Acupuncture Offers No Benefits Over Placebo for Hot Flashes of Menopause
Acupuncture is no more effective for menopausal hot flashes than a sham version of the procedure, a randomized trial has found.
Researchers studied 327 menopausal women over 40 who had hot flashes at least seven times a day.
Over eight weeks, they gave half the women standardized Chinese medicine acupuncture procedures.
The other half received a sham treatment using a blunt needle with a technique that gives the physical and visual impression of genuine acupuncture but does not penetrate the skin. Researchers “inserted” the needles at three sites that were not acupuncture points.
The study, in Annals of Internal Medicine, included 10 treatments over eight weeks. At the start of the study, and periodically over the next six months, the women used diaries to record the intensity and frequency of their hot flashes.
There was some improvement in symptoms in both groups, but there were no differences between the groups in severity or frequency of hot flashes, or in secondary outcomes for menopause-specific quality of life, anxiety and depression.
“Acupuncture has been shown to be more effective than placebo for a number of conditions, specifically chronic pain,” said the lead author, Dr. Carolyn Ee, a family physician trained in both Western and Chinese medicine. “To say that it doesn’t work for hot flashes is not the same as saying it doesn’t work.”