If you're looking for a relief from hot flashes, a new study from Turkey finds that acupuncture may do the trick. Though the research was small – 53 postmenopausal women – researchers found that weekly acupuncture treatments reduced the severity of hot flashes and improved psychological symptoms, like mood swings.
Yet I'm always cautious about small studies like this one, not only because the control group is so tiny but also because who's to tell if it's the needles or the rela treatment that causes the change?
Another study done in Norway with 131 women who received 10 acupuncture treatments over the course of 12 weeks seems to confirm the use of acupuncture to treat hot flashes: 50% of those receiving treatment found relief from their vasomotor (i.e. hot flashes) symptoms, were more relaxed, and slept better.
But here's the key: the women in the Norwegian study were also given guidance in self-care – everything from how to do massage and relaxation exercises at home, to guidance on giving up smoking and cutting back on alcohol and caffeine (which are known hot flash triggers). So is it the relaxation or the acupuncture that alleviates symptoms?
Full disclosure: last year, I did weekly acupuncture treatments for several months, and just lying on the table for almost an hour in a darkened room with a scented eye pillow and a warm blanket, certainly improved my mood. After many weeks of treatment (and herbs), my hot flashes did subside, but whether that was due to the acupuncture, herbs, relaxation, or something else, it's hard to know. I stopped when my health insurance no longer covered it, but not before the hot flashes had returned
My random, unscientific survey of perimenopausal friends reveals that almost all of them tried acupuncture, "And it worked – for a while," says one. "Till it didn't any longer."
As President of the International Menopause Society, David Sturdee, told a reporter about the lateststudy, "We need to have much bigger numbers to prove this really can help women going through menopause." Still, studying postmenopausal women and hot flashes is a good thing no matter what the results.
How about you reader? Have you tried acupuncture for relief from hot flashes?