Complementary medicine treatment of uterine fibroids: a pilot study

Altern Ther Health Med. 2002 Mar-Apr;8(2):34-6, 38-40, 42, 44-6.


Context: Women are seeking alternatives to medications and surgeryfor the treatment of uterine fibroids; therefore, it is important to know whether these therapies work and are cost-effective.

Objective: To report on the treatment of women with uterine fibroids using a suite of nonpharmacological and nonsurgical therapies and to compare this alternative treatment to a matched sample of similar women using standard medical approaches.

Design: Matched comparison to standard-of-care control group.

Setting: Academic family practice department and clinic, including a center for complementary and alternative medicine.

Participants: Thirty-seven menstruating women, aged 24 to 45 years, with palpable uterine fibroids, and their matched controls, who were enrolled in conventional treatment.

Intervention: The treatment program consisted of weekly traditional Chinese medicine, body therapy (somatic therapy, bodywork), and guided imagery. Treatment lasted as long as 6 months.

Main outcome measures: Changes in fibroid size, changes in bothersome symptoms, and patient satisfaction.

Results: Fibroids shrank or stopped growing in 22 patients among the treatment group and 3 among the comparison group (P <.01). Cost of care averaged $3800 per patient in the treatment group and was significantly greater than costs for the comparison group for the study period. Bothersome symptoms of fibroids responded equally well to pharmacological or nonpharmacological therapies. All measures of patient satisfaction were significantly higher among the treatment group compared to those receiving conventional care.

Conclusions: As reported previously in the Chinese medical literature, alternatives exist to pharmacological and surgical methods for treating uterine fibroids, though they are not inexpensive.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Complementary Therapies / economics*
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imagery, Psychotherapy
  • Leiomyoma / diagnostic imaging
  • Leiomyoma / therapy*
  • Massage
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Pennsylvania
  • Pilot Projects
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultrasonography
  • Uterine Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Uterine Neoplasms / therapy*


  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal