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Chinese Herbs for Miscarriage Recovery

Updated: Apr 20, 2023

Written by Eduardo Velasco Valido, AP, LAc, EAMP

and edited by Meg Frodel AP, LAc, EAMP

Miscarriage in Traditional Chinese medicine

According to Chinese medicine, miscarriages can be very hard on the mother. Miscarriage is considered to be as depleting for a woman as childbirth, with many doctors believing it to be even more physiologically and psychologically taxing than giving birth. This is because there can be more blood loss during miscarriage than during birth. Loss of pregnancy can also produce serious hormonal imbalances. In addition, miscarriage, especially a late one, is a complex emotional experience with intense feelings of loss and grief.

Common causes of miscarriages:

Between 10 and 20 % of pregnancies end in early miscarriage, before the 20th week. Typically, these miscarriages occur due to issues with the developing fetus.

According to Western medicine:

Miscarriage is defined as spontaneous abortion without medical or mechanical means to terminate a pregnancy before the fetus is sufficiently developed to survive. (2)

Miscarriage in the first trimester commonly occurs due to an issue with the fetus. If a baby is lost during the third trimester, it is usually due to the mother's health issues.

Risk of Having miscarriages IN the first trimester

  • Chromosomal abnormalities

  • Placenta issues

  • Maternal age; women over 45 have a 50% chance of having miscarriages, and over 10% of women in their thirties.

  • Obesity

  • Alcohol

  • Caffeine

  • Drugs

common causes of miscarriage after the first trimester

  • Getting infections; like Malaria, Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, etc.

  • Food poisoning; eating contaminated food.

  • Some medical conditions; like diabetes, kidney diseases, lupus, etc Side effects of some medications, like ibuprofen, misoprostol (for stomach ulcers), or retinoids ( used for skin conditions like acne or eczema).

  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome; is a leading cause of infertility and increases risk of miscarriage.

  • Weakened Cervix, usually due to previous surgeries.

False ideas about miscarriage:

This is a list of common misconceptions about what causes miscarriage during pregnancy:

  • Flying in an airplane

  • Stress and anxiety

  • Exercise

  • Having sex

  • Lifting

  • Eating spicy food

  • Working

Recurrent miscarriage conceptions:

A miscarriage can be fairly normal, and doesn't necessarily indicate fertility issues.

Recurrent miscarriage is considered after three consecutive pregnancy loss. Around 1 in every 100 women suffers from recurrent miscarriage; but with acupuncture, and Chinese Medicine treatment, most of these women will be able to help prevent miscarriage and carry a healthy pregnancy to term.

Common causes of miscarriage according to Traditional Chinese medicine:

The major causes of threatened miscarriage include “Kidney Deficiency,” “Qi Deficiency,” “Blood Deficiency,” “Blood Heat,” “External Injury,” and “Wei Jia” (refers to ectopic pregnancy, which is considered a cause of threatened miscarriage in Chinese Medicine). (1)

In Chinese medicine, the risk of recurrent miscarriage is called "Restless Fetus Syndrome."

The most common cause in Chinese medicine of threatened miscarriage is what we call 'kidney deficiency'. In the Chinese tradition, the Kidney is the body's battery, and in addition to governing urination and filtering the blood, it is in charge of our bones, our energy, fertility, low back, and knees, etc.

Chinese medicine also differentiates between the 'kidney qi' pathology of the mother and of the fetus:

1- Due to the fetus:

The fetus can not develop healthfully due to a lack of what we call 'Original Qi'. This Qi is inherited by their parents (genetics), so these issues are due to a weak constitution within the father or the mother or both.

2- Due to the mother pathologies:

The mother's body constitutions, emotional behavior, lifestyle, previous illness symptoms, etc., will determine the quality of the pregnancy and the chance of loss of pregnancy.

These are the most common maternal pathologies that can cause miscarriage:

2.1- Kidney deficiency:

This may be due to a weak constitution or an unhealthy lifestyle. This weakness inhibits the capacity of the 'Chong Mai' and the 'Ren Mai' to nourish the fetus. This will produce hormonal imbalances and will increase the probability of threatened miscarriage.

2.2- Blood deficiency:

This may be due to a lack of self-care, poor diet, and digestive issues: causing diminished nutrition to the fetus. Typically this reduced blood flow also makes it more difficult to conceive and have a healthy pregnancy and will increase the risk of miscarriage.

2.3- Blood - heat:

In TCM, blood heat may produce heavy vaginal bleeding, disturbing the pregnancy. 'Blood heat' can also be related to viral or bacterial infections, which also affect the health of a pregnancy.

2.4- Blood stasis:

Blood stasis in TCM also may cause miscarriage and vaginal bleeding. The origin of this blood flow issue may be an emotional imbalance, old abdominal surgery, old traumas, or a Heart- Kidney disharmony (a traditional Chinese medicine diagnosis).

Prevent miscarriage with Traditional Chinese Medicine

Chinese medicine has been evolving for more than four thousand years. It has a long history and an excellent reputation for treating and promoting fertility and, of course, treating miscarriage.

There are so many studies proving its efficacy.

For example, this is a systematic review of more than 300,000 studies,

This systematic review concluded that "the overall effectiveness rate of acupuncture and Chinese medicine in the treatment of threatened miscarriage was over 90%".

It concludes, "In most of the articles of literature, Chinese medicine is 90% effective, and our meta-analysis also supports the therapeutic application of Chinese medicines."

We have to add that it is very complicated to research Chinese medicine and acupuncture in the same way as Western medicine since TCM does not treat syndromes or illnesses.

TCM focuses on treating the pattern of presentation in the patient rather than treating the disease.

Different patterns may produce the same illnesses, and different diseases may be produced by the same patterns, depending on the patient's characteristics.

Once the pattern is successfully treated, the patient will recover their balance and be healthy again...including having a healthy pregnancy.

Treatment of miscarriage with Chinese Medicine

Chinese medical approach to the treatment of miscarriage is to focus on the underlying causes and correct them.

We first advise the woman to stop trying to get pregnant for a minimum of three months. The Chinese medical strategy is that we must clean all the uterine stasis (including endometriosis, cysts and fibroids), reduce inflammation systemically, and then tonify or strengthen her.

Once the treatment is complete, she will be in a much better position to have a healthy pregnancy, without any risk of miscarriage.

Examples of Chinese medical treatment to prevent miscarriage:

Here are some possible treatment approaches to some common causes of miscarriage:

Kidney yin deficiency:

The patient would be prone to having a history of multiple miscarriages; and could also have symptoms of dizziness or tinnitus, night sweats, burnout syndrome, backaches or knee pains, or general weakness and fatigue.

- The TCM treatment should focus on nourishing her Kidney Yin and Liver Blood and tonifying Ren and Chong channels with herbs and acupuncture treatments.

- Possible prescriptions:

Herbal formulas like Zuo Gui Wan or Er Zhi Wan; acupuncture points like Kid 3, Lu 7 + Kid 6, Ren 4, St 36, are indicated.

- The patient should avoid spicy or hot flavors like coffee, red wine, and black tea; and should focus on neutral, cooling foods like duck, oysters, pears, cabbage, asparagus, rice, black sesame, walnuts, goat's milk, etc.

Kidney yang deficiency

In addition to a history of recurrent miscarriages, the patient might also be prone to suffering low back pain, depression, cold feet, loose morning stools, low energy, etc.

- The treatment should be focused on tonify and warming the Kidney, warming the Uterus, and consolidating Ren and Chong channels with Chinese herbs and acupuncture.

- Possible prescriptions:

We could use herbal formulas like You Gui Wan or Bu Shen Gu Chong Wan, and acupuncture points, including burning moxa on Du 4 and Bl 52, needles in kid 3, Bl 23, Ren 6, etc.

- The patient should avoid cold foods, frozen foods, raw foods, salads, juices, sugar, alcohol, etc; and should focus on eating warming foods like smoked fish, lamb, duck, vegetables like fennel, or cabbage prepared with warming spices, onions, root vegetables, ginger, garlic, cinnamon, etc.

Spleen qi deficiency

In addition to persistent miscarriages, the patient will be tired, with poor appetite, loose stools, gas, bloating, brain fog, craving sweets, susceptibility to infections, etc.

- The treatment should focus on tonify the Spleen and Ren Channel and 'raising the Qi' with acupuncture and Chinese herbs.

- Possible prescriptions:

If the patient has a pure Spleen Qi deficiency, Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang or Gu Ben Zhi Beng Tang is indicated; and we may use acupuncture points like Ren 12, Sp 6, Sp 3, Bl 20, St 36, REn 6, etc.

- The patient should avoid cold and raw foods, sweets, cold beverages, cucumbers, salads, oranges, bananas, etc; and eat instead neutral warming foods like poultry broth, lamb, venison, beef, pumpkins, carrots, sweet potatoes, onions, fennel tea, chai tea, licorice tea, walnuts, hazelnuts, aniseed, millet, rice, etc.

Blood heat

In addition to the history of miscarriages, the patient may suffer from some of the following signs: painful menstruation with excessive bleeding, skin diseases with itchiness, anxiety, headaches, dark urine, insomnia, red eyes, bitter taste in the mouth, etc.

- The TCM treatment should focus on clearing heat, regulating the period, and cooling the Blood.

- Possible prescriptions:

TCM practitioners would use formulas like Jia Wei Xiao Yao San or Long Dan Xie Gan Tang; and acupuncture points like Sp 10, Li 11, Bl 17, Kid 2, Kid 6, Liv 2, etc.

- The patient should avoid warming foods, acid, hot and bitter flavors, alcohol, seasoned foods, fatty and oily cooking, coffee, etc.

The patient should focus on eating cool and raw foods, rhubarb, watermelons, tropical fruits, cucumbers, celery, yogurt, dandelion, etc.

Blood deficiency

In addition to the miscarriage, the patient may also feel dizziness, have blurred vision, insomnia, a scanty period, dry skin, depression, cramps, amenorrhea, tremors, weakness, etc.

- The TCM treatment would focus on nourishing blood, the kidney, the Liver, and tonify Chong Mai.

- Possible prescriptions:

It would include formulas like Si Wu Tang or Ba Zhen Tang; and acupuncture points like Lu7, Kid 6, Liv 8, Bl 23, St 36, Sp 6, Du 20, etc.

- The patient should avoid hot and warm foods, acrid spices, coffee, alcohol, smoking, and eat poultry, duck, liver, crab, lychee, plums, longans, green vegetables, sprouts, carrot, rice, parsley, sesame, egg yolk, etc.

Blood stasis

In addition to the recurrent miscarriage, this patient would have painful or irregular periods with clots, abdominal pain, and sharp localized pain.

- The TCM practitioner should be focused on warming the uterus, increasing the blood flow, and tonify the Kidney.

- Possible prescriptions:

The classic Chinese herbal formula for blood stasis in the abdomen is Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang, and acupuncture can help using points like Ren 4, Sp 4, Sp 6, Sp 10, Liv 3, Bl 17, and Bl 23, with needles and also moxibustion.

- In this case, nutritional advice for blood stasis would be to avoid any processed food or sweets and eat plenty of dark green vegetables and grass-fed meats. These foods are good in general to move the blood; Chinese leek, deer, and vinegar.

A good Chinese medical practitioner and acupuncturist can promote blood flow with herbs and acupuncture to increase circulation in the entire body.

If you need more information about miscarriage or fertility in general, reach out to us on our website:

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