Those of us who have experience in treating endometriosis with Chinese medicine are familiar with the benefits it brings patients in terms of reduced pain and increased fertility. This pilot study, a collaboration between Guangzhou Medical University in China and RMIT university in Melbourne, is particularly interesting to us since it measured objective parameters such as immune factors (antigens and antibodies) shown to be abnormally raised in patients with endometriosis. A course of treatment with Chinese herbs not only improved pain but significantly reduced the levels of these immune factors. This is one way that Chinese medicine may improve fertility in endometriosis.
Background: Secondary dysmenorrhoea associated with endometriosis affects many women and is the leading cause of work and school absenteeism, with considerable impact on quality of life. This study evaluates the possible role of Chinese medicinal herbs in relieving the menstrual pain associated with endometriosis.
Methods: A prospective clinical observational pilot study involving twenty-five patients with endometriosis with Chinese medical diagnosis of stagnation of qi and blood who were recruited at the Guangdong Women’s and Children’s Hospital during the period of January 2004 to December 2006 to participate in a three-month Chinese medicinal herbs study.
Results: Sixteen patients reported nil dysmenorrhoea during the treatment period. The mean CA125 at the study entry was 59.67 ±28.32 u/ml, compared to 34.83 ±16.34 u/ml post-treatment. The positive EMAb before the commencement of treatment was noted in 22 of 25 cases (88%), while 5 of 25 cases (20%) remained positive after treatment.
Conclusion: Short-term administration of Chinese medicinal herbs may be effective in alleviating secondary dysmenorrhoea associated with endometriosis in qi and blood stagnation pattern. It may provide an alternative treatment option for the management of pelvic pain associated with endometriosis and further research in the area is required.
KeyWords endometriosis, Chinese medicine, Chinese medicinal herbs, dysmenorrhoea, pelvic pain, treatment.