One question we often get at DAO Labs is how can Chinese medicine increase chances of conception? We do recommend a variety of Chinese medicine healing modalities but I find that diet is one of the easiest ways you can actively participate in impacting your fertility outcome. An anti-inflammatory, nutrient-rich diet that consists of whole foods, vegetable oils (olive, coconut), vegetables, fish, and legumes, with a low intake of snacks containing sugar and salt is a good place to start. Inflammation is believed to be a contributing factor in infertility; it's widely agreed that women who suffer from fertility conditions would benefit from a diet that is low in sugar and refined carbohydrates.
Jing – essence is stored in the kidney and determines vitality, resistance to disease and longevity which is former essence or inherited essence, this is supplemented by later or acquired essence which is the air we breath as well as the food and drink we consume. Essence derived from food is transformed into Qi and blood, when Qi accumulates it becomes shen or spirit. Spirit is the Qi accumulated in our heart which manifests as our consciousness or our mental and emotional state. Excessive thinking, worrying or overall emotionality consumes large amounts of stored Qi and essence, it becomes clear that having a healthy mental attitude is important. Damage to the jing or essence of food from effects of genetic engineering could cause imbalance with our growth and development, not just fertility but immunity, vitality, aging, hormonal function and your spiritual awareness as well. The importance of proper diet and good digestion is important in Chinese theory for these reasons, along with a balance of physical activity and rest as well as mental relaxation so we do not use our essence, Qi or spirit too quickly.
Kidney Relationship to Infertility
Kidneys are seen as the foundation of the body, specifically the lower part of the body including sexual organs and their reproductive organs. The adrenals are located near the kidney and make kidney activities possible. Reproductive imbalances can be caused by kidney imbalances.
Problems with kidneys can show up in specific physical areas of the body, its emotions as well as its development patterns.
Kidney Yang Deficiency
Indicates that the warming and energizing function of the kidney is inadequate and has symptoms such as: Aching lower back and weak knees, cold extremities, weak bladder, pale frequent urine, loose stools, edema in lower body, impotence in men and infertility in women, poor spirit with lack of will power and direction including indecisiveness.
The spleen supplies the kidney yang and makes possible the efficient digestion and absorption of yang nutrition that enriches the kidney yang. Thus, many kidney yang deficiencies cannot be cured without an improvement to digestive fire.
Prepare your own meals and eat mindfully, use ingredients such as whole grains, roasted nuts, black beans and leafy greens.
Yang tonics tend to be sweet, pungent and warming.
The philosophy behind a warming diet in Chinese theory is that it builds the body’s qi (energy) and blood to have the strength to conceive, and carry a pregnancy through to the goal of having a healthy baby. A warming diet also helps focus Qi and Blood circulation on the lower abdomen which contains the reproductive organs and enhances fertility. A warming diet means consuming foods that are lightly cooked, as well as warm-propertied such as garlic, cinnamon, onions etc. Beans are typically neutral but black beans are warming, support stomach, spleen and kidneys. Counteract dampness. Strengthen kidneys and adrenals and promote physical growth and development.
Knowing which foods to avoid is as important as which to consume.
Avoid: intoxicants such as alcohol, cigarettes, coffee and others. Limit stress and overreacting emotionally. Avoid an abundance of cooling foods and raw foods as this puts out your digestive fire. Keep in mind that some cooling ingredients can help provide a bit of balance, it is a mistake to think the hotter the better, if we heat ourselves so much that we sweat, then energy is lost and we begin to cool. Yin and yang convert into one another at their extremes.
This black bean recipe will supplement the digestive fire and encourage warm circulation in the body. It is a riff on Cincinnati chili and has plenty of warming spices to enrich your kidney yang and energize your Qi.
Cocoa Accented Black Bean Chili
About 6 servings
Prep Time / Cook Time
10 minutes/ 30 minutes
- 1 oz Olive Oil
- 1 Onion
- 1 Green Bell Pepper
- 3-4 Garlic Cloves
- 1 Tablespoon Cocoa Powder
- ½ Teaspoon Cinnamon
- ½ Teaspoon Allspice
- 3-4 Bay Leaves
- ½ Teaspoon Cumin
- ½ Teaspoon Coriander
- 1 Teaspoon Chili Powder
- 1 Teaspoon Smoked Paprika
- ½ Teaspoon Cayenne
- ½ Teaspoon Black Pepper
- ½ Teaspoon Sea Salt
- 16 oz Diced Tomato
- 8 oz Tomato Sauce
- 24 oz Chicken Stock
- 25-30 oz Black beans
- 1.5 oz Walnuts roasted
- 2 Tablespoons Cider Vinegar
Slice onion and green pepper and saute with the olive oil until the onions and peppers begin to break down, add garlic and continue cooking a few minutes. Add the dry spices and continue cooking to begin to toast the spices a bit and things begin to become aromatic. Add rest of ingredients and bring to a boil, reduce heat slightly and simmer until all ingredients come together nicely. Remove about two cups of the soup and puree in a blender or processor until smooth then add back into the soup and stir to combine. Adjust seasoning to taste.
Garnish with more onion, walnuts and cilantro.
Want to learn more about how Chinese medicine can help with fertility and specifically women's health? You might enjoy this article: Eat Warm Foods to Optimize Your Cycle.
The recipes on The Way are intended as an East meets West look at food and its relationship to health and nutrition. Food is powerful, and every bite can either greatly benefit your system or effectively work against it. In Chinese Medicine, each grain, vegetable, meat, fruit, and spice has unique properties that can be harnessed to help us achieve and maintain balance in our bodies. Our recipes seek to incorporate some of the age-old principles of Chinese medicine into the culinary practices more familiar to the West.