Adenomyosis is a medical condition in which the endometrial tissue, or inner lining of the uterus, penetrates and grows into the myometrium, or uterine muscle. The displaced endometrial tissue tends to bleed along with the uterine lining during menstruation, typically producing clots known as adenomyoma, which are sometimes mistaken for fibroids. Typically, the uterus becomes enlarged and menstruation may be heavy, prolonged and painful. Certain herbs may help to relieve symptoms temporarily. However, since these treatments fail to address the underlying cause, surgical intervention may be necessary.
According to the “Physicians’ Desk Reference for Herbal Medicines,” shepherd's purse is traditionally used to treat menstrual irregularities since it increases uterine contractions, which in turn reduces bleeding. Kathi Keville and Peter Korn, authors of “Herbs for Health and Healing,” claim that shepherd's purse limits the flow of blood in the pelvic region, likely because the herb constricts blood vessels.
With the exception of homeopathic preparations, shepherd’s purse is rarely used in herbal medicine any longer, largely due to the fact that its effects have not been studied. Likewise, it is not known if there are any side effects or drug interactions associated with this herb. However, since the herb stimulates uterine contractions, it should not be used during pregnancy.
Vitex, also known as chasteberry or monk’s pepper, is an extract obtained from the dried fruit of Vitex agnus-castus, or chaste tree. According to the Sloan-Kettering Institute, vitex contains compounds that are chemically similar to human sex hormones, such as progesterone and testosterone, and may inhibit the release of other hormones in the body, including estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. In addition, some clinical trials show that women who experience excessive uterine bleeding due to impaired ovarian function may benefit from this herb.
Due to the possible estrogenic activity of vitex, you should not use this herb if you are pregnant or nursing, taking oral contraceptives or undergoing treatment for a hormone-driven disease, such as breast cancer. In addition, Sloan-Kettering cautions that this herb may interfere with drug treatments for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, such as chlorpromazine.
KBG stands for Keishi-bukuryo-gan, a traditional herbal remedy used in Japanese medicine to treat a variety of gynecological disorders. An early study conducted by researchers at the University of Tokyo was designed to investigate the effects of KBG on the development of adenomyosis in mice. The results, which were published in the August 1993 edition of Planta Medica, showed that mice fed a diet containing 0.5 to 1 percent KBG demonstrated a significantly lower rate of adenomyosis.
Keishi-bukuryo-gan, which literally translates to cinnamon mushroom tablet, is an approved prescription medication in Japan. In the U.S., studies on the effects of this herbal remedy on menstrual disorders have been ongoing since the mid-1990s. However, little is known about any potential side effects at this time. Consult a health care practitioner experienced in the use and administration of this remedy before experimenting on your own.
- “PDR for Herbal Medicines”; Thomas Fleming, Chief Editor, et al; 2000
- “Herbs for Health and Healing, 5th Edition”; Kathi Keville and Peter Korn; 1998
- Sloan-Kettering Institute: Chasteberry
- Planta Medica; Suppression of Spontaneous Development of Uterine Adenomyosis by a Chinese Herbal Medicine, Keishi-bukuryo-gan, in Mice; Mori T et al.; August 1993