Investigation on Chinese herbal medicine for primary dysmenorrhea: implication from a nationwide prescription database in Taiwan

Complement Ther Med. 2014 Feb;22(1):116-25. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2013.11.012. Epub 2013 Dec 6.


Objective: Primary dysmenorrhea is a common gynecological condition, for which Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) has been widely used in addition to western medicine. The aim of this study is to explore CHM commonly used to treat dysmenorrhea in young Chinese women.

Design: Observational retrospective study.

Setting: The National Health Insurance Research Database in Taiwan.

Population: Women aged from 13 to 25 years with single diagnosis of primary dysmenorrhea.

Methods: CHM prescriptions made for primary dysmenorrhea women during 1998-2008 were extracted to build up CHM prescription database. Association rule mining was used to explore the prevalent CHM combination patterns in treating primary dysmenorrhea.

Main outcome measures: Prevalence and mechanisms of CHM combinations.

Results: Totally 57,315 prescriptions were analyzed and, on average, 5.3 CHM was used in one prescription. Dang-Gui-Shao-Yao-San (DGSYS) was the most commonly used herbal formula (27.2%), followed by Jia-Wei-Xiao-Yao-San (JWXYS) (20.7%) and Wen-Jing-Tang (WJT) (20.5%). Corydalis yanhusuo and Cyperus rotundus were the most commonly used single herb, found in 33.1% and 29.2% of all prescriptions. Additionally, C. yanhusuo with C. rotundus is the most commonly used two CHM in combination, accounting for 14.24% of all prescriptions, followed by DGSYS with C. yanhusuo (10.47%). Multi-target effects on primary dysmenorrhea, such as analgesia, mood modifying and hormone adjustment, were found among commonly prescribed CHM in this study.

Conclusions: This study discovered the potential importance of C. yanhusuo, C. rotundus and DGSYS in treating primary dysmenorrhea. Further clinical trials or bench studies are warranted based on the results.

Keywords: Association rule mining; Chinese herbal medicine; Primary dysmenorrhea; The National Health Insurance Research Database.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Databases, Factual*
  • Drug Prescriptions / statistics & numerical data*
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / therapeutic use*
  • Dysmenorrhea / drug therapy*
  • Dysmenorrhea / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Taiwan / epidemiology
  • Young Adult


  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal