The potential of herbal medicine in the management of endometriosis

Endometriosis is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects 10-15% of women of reproductive age. Some of the symptoms include dysmenorrhoea, dyspareunia (painful sex), pain, and infertility. Epigenetics, altered hormones, inflammation, and immune dysregulation have been implicated in the progression of endometriosis. Herbal medicines have a long history of use for women’s health, due to their hormonal, anti-inflammatory, and immune regulatory properties.

Herbal medicines such as Dong Quai, Feverfew, Japanese knotweed, Kudzu, and Turmeric were found to inhibit the NF-kB pathway and suppress pro-inflammatory cytokines. Experimental studies show promise in the reduction of inflammation for Cat’s claw, Cramp bark, Green tea, and Licorice.

Chaste tree (Vitex) was found effective in regulating hormones and improving pregnancy rates, providing promise in the treatment of endometriosis-induced infertility. St John’s Wort is widely used as an anti-depressant and analgesic and may be beneficial in the management of depression, anxiety, and chronic pain that is associated with endometriosis.

Herbal medicines that possess anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-angiogenic, antidepressant, anxiolytic (anti-anxiety), hepatoprotective (liver health), immunomodulatory (regulation of the immune system), and hormone regulating properties have the potential to positively impact endometriosis.

Further research and clinical trials are required to determine the full effect of herbal medicines on endometriosis.

Reference: Hartmann G, McEwen B. The potential of herbal medicine in the management of endometriosis. JATMS 2018; 24(3): 146-154.