A Chinese study has found that a Chinese herbal formula compares favourably with drug therapy for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). The formula was composed of Shu Di Huang (Radix Rehmanniae), Zhi Mu (Rhizoma Anemarrhenae), Yin Yang Huo (Herba Epimedii brevicornus), Huang Jing (Rhizoma Polygonati Sibirici), Dang Gui (Radix Angelicae sinensis), Tao Ren (Semen Persicae), Shi Chang Pu (Rhizoma Acori tatarinowii), Gui Jia (Carapax et Plastrum testudinis), Bu Gu Zhi (Fructus Psoraleae), Hu Zhang Gen (Radix Polygoni cuspidati) and Ma Bian Cao (Herba Verbenae officinalis). A total of 47 PCOS outpatients were randomly divided into three groups. Patients in group A were given herbal medicine, patients in group B were given metformin, and patients in group C were given Dianette (ethinyl estradiol plus cyproterone acetate, an oral contraceptive with anti-androgen activity). All were treated for three months. At the end of the treatment period, compared with pre-treatment data, group A patients showed decreased levels of serum testosterone (T) and sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), and a reduction in free androgen index (FAI), fasting insulin (FINS) and ovarian volume. Their serum dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEA-S) levels also increased, while their fasting blood glucose (FPG) levels showed no significant change. Comparing the three groups, the effects of herbal medicine on hyperandrogenism were not as significant as Dianette, but more effective than metformin, and herbal medicine did not affect hyperinsulinaemia as much as metformin, but more than Dianette. The authors conclude that TCG can treat PCOS by regulating ovarian function and reducing blood insulin levels, without inhibiting the function of the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis. (Efficacy of Chinese patent medicine Tian Gui Capsule in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome: a randomized controlled trial. Zhong Xi Yi fie He Xue Bao. 2011 Sep;9(9):965-72).