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Research project

Herbal treatment for polycystic ovary syndrome

  • Research groups:
  • Research funder:
    National Institute of Health and Care Research
  • Status:
    Not active

Project overview

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common gynaecological problem and menstrual irregularity is frequently found in PCOS. Although the contraceptive pill and diabetic medication are commonly prescribed, side-effects can prevent women from continuing with treatment. Complementary medicines such as Chinese herbal medicines (CHM) are used by over 70% of women with PCOS in Australia and research in China suggests it could be a helpful option. Our previous UK research suggested that women with PCOS are interested in using CHM for regulating periods and that it was possible to conduct further research. In this study, we compared the effects of two different types of CHM - a 14-herb standardised CHM treatment against individualised CHM treatment which is tailored by a qualified herbalist to each patient. Both types of CHM appeared to be safe and showed promising effects for PCOS-related menstrual irregularities.

To increase the relevance of our research to the NHS, we wish to test a standardised CHM treatment in a randomised controlled trial which is regarded as the best level of research. Recent discussions with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency suggest that reducing our 14-herb standardised treatment to 4 herbs could reduce the likelihood of adverse interactions. The aim of this project is to firstly determine the contents of the 4-herb standardised treatment, and secondly to see what effects this treatment has for menstrual irregularities and other symptoms of PCOS. We will firstly use a questionnaire survey and discussion group (nominal group technique) with expert herbalists to determine the 4-herb combination that would be most suitable for our research. Finally, we will offer this 4-herb treatment for 6 months to 22 women with PCOS and will analyse data on menstrual regularity, quality of life, hair growth, weight and herbal safety.

Collaborating research institutes, centres and groups

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