Acupuncture Cools Hot Flashes: Hormone-free Relief
A small, yet intriguing study published in Acupuncture in Medicine found that traditional Chinese acupuncture curbed the severity of hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. Fifty-three middle-aged, postmenopausal women were divided into two groups; one received such treatments twice weekly for 10 weeks, while the other experienced “sham” acupuncture with blunt needles that did not penetrate the skin. In both groups, levels of estrogen and other hormones were measured before the study began and before and after the last session. Menopausal symptoms—hot flashes, vaginal dryness, urinary tract infections and mood swings—were also measured before and after the treatments, using a five-point menopause rating scale (MRS) in order to assess their severity.
At the end of the study, the women receiving Chinese acupuncture scored significantly lower on the MRS scale, with hot flashes seeing the sharpest decrease. The researchers explain that acupuncture boosts production of endorphins, which may stabilize the temperature control system of the body. They say that more investigation is needed because the study was small, but note that its results seem promising, suggesting that traditional Chinese acupuncture could be an alternative for women unable or unwilling to use hormone replacement therapy to relieve menopausal symptoms.