The Use of Herbs and Dietary Supplements in Gynecology: An Evidence-Based Review


  • Cathi E. Dennehy PharmD

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    • Cathi E. Dennehy, PharmD, is Associate Clinical Professor, School of Pharmacy, UCSF, San Francisco, California.

Department of Clinical Pharmacy, University of California San Francisco, 521 Parnassus Avenue, Suite C-152, Box 0622, San Francisco, CA 94143. E-mail:


Consumers frequently use herbs and dietary supplements to treat chronic conditions that are poorly responsive to prescription drugs or when prescription drugs carry a high side effect burden. Women may use herbs and supplements for chronic gynecologic conditions, such as menopause, premenstrual syndrome, dysmenorrhea, cyclic mastalgia, and infertility. This review is an evidence-based evaluation of herbs and supplements for these conditions. Therapies that carry a higher level of support from randomized controlled trial evidence include black cohosh for menopause; vitamins B1 and E for dysmenorrhea; calcium, vitamin B6, and chasteberry for premenstrual syndrome; and chasteberry for cyclic mastalgia. There were too few trials involving herbs and supplements in infertility to warrant a solid recommendation, but chasteberry, antioxidants, and Fertility Blend have some preliminary support. Midwives may want to consider these alternatives in addition to more traditional treatment options when meeting with patients.