HONG KONG – Acupuncture may not help relieve hot flashes in women undergoing menopause, a review of past studies involving the practice has shown.
In a paper published in the journal Climacteric, researchers in South Korea and Britain said they trawled though medical literature exploring the efficacy of acupuncture in relieving hot flashes but evidence was scarce.
"Our findings provide no convincing evidence that acupuncture is beneficial for women suffering from menopausal hot flashes," they wrote.
Many women are concerned about the side effects of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and opt for alternatives such as acupuncture.
The researchers trawled through 106 papers in total, and narrowed down to six the ones they considered most relevant to the study. The six tested the effects of real acupuncture against the effects of sham acupuncture.
Sham acupuncture would be to penetrate acupuncture points that are not relevant for the treatment of hot flashes.
Only one reported positive effects of acupuncture on the frequency and severity of hot flushes after four weeks of follow-up, while the other five showed no such effects.
Edzard Ernst, a professor at the Complementary Medicine Peninsula Medical School in Britain, recommended that women experiencing menopause return to using HRT.
"We would always recommend that women wanting relief from menopausal symptoms consult their clinician before undertaking any course of treatment," they wrote.