Wed Oct 17, 2007 12:34am EDT
HONG KONG, Oct 17 (Reuters) - A study
involving nearly 3,500 women in several countries suggests that Chinese
herbs might be more effective in relieving menstrual cramps than drugs,
acupuncture or heat compression.
Australia-based researchers said herbs not only relieved pain, but
reduced the recurrence of the condition over three months, according to
the Cochrane Library journal.
"All available measures of effectiveness confirmed the overall
superiority of Chinese herbal medicine to placebo, no treatment, NSAIDs
(non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), OCPs (oral contraceptive pill),
acupuncture and heat compression," said lead author Xiaoshu Zhu from the
Centre for Complementary Medicine Research at the University of Western
Period pain affects as many as 50 percent of women of reproductive age
and between 60 percent to 85 percent of teenaged girls, leading to
absences from school and work.
While the cause is still under debate, it is believed to be linked to an
imbalance in ovarian hormones.
Chinese herbal medicine has been used to treat the condition for
hundreds of years and women are increasingly looking for non-drug
The survey involved 39 trials -- 36 in China, and one each in Taiwan,
Japan and the Netherlands.
Participants given herbal concoctions were prescribed herbs that
regulated their 'qi' (energy) and blood, warmed their bodies and boosted
their kidney and liver functions.
In one trial involving 36 women, 53 percent of those who took herbs
reported less pain than usual compared with 26 percent in the placebo
But the researchers said more studies were
needed because of the relatively small numbers of participants in each
of the trials.