Getting to the Root of Pain - Research

Pain herbs research

A selection of relevant research into treatment of pain with Chinese Herbal medicine, collated by Alison Seymour and Alex Jacobs.



Chinese herbal medicine for primary dysmenorrhoea (menstrual pain).

This systematic review of randomised controlled trials, published by the Cochrane Library, found ‘promising evidence supporting the use of Chinese herbal medicine for primary dysmenorrhoea’. 39 trials were reviewed involving a total of 3475 women. This study also found that when herbal formulae were tailored to the patient by a trained Chinese herbal practitioner, there was evidence to show that effects were better than using an off the shelf standard herbal remedy. No significant adverse effects were identified.

Zhu, X., Proctor, M., Bensoussan, A., Wu, E., Smith, C.A., 2008. Chinese herbal medicine for primary dysmenorrhoea. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD005288.pub3


Effects of common Chinese herbs on unexplained chronic pain

Doctors in the UK are increasingly diagnosing ‘neuropathic pain’ when met with sufferers of unexplained chronic pain with a wide variety of presentations. This review of current research found ‘compelling evidence … that the bioactive alkaloids of Chinese herbal medicines…have the potentials to be novel drugs for treating neuropathic pain’. It finds that many of the herbs that are commonly used by Chinese herbal medicine practitioners have significant analgesic effects. This review outlines the potential underlying molecular mechanisms. The importance of finding effective alternatives to current drugs such as pregabalin, gabapentin, tricyclic antidepressants and lidocaine is highlighted since not only is it suggested that their effectiveness might be overstated, but they all also carry significant side-effects. This study reveals that Chinese herbal medicine has had effective herbs and formulae to treat unexplained pain conditions for many years.

Zhu, C., et al, 2020. Effects of alkaloids on peripheral neuropathic pain: a review. Chinese Medicine 15, 106. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13020-020-00387-x


Chinese Medicine treatment for the prevention of migraine

In this study, a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled trial was conducted with 150 migraine patients being given a traditional Chinese herbal formula, Chuan Xiong Ding Tong in granule form. It was found that the formula was ‘effective than placebo in decreasing days of migraine attacks, frequency, VAS scores, and relieving pain intensity for migraine patients.’

Fu, C., et al, 2012. Efficacy of Chuanxiong Ding Tong Herbal Formula Granule in the Treatment and Prophylactic of Migraine Patients: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Multicenter, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2012, 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1155/2012/967968