Australian researchers, conducting a study with nearly 3,500 women in several countries compared the effectiveness of Chinese herbal medicine to other therapies, and a placebo in relieving menstrual cramps. Menstrual pain effects half of all women, and an even larger percentage of teenage girls.
The lead author Xiaoshu Zhu from the Centre for Complementary Medicine Research at the University of Western Sydney, said the trials confirmed the effectiveness of Chinese herbs over NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories) Heat treatment, placebo, no treatment, and interestingly, even acupuncture. Significantly, the researches found the treatments to reduce the recurrence of the pain for over three months.
A new German study released this February showed that acupuncture can help relieve menstrual pain. The study comprised of 201 women compared acupuncture to a group receiving no treatments. Although the researchers admitted there was no control group, such as a group receiving “sham acupuncture,” they still felt the study was able to show the benefits of acupuncture in treating dysmenorrhea, and recommended it be made available through the health-care system. The research was published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Although larger and more thorough studies need to be done, these two western studies confirm what I see in my clinical practice daily. Chinese medicine and acupuncture excels at treating menstrual cramps for both woman and teenage girls. I am not surprised the herbs edged out acupuncture in the first study. Herbs can be taken in advance of the pain, which can do a great deal in preventing it’s onset. In addition, certain types of severe pain that we acupuncturists refer to as “blood stasis,” will respond better to herbs, especially when given over time.
I do find acupuncture quite effective for other types of menstrual pain, especially if a patient comes in complaining of cramps or low back pain. It can usually be greatly improved by the end of the session.