Acupuncture is found to be effective in reducing the number of hot flashes and night sweats associated with menopause. Researchers have found that after six months of acupuncture treatment, women reported an average 36.7 per cent decline in the frequency of hot flashes.

The study shows that despite not working for every woman, acupuncture reduced the frequency of hot flashes and the results were maintained six months after the treatments were stopped. It was also found that a licensed acupuncturist can help some women without any side-effects and the maximum benefit occurred after eight treatments.

The team examined 209 women, between the age group of 45 to 60 years, who did not have a menstrual period for at least three months, and had experienced an average of at least four hot flashes or night sweats per day in the previous two weeks. The participants received a baseline assessment and were then randomised to one of two groups.

On one hand, the first group received acupuncture during the initial six months; they were then followed without treatment for the next six months. On the other hand, the second group did not receive any acupuncture during the first six months, but they did receive treatments during the next six months. The participants were allowed up to 20 treatments within the six months by licensed, experienced acupuncturists in the community.

The results revealed that after a year, the benefits persisted with the group members, maintaining an average of 29.4 per cent reduction from baseline. The second group reported a six per cent increase in symptom frequency during the six months when they were not getting acupuncture, but had similar results of an average 31 per cent reduction in frequency to the first group after receiving acupuncture during the latter part of the trial.

The author is Head of Acupuncture at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi