Herbal Formula Beats Drugs for Treating Endometriosis

Red Sage - an herb for endometriosis

Butterfly pollinates Red Sage – a key herb for endometriosis treatment. Photo: Sarah Zukoff

Endometriosis can be a painful condition that millions of women deal with. It often produces infertility and periodic pain, although up to a quarter of women with the condition do not have obvious symptoms.

Up to one in ten women (5-15%) will have endometriosis at some point. Up to half (25-50%) of infertile women have endometriosis. And up to half (30-50%) of women with endometriosis will be infertile. Infertile women have between six to eight times more risk than fertile women.

The risk of endometriosis increases as a woman ages, and peaks around the age of 40 years old. Pelvic pain and painful menses are one of the hallmark symptoms. About 70 percent of endometriosis women experience painful menses. Yet as mentioned above, it can sometimes occur without pain.

Endometriosis occurs when endometrial tissue grows outside of the uterus. Normally, only the uterus contains endometrial tissue. Because endometrial tissue will thicken and bleed and slough off during menses, when this occurs outside the uterus this can cause irritation, scar tissue and a build up of fibrous tissue. This build up of scar tissue and fibrous tissue outside the uterus can produce complications for nearby tissues and organs.

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The cause of endometriosis is currently unknown, but there is reason to believe toxins may be involved. A 2016 review of research found that toxins such as dioxin, polychlorinated biphenyls and bisphenol A (BPA) exposure during pregnancy increases the risk of endometriosis for the child later on. Other studies have shown exposure to dioxin later in life may also increase risk.

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Herbal treatment for endometriosis

Traditional Chinese Medicine has been treating painful menstruation for centuries with herbs. Over the years as the endometriosis condition has become better diagnosed, TCM has perfected the herbal formulations. Today, TCM utilizes an herbal formula called Dan’e-fukang soft extract to treat most endometriosis cases.

Dan’e-fukang soft extract contains the following herbs:

• Red Sage – Danshen (Salvia miltiorrhiza)*
• White Turmeric – Ezhu (Curcuma zedoaria)*
• Sparganii root (Sparganium stoloniferum)
• Bupleurum root (Bupleurum spp.)
• Angelica (Angelica spp.)
• Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
• Corydalis root (Corydalis tuberose)
• Peony (Paeoniae Rubra)
• Cyperus (Cyperus rotundus)

*This formulation is largely composed of the first two herbs – Sage (Danshen) and White turmeric (Ezhu).

Dan’e-fukang treatment beats pharmaceuticals

This herbal treatment is so popular that there have been numerous studies conducted on its use for endometriosis. Researchers from China’s Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine conducted a 2017 review of the research, and found 39 studies that involved 5,442 endometriosis patients.

Many of the studies treated one group of the patients with the TCM formula and another group with one or multiple pharmaceutical drugs used for this condition in allopathic medicine. These drugs included anazol, gestrinone, mifepristone, and marvelon.

In other words, the Dan’e-fukang herbal formula was tested side by side against these pharmaceutical drugs.

The researchers conducted a meta-analysis of the results. They found 18 studies that tested the herbal formula against gestrinone. The meta-analysis of the results found that Dan’e-fukang was 8 percent more effective than gestrinone.

Furthermore, the herbal treatment resulted in over half the recurrence rate of the gestrinone treatment. Among the 822 patients from the five studies that followed patients for recurrence, 93 of 410 patients taking gestrinone had recurrence of the condition after treatment. This compares to just 41 of 412 patients that were given the herbal formula treatment.

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There were eight studies that tested Dan’e-fukang against danazol. The researchers found that Dan’e-fukang matched the effectiveness of danazol.

The herbal remedy was tested against mifepristone in three studies. Here Dan’e-fukang was slightly more effective (by 2 percent) than mifepristone.

No adverse reactions in herbal treatment groups

The researchers also analyzed the side effects of the herbal treatments and the pharma treatments. They found no adverse reactions among any of the studies for the herbal formula.

Contrasting this, numerous adverse reactions were found among patients treated with the drugs. These included:

• abnormal liver function
• abnormal vaginal bleeding
• acne
• menstrual disorders
• weight gain

As we consider the combination of results above with adverse side effects, the only appropriate conclusion is the TCM herbal treatment outperformed the pharmaceutical treatments.

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REFERENCES:

Yantao Li, Te Li, and Shilin Song, Evaluation of Efficacy and Safety of Dan’e-Fukang Soft Extract for Endometriosis: A Meta-Analysis of 39 Randomized Controlled Trials Enrolling 5442 Patients. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2017, Article ID 9767391, 14 pages, 2017. doi:10.1155/2017/9767391

Bulletti C, Coccia ME, Battistoni S, Borini A. Endometriosis and infertility. J Assist Reprod Genet. 2010 Aug;27(8):441-7. doi: 10.1007/s10815-010-9436-1.

Abrao MS, Muzii L, Marana R. Anatomical causes of female infertility and their management. Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2013 Dec;123 Suppl 2:S18-24. doi:
10.1016/j.ijgo.2013.09.008.

Wei M, Chen X, Zhao Y, Cao B, Zhao W. Effects of Prenatal Environmental Exposures on the Development of Endometriosis in Female Offspring. Reprod Sci. 2016 Sep;23(9):1129-38. doi: 10.1177/1933719116630418.

Case Adams is a California Naturopath and a Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences. He has authored 26 books on natural healing strategies. “My journey into writing about alternative medicine began about 9:30 one evening after I finished with a patient at the clinic I practiced at over a decade ago. I had just spent the last two hours explaining how diet, sleep and other lifestyle choices create health problems and how changes in these, along with certain herbal medicines and other natural strategies can radically yet safely turn our health around. As I drove home that night, I realized this knowledge should be available to more people. So I began writing about health with a mission to reach those who desperately need this information. The strategies in my books and articles are backed by scientific evidence along with wisdom handed down through traditional medicines for thousands of years.”

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