Are you or a loved one going through menopause and can’t take the heat? Studies show acupuncture may be effective in reducing the severity of symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats during menopause.
Menopause is a phase in a woman’s life when menstruation stops and they become unable to conceive naturally as the functions of the ovaries slow down with age (at +- 50). Hot flushes are a symptom that accompanies menopause which is a sudden feeling of heat on upper parts or all over the body. It may cause red blotches on the back, arms, and chest or increase the redness in the face and neck. As a result of the hormonal changes during menopause, many women get hot flushes and/or night sweats (1). Although its symptoms may not be very welcoming, menopause is a natural transition in a woman’s life - not a disease. It is, however, something that needs to be addressed if it is disrupting sleep and quality of life.
A common treatment used for easing menopausal symptoms is hormone replacement therapy (HRT), this involves using medication containing oestrogen and progesterone. However, long-term use of hormone therapy can increase the risk of heart attacks, breast cancer, blood clots and stroke. Thus the need for alternative therapy arises (2).
A study in Turkey in 2009 was conducted to find out if acupuncture was helpful for improving menopausal symptoms, such as hot flushes, mood swings, vaginal dryness and urinary symptoms. They selected 53 postmenopausal women and divided them into two groups. Group A received acupuncture treatment twice a week for 10 sessions and Group B received a placebo treatment, where no actual needles were used. Levels of oestrogen and other hormones in both groups were measured before and after the treatments (3). This study fund that the women in the acupuncture group had significantly higher oestrogen level as well noticeably less menopausal symptoms compared to the placebo-control group after the 10 sessions. (3).
In 2015, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) confirmed acupuncture's effect on the severity and frequency of hot flushes for women in natural menopause. They uncovered 104 relevant studies. Out of those, 12 studies with 869 participants were selected for the current study(4). The participants were women in their 40-60s and various forms of acupuncture were used including traditional acupuncture, acupressure and electroacupuncture in order to evaluate its effect. The women who received acupuncture treatments reported that the severity and frequency of hot flushes were reduced significantly, the effects were also found to last for up to three months. Regardless of the number of sessions, doses or duration of treatments, acupuncture was found to have a beneficial effect on hot flushes and other menopause-related symptoms as well as an improved quality of life (4).
It is thought that acupuncture affects the hypothalamus of the brain where it induces the reduction in the concentration of beta-endorphin. The lower levels of beta-endorphin may trigger the release of calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), which helps the control of our body’s temperature (2, 5), thereby reducing hot flushes.
Acupuncture is a natural therapy that is both safe and effective, and as many studies suggest, it can be a great alternative treatment to those seeking non-pharmacological therapies for their menopausal symptoms.
Bottom line: If you’re experiencing hot flushes and other menopausal symptoms, come speak to Ann Sun, an experienced acupuncturist at Pure Healthcare, about turning down the heat and enjoying life again!
- Todd N. Slideshow: All About Menopause and Perimenopause [Internet]. WebMD. 2016 [cited 24 February 2017]. Available from: http://www.webmd.com/menopause/ss/slideshow-menopause-overview
- Whiteman H. Acupuncture may reduce severity and frequency of menopausal hot flashes [Internet]. Medical News Today. 2014 [cited 23 February 2017]. Available from: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/279714.php
- Didem S, Muruvvet O, Huseyin A, Ali S, Yalcin A. The effect of acupuncture on postmenopausal symptoms and reproductive hormones: a sham controlled clinical trial [Internet]. BMJ. 2010 [cited 26 February 2017]. Available from: http://aim.bmj.com/content/29/1/27
- Chiu H, Pan C, Shyu Y, Han B, Tsai P. Effects of acupuncture on menopause-related symptoms and quality of life in women in natural menopause. Menopause. 2015;22(2):234-244.
- Acupuncture: the answer to hot flashes - Australasian Menopause Society [Internet]. Menopause.org.au. 2014 [cited 24 February 2017]. Available from: https://www.menopause.org.au/health-professionals/news/894-acupuncture-the-answer-to-hot-flashes