Womens Health

Chinese Herbal Medicine

Some good news for endometriosis sufferers has been issued by the researchers at the Cochrane Library. It seems that the ancient Asian medical art of Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) has a salutatory effect on endometriosis symptoms. The Cochrane Researchers performed a systematic review of data on women with endometriosis who underwent laparoscopic surgery to treat their disease.

Fewer Complications

Those women who underwent the surgery and were treated with the Chinese herbal medicine fared just as well as those women who underwent the surgery and were subsequently given standard drug therapy. It was also found that those women who were treated with the herbs had fewer complications and side effects than those treated with conventional medication.

The gynecological condition known as endometriosis affects one in every six women of childbearing age. The disease can cause severe pelvic discomfort as well as painful and irregular menstrual periods. Endometriosis is also a common cause of infertility. Surgery is not always successful in achieving a long-term reduction in symptoms, but medications tend to come with nasty side effects like acne, weight gain, and hot flashes.

More Effective

The researchers at Cochrane undertook to perform the first systematic review of Chinese herbal medicine in the English language. The review revolved around two trials that included a total of 158 female participants. In the first study, Chinese herbal medicine effected a reduction in symptoms on a level comparable with the hormone-based medication gestrinone, but had fewer side effects. In a second study, Chinese herbal medicine was found to be more effective than the hormone-based drug danazol, and had fewer adverse effects.

Lead author of the review, Andrew Flower from the University of Southampton's Complementary Medicine Research Unit, in the UK, issued the following statement, "These findings suggest that Chinese herbs may be just as effective as certain conventional drug treatments for women suffering from endometriosis, but at present we don't have enough evidence to generalize the results."

Poor Techniques

Flowers had wanted to include many more studies on the subject; however, the majority of the 110 studies considered for review had employed poor research techniques and had to be cut from the pool of data. As a result, the researchers have stressed the need for Chinese researchers to use more exacting methods when performing and publishing trials. "Poor quality reporting has the potential to confuse and undermine research in Chinese herbal medicine," says Flower.

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