To date there is not a lot of research published on the treatment of endometriosis with Chinese medicine that meets the standard required for us to draw firm conclusions on efficacy. One review has analysed findings from 10 small trials that used acupuncture to treat endometriosis pain, and randomised controlled trials have examined the use of chinese medicine to prevent recurrence and to improve pregnancy rates after surgery. A large review has analysed the effect of acupuncture on dysmenorrhoea and is included here since pelvic pain from any source is considered to represent a blockage and must be addressed in a fertility consultation.
Rui-hua Zhao et al, 2020, Chin J Int Med volume 26, pages92–99
Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine
In this trial 100 women who underwent laparoscopic surgery for endometriosis were treated with chinese herbal medicine to promote fertility for the subsequent 6 cycles. Another group of women were followed but received no treatment after their laparoscopy. The women taking the Chinese herbs had a higher pregnancy and live birth rate than the control group.
Woo, Hye Lin KMD et al, Med: 2018 Volume 97 Issue 23 – p e11007
This review finds that acupuncture treatment of dysmenorrhoea confers benefit compared with NSAIDs or no treatment.
Patients (over 3000) with primary dysmenorrhoea (not pain from endometriosis) were included in this systematic review. In Chinese medicine terms pain indicates stagnation or blockage, and is one of the first things addressed in a fertility consultation whether diagnosed as endometriosis or dysmenorrhoea. .
Yang Xu et al 2107 PLOS ONE doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0186616
While further studies are warranted before clinical recommendations are made, this systematic review found in the trials analysed (involving 589 women) that acupuncture reduces endometriosis pain and serum CA-125 levels
Zhao RH et al, Chin J Integr Med 2013 Nov;19(11):820-825
Chinese Journal of Integrated Medicine
A randomised and controlled trial (involving 200 women) studied the prevention of recurrence of endometriosis after surgery and showed that Chinese medicine was as effective a therapy as western pharmaceuticals in preventing recurrence but had significantly fewer side effects. Chinese medicine achieved a higher conception rate in women who had previously been infertile.
Kong S et al, Volume (2014), Article ID 146383, 16 pages Evidence-Based Comp and Altern Med
Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
This lengthy review compares results of treatment of endometriosis with acupuncture or herbal therapies and pharmaceutical or surgical approaches. A number of therapies, including using Chinese herbs per rectum, were found to obtain relief from symptoms of endometriosis, but without the side effects caused by drugs or surgery.
The authors conclude that the active principle of such therapies has a strong foundation but that standardisation of techniques and larger RCTs are needed.