A recent study conducted at the Taipei Medical University in Taiwan showed acupuncture to be an effective treatment for women who are experiencing menopausal hot flashes.
A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials conducted by Hsiao-Yean Chiu, RN, PhD, and colleagues from Taipei Medical University in Taiwan indicates that acupuncture reduces hot flash frequency and severity and improves quality of life (QoL) in the vasomotor domain for women experiencing natural menopause. In this study, the investigators analyzed 12 trials with 869 participants, 1 of which compared acupuncture with menopausal hormone therapy. In their review, the authors found the beneficial effects of acupuncture on hot flashes to persist for as long as 3 months, and no indication that treatment dose, number of sessions, or duration of sessions had any treatment effect. The studies also indicate that sham acupuncture was as effective as actual acupuncture in reducing hot flash frequency.
In their discussion, the authors explain that decreasing levels of estrogen in menopause may be associated with reduced concentration of β-endorphin in the hypothalamus, thereby causing hot flashes. They suggest that acupuncture may be able to modify levels of hormones and influence symptoms, although no studies that they reviewed actually evaluated the effects of acupuncture on hormone levels. Chiu suggests that acupuncture be considered “an adjunct treatment for reducing menopause-related symptoms in addition to HT and other pharmacologic therapies.”
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