- Acupuncture was found to relieve hot flashes and night sweats by 36%
- Scientists acknowledge it might not work for every woman
- But their findings suggest it can relieve symptoms for up to a year
For women of a certain age, hot flashes and night sweats become part of daily life.
There is much debate about how to ease the symptoms of the menopause, and now a team of scientists from North Carolina have added their evidence to the mix.
They found acupuncture treatments do reduce the number of hot flashes and night sweats, by as much as 36 per cent.
Professor Nancy Avis, lead author of the study from the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, said: ‘Although acupuncture does not work for every woman, our study showed that, on average, acupuncture effectively reduced the frequency of hot flashes and results were maintained for six months after treatments stopped.’
Menopausal women who underwent acupuncture for six months saw a 36 per cent reduction in their hot flashes and night sweats, for up to a year, a new study has revealed
The study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health, included 209 women aged 45 to 60, who had not had a menstrual period for at least three months.
Researchers assessed each of the women at the start of the study, and then the participants were divided, at random, into two groups.
The first group received acupuncture treatments during the first six months.
They were then assessed for the next six months, though acupuncture treatment had finished.
The second group did not receive any acupuncture during the first six months, but did receive the treatment during the second six-month period.
Experts say while acupuncture won’t work for every women, it can off a way of treating the symptoms without side effects
The women taking part were allowed up to 20 treatments within six months, provided by licensed, experienced acupuncturists.
All the participants kept a daily diary on the frequency and severity of their hot flashes.
They also answered questionnaires about other symptoms they endured, every two months.
Professor Avis said the study was designed to make it more like the ‘real world’, by leaving the frequency and number of acupuncture treatments up to the women taking part and their acupuncturists.
After six months, the first group reported an average 36.7 per cent decline in the frequency of hot flashes, compared to at the start of the study.
After the full 12 months, the benefits persisted, with the group members maintaining an average of 29.4 per cent fewer hot flashes and night sweats compared with at the start of the study.
The second group reported a six per cent increase in symptom frequency during the six months when they were not getting acupuncture.
But researchers found similar results – an average 31 per cent reduction in frequency – to the first group after receiving acupuncture during the latter part of the trial.
Professor Avis said: ‘There are a number of non-hormonal options for treating hot flashes and night sweats that are available to women.
‘None of these options seem to work for everyone, but our study showed that acupuncture from a licensed acupuncturist can help some women without any side effects.
‘Our study also showed that the maximum benefit occurred after about eight treatments.’
Professor Avis cautioned that the effect shown in the study could be due to non-specific effects such as the additional care and attention the study participants received or the expectation of a benefit.
She also said that additional research is needed to identify individual differences in response to acupuncture.
The findings are published in the June issue of the journal Menopause.