ACUPUNCTURE, HERBS AND PCOS: Herbal Medicines for Treating Metabolic Syndrome: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials


Jang et al, Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2016;2016:5936402

Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine


One of the main concerns with PCOS is elevated insulin levels and abdominal obesity.  A reduction in these is correlated with better ovary function in patients with PCOS.

This review examined the effect of Chinese herbs on such parameters and concluded that they were an effective treatment.


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Effectiveness of acupuncture in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome undergoing in vitro fertilisation or intracytoplasmic sperm injection: a systematic review and meta-analysis


Junyoung Jo and  Yoon Jae Lee, 2017 Acup in Med, online

British Medical Journal; Acupuncture in Medicine


A review of randomly selected and controlled trials that examined the effect of acupuncture on 430 PCOS patients undergoing IVF, indicates that acupuncture (both electro acupuncture and manual acupuncture) improved pregnancy rates and reduced the risk of OHSS. Acupuncture was delivered only during the IVF cycle and did not however improve live birth outcomes in this review. It may be the case that PCOS patients would benefit from continued acupuncture treatment during the pregnancy to improve these outcomes.


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Effectiveness of Abdominal Acupuncture for Patients with Obesity-Type Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Zheng YH et al, Jnl of Alt and Comp Med, 2013 Sep;19(9):740-5. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
When overweight PCOS patients were given acupuncture treatment twice a week for 6 months, using points on the abdomen, they responded better than those given Metformin for the same period of time, in terms of increased frequency of ovulation and weight loss.


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Acupuncture for ovulation induction in polycystic ovary syndrome: A randomized controlled trial.


 Johansson J et al, Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2013 May 1;304(9):E934-43
American Journal of Physiology – Endocrinology and Metabolism 


This trial showed that repeated acupuncture treatments increased ovulation frequency in PCOS patients and abnormally high ovarian and adrenal hormone levels were reduced.



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Effects of acupuncture on the outcome of in vitro fertilisation and intracytoplasmic sperm injection in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome.

Rashidi BH et al, Acupunct Med. 2013; 31(2):151-6 Acupuncture in Medicine (BMJ)
A group of women with PCOS who were undergoing IVF were given 5 acupuncture treatments once they commenced the IVF drugs. Compared to a group who had no acupuncture they produced higher quality embryos but did not achieve a higher pregnancy rate. In our experience PCOS patients require several months of treatment in order to make a noticeable change in hormone levels and ovary activity.


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A systematic review on use of Chinese medicine and acupuncture for treatment of obesity

Sui Y et al, 2012, Vol 3, p 409–430 Obesity Reviews
PCOS patients are not always overweight but for those with insulin resistance getting on top of weight gain can be difficult. This review reports that in terms of weight loss, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are better than placebo and lifestyle interventions and have similar efficacy to antiobesity drugs (including Metformin), but with fewer side effects. This review also noted that those who used acupuncture or Chinese herbal medicine to lose weight had a lower risk of relapse.


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True and Sham Acupuncture Produced Similar Frequency of Ovulation and Improved LH to FSH Ratios in Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Pastore L et al, 2011 Jnl Clin Endocrinol Metab Aug online jc.2011-1126 The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism
A reduction in LH levels and an increase in ovulation frequency was found in PCOS women having acupuncture using either real needling or sham needling (which pricks rather than penetrates the acupuncture points in a manner similar to Japanese acupuncture). As we have seen in a couple of other studies reported on these pages, mild stimulation of acupuncture points without penetration is not an inert control. True acupuncture but not sham acupuncture reduced levels of testosterone and insulin in the women who ovulated.


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Influence of Acupuncture on Infertility in Rats with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

Zhang Wei Yi et al, Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi 2009 (11) 973 Chinese Journal of Integrated Traditional and Western medicine
Studies of animal models with PCOS have elucidated some of the physiological effects of acupuncture on different aspects such as Insulin resistance, hormone levels and ovulation frequency. This study measured ovulation frequency after acupunture by counting the number of blastocysts that had implanted after acupuncture treatment compared to a control group. Acupuncture proved to be an effective treatment to increase the number of blastocysts.


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