Researchers find Chinese Herbal Medicine more effective than modern medicine for female infertility

15 November 2011

In an Australian Government-funded study, Ried and Stuart of Adelaide University reviewed 8 RCT’s and 22 smaller studies involving a total of 1851 women with poor fertility. Meta-analysis of studies involving over 1000 women found roughly double the likelihood of achieving pregnancy with Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) than with western drug therapy. Over a 4 month period pregnancy rates were 60% for CHM verses 32% for drug treatment 9n=1005, odds ratio = 3.5, 95% confidence interval 2.3-5-2, p < 0.0001).

Other studies, involving over 600 women, compared CHM with IVF and revealed a mean pregnancy rate for CHM of 50% compared with 30% for IVF. The Adelaide study also provided evidence indicating that herbal treatment tailored to the specific traditional diagnosis of what was wrong with each individual’s reproductive health was a key factor in successful treatment. 

The authors write: “Our meta-analyses suggest Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine to be more effective in the treatment of female infertility achieving on average a 60% pregnancy rate over 4 months compared with 30% achieved with standard western drug treatment, or IVF over 12 months.” 

It will be interesting to see if these findings provoke the usual backlash from the powerful medi-business lobby who, according to past form, will wheel out an “expert” to rubbish the findings and suggest that CHM treatment is unproven and dangerous.

Efficacy of Traditional CHM in the Management of Female Infertility: A Systematic Review.
K Ried, K Stuart
Complementary Therapies in Medicine  Vol 19 issue 6 Dec. 2011