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Chamomile for cyclic breast pain.

Chamomile for cyclic breast pain

Saghafi N, Rhkhshandeh H, Pourmoghadam N, Pourali L, Ghazanfarpour M et al. Effectiveness of Matricaria chamomilla (chamomile) extract on pain control of cyclic mastalgia: a double-blind randomised controlled trial. J Obstet Gynaecol 2018;38(1), 81-84.

Breast pain (mastalgia) is a common complaint for many women and may be cyclic or non-cyclic in nature. 'Cyclic' breast pain often occurs prior to the onset of menses and is generally of mild to moderate severity. Whilst the exact mechanism of cyclical mastalgia is not known, its timing in the luteal phase suggests a hormonal component.

Matricaria chamomilla, known commonly as chamomile, has previously been investigated for its effect on intensity of cyclic mastalgia; however, the authors noted concerns with quality of the trials. Accordingly, the current study was undertaken to evaluate the effect of a standardised extract of chamomile on pain control of cyclical mastalgia compared with placebo using standardised pain scales.

The randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial was undertaken through an academic hospital in Iran, with participants being premenopausal, medically well women aged [greater than or equal to] 18 years, with cyclical mastalgia and a pain score of [greater than or equal to] 3 on the visual analogue scale (VAS). Participants were to not have consumed chamomile in the previous four weeks, and have no regular intake of aspirin, anti-inflammatory medications, danazol, bromocriptine, or tamoxifen. Other exclusion criteria included pregnancy, allergic reaction or refusal to continue with the intervention. The patients were randomly allocated to two groups: chamomile (n=30) or matching placebo (n=30). The chamomile group was required to take drop dose therapy of chamomile extract three times daily for two months; however, dosing and extract information were not provided. The primary outcome assessed was efficacy of treatment evaluated at eight weeks by VAS and the Breast Pain Chart (BPC).

Of the 60 patients enrolled in the study, five were excluded or lost to follow-up. The two groups were generally comparable at baseline; however, the placebo group had more gravidity than the chamomile group. Importantly, the groups were clinically similar in terms of severity of mastalgia symptoms. The authors reported a significant decline in breast pain from baseline for both groups, with a significantly greater pain reduction in the chamomile group compared to placebo. No significant side effects were reported.

The study reports an interesting finding; however, the clinical utility of these results are significantly limited. By not clearly discussing dosing protocol, providing information on the extract provided, nor undertaking an analysis to assess constituents of the extract, the study and its results cannot be meaningfully interpreted. Furthermore, despite the use of standardised pain tools, the authors do not reference the scores in their results or discussion, nor provide explanation as to how the pain scores were calculated. Research with better quality study design, methodology and reporting are essential before understanding any potential beneficial effect of chamomile in cyclic breast pain.

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Author:Tester, Jodie
Publication:Australian Journal of Herbal and Naturopathic Medicine
Date:Jun 1, 2018
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