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Needles therapy can relieve hot flushes

Acupuncture can help relieve hot flushes linked to the menopause, says two studies.

Women given the traditional Chinese treatment noted a drop in the number and intensity of flushes.

In the first study, more than 260 postmenopausal women experiencing, on average, seven or more hot flushes per 24 hours during seven consecutive days were included.

They were split into two groups, with the acupuncture group given 10 acupuncture treatment sessions and advice on looking after themselves.

The second group solely received advice on keeping well.

Experts found that the frequency and severity of hot flushes fell in the treatment group.

Women kept a diary of the number and severity (on a 0 to 10 scale) of hot flushes they were experiencing.

The results showed that the number of hot flushes fell by 5.8 per 24 hours in the acupuncture group and 3.7 per 24 hours in the control group.

The acupuncture group also experienced better sleep and better physical well-being.

The study was carried out by experts at the National Research Centre in Alternative and Complementary Medicine in Tromso, Norway. Researcher Terje Alraek said the study involved women self-reporting their symptoms.

He said this type of research had been validated against other studies.

He added: "The promising results of the Acuflash study suggest that acupuncture may be able to provide an alternative to long-term use of hormone replacement therapy."

Mark Bovey, of the British Acupuncture Council, said: "Our members have for many years successfully helped patients suffering from various menopausal symptoms.



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"At a time when the body is undergoing numerous physical and emotional changes, an acupuncturists' approach of treating the individual, rather than the illness, can help smooth the transition, providing relief from symptoms as well as an improved sense of well-being."

In the second study, 53 postmenopausal women were divided into two groups, with 27 receiving traditional acupuncture and the rest given fake or "sham" acupuncture.

Experts found that those women given traditional acupuncture had fewer symptoms of hot flushes and fewer mood swings than women not on the treatment.

hnews@herald.ie