Acupuncture for Hot Flashes
An Effective Alternative Treatment for Menopause
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is based on the theory that energy is flowing along specific pathways (called meridians) throughout the body. By accessing specific points along these pathways the body can be brought back into harmony and balance.
Proponents of this method claim that acupuncture regulates the nervous system, primarily by stimulating endorphins and aiding the release of neurotransmitters. (This is a very “western” explanation).
The traditional explanation is more about the balance of the different “systems of function” known as the zang-fu. Balance is what traditional Chinese medicine is all about and this sounds to us like a much better approach than treating one symptom at a time.
During a treatment session, hair-thin needles are inserted into specific points on the skin, called “acupuncture points,” and then are gently manipulated. For the most benefit, point selections should be individualized for each patient. The treatment is most effective if the practitioner is well versed and experienced in acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine.
One concern regarding this treatment is that unsterile needles can cause infections. But in the US most practitioners use one-time needles to avoid this risk. The other concern is that the needles will hurt. But the needles do not penetrate the skin and there is little or no pain (My own mother confirms that. She received acupuncture treatment for a different condition and told me that it does not hurt at all).
It generally takes several sessions before the effect will be felt and benefits can vary from woman to woman. So be patient when you have your first session. Also keep in mind that acupuncture for hot flashes may not work for everybody, which is true for any treatment.
Does Acupuncture Really Work?
Modern practitioners believe that acupuncture brings relief pain, promotes well being and treats disease.
Numerous studies have raised doubts about the benefits of this treatment and conclude that it results only in strong placebo effects. However, even western researchers admit that acupuncture for hot flashes works at least for women who take tamoxifen for breast cancer.
Tamoxifen is a drug that is known to cause severe hot flashes. And as women with breast cancer are warned not to use estrogenic herbs (Soy, Red Clover etc), their options for natural remedies for hot flashes are very limited.
In a recent study with women in this group, acupuncture resulted in a reduction in frequency and severity of hot flashes that lasted well after the acupuncture treatment stopped. Plus the treatments relieved sluggishness, fuzzy thinking and boosted their sex drive – all problems that plague many women in menopause.
No matter where you stand with regards to holistic remedies, acupuncture for hot flashes is well worth a try. There are no side effects and if it does work, the benefits are great, not just for hot flashes but for many other symptoms as well.
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