Chinese herbs best for period pain relief: review
CHINESE herbal medicines offer greater pain relief to women with primary dysmenorrhoea than do other treatments, a new Cochrane review suggests.The meta-analysis of 39 randomised controlled trials, involving 3475 women with primary dysmenorrhoea, measured the efficacy of Chinese herbal medicines, placebo, no treatment, conventional medicines, and other alternative treatments, including heat compression and massage.
After three months, women who used Chinese herbal remedies had an estimated twofold improvement in pain relief and other menstruation-related symptoms.
They also achieved a reduction in the use of additional analgesics when compared to those using conventional medicines such as oral contraceptives and NSAIDs.
Chinese herbs also provided better pain relief than other alternative treatments such as acupuncture and heat. In addition, the reviewers could identify no significant adverse effects from their use when compared to conventional medicines.
However, the reviewers cautioned that further research was needed due to “the generally low methodological quality of the included studies”.
A number of the trials compared the effect of individually tailored remedies to a standard treatment formula, but no advantage for either was found, the reviewers said (Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2007, issue 4).
The majority of the trials used a traditional cooked formula of five or more herbs taken five to seven days before menstruation.
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