Growing up in Asia, I had seen my grandmother boiling traditional Chinese medicine in earthen pots. According to her, the brew cures common illnesses and is also a tonic for different organs depending on the ingredients. Recently my team had the opportunity to correspond with Amanda Waaldyk, a doctor of Chinese medicine, acupuncture and fertility in Melbourne, Australia. She shed some light on Chinese herbs, her own journey to motherhood and her range of Chinese herbal fertility teas.
Amanda is amazing in her own right, and her love affair for health and wellness started when she began her university education. Looking at her pictures, I’d assume her to be always in tip-top shape like a Lara Croft. After all, she did complete the toughest one-day cycling challenge in the southern hemisphere, the Cranleigh K4, a non-stop 24-hour 400km endurance bike ride through New Zealand. It’s hard to imagine that she was once extremely underweight and suffering from an addiction.
Source: mzmargz.blogspot.sg (image on left)
Amanda, Angea & its Methodology
According to Amanda, she hit rock bottom at 21, on the verge of a nervous breakdown while locked in an abusive relationship. Determined to save herself, she detoxed for an entire year, incorporating Chinese medicine, acupuncture and Vipassana (a Buddhist form of meditation) to restore her body and healed her soul. Back to school, she completed her 4-year Chinese herbal medicine degree in Victoria University, with another 2 years in acupuncture. She then packed her bags and headed to China to further her studies at various hospitals in Shandong, Hangzhou and Beijing for over a year. Coming home to Melbourne, she founded Angea, a Women’s Health Hub named after the fertility goddess of Australian indigenous mythology (aboriginal Anjea).
At Angea, they advocate The Angea Method™ that can best be described as science meets soulful treatment. It encompasses acupuncture, nutrition, timed intercourse, basal body temperature (ovulation timing), blood tests, Chinese herbal medicine with yoga and meditation. It not just about the mechanics of fertility, but on the whole being. Akin to an athlete training, it creates a body that is aligned mentally and physically to be baby-ready naturally or through IVF.
Dr Amanda with her children, Winnie and Freddie.
Her own conception journey was not smooth sailing. For her first pregnancy, she suffered a damaged ovum. Failure is not in her books. She waited for a year, stopped her endurance sports, quit coffee and started to condition her body to conceive by drinking bone broth and practice daily yoga. She became pregnant shortly after the 12 month pre-conception program and had her first child at 35. Between her first and second child, she also had a miscarriage at six weeks. The rest, as they say; they live happily ever after as a family.
Fertility Herbal Blends
Like the village shaman, Amanda was the ‘in-house medicine-woman’ for friends in university who had big nights and in need of something to sustain them during the day. That was her first herbal blend, “Sunday Recovery”, and it’s based on an ancient remedy a Chinese Emperor used to alleviate hangovers. Having gotten her hands steeped in herbs, her love for them grew and has not stopped researching herbs and mixing them since.
Dr Amanda’s organic wellness herbal teas
Fast forward to present day, her organic wellness range of herbal teas are made with raw Chinese herbs. Spending many hours refining the taste and dosage of individual herbs for each blend, she wants to demystify the notion that “Chinese medicine is mostly known to taste horrible or disgusting”. Her fertility tea blend is one of her most popular for those wanting to conceive or balance hormones. It contains horny goat weed to increase libido in men and women, and incorporates herbs like rose, goji berries, hawthorn berry and red dates. Other blends are created to focus the four phases of menstrual cycle to enhance the function of reproductive organs, hormones production to increase chances of conception.
“I SUFFERED HORRENDOUS MORNING SICKNESS IN MY FIRST PREGNANCY SO I CREATED A SPECIFIC MORNING SICKNESS BLEND FOR EARLY STAGES OF PREGNANCY AND ALSO BREAST FEEDING TEA DESIGNED TO SUPPORT LACTATION AND BOOST MILK PRODUCTION.”
Efficacy of Chinese Herbs
Left to right: Chaste Tree, Wild Yam, Dang Gui (source: louisvillecommunityacupuncture.com), Astralagus, Goji berries (source: overwade13.rssing.com)
Several herbs have undergone scientific research to establish their benefits in regulating the menstrual cycle, enhancing fertility, ovarian reserve and improving fertility outcomes. These are some common Chinese herbs and their abbreviated usage:
Chaste Tree (Vitex) is known to increase progesterone levels which supports the immediate phase following ovulation and embryo development.
Wild Yam (Discorea) has been used to manage painful menstruation, cramps or nausea in pregnancy. It has been used as a natural alternative to oestrogen replacement therapy to treat postmenopausal vaginal dryness, PMS and increase libido in men and women.
Dang Gui has proven to have similar effects in regulating menstruation and relieving menstrual pain. In one study, it shows a 76% rate of effectiveness.
Astragalus. Here’s one for men. The liquid extract of astragalus plant has a significant stimulatory effect on sperm mobility in test-tube. Fingers crossed on how it fares on human trials.
Gou Ji Zi (goji berry) is included in most fertility-promoting Chinese herbal remedies. Known for its high levels of antioxidants, goji berries have been seen to improve reproductive function.
Whole is Greater than Sum of its Parts
In traditional Chinese medicine practice, these herbs are formulated and compounded together, taking into account their individual therapeutic dosage and noting how they compliment each other. Amanda said, “drinking fertility herbs is just as much about good health and nutrition, as it is about enhancing your hormones and fertility.”
It’s been a long journey, and her path of motherhood is only at its early stages. Amanda had experienced the lowest of lows, and in the wonderment of life and motherhood, she found the energy to lift herself to towering highs where she is grateful for every single moment.
To learn more about Dr Amanda and Angea, click angea.com.au here