Acupuncture & Polycystic Ovaries
Of all the alternative therapies, acupuncture has been shown in controlled scientific studies to be one of the most effective in helping to treat hormonal disturbances. Acupuncture has, of course, traditionally been successfully employed in China to treat most illnesses, but , in recent years, there have been several interesting controlled scientific studies demonstrating the clinical value of acupuncture for PCO sufferers.
For instance, one study at the Department for Gynaecological Endocrinology and Reproduction, Women’s Hospital, University of Heidelberg, Germany concluded that auricular acupuncture (treatment through the ear) offered a valuable alternative therapy for hormone disorders and was more effective than hormone therapy with no side effects (1) .
In another study(2), it was demonstrated that Electro-Acupuncture Therapy (EAT) successfully helped regulate the hypothalamic-pituitary function and led to normal secretion of hormones in women with PCO. And further evidence was provided in yet another study(3) in which 80 women with PCO were investigated and given acupuncture treatment coupled with diet therapy. Over 33% of the women were successfully treated and the report concluded that “acupuncture may be recommended as the first stage of treatment in PCO patients.
Traditional Chinese Medicine & Polycystic Ovaries
Traditional Chinese herbal medicines have also been shown to be useful in the treatment of PCO. Researchers at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Shimane Medical University investigated the effects of a Chinese herb known as Shakuyaku-Kanzo-To in twenty infertile Japanese women who had been diagnosed as having Polycystic ovary syndrome(4). Shakuyaku-Kanzo-To was used as a means to lower plasma testosterone levels and hence to induce pregnancy. The Polycystic ovary was classified into two types; general cystic and peripheral cystic patterns. Plasma testosterone was decreased in 90 per cent of the women (18/20) and 25 per cent (5/20) went on to become pregnant. The plasma testosterone concentration in the case of the general cystic pattern was significantly higher than that of peripheral cystic pattern, and consequently the pregnancy rate in those with the general cystic pattern was found to be lower.
The researchers concluded that the efficacy of Shakuyaku-Kanzo-To seems to vary according to the type of Polycystic ovary syndrome treated, but is more effective in those women who had peripheral cystic patterns.
Whilst these studies do not suggest that acupuncture or TCM hold all the answers in the treatment of PCO, they do indicate that these complementary therapies do offer therapeutic options for women who suffer with this disorder.
(1) Auricular acupuncture in the treatment of female infertility. Gerhard I; Postneek F . Gynaecol Endocrinol (ENGLAND) Sep 1992,6 (3) p171
(2) Changes in serum FSH, LH and ovarian follicular growth during electroacupuncture for induction of ovulation] Yu J; Zheng HM; Ping SM Chung Hsi I Chieh Ho Tsa Chih Apr 1989, 9 (4) p199-202, 195
(4) Takahashi K; Yoshino K; Shirai T; Nishigaki A; Araki Y; Kitao M. Effect of a traditional herbal medicine (shakuyaku-kanzo-to) on testosterone secretion in patients with Polycystic ovary syndrome detected by ultrasound. Nippon Sanka Fujinka Gakkai Zasshi Jun 1988, 40 (6) p789-92