Polyhydramios and Chinese Medicine

polyhydramios and Chinese Medicine

Polyhydramnios: What is it and how can acupuncture and Chinese Medicine treat it.

Polyhydramnios is a condition in which the fluid in the uterus surrounding the fetus (the amniotic fluid) becomes excessive. It occurs in about 1% of all pregnancies. The majority of these cases present as mild, generally building up fluid in the latter half of the second trimester. These mild cases often resolve on their own without the need of medical intervention however in some situations the fluid build up can present as more severe leading to the possibility of complications such as:

-Increased risk of cord prolapse with ruptured membranes (when the water breaks)

-Abnormal fetal presentation

-Pre-term labour

-Dysfunctional labour

-Placental abruption

-Postpartum hemorrhage.

In many cases the causes for polyhydramnios are idiopathic (unknown) and the best form of prevention is to ensure quality prenatal care and treatment of uncontrolled gestational diabetes if present.


Some of the known causes include:

-Gestational diabetes,

-A defect in the baby’s GI tract or nervous system,

-Identical twin- twin transfusion (where the blood distribution between twins is uneven),

-A lack of red blood cells in baby

-Blood incompatibilities between mother and baby. 


The main treatment for this condition in western medicine is rest. In severe cases the fluid may be drained through amniocentesis however usually this only resolves the issue temporarily and fluid can return quickly. In these cases, if the pregnancy is past 37 weeks, induction of labour may be considered to prevent complications.

This is an area where acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can be of great help. In addition to rest we can provide tools that can best help the body’s ability to reabsorb and seep out the excess fluids on its own. To treat this condition in Chinese Medicine we look to improve the digestion as well as the body’s other mechanisms of absorption, separation and transformation of fluids such as the kidneys.  We take an in-depth look at all the ways foods and fluids are entering and leaving the body. We look to see if the woman is experiencing an increased thirst or perhaps a lack of thirst. Is the digestion sluggish or are the stools too loose? Is there inhibited urination or excessive urination? When these functions are impaired the body loses its ability to properly transform and distribute fluids leading to an inappropriate accumulation. Whether using herbal medicine or acupuncture the intention has less to do with creating a diuretic effect and more about improving the impaired areas to create an absorbing and percolating one. We do this so that the excess amniotic fluid is not only reduced but also prevented from returning.


Chinese Medicine also has a long tradition of using food as medicine. Below is a common and effective food cure used for polyhydramnios.

      RECIPE #1

1 lbs carp fish –skinned and boned

120 of Daikon, or white Radish

Place ingredients in a sufficient amount of water to boil

Reduce to a simmer until fish and daikon are cooked.

(Strain the broth and watch out for fish bones)

Drink the broth as a tea and eat the fish and daikon. Repeat daily for 1 week


The carp fish has the special property of improving the body’s absorption mechanisms while the radish is used in this recipe for its ability to seep out excess fluids.



For a more elaborate recipe see below:



5-8 center-cut big head carp filets, boned and skinned

1 white radish

2 tbsps of chopped scallion

4  slices of fresh ginger peeled

2 tbsps of vegetable oil

2 cups of water

1 tbsp of cornstarch mixed with ½ cup of water



2 tbsps of light soy sauce

2  tbsp of rice vinegar

1tbsp of Chinese rice wine or dry sherry

1 tbsp of ground black pepper

2 tsps.  of white sugar or to taste



  • 1-Before cooking rinse the white radish through running water then cut into 1 inch cubes and set aside for later
  • 2-Add 2 tbsps of vegetable oil in a wok preheat on medium high once hot sauté scallion and ginger until aromatic
  • 3-Add filets and continue to cook for 1 minute then stir in 2 tbls of soy, 1 tbsp of Chinese rice wine, 2 tablespoons of sugar and the white radish cubes.
  • 4-Pour in 1 cup of water and bring to a simmer over low heat. Once nearly done ad 2 tbls of rice vinegar the cornstarch water mixture.
  • 5-Taste and season with salt to taste. Garnish with chopped scallion and black pepper


Shannon Larson