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Research

23/09/2006 - Acupuncture reduces nighttime hot flashes caused by menopause.

News release:

Acupuncture reduces nighttime hot flashes caused by menopause, according to a new study.

Researchers found seven weeks of acupuncture treatment reduced the severity of nighttime hot flashes by 28 percent among menopausal women compared with a 6 percent decrease among women who had a sham acupuncture treatment.

Hot flashes are a common symptom of menopause and often occur at night, which can significantly disrupt sleep and affect a woman's quality of life. Until recently, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) was the most popular treatment for hot flashes. But in the wake of studies that suggested HRT use could increase a woman's risk of heart disease or cancer, alternative therapies for hot flashes have received renewed interest.

Researchers compared the effects of acupuncture vs. a sham acupuncture treatment on the severity and frequency of nighttime hot flashes. Taking part in the study were 29 menopausal women experiencing at least seven moderate to severe hot flashes per day.

All of the women underwent nine treatments from trained acupuncturists in sessions over seven weeks. Twelve of the women received real acupuncture using points selected to target hot flashes and sleepiness. The rest of the women received a sham acupuncture treatment using non-penetrating needles at random acupuncture channel points.

Throughout the study, the women reported the number and severity of their hot flashes.
The results showed that nighttime hot flash severity decreased significantly (28 percent) among the women who received acupuncture vs. a 6 percent drop among the women who got the sham treatment. However, they did not see a similar finding in the frequency of nighttime hot flashes between the two groups.

Researcher Mary Huang, M.S., of Stanford University, and colleagues say the results suggest acupuncture deserves further study as an alternative treatment for menopausal hot flashes.

The findings are published in the September issue of Fertility and Sterility.

References:

Huang, M. Fertility and Sterility, September 2006; Vol. 86: pp. 700-710. News release, American Society of Reproductive Medicine.

Abstract:

Nir Y, et al. Stanford University School of Medicine, United States.

OBJECTIVE: To determine whether individually tailored acupuncture is an effective treatment option for reducing postmenopausal hot flashes and improving quality of life.

METHODS: In a randomized, placebo-controlled pilot study, 29 postmenopausal participants averaging at least seven moderate to severe hot flashes per 24h, with a baseline estradiol concentration of less than 50pg/mL and a normal TSH level, were randomized to receive 7 weeks (nine treatment sessions) of either active acupuncture or placebo acupuncture (placebo needles that did not penetrate the skin at sham acupuncture points). Participants recorded hot flashes in logs that were reported daily. Global indices of the severity and frequency of hot flashes were derived from the participants' daily logs.

RESULTS: Participants receiving the active treatment had a greater reduction in hot flash severity (24.5+/-30.7%) compared to those receiving placebo (4.4+/-17.1%, P=0.042). Within group repeated measures analyses of variance revealed a significant reduction in hot flash severity in the active (P=0.042), but not in the placebo treatment group (P=0.15). Although there was no significant group difference in the reduction of hot flash frequency between the active (42.4+/-32.2%) and placebo groups (32.0+/-26.5%; P>/=0.352), within group repeated measures analyses of variance revealed that the reduction was statistically significant in both groups (P < /=0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: Standardized, individually tailored acupuncture treatment was associated with significantly greater decrease in the severity, but not the frequency, of hot flashes, in symptomatic postmenopausal women when compared to placebo acupuncture of equal duration. Future, larger scale, studies are needed.

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