Multiple Miscarriage, Infertility and the Use of Herbal Medicine
Both anticoagulants and antiplatelet mitigators are medicines that reduce blood clotting in an artery, a vein or the heart.
Heparin and Lovenox are anticoagulants and aspirin is an antiplatelet. Antiplatelets such as aspirin decreases platelet aggregation and thrombus formation. They are mostly used in problems with arterial circulation where anticoagulants have little effect.
Anticoagulant medications make the blood ‘thinner’ and prevent the formation of blood clots and hence could prevent stroke. Both anticoagulants and antiplatelet medications have been used to treat chronic recurrent miscarriage due to thrombophilic disease.
There are several herbal medicines which possess antiplatelet and anticoagulant properties.
Jiang Huang and Yu Jin are herbs that possess antiplatelet properties. Chuan xiong has both anticoagulant and antiplatelet properties.
I am not recommending that a patient with a thrombophilic presentation use herbs instead of Western medicine which possess the required qualities necessary to prevent miscarriage via anticoagulant or antiplatelet activity. Sometimes however, a drug does not possess the same qualities of an herb. An herbal formula, for example, has a multitiered effect. The correct formula might for example, be used to reduce inflammation, reduce platelet aggregation and/or reduce coagulopathies as well as reduce stress, strengthen the immune function and help facilitate weight loss in an obese patient. All of these things would be required in a patient of this type to increase the odds of a successful on-going pregnancy; not just Heparin or Lovenox or Aspirin. This is important to consider in case you miscarry even when taking these types of meds.
A patient may need more intervention than these traditional Western medications are capable of providing.
Patients should follow the instructions of their reproductive endocrinologist However, in the face of failure with traditional Western medical approaches, trying herbs may help contribute to a full term pregnancy. In my practice I have seen this occur multiple times.
Many patients faced with the difficult challenge of trying to conceive or who recurrently miscarry are instructed by their reproductive endocrinologists not to take herbs. This is because their doctor is trying to protect the patient. Western trained physicians with no education in Chinese medicine typically may not feel comfortable mixing Western medical techniques and practices with herbs. It is my experience and training in Chinese medicine as a board certified heralist that herbs can complement Western medications and patients who otherwise lost pregnancies can carry to term.
Herbs do not reduce the effectiveness of the medications nor, in most cases increase the potency. The only exception to this would occur herbs were prescribed in conjuction with medication that have anticoagulant/antiplateleet properties such as Lovenox or Heparin. This could present a potentiating and possibly dangerous effect.
Acupuncture can increase metabolic function and stimulate the flow of blood throughout the body. Increasing hemodynamics is not, however the same as actually reducing platelet aggregation or reducing hypercoagulation. The benefit of using acupuncture with herbs is that the acupuncture will help ensure the distribution of the herbs throughout the body.
Typically when Western medical techiques for treating infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss fail, is to combine acupuncture, herbs and Western medicine to create a synergistic and complementary affect.
When seeking to use herbal medications be certain that a board certified herbalist is prescribing.