A/Prof Tan Thiam Chye, Dr Tan Kim Teng, Dr Tan Heng Hao and A/Prof John Tee Chee Seng from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at KK Women's and Children's Hospital discuss the use of traditonal chinese medicine during pregnancy.
Using traditional Chinese medicine in pregnancy
Traditional Chinese medicine: What is it?
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM)is the practice of therapeutic knowledge which originated from 3,000 years of clinical experience based on observation and diagnosis. TCM treats a person as an integral biological system and maintains that symptoms of diseases do not usually happen alone.
TCM aims to stimulate the body's natural healing potential by treating the root cause of the problem and normalising the body's internal biological balance.
Typically, a woman will experience menstruation, pregnancy, delivery as well as breast-feeding at different stages of her life. Tradtional Chinese medicine mainly helps to maintain a good and healthy female reproductive system, and attempts to treat any ailments early to prevent further pathological changes.
"Qi" is a kind of life force or energy in the human body that relates to the most basic and minute biological substances and also preserves life.
In TCM, the most important organs that govern the regulation of qi and blood are the liver, spleen, and kidneys. The liver is responsible for maintaining a smooth and even flow of blood and qi in the body. If the liver malfunctions, it will result in menstrual disorders.
The spleen is the main "factory" which generates blood and qi. If the spleen is not functioning, there will be deficiencies in blood and qi. This may in turn disrupt the regular menstrual cycles. On the other hand, the kidneys play a big role in excreting biological waste products and water from the body.
Traditional Chinese medicine and habitual miscarriages
A miscarriage may be triggered by several factors, which greatly depend on the health status of both the mother and the foetus. A miscarriage may also be related to an unhealthy lifestyle including excessive alcohol intake and smoking. If three consecutive miscarriages occur, it is known as habitual (recurrent) miscarriage.
In TCM, treatments include replenishing the qi, nourishing the blood and strengthening the physiological functions of the spleen. To replenish the body's qi and nourish the blood reserves, the mother needs to have a nutritious diet and consume foods such as broccoli, spinach, soya beans and milk. In addition, she should have adequate rest with moderate exercise, such as tai chi, yoga, frequent slow walks or just simple stretching movements. This ensures the smooth flow of qi and blood in the body. There are old grandmother's healthy concoctions in TCM, such as red date tea and ginger tea, for the day-to-day well being of mothers. These teas help to slowly replenish and nourish the qi and blood in the body.
Red Date Tea (300 ml)
6 pieces of red dates
2 slices of fresh ginger
Boil the red dates for 10 minutes and then simmer for another 15 minutes.
Add the two slices of fresh ginger while the drink is still hot. Leave to cool to about room temperature before consumption.
Ginger Tea (300 ml)
3–4 slices of fresh ginger
Brown sugar (amount as desired)
Boil the fresh ginger for 5–10 minutes and simmer for another five minutes. Add the brown sugar while the drink is still hot. Leave to cool to about room temperature before consumption.
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