Dysmenorrhea is a very common medical condition in women worldwide. The prevalence varies from 45% to 95% of all women depending on its definition . In Korea, 78.3% of all adolescent girls have dysmenorrhea during their menstrual periods . The most common symptom of dysmenorrhea is abdominal pain, or cramp. It is not only painful but interferes with daily activities, and it has been the leading cause of recurrent short-term school absence .
The most prominent physiological cause of dysmenorrhea in allopathic medicine is the production of uterine prostaglandins. Endometrial cells release prostaglandins when they are deciduous. The released prostaglandins stimulate myometrial contractions and cause ischemia. This results in abdominal pain, which has been the source of difficulties that women have to cope with in their daily lives.
But the explanation for the pain is different in Traditional Korean Medicine. In Traditional Korean Medicine, the causes of sicknesses are classified according to symptoms and signs. Traditional Korean Medical specialists diagnose the cause of the sickness by symptoms and signs and prescribe the appropriate remedy.
The most common factor causing dysmenorrhea in Traditional Korean Medicine is blood stagnation in the uterus. 'Flow' is a very important concept in Traditional Korean Medicine. If the flow of qi and blood inside the both is smooth, the body is healthy without any diseases. But if the flow is interrupted, it causes pain. This can be applicable to qi and blood. Blood stagnation means obstructed blood flow, and a woman experiencing dysmenorrhea can be explained by blood stagnation in her body. The signs of blood stagnation are getting bruised easily, tender abdominal pain, etc.
The first treatment of dysmenorrhea in allopathic medicine is an over-the-counter drug, especially non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Ibuprofen, Naproxen, Mefenamic, etc. [3, 4]. These drugs, however, have failed to show effect in 20% to 25% of women, and moreover some women complain about digestive disorders while taking the drug. In this case, Korean herbal medicine can be a plausible alternative .
Gyejibongnyeong-hwan (GJBNH) is one of the most popular Korean medicine formulas for periodical pain due to dysmenorrhea. GJBNH fluidifies blood to induce smooth blood flow and reduce pain . However, the evidence of the effect of GJBNH in treating dysmenorrea has been reported mostly in the form of case reports. In the era of evidence medicine, high quality evidence is mandatory for a medical formula to be proven effective.
The purpose of this trial is to identify the efficacy of GJBNH in dysmenorrhea caused by blood stagnation.