Phytotherapy for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: A review of the literature and evaluation of practitioners’ experiences

Article


Rooney, Sara and Pendry, B. 2014. Phytotherapy for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: A review of the literature and evaluation of practitioners’ experiences. Journal of Herbal Medicine. 4 (3), pp. 159-171.
AuthorsRooney, Sara and Pendry, B.
Abstract

Background: Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a common, complex,
endocrine condition with potential long-term cardiovascular, endocrine and metabolic
health implications. Currently, there exists no medical treatment that addresses all
clinical presentations. Herbal practitioners often treat women with PCOS; yet, there
is a lack of research investigating PCOS and herbal treatment. This study aimed to
examine the current scientific literature on PCOS and phytotherapy, explore
practitioners’ experiences treating women with the syndrome and evaluate whether
there is a role for phytotherapy in the treatment of PCOS.
Methods: A literature search was conducted using the terms; ‘Polycystic Ovarian
Syndrome’ / ‘PCOS’ and ‘phytotherapy’/‘herbal medicine’ / ‘herbs’. The published
research identified by these terms was then reviewed. A brief questionnaire with a
mix of eleven open and closed questions was sent to herbal practitioners on the
National Institute of Medical Herbalists (NIMH) 2012 register.
Results: The literature review found promising results for the use of Mentha spicata,
Cinnamomum verum and berberine containing herbs. There was a weaker evidence
base for the use of Glycyrrhiza glabra and Paeonia lactiflora. The questionnaire was
completed by 72 practitioners, 71 % had treated women with PCOS. The majority
(38%, n=50) felt herbal medicine was ‘quite successful’ in treating PCOS. The
average time until herbal treatment started to be successful was 3.2 months. The
most frequently used herbs were Paeonia lactiflora, Glycyrrhiza glabra and Vitex
agnus castus. Dietary and lifestyle advice emerged as frequently identified
therapeutic interventions.
Conclusions: This exploratory study suggests that there is a role for phytotherapy in
the treatment of PCOS. Further investigation, consisting of well-designed clinical
trials and monitoring the successful use of herbal medicine by practitioners, is clearly
necessary. This future research would serve to substantiate positive empirical
evidence, constructing a more robust evidence base for the effective use of
phytotherapy as a therapeutic option for women with PCOS.

JournalJournal of Herbal Medicine
Journal citation4 (3), pp. 159-171
ISSN2210-8033
Year2014
PublisherElsevier for National Institute of Medical Herbalists
Accepted author manuscript
License
CC BY-ND
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1016/j.hermed.2014.05.001
Publication dates
Print04 Jun 2014
Publication process dates
Deposited11 Jun 2014
Copyright informationNOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of Herbal Medicine. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document.
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