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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 568106, 19 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/568106
Review Article

Efficacy and Side Effects of Chinese Herbal Medicine for Menopausal Symptoms: A Critical Review

1Gynecology Department, Yueyang Integrated Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine Hospital of Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai 200437, China
2HanseMerkur Traditional Chinese Medicine Centre, University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf, 20246 Hamburg, Germany
3Department of Internal Medicine, University Teaching Hospital Itzehoe, 25524 Itzehoe, Germany
4Clinical Evaluation Centre, Longhua Hospital of Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai 200032, China
5Technology Information Centre, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai 201203, China
6Gynecology Department, Shuguang Hospital of Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai 200021, China
7Laboratory for Research and Diagnostics, Departments of Maxillofacial Surgery and Neurology, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Martinistraβe 52, 20246 Hamburg, Germany

Received 27 July 2012; Accepted 3 October 2012

Academic Editor: V. C. N. Wong

Copyright © 2012 Lian-Wei Xu et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

This study evaluates 23 (9 Chinese and 14 non-Chinese) randomized controlled trials for efficacy and side effects of Chinese herbal medicine on menopausal symptoms. Menopause was diagnosed according to western medicine criteria in all studies while seven Chinese studies and one non-Chinese study further stratified the participants using traditional Chinese medical diagnosis “Zheng differentiation.” Efficacy was reported by all 9 Chinese and 9/14 non-Chinese papers. Side effects and adverse events were generally mild and infrequent. Only ten severe adverse events were reported, two with possible association with the therapy. CHM did not increase the endometrial thickness, a common side effect of hormone therapy. None of the studies investigated long-term side effects. Critical analysis revealed that (1) high-quality studies on efficacy of Chinese herbal medicine for menopausal syndrome are rare and have the drawback of lacking traditional Chinese medicine diagnosis (Zheng-differentiation). (2) Chinese herbal medicine may be effective for at least some menopausal symptoms while side effects are likely less than hormone therapy. (3) All these findings need to be confirmed in further well-designed comprehensive studies meeting the standard of evidence-based medicine and including Zheng-differentiation of traditional Chinese medicine.