Prescription profile of Chinese herbal products containing coumestrol, genestein, and/or daidzein among female users: an analysis of national health insurance data in Taiwan between 1997 and 2007
1 Department of Chinese Medicine, Linsen (Chinese Medicine) Branch and Chinese Medicine Clinic Center, Taipei City Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan
2 Institute of Traditional Medicine, School of Medicine, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan
3 Department of Mathematical Sciences, National Chengchi University, Taipei, Taiwan
4 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Department of Chinese Medicine, Yangming Branch, Taipei City Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan
5 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Zhongxing Branch, Taipei City Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan
6 Department of Public Health, College of Medicine, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan
7 Departments of Occupational and Environmental Medicine and Internal Medicine, National Cheng Kung University Hospital, Tainan, Taiwan
Chinese Medicine 2012, 7:22 doi:10.1186/1749-8546-7-22Published: 16 October 2012
Some Chinese herbs contain several kinds of phytoestrogens, and these herbs are commonly prescribed in Taiwan. Phytoestrogens may influence the effects of estrogen in females, although their activities are weak. This study aims to identify the risk and analyze the prescription profile of commonly used phytoestrogenic herbs in Taiwan.
The study analyzed women who had been prescribed phytoestrogenic herbs including coumestrol, genistein and/or daidzein between 1997 and 2007 in a fixed cohort taken from all female beneficiaries from the National Health Insurance Research Database of Taiwan. The prescription frequencies, cumulated dosages, and primary indications were listed.
A total of 462,861 women were included in the study, of whom ~47.0% had used phytoestrogenic herbs at least once during the study period. A total of 6,270,813 prescriptions were recorded, and more than 20% of these contained phytoestrogens. The most commonly prescribed herb and formula were Puerariae Radix and Ge gen tang (Pueraria Decoction), respectively. Most of the prescriptions were issued for diseases of the respiratory system, followed by symptoms, signs, and ill-defined conditions and diseases of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue.
This study shows that women who sought medical treatment from Chinese medicine doctors for relief of respiratory discomfort had a high possibility of exposure to phytoestrogenic herbs. Safety issues related to the female endocrine system should be a priority for future research.