Traditional Chinese herbal medicines can help relieve the pain of endometriosis as well as the prescription drugs normally used, and they also cause fewer side effects. British researchers who reviewed two trials that included a total of 158 women found that a preparation of Chinese herbs provided relief comparable to the drug gestrinone with fewer side effects. They also reported that another Chinese herbal formula was more effective than the hormonal drug danazol and also caused fewer side effects.
In both cases the combination of Chinese herbs were given after the women had undergone laparoscopic surgery for endometriosis. Standard drug treatments for this gynecological disorder can cause hot flashes, acne and weight gain. The investigators concluded that these particular combinations of Chinese herbs appear to be as effective as conventional drug treatments for women with endometriosis, although the lead researcher said that additional evidence from other studies is needed to confirm the findings of the two they reviewed.
Endometriosis affects as many as one in six women of reproductive age. It can cause pelvic pain, irregular and painful periods and infertility. Current conventional treatments - both drugs and surgery - don't always help long-term. The review of the two studies was published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews and published online this past July, 2009.