Menopause as well as cancer treatments can cause hot flashes, which are unusually high temperature accompanied by sweating and rapid heartbeat. Each hot flash episode can last as long as half an hour and may continue for years in more than 20% of women. The hormonal changes these conditions cause has an effect on the hypothalamus, which is responsible for controlling appetite, sleep cycles, sex hormones, and body temperature. Time does have a lessening effect on the intensity of symptoms.
Up to 60 percent of women with early stage breast cancer that are treated with Aromatase Inhibitors experience hot flashes. In some cases, symptoms can be more intense and last longer than is the general pattern.
Conventional Treatment Options
For those women who find the symptoms debilitating, suggested treatments usually include:
Relaxation and stress reduction
Change in diet
Vitamins and other supplements
Blood pressure-lowering medication
Low-dose antidepressant medication
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
The percentage of success with these therapies varies, and some of them have unpleasant or even serious side effects.
The Acupuncture Effect on Hot Flashes and Other Symptoms of Menopause
- A 2011 study on the experience of 53 postmenopausal women reported by the Ankara Training and ResearchHospital in Ankara, Turkey, concluded that acupuncture reduces the severity of hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. Measurements of estrogen levels confirmed the subjective results after ten weeks of treatment.
- In 2013, investigators at the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center and Johns Hopkins University gave acupuncture treatments for 8 weeks to 47 women receiving conventional care for breast cancer and then given aromatase inhibitors to further treat breast cancer or to prevent it from recurring after surgery.
Aromatase inhibitors block estrogen production. Thus, they can cause moderate to severe hot flashes.
Researchers found that acupuncture treatments for their hot flashes showed statistically significant improvements in depression, hot-flash severity and frequency, hot flash-related interference with daily routines, and other menopausal symptoms such as mood, sleep quality, depression, and anxiety.