Medscape and Chinese herbal medications

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Here are parts of the review:
Results of The Cochrane Review. Regardless of these study limitations, Chinese herbal medications were generally effective against dysmenorrhea. Herbal medications were approximately twice as likely to improve pain compared with conventional therapy. In particular, Meiguihua (Rosa rugosa Thunb) was demonstrated to reduce dysmenorrhea-associated symptoms (pain, stress, and anxiety) over a 6-month time course:

Chinese herbal medications can also be rapidly effective against dysmenorrhea; one trial demonstrated an analgesic effect within 30 minutes. There was evidence as well that Chinese herbal medications may reduce patients’ use of other analgesic medications for dysmenorrhea.

Chinese herbal medications were superior to over-the-counter health supplements in improving dysmenorrhea. A tailored herbal regimen was more than twice as likely to improve dysmenorrhea as a routine herbal preparation available without a prescription. However, the lack of standardization of herbal preparations and t that there was little confirmatory research to establish the efficacy of a specific herbal remedy precluded any recommendation for a particular treatment regimen. Chinese herbal medication was also found to be superior to acupuncture for dysmenorrhea in 2 trials.

Adverse events associated with study therapy were reported in only 8 of the 39 trials. There were no significant events found with either Chinese herbal medications or the comparator agents.

How to apply the results of this meta-analysis in Western medical practice is a difficult dilemma. First, the methodologic limitations of these studies must be considered. More practically speaking, it seems clear that some experience with Chinese herbal medications would be necessary before effectively prescribing these treatments for dysmenorrhea. Although the herbal formulas may be generally effective, they involve multiple agents in each treatment regimen, and this regimen appears to be most effective when it is individualized to each patient’s symptoms.


Traditional Chinese medicine has proven itself through the test of time, and it has much to offer patients around the world. However, the previous studies of the efficacy of Chinese herbal medications as well as the current review of herbal preparations for dysmenorrhea highlight the difficulty of translating medical treatment across cultures. The currently available research is not only limited regarding methodology in determining the efficacy of Chinese herbal medications, but also of importance, many of these studies do not adequately address concerns regarding tolerability and safety.

More high-quality research focused on Chinese herbal medications is forthcoming, but until that time, it appears that the most prudent approach for the incorporation of these medications in clinical practice is to partner with a practitioner who has significant experience in their use. The wealth of experience and knowledge accumulated over time is the strength of traditional Chinese medicine, and healthcare providers should build relationships and treatment teams with experienced providers to provide the most complete and effective care for a variety of patient conditions.
It is important to understand that to get the most out of a Chinese herbal formula, a patient MUST receive a comprehensive evaluation by a LICENSED ACUPUNCTURIST/HERBALIST because such a practitioner would have received the absolute training in what is required of making the appropriate diagnosis, which leads to the appropriate, individualized Chinese herbal prescription.  If the patient wants efficacy in the shortest time possible, then it is necessary to consult a competent practitioner of Chinese medicine.
The fact that Medscape published such a report is exciting news!

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