Supplements to take when trying to conceive

Both men and women can optimise their chances of conceiving by following a healthy eating regime that stocks up a range of important nutrients in the body.

It’s also important for both men and women to stop smoking and drinking before trying to conceive to give their bodies the best possible chance of producing healthy eggs and sperm and, of course, a healthy baby.

What about my diet? Eating a variety of wholefoods, fresh vegetables, healthy fats and protein is essential. If you or your partner need help quitting smoking or eating better, we can help. Do you need to supplement in pill form?

Ask yourself these questions first:

  • Do you skip one meal or more a day?
  • Do you have a food allergy or intolerance?
  • Do you have dark circles under your eyes?
  • Are you under a lot of stress at home or at work on a regular basis?
  • Do you eat a lot of processed foods?
  • Do you eat at least 2 servings of fruits a day?
  • Do you eat at least 3 servings of vegetables a day?
  • Do you get sick often?
  • During your menses do you have dark blood, cramps, or blood clots?
  • Do you get enough sleep?
  • Do you eat at least one dark leafy green a day?

There lies your answer.


The Bare Essentials: – Supplements recommended if you’re healthy, and below 35 years old

  • Folic Acid. You can buy a 500mcg form of folic acid at your local chemist. $11 will give you a few months supply.
  • Iodine. Is essential for healthy thyroid function. Which affects progesterone production in a woman. Which affects fertility. Australian soils are generally depleted of iodine. So unless you’re eating lots of seaweed, which most of us don’t, supplementing is a good idea.
  • Vit D (if your levels have been low in the last 2 years).
  • Iron (if your levels are currently low)

Extra Support: – recommended if you’ve had some fertility or menstrual issues

  • Vit D. Even if your levels are within normal range. Vit D is what many of our hormones are made from. Healthy hormones mean healthier menstrual cycles mean better fertility.
  • Zinc– benefits our immune system and improves egg AND sperm quality
  • Vitamin C– benefits our immune system and improves egg AND sperm quality.
  • Vitamin E– An antioxidant nutrient helpful for egg AND sperm quality. You can take Vit E in pill form or consume foods like almonds and sunflower seeds.
  • B complex– helps our nervous system. Let’s face it, trying to conceive it stressful. Let’s give our nervous system a helping hand.

Optimal Support: – recommended if you or your partner are over 35 years old

  • Co Q10 – Improves egg AND sperm quality
  • Royal Jelly– Can improve egg AND sperm quality


What about him? If there is a him on the scene, his nutritional certainly counts. You will find conflicting opinions about this. But seriously, it takes a sperm and an egg to make a baby. The healthier both parents are, the healthier the sperm & eggs will be and the healthier baby will be made. This is putting it lightly. I could go on about epigenetics and what our nutritional status means for what genes (including those that carry inherited diseases) are switched on or switched off to pass to the next generation. But that’s a big conversation best left to another day. Join our blog here if you want in.

Why bother?

Let’s just say that the work you put into improving your health and nutritional status before you conceive, is worth it. Which means that ideally, we are working on preparing ourselves to conceive at least 3 months before even trying. Any self-respecting gardener knows that soil preparation and quality seed are the key ingredients for a healthy plant harvest.  We would do well to prepare to bring human life into the world in a similar fashion.

We stock all the above supplements at Freedom Chinese Medicine in Ivanhoe. In high quality form. We also offer practitioners who hold exceptional knowledge & experience in helping people conceive. We’d be happy to help you, so feel free to contact if you have any questions or need extra help.


Written by:

Dr Elaine Hickman

B.H.Sc.TCM (Acupuncture), Cert.Cl.Ac. (Beijing)

Elaine has trained and worked in various settings, both in Australia and China.  She has over 20 years experience in treating many health problems.  Elaine loves to provide a health care experience for people that is respectful, effective, empowering and enjoyable.  Elaine’s acupuncture treatments are gentle, powerful, amazingly relaxing and incorporate Japanese & Chinese techniques, as well as Medical Qi Gong if appropriate.  Elaine has a particular interest in Gynaecology, Fertility, Obstetrics, Family Medicine, Wellness promotion and Mental Health.

She runs a private practice in Ivanhoe and is the trusted family physician of many. Elaine is a registered Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). She completed a Bachelor of Health Science – TCM, specialising in Acupuncture, and a hospital internship in China in 1998. Elaine is the Principal Practitioner at Freedom Chinese Medicine, managing a dedicated team of practitioners & staff, and supervises many TCM students in clinical training. Elaine’s passion for Chinese Medicine has her regularly furthering her education, Qi Gong training and sharing knowledge.








Optimal Health

What if you are not sick, but not well? Do you feel sluggish, stressed out, run down, tired or frustrated? Do you want to feel lighter, freer, relaxed, happier, and more vibrant? We can help. Chinese medicine works wonders at boosting well-being on many levels. And it doesn’t usually take many visits to get you there. And once you’re feeling and looking your best, maintenance is simple.


What is optimal health? It is just the absence of disease and symptoms? Could it be to achieve and maintain a sense of well-being? Feeling like you have an abundance of vitality perhaps. A sense of peace and calm. Do you remember what it was like to feel at your optimum health? To have the energy to do whatever it is that you want to.

Do you sleep well, breathe well, look well, move well, digest well, whilst feeling calm and centred? You can feel that good. You deserve to feel that good! Yes there may be some ill health to remedy first, but it is possible. At Freedom Chinese Medicine, we are happy to be part of the wellness profession, happy to have helped thousands of people reach their optimal health for over 15 years.

What does Wellness Care Involve?

  1. Getting you as well as you can be or want to be.  
  2. Maintaining your optimal health with monthly or quarterly check up & tune ups

wellness careWe use whatever tools necessary to help people work through their health issues. Whether it be an Eastern or Western approach, or a combination, what matters is what works for you. At Freedom Chinese Medicine, we offer natural, effective, holistic and practical solutions for your health problems using the ancient and powerful methods of Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Medicine, Laser Acupuncture, Acupressure, Chinese Remedial Massage, Cupping, Moxibustion, Dietary Therapy, Medical Qi Gong, Health Counselling and Coaching. If you need another approach, we will happily point you in the right direction. What matters is helping you have the best health possible. We will help you deal with your specific issue, but also look forward to see what more can be done to help them feel better and prevent those problems from recurring.

How often do you see your dentist? Most people see their dentist once every six months. That’s maintenance care. How often do you take your car in for a lube-oil-filter? Every 5,000 kilometres. That’s maintenance care. Ongoing, maintenance care has a clear value. Keeping your teeth clean prevents cavities and saves a lot of pain and expense on dental work. A tune-up every so often is a lot cheaper than waiting until something goes wrong and you need new parts.

Do you know how high medical costs can be? One of the best things about seeing a Chinese Medicine practitioner is their ability to detect an imbalance in your body system, before it becomes a bigger problem.  If you are generally well and look after yourself, this could involve coming in for a check up every 3 months. The change of season in Melbourne is a perfect time. When was your last tune up?


Yours in optimal health,

Dr. Elaine Hickman

B.H.Sc. TCM (Acupuncture), Cert.Cl.Ac (Beijing)

Registered Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Elaine has trained and worked in various settings, both in Australia and China.  She has over 20 years experience in treating many health problems.  Elaine loves to provide a health care experience for people that is respectful, effective, empowering and enjoyable.

Elaine is the Principal Practitioner at Freedom Chinese Medicine in Ivanhoe. Leading a dedicated team of practitioners & staff, and supervising many TCM students in clinical training. Elaine’s passion for Chinese Medicine has her regularly furthering her education, Qi Gong training and sharing knowledge.

Slow-cooked Chicken Casserole

It’s a great time to use your slow cooker or crock pot. Here is an easy, tasty & healthy slow-cooker recipe. I’ve made this 2 weeks in a row, I just improvised with the vegies & flavours so they were different enough!

Serves 5-6


1.5 kg chicken pieces

2 carrots, sliced

2 onions, sliced

2 stalks celery, sliced

salt & pepper to taste

1/2 cup chicken broth or white wine

3/4 teaspoon basil or oregano


Place half the carrots, onion and celery in the bottom of the slow cooker. Add the chicken, salt, pepper, liquid and remaining vegetables. Sprinkle with herbs. Cover and cook on (Auto) for 6-7 hours.


Pumpkin & Sage Soup

This simple pumpkin & sage soup recipe is rich in beta-carotene, and is strengthening for the spleen. If you are not a fan of sage, use thyme or resemary instead. Leave some chunks in the soup when pureeing for more body and feel free to add some dark leafy greens for added vitamins and minerals.

Prep time: 10 mins

Cook Time: 30 mins


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut in 1″ chunks
  • 1 medium butternut pumpkin, peeled, seeded and chopped in 1″ chunks
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 cups vegetable stock or water
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

To serve:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • sage leaves



Heat olive oil in a soup pot over medium flame. Add onions, carrot, celery, shallot and age, and cook 5 minutes, until onions are translucent.

Add sweet potato and pumpkin, and cook 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add bay leaf and stock, bring to boil, then cover and simmer 30 minutes, until pumpkin is very tender.

Remove soup from heat. Discard bay leaf and puree soup with vertical blender. Season to taste, and add more liquid if necessary.

To serve: heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium high flame. Add sage leaves and cook until leaves are crispy and sizzling, about one minute. Garnish individual bowls of soup with a leaf and a drizzle of the oil.

Acupuncture for Arthritis

It is a known way to relieve pain in people, and now the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, Rhode Island, is one of the first in the country to try acupuncture on a giraffe.

A nearly 2,000-pound patient named Sukari suffers from arthritis. Click below to see her getting an acupuncture treatment.


Natural Pain Relief

An Australian trial of Acupuncture in our hospitals has found the therapy is just as effective as drugs when it comes to relieving pain.

A trial of 500 patients showed that 80% of those who received the therapy said that it worked, a slightly better result than those who received traditional pain killers.


Bean Polenta Bake

This is a favourite in my household. Easy, nutritious, tasty & gluten free!

Serves 4


1 cup dried black beans

4 cups water

1.5 tsp salt

1 cup polenta

1/12 cup sliced green onion

2 cup garlic jack cheese (or cheddar) grated

½ pt. fresh salsa

½ can chopped green chillies


Cook beans. Refrigerate. In a large pot, bring 4 cups of water to a boil, add salt, add cornmeal slowly, stirring constantly. Cook 20 minutes or until thick enough to leave the sides of the pan. Mix in green onion and half of cheese. Pour half of this mixture into an 9” x 3 “ pan. Spread salsa over mixture, then black beans (drained), then chillies, then remaining cheese. Pour rest of polenta on top. Bake at 3500(F) for 20 mins. Let cool before cutting into servings.

Turmeric Elixir recipe

Helpful for reducing inflammation in the body. Whether it be arthritis, tendinitis, gastritis, colitis, or any other itis really. And it tastes pretty good. Better for you than a turmeric latte!


5 turmeric roots (the size of your finger) – amount that fits into your palm
1 large ginger root (size of your hand)
3 organic whole lemons (skin and all)
2 tbls organic honey
1 litre spring water
Add a few peppercorns or pinch of cayenne pepper
Cold pressed coconut oil

Juice the turmeric, ginger and lemons, then blend the honey with a hand held mixer or food processor, then top up with 1 litre of water (filtered ideally). Have 1 inch of liquid in glass topped up with boiling water (drink warm) with 1 tsp coconut oil, first thing in the morning and in the evening if you feel inclined.

Grilled Mandarins for Chesty Cough

Mandarin and tangerine peels have been used in Chinese medicine for centuries.

They are added to medicines and recipes for their properties in:

• Stopping cough
• Dissolving phlegm
• Stopping vomiting and diarrhoea (minor effect)

As mandarins come into season, and coughs start spreading through the community, this can be a great and easy “food-medicine” to get back to good health. It’s also a yummy snack to have warm.

Grilling the mandarins will release some of the oils in the citrus peel into the fruit. This way, you can eat the fruit and benefit from the phenolic compounds found in the peel.

Grilled Mandarins for Chesty Cough in 3 simple steps:


1. Grill mandarins over a naked flame for 2-5 minutes


2. Allow to cool for 5 minutes



3. Peel and eat the fruit


Research has shown that citrus oils contain phenolic compounds that:

• Reduce blood triglyceride levels (great for managing diabetes)
• Reduce total blood cholesterol levels (great for heart disease)
• Contain antioxidants (to fight cancer causing damage)
• Contain a wide range of other functions that can be anti-allergic, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral.

Written by Dr. Christine Lee 

Acupuncturist & Chinese Herbalist

Dr Christine Lee has been practising as an acupuncturist and a Chinese herbalist since 2008. She graduated RMIT with a double degree in Applied Science (Chinese Medicine and Human Biology) and has completed further studies and a hospital internship in Nanjing, China.

Christine has extensive experience working in acupuncture general practice. She has worked with a broad range of patients: from children to seniors, from athletes to people with severe disability or complex chronic illnesses. She has special interest in treating women’s health, senior’s health, digestion, mental health and pain conditions.

Click here to read more about Christine or to book in.



Beef, Vegetable & Barley Soup

Hearty & Nutritious!

Serves 8


2 tbs olive oil,

500g beef check steak, cut into 2 cm cubes

1 large onion, finely chopped

3 teaspoons sweet paprika

3 carrots, peeled, cut into 1 cm cubes

2 swede, peeled, cut into 1 cm cubes

2 sticks celery, thinly sliced diagonally

8 cups chicken stock

1 cup pearl barley



  1. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large, deep saucepan over medium-high heat. Add beef (in batches if needed) and cook for 3-4 minutes or until browned. Transfer to a plate.
  2. Add remaining oil and onion to pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until tender. Add paprika and cook for 1 minute. Add carrots, swede, celery,, stock, 6 cups water, barley and beef. Bring to the boil. Skim any scum. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 75 – 90 mins or until tender. Season with salt and pepper.

Note: This soup is freezing friendly. Can freeze it for up to 3 months. Handy for a quick, filling meal in winter!