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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Chinese herb mix Tiáo-Gēng-Tāng possesses antiaging and antioxidative effects and upregulates expression of estrogen receptors alpha and beta in ovariectomized rats

Lian-wei Xu12*, Lan Kluwe3, Ting-ting Zhang1, Sheng-nan Li1, Yan-yan Mou1, Zhen Sang4, Jun Ma5, Xiong Lu5 and Zhuo-jun Sun4

Author affiliations

1 Gynecology Department, Shanghai Yueyang Integrated Traditioanl Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine Hospital affiliated to Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Gan He Road 110, Shanghai, China

2 HanseMerkur Traditional Chinese Medicine Centre at University medical centre Hamburg-Eppendorf, Martinistrasse 52, Hamburg, Germany

3 Laboratory for Research and Diagnostics, Department of Maxillofacial Surgery and Neurology, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Martinistrasse 52, Hamburg, Germany

4 Gynecology Department, Shanghai Shuguang Hospital affiliated to Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Pu An Road 185, Shanghai, China

5 Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Cai Lun Road 1200, Shanghai, China

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Citation and License

BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2011, 11:137  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-11-137

Published: 30 December 2011



Herb mixtures are widely used as an alternative to hormonal therapy in China for treatment of the menopausal syndrome. However, composition of these herb mixtures are complex and their working mechanism is often unknown. This study investigated the effect of Tiáo-Gēng-Tāng (TG-decoction), a Chinese herbal mixture extract, in balancing female hormones, regulating expression of estrogen receptors (ERs), and preventing aging-related tissue damage.


Ovariectomized 5-month-old female rats were used to model menopause and treated with either TG-decoction or conjugated estrogen for 8 weeks. Estradiol (E2), luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) were measured in serum and in the hypothalamus. Hypothalamic expression of estrogen receptor (ER) alpha and beta were studied by real-time PCR and western blotting. Total antioxidant capacity (T-AOC), oxidation indicator superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity and tissue damage parameter malondialdehyde (MDA) were measured using standard assays. Aging-related ultrastructural alterations in mitochondria were studied in all animals by transmission electron microscopy.


TG-decoction-treatment elevated E2 and lowered FSH in serum of ovariectomized rats. The potency and efficacy of TG-decoction on the hypothalamus was generally weaker than that of conjugated estrogens. However, TG-decoction was superior in upregulating expression of ERα and β. TG-decoction increased hypothalamic SOD and T-AOC levels and decreased MDAlevels and mitochondrial damage in hypothalamic neurons.


TG-decoction balances female hormones similarly to conjugated estrogens but less effectively. However, it is superior in up regulating ERα and β and exhibits antioxidative antiaging activities. Whilst it shares similar effects with estrogen, TG-decoction also seems to have distinctive and more complex functions and activities.