, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 519-526

Phytotherapy versus hormonal therapy for postmenopausal bone loss: a meta-analysis

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Abstract

This meta-analysis included 14 randomized controlled trials involving 780 patients to compare phytotherapy with hormonal therapy in the treatment of postmenopausal bone loss. Current evidence suggests that phytotherapy may possess a similar effect on bone mineral density (BMD) values but clinically is not associated with a high incidence of uterine bleeding and breast pain as is hormonal therapy. Clinical trials indicate that phytotherapy may be a potential treatment for postmenopausal osteoporosis. The objective of this meta-analysis was to compare the efficacy and safety of phytotherapy with that of hormonal therapy, to assess the quality of phytotherapy trials, and to identify herbs used commonly in the treatment of postmenopausal bone loss. A total of 43 electronic databases were searched. The quality of eligible trials was assessed using Jadad’s scale. Outcome measures were BMD values and adverse events. Revman 5.0 software was used for data syntheses and meta-analyses. The database search revealed 14 randomized controlled trials involving 780 patients that met the inclusion criteria, and four trials were graded as high quality (score 3–5). There was no significant difference in lumbar, femoral or forearm BMD values between subjects treated with phytotherapy and those treated with hormonal therapy (P>0.05), but the incidence of uterine bleeding and breast pain was significantly lower in those treated with phytotherapy than in those treated with hormonal therapy (P = 0.002 and P = 0.01). The six most commonly used herbs in the included trials were identified. Phytotherapy may not show effects beyond hormonal therapy, but may be safer than hormonal therapy in the treatment of postmenopausal bone loss. Further trials with high-quality study designs should be conducted in this field.