Chinese herbs may relieve menstrual cramps better than drugs, acupuncture, or heat compression, Australia-based researchers found after studying nearly 3,500 women in several countries.
Along with relieving pain, Chinese herbs also reduced the recurrence of cramps over a three-month period.
In the study, women were given herbal concoctions to regulate their “qi” (energy) and blood, warm their bodies, and boost their kidney and liver functions. Herbs in the study included, but were not limited to:
2. Szechuan lovage root
3. Red peony root, white peony root
4. Chinese motherwort
5. Cinnamon bark
In one trial, 53 percent of the women who took herbs had less pain, compared with 26 percent in the placebo group.
The Chinese herbs were more effective than non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), oral contraceptive pills, acupuncture, heat compressions, placebos, or no treatment at all.
Chinese herbal medicine has been used to treat menstrual pain for hundreds of years. Up to 50 percent of women of reproductive age experience period pain that leads to absences from school and work.
Since relatively small numbers of participants were included in each trial in the study, the researchers recommended further research to confirm their findings.