Alternative Medicine Could Help With Hot Flashes

Menopausal women treated with acupuncture reported decline in frequency and severity of hot flashes

(RxWiki News) Menopause is an inevitable physical and mental change for most women, and many seek ways to reduce the often uncomfortable symptoms. New research shows that acupuncture may be a way to do so.

New research from Taiwan found that variations of acupuncture, a mainstay in Chinese and alternative medicine, could reduce hot flashes in women going through natural menopause.

Although the reason was not immediately apparent, women treated with acupuncture during menopause reported fewer and less severe hot flashes.

"Talk to a gynecologist about managing menopause."

The research was conducted by Hsiao-Yean Chiu, RN, PhD, of the College of Nursing at Taipei Medical University in Taiwan, and colleagues.

Dr. Chiu and co-authors conducted a meta-analysis, which is a review of previous studies, to determine the effect acupuncture had on hot flash frequency and severity, along with quality of life in women going through natural menopause.

Menopause is the time when a woman experiences her last menstrual cycle and is accompanied before and after with symptoms largely brought on by changes in female hormone levels. Signs of menopause include hot flashes and changes in menstrual cycle, sleep, sex habits, mood and bladder control, among other effects.

Acupuncture is a common alternative treatment to chronic pain and involves penetrating the skin at certain points on the body with needles. Other variations of acupuncture include acupressure, laser acupuncture, acupuncture focusing on the ear and electrical stimulation.

The authors of this study focused on 12 studies involving 869 participants — all women between 40 and 60 years old going through natural menopause.

Treatment with acupuncture reduced the measures of both hot flash frequency and severity, the researchers reported. The positive effects lasted up to three months and were not influenced by the duration of treatment.

The findings relating acupuncture to other menopause symptoms were inconsistent, the study authors reported.

"More than anything, this review indicates that there is still much to be learned relative to the causes and treatments of menopausal hot flashes,” said Margery Gass, MD, executive director for the North American Menopause Society, in a press statement. "The review suggests that acupuncture may be an effective alternative for reducing hot flashes, especially for those women seeking non-pharmacologic therapies."

The study appeared online in the July issue of the journal Menopause published by the North American Menopause Society.

The Taiwanese Ministry of Science and Technology provided funding for this research.

Review Date: 
July 22, 2014