The aims of this pilot study were to evaluate treatment effects, ascertain safety and formulate best practice Chinese medicine protocols relevant for London women suffering from menopausal symptoms.
This clinical pilot study employed a case series design within a wider action-based research project. 117 perimenopausal women between 45 and 55 years of age recruited from the general population were treated for menopausal symptoms by six experienced practitioners of Chinese medicine at the Polyclinic of the University of Westminster. Practitioners were instructed to treat as near to their usual practice style as possible. This involved using Chinese herbal medicine and/or acupuncture along with dietary and lifestyle advice. A maximum of 12 treatments over 6 months was allowed per patient.
The menopause specific quality of life questionnaire (MenQoL), the Greene climacteric scale, and flushing diaries were used to evaluate treatment outcomes. Liver and kidney function tests were carried out at intake and after 1, 6 and 12 treatments to evaluate the safety particularly in relation to the use of herbal medicines.
Patients showed significant improvement across all domains measured by the MenQoL and Greene climacteric scales. Reduction on the MenQoL scale between first and last visit was from 4.31 to 3.27 (p < 0.001) and on the Green climacteric scale from 21.01 to 13.00 (p < 0.001). Study participants did not reliably complete their flushing diaries. No adverse events or abnormal liver or kidney function values were observed during the course of the study.
Further research that seeks to investigate the effects observed in more detail and to evaluate them against other forms of treatment and/or no-treatment controls is warranted. This could be achieved by way of a pragmatic randomized controlled trial that evaluated Chinese medicine against orthodox medical care.