TCM found to be effective at treating perimenopausal syndrome, improving symptoms over standard hormone replacement therapy

For women suffering from the unpleasant symptoms that precede menopause, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) may present a superior alternative to the standard hormone replacement therapy. Recent research suggests that regular intake of Kuntai capsules (KC) is more effective at alleviating perimenopausal syndrome than HRT, reported a ScienceDirect review.

Perimenopausal syndrome is triggered by decreasing amounts of sex hormones in a woman’s body as she approaches menopause. On its own, the syndrome is not lethal, but its many symptoms can end up severely disrupting health and quality of life.

Western medicine employs hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to treat perimenopausal syndrome. It is considered relatively effective in raising estrogen levels and minimizing symptoms.

However, hormone drugs possess relative and absolute contraindications that prevent many perimenopausal women from using them. Furthermore, long-term use of HRT has been linked with venous thrombosis, vascular diseases, and other negative conditions.

The search for alternative therapies led the research team to look into increasingly popular traditional Chinese medicine. They zeroed in on the Kuntai capsule that sees wide use in China to treat menopausal syndrome.

KC is a blend of six traditional herbs used in alternative medicine: Dihuang (rehmannia root), Huanglian (coptis root), Baishao (white peony root), Ejiao (donkey-hide gelatin), and the Huangqin (Chinese skullcap) and Fuling (poria) mushrooms.

Half a dozen healing herbs in capsule form

The study investigated the effectiveness and safety of Kuntai capsules as an alternative treatment to hormone replacement therapy. Researchers performed a meta-analysis of 15 randomized control trials (RCTs) involving 1,243 patients, making it the largest systematic review of the KC-HRT question.

In order to evaluate the clinical efficiency of both methods, the researchers compared the participants’ Kupperman menopausal scores and their effective rates. They also looked at blood estradiol (E2) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels.

Their findings indicated that KC therapy and hormone replacement treatment achieved similar levels of efficacy when it came to relieving critical symptoms of premenopausal syndrome. Kuntai capsule therapy was also better at increasing the amount of estradiol – the primary female sex hormone – in the blood.

However, the HRT group exhibited nearly twice the number of adverse events (156) as the Kuntai capsule group (78). The former suffered more gastrointestinal complaints, breast-distending pain, vaginal bleeding, and other incidents.

This difference suggests that KC therapy was superior to HRT due to enjoying fewer instances of negative reactions. (Related: Red sage, also known as Chinese sage, found to protect the kidneys of people with severe acute pancreatitis and obstructive jaundice.)

A grain of salt

The researchers were quick to point out the constraints on their study. First, their adoption of a broad search strategy of the literature was stymied by the narrow number of eligible articles on Kuntai capsule therapy.

Out of 485 initial citations for RCTs from five separate databases, the researchers only got to use 15. Most of the articles were also conducted at just one center instead of multiple locations.

The relatively small number of cases would lower the statistical power of any associations they detected between a treatment method and its results.

Second, despite plumbing the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews and PubMed in addition to three Chinese databases, all data involved Chinese participants. The results are therefore limited to Chinese individuals.

Third, the researchers refrained from analyzing subgroups despite the serious differences in the adverse events suffered by KC and HRT patients.

Finally, the researchers reported the presence of some bias in their findings. Of the 15 articles they covered, two used a randomization technique and three adopted appropriate blinding.

Overall, the study concluded that KC can improve critical symptoms of premenopausal syndrome, is better at enhancing blood estradiol levels, and enjoys fewer instances of adverse events than HRT.

Discover more alternative treatments to standard hormone replacement therapy at

Sources include:

comments powered by Disqus