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Acupuncture May Not Help Hot Flashes

Most data finds no difference between real, sham treatments, researchers say

TUESDAY, April 7, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- Acupuncture appears ineffective in treating menopause-related hot flashes, according to researchers who reviewed six randomized controlled studies that compared the effects of real acupuncture and sham acupuncture.

Only one of the studies found that acupuncture helped reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes at four weeks follow-up after treatment.

The number of good randomized controlled trials is too small to draw any firm conclusion about whether acupuncture helps treat hot flashes, but the evidence from the studies suggests the treatment is ineffective, said lead researcher Dr. Myeong Soo Lee of the Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine in South Korea.

The review was published in the journal Climacteric.

The researchers noted that many women seek help to deal with symptoms that can occur during and after menopause. Because of concerns about hormone replacement therapy, many women seek alternatives to deal with their symptoms. But many of these alternative treatments are untested.

Women seeking relief from menopausal symptoms should consult their doctor before starting any type of treatment, the study authors recommended.

The president of the International Menopause Society agreed.

"There's not doubt that many women need relief from the symptoms associated with the menopause," noted Dr. David Sturdee. "They need to make sure that the treatment they choose works and is right for them. I would always recommend that a woman consult her physician before starting any treatment."

More information

The U.S. National Women's Health Information Center has more about menopause.

SOURCE: International Menopause Society, news release, April 7, 2009
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