Open Access Open Badges Research article

Identifying Chinese herbal medicine for premenstrual syndrome: implications from a nationwide database

Hsing-Yu Chen123, Ben-Shian Huang45, Yi-Hsuan Lin123, Irene H Su6, Sien-Hung Yang13, Jiun-Liang Chen13, Jen-Wu Huang7 and Yu-Chun Chen10589*

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Chinese Internal Medicine, Center for Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Taoyuan, Taiwan

2 Graduate Institute of Clinical Medical Sciences, College of Medicine, Chang Gung University, Taoyuan, Taiwan

3 School of Traditional Chinese Medicine, College of Medicine, Chang Gung University, Taoyuan, Taiwan

4 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, National Yang-Ming University Hospital, I-Lan, Taiwan

5 School of Medicine, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan

6 Department of Reproductive Medicine, University of California, La Jolla, San Diego, CA, USA

7 Department of Surgery, National Yang-Ming University Hospital, I-Lan, Taiwan

8 Department of Medical Research and Education, National Yang-Ming University Hospital, #152, Xin Min Rd, I-Lan 26042, Taiwan

9 Faculty of Medicine, School of Medicine, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan

10 Institute of Hospital and Health Care Administration, School of Medicine, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2014, 14:206  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-14-206

Published: 27 June 2014



Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) occurs in women during their reproductive age with a quite negative impact on their daily lives. Women with PMS experience a wide range of physical or psychological symptoms and seek treatment for them. Chinese herb medicine (CHM) is commonly used for PMS and the goal of this study is to investigate the prescription patterns of CHM for PMS by using a nationwide database.


Prescriptions of CHM were obtained from two million beneficiaries randomly sampled from the National Health Insurance Research Database, a nationwide database in Taiwan. The ICD-9 code 625.4 was used to identify patients with PMS. Association rule mining and social network analysis were used to explore both the combinations and the core treatments for PMS.


During 1998-2011, a total of 14,312 CHM prescriptions for PMS were provided. Jia-Wei-Xiao-Yao-San (JWXYS) was the CHM which had the highest prevalence (37.5% of all prescriptions) and also the core of prescription network for PMS. For combination of two CHM, JWXYS with Cyperus rotundus L. was prescribed most frequently, 7.7% of all prescriptions, followed by JWXYS with Leonurus heterophyllus Sweet, 5.9%, and Cyperus rotundus L. with Leonurus heterophyllus Sweet, 5.6%.


JWXYS-centered CHM combinations were most commonly prescribed for PMS. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first pharmaco-epidemiological study to review CHM treatments for PMS. However, the efficacy and safety of these commonly used CHM were still lacking. The results of this study provide valuable references for further clinical trials and bench studies.

Chinese herbal medicine; Premenstrual syndrome; Association rule mining; National health insurance research database; Social network analysis; Traditional Chinese medicine