Acupuncture/ pressureChinese Medicine

Treating primary dysmenorrhea with Chinese herbal medicine

The Cochrane Library tells us, “Conventional treatment for primary dysmenorrhea (PD) has a failure rate of 20% to 25% and may be contraindicated or not tolerated by some women. Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) may be a suitable alternative.”

Here’s what they found as reported by MedPage Today.

  • 39 studies of 3475 women were reviewed.
  • Most studies used complicated herbal formulas with more than 5 herbs including Danggui (Chinese angelica root), Chuanxiong (Szechuan lovage root), Chishao (red peony root), and Baishao (white peony root), in a traditional cooked decoction.
  • Herbal interventions were usually started 5 to 7 days before menstruation and continued for about 10 to 15 days — until the first or second day of menstruation or throughout menstruation.

And, the results.

  • CHM resulted in significant improvements in pain relief, overall symptoms, and use of additional medication compared to pharmaceutical drugs.
  • CHM also resulted in better pain relief than acupuncture and heat compression.
  • It was not possible to conclude that one herbal was better than another.

The bottom line?
The authors concluded there was “promising evidence supporting the use of CHM for primary dysmenorrhea; however, results are limited by the poor methodological quality of the included trials.”

10/19/07 20:19 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.