flashes – the bane of existence for many women during menopause – can be
reduced in frequency by almost half for about 50 percent of women over eight
weeks of acupuncture treatment, according to scientists at Wake Forest Baptist Medical
In a study published in the Sept. 28 issue of the journal
Menopause, scientists reported that about half the women in the study reduced
the frequency of hot flashes, while half did not.
“Women bothered by hot flashes and night sweats may want
to give acupuncture a try as a relatively low-cost, low-risk treatment,” said
Nancy Avis, Ph.D., lead author of the study and professor of Public Health
Sciences at Wake Forest School of Medicine, a part of Wake Forest Baptist.
“Women will know pretty quickly if acupuncture will work for them. Women
who had a reduction in their hot flashes saw a benefit beginning after about
three to four weeks of weekly treatments.”
The National Institutes of Health-funded study was
designed to examine different patterns of responses to acupuncture.
Participants included 209 perimenopausal and postmenopausal women ages 45 to 60
who had on average at least four hot flashes or night sweats per day. Women
were randomized to receive up to 20 acupuncture treatments within six months or
to a control group.
Of the 170 women who received acupuncture, a small group
of women (11.9 percent) had an 85 percent reduction in hot flashes by the
eighth week of the study, Avis said. Forty-seven percent of the study group
reported a 47 percent reduction over this same time frame. However, 37 percent
showed only a minimal reduction of 9.6 percent in frequency of hot flashes,
while 4 percent reported a 100 percent increase in hot flashes.
“We had hoped to identify some of the characteristics of
the women who benefitted from acupuncture, but like so many treatments, we
could not really tell ahead of time who would benefit,” Avis said.
Funding for the study was provided by grant R01AT005854
from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, at NIH.
Co-authors include: Beverly Levine, Ph.D., Scott Isom,
M.S., and Timothy Morgan, Ph.D., of Wake Forest Baptist; and Remy R. Coeytaux,
M.D., Ph.D., of Duke University School of Medicine.
has a financial interest in an organization involved in recruiting study
subjects and administering acupuncture treatments at one of the two study
sites. His spouse is the primary shareholder of Chapel Hill Doctors, which is
an organization that was subcontracted by Wake Forest School of Medicine as a
site for subject recruitment and treatment.