Endometriosis (EM) is one of the common gynecological conditions causing menstrual and pelvic pain and affects 10%–15% of women of reproductive age. In recent years, the complementary and alternative medical (CAM) treatment for EM has become popular due to the few adverse reactions reported. The CAM therapy for EM includes several different treatments such as herbs (herbal prescription, extract, and patent), acupuncture, microwave physiotherapy, and Chinese herb medicine enema (CHM enema). These CAM therapies are effective at relieving dysmenorrhoea, shrinking adnexal masses, and promoting pregnancy, with less unpleasant side effects when compared to hormonal and surgical treatments. In this review, we focus on the status quo of CAM on EM and try to identify therapeutic efficacy and mechanisms based on some clinical and experimental studies. We hope to provide some instructive suggestions for clinical treatment and experimental research in the future.
Their conclusion statement: CAM therapies utilized in patients with EM in the literature include herbs, acupuncture, CHM enema, microwave physiotherapy, and psychological intervention. None of these therapies are entirely curative for EM and neither can they fully eradicate the endometriotic lesions. These therapies may effectively modulate the progress of EM, however, by shrinking the lesions, suppressing the symptoms, and decreasing the recurrence rate. Although, CAM therapies have been gradually accepted in some countries, some obstacles—such as the lack of more thorough safety and efficacy studies—still hinder more widespread application of CAM therapies throughout the world. We found some mainly additional obstacles including: (1) selective publication of only positive results with varying study qualities and standards, (2) lack of large-sample sizes and randomized controlled trials, (3) and the lack of confirmatory animal studies with therapies such as auricular acupoint, Chinese herbal enema, microwave physiotherapy, and psychological intervention. The molecular mechanisms of some CAM therapies need to be further investigated and confirmed in the future.
In summary, the active principle of the CAM therapies has a strong scientific foundation and researchers are increasing their interest in this area of medical treatment. Standardizations of the effective CAM therapies are still needed, however, including managing the pharmaceutical form of herbal agents and controlling the quality of acupuncture methods in order to increase the benefits of these alternative medical interventions to patients with EM throughout the world.