By: Dr. Roger C. Hirsh, OMD, L.Ac.
Preparing to have children is perhaps a new concept for an optimistic couple in a modern world. Why "prepare" to have children? Why is there ever a problem? Getting pregnant should be as easy as falling off a log at the Saturday office picnic in spring. Yet one in five couples over the age of 30 have difficulty conceiving after a year of trying. Couples over 40 risk ease of conception and birth challenges for the whole family. What are the causes, why the heartache, what can I do to retain my reproductive health and health options even if I am single? These questions are ancient and have been addressed for centuries by countless physicians, relatives, mystics, and parents to be. These questions are answered by traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) in an altruistic way. A way that defines health as a positive relationship between people, nature and the environment. It is this relationship of harmony and wellness that encourages people to connect with who they are and how they can be successful in their lives and quest for having a family.
In a 2000-year-old TCM health treatise (Chin Shih Huang Di Nei Jing) that encompasses 80 volumes of intricate and arguable yet definitive text, it states that the reason man has fallen from perfect health, and in this case ease of having healthy children, is that he or she has severed their roots from Tao (Dao). It indicates that if we live righteously we should be able to live to 120 years old. There are documented histories of people that have rarified existences that do indeed live to be this old and older. So what happened? Average life expectancy is still only in the 70's. Where did we go astray? What energetic legacy have we given our children?
For generations we have been dispersing our precious life force, Qi (chee), by living what we consider a carefree life. However, carefree actually has meant "care less" and we aren't the only ones who are guilty of this neglect. Even 2000 years ago people were not paying attention to the connection between their inner self-understanding and their relationship with nature. They were not paying attention to their forefathers and the lessons of history that preceded them. You see, there is a price we pay for everything. Some prices are easy to pay, some are not. Some price tags are obvious, some are hidden. Preventative medicine aspires to make one aware of hidden price tags so that payments will be affordable. Hence Qi Gong.
Qi Gong is an exercise process of gathering and storing energy from nature. Connecting just as Thoreau did at Walden Pond to the surrounding environmental and seasonal bliss of nature. This achieved harmony and internal cleansing through cultivating energy with Qi Gong can also support longevity. There are many varied yet specific purposes for cultivating different energies with Qi Gong exercise. Stress management is one that easily comes to mind however treating internal diseases such as cancers, hepatitis C, coronary heart disease and even macular degeneration have significant medical support literature.
Reproductive care Qi Gong is very specific and has been a long studied and useful tradition in TCM. However it is rarely ever taught in western culture as it is considered both sacred and powerful. The techniques are deceivingly simple and very effective in attuning and tonifying the ever aging reproductive system of both men and women. While there are systems that enhance sexual prowess for both men and women the reproductive Qi Gong specifically enhances the couples health and energy for bearing children. Granted, sexual prowess and orgasmic bliss may be welcomed side benefits, they are not the sole purpose of this practice.
Women in their 20's and 30's need to be concerned with preparing their bodies to have healthy children. Dealing with infertility type pathologies was once not a concern but due to prevalent toxic ecological environments the concern is growing. Food additives, junk food and the toxicity of fertility enhancing drugs all wear torridly at the health objective. Qi Gong helps the body's blood and energy (Qi) circulation as well as the body's ability to process toxins. It is applicable and safe even for a woman that is only days pregnant. For a woman that is going through an IVF or other assisted reproductive procedure to conceive Qi Gong can make the difference between the success or failure of a reproductive cycle.
Women in their 40's experience obvious hormonal and peri menopausal changes that become apparent in their daily life. Missed periods, flooding periods, high FSH, endometriosis, weight gain, facial line creasing around the lips, vaginal dryness, infertility, even PMS symptoms seem to begin as the hormonal system begins to wain. For men andropause or male menopause is a scoffed at myth, however creativity, lumbar pain, impotence and erectile dysfunction (ED) issues present themselves with an aging hormonal system proving that men must practice preventative Qi Gong.
The complete reproductive Qi Gong practice is larger than the scope of this article, however there are three preliminary exercises that will be able to ignite the fire of the process and thereby start the aspirant on the way to fulfillment of their goal.
Three Reproductive Qi Gong Exercises
Stand with feet shoulder width apart outside facing south, or where feels right. Wear loose clothing and practice between 7-9 AM or 7-9 PM. Outside is best in a clean serine and favorite place like at the beach, lake, flower garden or even just a clean and clear favorite place. Complete and decide everything about your life so as to walk into your circle of training with clarity, purpose and sincerity.
This last bit may take you a minute or two, to come to resolution, persevere. If you have to change your decision at a later date, so be it. For the moment however, complete. Now you are ready.
Swing your arms at your sides up to the height of your mouth. Swing them in unison and relaxed. Try to be loose, as you want the Qi to flow while you are opening the chest. Do this for at least 100 x. As with so many other exercises more is better. If you work up to a 1000 x's, this practice can on its own help a cardiovascular problem, There is also a connection between the heart and the uterus that helps a woman ready herself for conception.
Shake off your hands as if there were water on them. Do this in front of your abdomen. Shake your hands in a relaxed manner and slowly at first, then more vigorously. Shake them till they are warm, 100 x's. or 2-3 minutes should suffice. Make them buzz.
Rub your kidneys with your palms. There is a connection between your palms and your kidneys. The palms have to do with your Heart Qi (lao gong point) and they can balance the hormonal system with the kidney (renal/adrenal) energy and function (Bl 23). Do this 100 x's. Work up to this number, as at first your shoulders may get sore. More is better. 1000 times is fantastic.
Do this rubbing after intercourse is also good as it replenishes the Qi after, thereby putting "money in the bank". For men this daily practice alone can help maintain erection capability, prostate health, and stave off premature ejaculation. Don't expect miracles for less than 120 days of focused practice. A little sweat is an indication that the Qi is going to the right place.
Then stand for a moment and take account of yourself. This series of three exercises can be done several times a day. It is also good for raising sperm count, and motility if done for the prescribed time. It is also a lifetime longevity practice; teach it to your parents.
About the Author
Dr. Roger C. Hirsh, OMD, L.Ac. holds a doctorate in oriental medicine, and is a licensed and practicing acupuncturist and herbalist. He has practiced whole person medicine, and taught Tai Chi Chuan in Europe and Mexico for several years before returning to America in 1978. For the last 20 years he has worked to establish the specialization of regenerative health care within the conventional western medical model and to integrate diverse Eastern and Western medical traditions in this work. As an Honors graduate of the International College of Oriental Medicine (B.Ac.)(London,1976), he received his Doctorate in Oriental Medicine (O.M.D.)(1984) with a specialty in Constitutional Medicine. After a 3,000 hour postgraduate internship he joined the Center for Orthomolecular Medicine in Palo Alto, California (1982) where he practiced acupuncture and herbal medicine for several years as a member of a six physician team that established leading protocols for holistic medicine. It was within this period of time that Dr. Hirsh served as an adjunct faculty member of the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, the California Acupuncture College and Emperor's College of Traditional Chinese Medicine and was one of the founders and secretary of the California Acupuncture Association.