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With Comments by Adriane Fugh-Berman, MD
September 2001; Volume 3; 72
Source: Davis SR, et al. The effects of Chinese medicinal herbs on postmenopausal vasomotor symptoms of Australian women. A randomized controlled trial. Med J Aust 2001;174:68-71.
Design/Setting/Subjects: A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial in 78 (55 completed) postmenopausal non-Asian, Australian women recruited from an urban population.
Treatment: The Chinese herbal formula contained a daily dose of Reh-mannia glutinosa 15 g, Cornus officinalis 10 g, Dioscorea opposita 12 g, Alisma orientalis 8 g, Paeonia suffruticosa 8 g, Poria cocos 12 g, Citrus reticulata 5 g, Lycium chinensis 20 g, Albizzia julibrissin 15 g, Zizyphus jujuba 10 g, Eclipta prostrata 15 g, and Ligustrum lucidum 10 g. Placebo was cornstarch with a bitter taste en-hancer. Subjects were given foil packets with verum or placebo granules, the contents of which they dissolved in 200 ml of warm water twice a day.
Outcome Measures: Hot flashes and night sweats were assessed by daily diary. Secondary outcomes included scores on the menopause-specific, quality of life (MENQOL) questionnaire and effects on urinary phytoestrogen excretion.
Results: The frequency of vasomotor symptoms decreased in both the treated and placebo groups; however, the difference between groups was not significant. Reduced scores were seen in both groups on the MENQOL questionnaire, but again, there was no significant difference between groups. Urinary levels of daidzein and genistein did not change in either group. The frequency of reported adverse events were similar between the two groups. Most withdrawals were due to taste intolerance and occurred early in the study.
Funding: Australasian Menopause Society. Cathay Herbal in Sydney donated the study preparations.
Comments: This study showed no effect with a specific Chinese herb mixture. The investigators do not mention how the specific formula was devised or chosen.
Traditionally, Chinese herbs are prepared as water decoctions; it would have been interesting to add an arm to this trial that used a more traditional method of preparation.
Dr. Fugh-Berman, MD, Editor of Alternative Therapies in Women's Health, is Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Health Care Sciences, George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Washington, DC.