continue until the patient is past the miscarriage date of the last pregnancy.The results of this study found that patients taking the Shou-Tai decoction had better success preventing miscarriage than the progesterone/HCG combination group. In the treatment group, 99 of 105 patients (or 94%) maintain their pregnancies and have a live birth. In the control group, 40 of 53 patients (or 75%) maintained their pregnancies and have a live birth.

​By reviewing these studies, I hope to show how acupuncture and TCM decoction have shown positive outcomes when treating LPD infertility and miscarriage.