London-based Dr Xiao-Ping Zhai is famous for making babies with herbs and twigs. 'That's just a joke by some of the British media,' she laughs, 'I use herbs but not twigs. I don't know where they got that from.' Zhai is a fertility expert who has a practice on Harley Street, internationally recognised for its elite, private health care. Originally from Guangzhou, where she studied Western medicine and specialised in paediatrics, Zhai now uses traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) with remarkable results. 'When I was a young GP, I was curious and open-minded and I saw so many people treated with antibiotics and surgery, which did help them but also left their bodies weakened,' she says. 'Chinese medicine strengthens the organs.' Zhai does not advocate substituting Chinese medicine for antibiotics or surgery but believes TCM 'plays an important role in restoring the body to its optimum function'. After moving to Britain in the late 1980s, the doctor set up a clinic in Chiswick, west London, where she administered to patients with all kinds of ailments. In the early 90s, a distraught couple came to her. They had been trying to have a child for 10 years. After three months of acupuncture and Chinese herbs the woman became pregnant. Soon after, another couple came along who had been trying to conceive for seven years, the woman having had several miscarriages. 'They had tried everything: laparoscopy, IVF [in vitro fertilisation], surgery. Nothing worked.' Again the doctor gave the woman Chinese herbs, along with nutritional and lifestyle advice, and within three months she was pregnant. 'I was stunned that these couples had been through so many medical procedures for so many years and nothing had happened yet they responded so quickly to Chinese medicine,' says Zhai. After carrying out further research, Zhai relocated to Harley Street because 'it's like a medical village, with easy access to major hospitals and laboratories'. These days 'the baby maker', as she is known in Britain, sees up to 80 women a week, some of whom travel from other countries for their appointment with her. Eminent gynaecologists at top London hospitals refer patients to her, many of whom are poor candidates for treatment elsewhere because of a complicated medical history. 'I have a good relationship with many doctors in London. I think they realise integrated medicine is important: that it helps patients. But there is still a lot of resistance when it comes to regulating it. I hope there will be regulation soon. I look forward to that day, for the sake of the patients.' Zhai uses conventional medical methods for testing women, including blood tests, scans and laparoscopic surgery. Then she helps them with Chinese medicine. 'I use a combination of things, not only herbs. For example, some people may have blood stagnation, so you simply have to move the blood and clear the system. Some people may have problems with other internal organs and it takes a little bit longer to clear. 'I've seen so many couples with infertility problems, I just say to them, 'Let's not talk about IVF at the moment, let's try something else first. But I don't rule it out. Some people may need IVF eventually.' Zhai doesn't have children herself because, she says, she's far too busy helping others to make babies: 'I don't really think about it as giving life, I just get on with it. But sometimes when I look at all the successes and read the testimonies on my website [ www.zhaiclinic.com ], it does make me very happy to have helped. It is wonderful really.'