According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), qi is translated to something similar to “the circulating life force.” It's said that the Qi leads the blood and should be spent wisely. The concept of qi goes by many names around the world. It’s called “prana” or shakti in India, “ki” in Japan, “pneuma” in Greece. Qi Deficiency of the Kidney, Liver, Spleen, and/ or Pancreas often lead to feeling exhausted and burnt out. This is due to the hormonal imbalance that is the result of this pattern. Western herbalists and functional medicine practitioners refer to this as adrenal insufficiency.
Most women I come across trying to conceive have some level of adrenal burnout or Yang Qi deficiency. Not only does yang qi deplete naturally as we age, we over spend it when we burn the candle at both ends- you know overwork & overplay. I'm guilty for sure. When I first entered graduate school I could barely find my Kidney Yang pulse. It was sooooo depleted from climbing the corporate ladder, staying up way too late, running marathons, and ruminating way too long on making a major life transition. All the things I thought were good for me and important were draining my very life force. It was quite empowering to learn that I had control of how I spent this energy and that were ways to try and replenish what I already squandered.
Here are 6 actions you more than likely have control over that you can change to optimize your Yang Qi to enhance your fertility and feel full of energy.
- Prioritize Sleep- 8-10 hours has been shown to increase emotional stability, reactions to stress and enhance fertility. If you can't sleep, rest. The hours of 9pm-11pm are the most lucrative for fertility in terms of TCM. Even getting into bed and reading a book or taking a bath can help if you can't seem to get to bed that early.
- Reduce toxic load to the liver. The liver does most of it's work at night. If you aren't sleeping or it is continually backed up with a barrage of toxins from everyday products, alcohol, hormone disruptors in unclean meats or products containing genetically modified substances (corn, soy, gluten) the liver will become qi deficient from shear overload and cause hormonal imbalance, typically estrogen dominance which can not only affect fertility, but increase your odds for cancer. Don't forget, being around people that drain you or cause you great deals of stress can also drain the Qi of the liver.
- Take steps to reduce stress and emotional reactivity. A great way to do this is with a daily gratitude practice (shown to increase oxytocin, "the love hormone," or to start a meditation habit. There's plenty of free options over here.
- Exercise for 30 minutes a day, however, don't over do the intensity when you are in moderate to extreme qi deficient states. This can deplete your qi more than it generates it through circulation. Think yoga, tai chi, walking the furball, or pilates. If cardio is your thing, keep your heart rate in the 70% of max range (light sweat & able to freely converse). If you are trying to conceive, make sure it's non-impact past your fertile window in the luteal phase of your cycle.
- Use food as medicine. Consume healthy fats like avocados, coconut oil, all seeds, small amounts of nuts, and clean sources of grass fed butter. Make sure meats are grass fed, wild caught, not fed antibiotics, hormones, or fed GMO foods. Include as many colors of the rainbow as possible when it comes to veggies and fruits, and make the most of them cooked and organic when possible. Avoid frozen or overly cold foods, gluten, excessive amounts of dairy and processed foods that typically contain GMO's.
- Consider supplementing with herbal medicine from the adaptagen department. Herbs like Ashwaganda, Astragalus, Holy Basil, Rhodiola, and Licorice are some of favorites for restoring Yang Qi sooner than later. The coolest thing about them is that change your response to stress so that over time you have less of a physiological effect, meaning stress doesn't take a physical toll on your body as much.
How do you know if you are Yang Qi Deficient or experiencing Adrenal Burnout? Take my quiz here to find out just how much life force you are operating with.
Even if you're not ready to conceive, it never hurts to start preserving your fertility by taking better care of your energy.