The study involved 122 women aged 18-44 years with a confirmed medical diagnosis of PCOS from across NSW, QLD and VIC.
A common, under recognised and increasingly prevalent hormonal disorder, PCOS affects one in five young Australian women and one in four Australian Indigenous women.
Symptoms of PCOS include menstrual irregularity (infrequent, very light or absent), excessive levels of male hormones such as testosterone (hyperandrogenism), weight gain, difficulties with fertility, polycystic ovaries, metabolic disorders (e.g. insulin resistance, impaired glucose tolerance, type 2 diabetes mellitus, adverse cardiovascular risk profiles), quality of life and psychological disorders (e.g. anxiety and depression).
"Lifestyle modification is the current first line-intervention, however as many as seven in 10 women with PCOS use additional complementary medicine and approximately two out of five use herbal medicine –hence, we sought to test the most commonly used herbal interventions," said lead author and NICM adjunct research fellow Dr Susan Arentz.
"We conducted a randomised controlled trial over three months to determine the clinical effectiveness of combining a herbal medicine treatment with a lifestyle intervention, compared with lifestyle alone for improved menstrual regularity in overweight women with PCOS," said Dr Arentz.
Participants in both groups improved, however women in the group receiving herbal medicine and lifestyle intervention reported a greater improvement in menstrual regularity (32.9 per cent).
The average menstrual cycle length was 43 days shorter in the combination group compared to those in the lifestyle only study group, with over half (55 per cent) completing the trial with normal menstrual length (23-34 days) against 24 per cent in the control group.