This article provides an overview and critical evaluation of the management of menopausal symptoms by traditional East Asian medicines (TEAMs). For this purpose we utilise an interdisciplinary perspective that draws on social history, medical anthropology, and clinical research. Our goal is threefold. First, we examine the research literature regarding evidence for the effectiveness of TEAMs in the management of menopausal symptoms. The failure of all studies reviewed to address the problematic articulation between tradition and modernity in the case of menopausal syndrome leads us to examine more closely how this connection has been constructed. In the second part of this review we explain how during the late 20th century various TEAMs currents such as traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), Japanese Kampō, and Korean medicine, explored different responses to a biomedically defined disorder, namely menopause, that was until then not discussed in these traditions. Third, based on the findings of the previous sections we make a number of recommendations as to how research in this field might be improved. We argue that while robust evidence for the efficacy of TEAMs in treating menopausal symptoms is currently lacking, existing studies provide sufficient evidence to warrant further research. A new interdisciplinary research framework that takes account of the actual realities of TEAMs practice will be required however for meaningful answers regarding the two most urgent problems in the field to emerge. These are, first the issue of actual treatment effects, and second the more general problem of how TEAMs might be integrated into personalised health care.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Obstetrics and Gynaecology