Clinical trial of herbal intervention in the treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

Integria supported a clinical trial conducted by Dr Susan Arentz, then a PhD student with NICM at Western Sydney University, of a herbal intervention in polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in overweight women.

PCOS is a common reproductive and endocrine condition affecting 10-20% of women of reproductive age. Common features of PCOS include menstrual irregularity (such as very long menstrual cycle), elevated levels of male hormones, and – as the name suggests – the development of cysts on the ovaries.

The trial was randomised and controlled. One group received the herbal medicine intervention in addition to lifestyle intervention (individual dietary and exercise advice) while the second group – the control group – received only the lifestyle intervention.

The herbal intervention consisted of Licorice, Paeony, Cinnamon and St John’s Wort. This formulation was taken once daily throughout the trial. In addition, a second herbal medicine containing the herb Tribulus Leaf was taken during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle only.

Of the 122 women who started the 3-month trial, 108 completed. Several significant differences were seen between the two groups. Most strikingly, the average menstrual cycle length was reduced from 106 days to 63.7 days (p<0.01) in the herbal medicine group, compared with no statistically significant change in the control group (Fig. 1).

Other differences between the two groups included an increase in oestradiol and a reduction of fasting insulin in the herbal medicine group, as well as minor decreases in body weight and blood pressure.

Following the successful trial, Integria commercialised the herbal formulation under a licencing agreement with Western Sydney University, resulting in MediHerb® PCOS Support (available only to qualified healthcare practitioners).

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Fig 1 - After 3 months’ treatment, the herbal intervention resulted in a significant shortening of the average length of the menstrual cycle, whereas no such change was seen in the control group.

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