TCM found to be effective at treating premature ovarian failure

A traditional Chinese medicine was found to be effective at treating premature ovarian failure, according to a study published in the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

The study was carried out by a team of researchers in China who looked into the effectiveness of a formula from traditional Chinese medicine known as Bushenjianpi prescription (BSJPP) on a mouse model of autoimmune premature ovarian failure (POF), which was induced by immunization with mouse zona pellucida. In addition, the team examined the mechanisms underlying the action.

A week after, the researchers gave the rats low (8.1 milligrams per kilogram [mg/kg]), moderate (16.2 mg/kg), and high (32.4 mg/kg) doses of BSJPP through gastrogavage once a day for 90 days. For the control group, the researchers administered a 0.03 mg/kg dose of an estrogen medication. One week after the last dose, the researchers collected serum samples and stored them at -20 °C for analysis. They conducted cervical dislocation, a common method of animal euthanasia, and collected the uterus and ovaries for examination through histological assessment, scanning electron microscopy, immunohistochemical staining, and Western blot and reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction analyses.

Results of the study showed that estrogen levels in autoimmune POF mice models were reduced, while follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) levels were significantly increased. However, when autoimmune POF mice models were treated with moderate and high doses of BSJPP as well as premarin, serum levels of estrogen, FSH, and LH were reduced. Moreover, Bone morphogenetic protein 15 (Bmp15), a protein that is encoded by the Bmp15 gene, and connexin 43 (Cx43), a type of tetratransmembrane protein, were inhibited in the mice models; while high expression of Bmp15 and Cx43 was seen in the control group and those treated with BSJPP and premarin.

The findings of the study indicate that traditional Chinese medicine Bushenjianpi prescription can be used to effectively treat zona pellucida-induced autoimmune POF in mice. Furthermore, the increase in the expression of Bmp15 and Cx43 may be involved in the mechanism underlying the action.

What is premature ovarian failure?

Also known as primary ovarian insufficiency, premature ovarian failure is a loss of normal function of the ovaries under the age of 40. The ovaries will not produce adequate amounts of estrogen or release eggs regularly if the ovaries fail to function properly. This condition may result in infertility. Women with this condition can also have irregular or occasional periods for years. Estrogen helps keep the bones healthy, and since women with the condition have low levels of estrogen, they are more prone to developing weak and brittle bones or osteoporosis. Losing estrogen at an early age may also increase the risk of heart disease and/or dementia. Furthermore, the risk of infertility and other complications due to low estrogen levels cause some women to become depressed or anxious. In order to help prevent some of these complications, restoring estrogen levels may help. (Related: Three major steps we can take to stabilize our estrogen levels.)

Signs and symptoms of autoimmune POF include irregular or skipped periods – also known as amenorrhea, difficulty conceiving, hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, irritability or having a hard time concentrating on a task, and decreased sexual desire. Take note that these signs and symptoms are similar to those of women going through menopause and estrogen deficiency.

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