Acupuncture has proven to be extremely effective as an alternative therapy for menopausal symptoms. The painless needling prevents overreactions in the system and at the same time dissolves blockages – with the result of a healthy flowing energy in the entire organism. Hot flashes in particular can be very well alleviated with acupuncture in most cases – effectively and without side effects.
Autor: Dr. med. W. Tönnes
Acupuncture for hot flashes
Acupuncture is one of the most commonly used naturopathic therapies for menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes. In its effectiveness, acupuncture can surpass drug therapy. This was found, for example, in a study conducted by researchers at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit and presented at a meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology ( 2 ).
Acupuncture for hot flashes during breast cancer therapy (tamoxifen).
Lead researcher Eleanor Walker emphasized that the method of acupuncture was directly compared to regular use of an appropriate medication. Acupuncture turned out to be much more effective in this context. Another extremely positive effect is that acupuncture – in contrast to drug treatment – is free of side effects.
Menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes also frequently occur as a side effect in the treatment of breast cancer, namely when the drug tamoxifen is used. Tamoxifen reduces the estrogen effect in the body, since estrogens can fuel breast cancer.
A reduced estrogen effect, however, now puts the woman into menopause, which then also leads to the typical symptoms, such as hot flashes. Of course, the usual hormone replacement therapy is now out of the question for the hot flashes.
Sometimes antidepressants are given so that women can get through the menopausal symptoms with a certain amount of cheerfulness – if the antidepressant is effective. An effective alternative without side effects would be more than welcome here. And it already exists, namely in the form of acupuncture.
Acupuncture more effective than medication and without side effects
A study published in 2009 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology covered a period of 12 weeks. Forty-seven breast cancer patients volunteered as subjects. They received either an antidepressant (venlafaxine) or acupuncture therapy ( 1 ).
Although the antidepressant group felt the hot flashes were no longer as bad, they now complained instead of anxiety, dizziness, fatigue, headaches, elevated blood pressure, nausea, and sleep disturbances.
With acupuncture therapy, the hot flashes decreased significantly. No side effects were observed.
If the antidepressant was discontinued, the hot flashes were again felt to be very disturbing after only two weeks. In the acupuncture group, however, the hot flashes remained inconspicuous for 15 weeks, i.e. almost four months after completion of the therapy.
Acupuncture alleviates hot flashes in 60 percent of affected women
In September 2016, another study on this topic was published. The 209 participants (in or post-menopause) all suffered from at least four hot flashes per day. Part of the women received 20 acupuncture treatments within six months, while the other part represented the control group without acupuncture.
- 11 percent of the acupuncture women experienced an 85 percent decrease in hot flashes after 8 weeks.
- 47 percent of acupuncture women reported a 47 percent decrease in hot flashes.
- 37 percent of acupuncture women experienced a decrease in hot flashes of nearly 10 percent.
In the control group, 80 percent experienced a 10 percent reduction in hot flashes.
So again, acupuncture was shown to alleviate hot flashes in most menopausal women, so this type of therapy is really worth a try.
Note on health topics
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(1) Acupuncture Versus Venlafaxine for the Management of Vasomotor Symptoms in Patients With Hormone ReceptorPositive Breast Cancer: A Randomized Controlled Trial.
(2) Avis N et al, Trajectories of response to acupuncture for menopausal vasomotor symptoms: the Acupuncture in Menopause study. (Trajectories of response to acupuncture for menopausal hot flashes: The Acupuncture in Menopause Study), Menopause, September 2016.