Practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine knew this all along: hot flashes and night sweats can really be helped by acupuncture.
But now it’s “official,” reported in the medical journal Climacteric (how would you like a gift subscription to that one?). Researchers in Sweden selected 102 menopausal women who had hot flashes and night sweats, and divided them into four groups:
Group one: acupuncture with relaxation techniques
Group two: relaxation techniques alone
Group three: hormone replacement therapy
Group four: no treatment (placebo)
After twelve weeks of treatment, researchers measured the number of hot flashes the women experienced in a 24 hour period. Here are the outcomes:
• Groups one (acupuncture/relaxation) and three (hormone replacement therapy) had exactly the same relief, which both groups acknowledged was very good.
• Group two (relaxation alone) had some relief.
• Group four (placebo) had none.
Interestingly, six months after they stopped the acupuncture, the women in group one reported even fewer hot flashes than at the time of the study’s end. Fewer hot flashes, in fact, than the women still taking the hormone replacement therapy.
So, let’s say you’re truly tired of your hot flashes. For one reason or another you don’t want to take (or shouldn’t, for medical reasons) hormone replacement therapy. You’ve tried black cohosh and it just isn’t working.
Now is the time to consider making an appointment with your acupuncturist. If you live near Chicago, our own acupuncturists Mari Stecker and Cindy Kudelka have a special interest in the health problems of women. And Dr. Larry Stoler can, usually in a single session, teach you the fundamentals of progressive relaxation techniques.
If you live elsewhere, check the American Holistic Medical Association for practitioners in your area.
David Edelberg, MD