Herbal treatment for premenstrual syndrome

Herbal medicines are sometimes used for treating premenstrual syndrome (PMS). However, the effectiveness of this type of therapy has not be rigorously evaluated in randomised controlled trials.

The authors identified two trials that evaluated herbal medicines in PMS. One of these was a higher quality study that tested the traditional Chinese medicine decoction Jingqianping granule. This was shown to increase the rate of recovery from PMS symptoms. Because the formula for this herbal medicine was provided by the trialists themselves, the review authors recommend further trials to ensure that the results are reproducible with other formulations. Strong evidence in support of other herbal formulae for the treatment of PMS is currently lacking.

Authors' conclusions: 

It is rare in PMS management that efficacy claims are substantiated by clinical trials. One of the identified trials was well designed and reported on the effectiveness of Jingqianping in the treatment of premenstrual syndrome. However, currently there is insufficient evidence to support the use of Chinese herbal medicine for PMS and further, well-controlled trials are needed before any final conclusions can be drawn.

Read the full abstract...

Traditional Chinese herbal medicines are frequently used to treat premenstrual syndrome (PMS) in China. Until now, their efficacy has not been systematically reviewed.


To evaluate the effectiveness and safety of traditional Chinese herbal medicines in the treatment of women with premenstrual syndrome.

Search strategy: 

We searched MEDLINE (January 1950 to December 2007), EMBASE (January 1980 to December 2007), Chinese Biomedical Database (CBM) (January 1975 to December 2007), China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI) (January 1994 to December 2007), and the VIP Database (January 1989 to December 2007).

Selection criteria: 

Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) studying the efficacy of traditional Chinese herbal medicine(s) for treatment of premenstrual syndrome were included.

Data collection and analysis: 

Two review authors telephoned the original authors of the RCTs to confirm the randomisation procedure and extracted and analysed data from the trials that met the inclusion criteria.

Main results: 

Two RCTs involving 549 women were included. One trial which was identified to be of higher methodological quality demonstrated the therapeutic effectiveness of Jingqianping granule. The other study was considered of lower quality due to the inherent risk of various biases in it. The two studies showed statistically significant differences in favour of taking Jingqianping granule compared with Xiaoyaowan in the elimination of symptoms during the proliferative and premenstrual phases (RR 3.50, 95% CI1.74 to 7.06). Women treated with Cipher decoction had a higher rate of recovery than those taking co-vitamin B6 capsules (RR 48.99, 95% CI 3.06 to 783.99).