Using acupuncture for menopause can relieve the most common symptoms primarily by regulating the drastic changes in hormone levels that women experience during menopause. This leads to a significant decline in hot flashes and an increase in energy, appetite and sense of well-being without the harsh side-effects of hormone replacement therapy. Other benefits include:
- Significant reduction in hot flashes
- Overcoming fatigue and insomnia
- Improving symptoms of depression
- Increasing your appetite
- Improving your body’s circulation and cardio-pulmonary functions
- Regulating menstruation
- Relieving aches and pains
How Acupuncture Works
The basic foundation for Oriental medicine is that there is a life energy flowing through the body which we call Qi (pronounced chee).
This energy flows through the body on channels known as meridians that connect all of our major organs. According to Chinese medical theory, illness arises when the cyclical flow of Qi in the meridians becomes unbalanced. Acupuncture is the stimulation of specific points located near or on the surface of the skin which have the ability to alter various biochemical and physiological conditions in order to achieve the desired effect.
The mental and emotional symptoms that you are experiencing reflect how your Qi is flowing. These symptoms create a clear picture which your practitioners consider when making a treatment plan specifically for you.
The Acupuncture Treatment
Acupuncture points to treat the emotional and physical effects of menopause are located all over the body. During the acupuncture treatment, tiny needles will be placed along your legs, arms, shoulders, and perhaps even your little toe!
There seems to be little sensitivity to the insertion of acupuncture needles. They are so thin that several acupuncture needles can go into the middle of a hypodermic needle. Occasionally, there is a brief moment of discomfort as the needle penetrates the skin. However, once the needles are in place, most people relax and even fall asleep for the duration of the treatment.
The length, number, and frequency of treatments will vary. Typical treatments last from five to 30 minutes with the patient receiving treatment one or two times a week. Some symptoms diminish after the first treatment, while more severe or chronic ailments often require multiple treatments.
Studies on Acupuncture and Menopause
Since the early 70s, studies around the globe have shown that acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are effective treatments for hot flashes, anxiety, insomnia, vaginal dryness and many other symptoms of menopause. Recent studies show extremely positive results:
From 1997 to 1999, one of the first studies in the United States to explore the effectiveness of acupuncture in alleviating hot flashes, insomnia and nervousness. The study, conducted by Dr. Susan Cohen, D.S.N., APRN, associate professor of the University of Pittsburgh, found that during the course of acupuncture treatments, hot flashes decreased by 35% and insomnia decreased by 50%. A follow-up study revealed hot flashes significantly decreased in those receiving acupuncture compared to those receiving routine care.
A 2002 pilot study in England found that acupuncture reduced the frequency and severity of hot flashes in women being treated with tamoxifen for breast cancer.
While these results are promising and the United Nations World Health Organization has approved acupuncture as a treatment for symptoms associated with menopause, further clinical trials with larger samples are currently underway.
Lifestyle and Dietary Instructions
We encourage menopause to lose extra weight and to follow a diet rich in raw foods, fruits and vegetables to stabilize blood sugar. Some foods may exacerbate hot flashes or increase mood swings. Steer clear of dairy products, red meats, alcohol, sugar, spicy foods, caffeine, and don’t smoke. Lastly, try to eliminate stress, tension and anxiety. You can also learn sills to cope with stress to diminish the effects it has on your body and mind.