DR. WENDY CUNNINGHAM: Acupuncture for hot flashes

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The ancient Chinese practice of acupuncture has been used to treat physical, mental and emotional conditions, from headaches to asthma, for thousands of years. Research also supports the use of acupuncture for menopause-induced hot flashes.

A primary goal of acupuncture is the correction of energetic changes that occur in the body to quickly relieve symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, brain fog and irritability. In fact, there is evidence that acupuncture and herbal medicine have been used for women’s health in early medical literature dating back to 3AD.

Traditional Chinese medicine does not recognize menopause as one particular syndrome. Instead, menopause can consist of a variety of different imbalances in the body. It is important to evaluate each person to identify the specific underlying causes that are unique to the individual. Treatment can include a variety of techniques including acupuncture, herbs and/or supplements, bodywork, lifestyle and dietary recommendations and energetic exercises to restore imbalances found in the body.

A study published in the journal Menopause (July 2014) analyzed 12 studies and found acupuncture has the power to reduce hot flash frequency, severity and other menopausal symptoms. This was the first study to look specifically at acupuncture’s effect on hot flashes for women in natural menopause.

Hot flashes are the most common symptom of menopause. They happen to more than two-thirds of women in North America. The sudden feeling of heat can cause red blotches to appear on your chest, back and arms, followed by heavy sweating and cold shivers to cool the body back down. Approximately half of all menopausal women use complementary and alternative medicine therapies, such as acupuncture, instead of drug therapies to manage their symptoms.

Various forms of acupuncture were found to be beneficial for hot flashes. These include traditional Chinese medicine acupuncture, acupressure, electro acupuncture, laser acupuncture and auricular (ear) acupuncture.

Researchers found menopausal women between the ages of 40 and 60 had lessened the frequency and severity of their hot flashes for as long as three months after a course of acupuncture treatment.

The study stopped short of explaining the exact mechanism underlying the effects of acupuncture on hot flashes, but a theory was proposed to suggest that acupuncture caused a reduction in the concentration of Beta-endorphin in the hypothalamus, resulting from low concentrations of estrogen.

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For more information, contact Dr. Wendy at haydenhealth@gmail.com.

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