The Treatment of Menopause Using Acupuncture
By Craig Amrine, L.Ac.
So what to do?
Fortunately, there ARE other options. Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) have had a long history in addressing women’s health issues. It is commonly used to address PMS, painful periods, and even improve fertility. The need for acupuncture doesn’t stop, however, when a woman’s period stops. Acupuncture can play a huge role in decreasing or even eliminating menopausal symptoms.
Acupuncture and Hot Flashes
Several studies have shown that acupuncture can significantly lower hot-flash symptoms. A recent study specifically measured both hormone levels and menopause symptoms as described in the MRS (Menopause Rating Scale) before and after several weeks of acupuncture. The results were compared to a “Sham” group that received acupuncture in non-related body points. The results suggested that hot-flashes were significantly lower in the group treated at “Real” acupuncture points. Interestingly, LH (luetenizing hormone) levels were lower while estrogen levels were markedly higher after acupuncture in the “Real” acupuncture group.
Another study compared acupuncture versus Venlafaxine (Effexor) for treatment of hot-flashes (vaso-motor symptoms) and depressive and quality-of-life symptoms of menopausal women. This study was interesting because it was conducted on women who were survivors of breast cancer. It is commonly understood that women who’ve already had breast cancer are especially vulnerable to hormone-replacement therapy because it can increase the cancer returning. As a result, the common solution is to prescribe them Venlafaxine (Effexor). Effexor has been proven to lower menopause based hot-flashes. It is a common anti-depressant, however, with a large list of negative side-effects common to all selective seratonin-reuptake-inhibitors (SSRI’s).
The study clearly demonstrated that acupuncture was AT LEAST as effective in reducing hot-flashes as Effexor in these patients with breast cancer. The group receiving acupuncture also noted marked improvements in anxiety, depression, and even an increased sex-drive as compared to the patients taking Effexor. In a follow-up analysis one full year after the completion of treatments, hot-flash frequency was still significantly lower in the acupuncture group compared to the Effexor group. In addition, none of the patients in the acupuncture group experienced several of the negative side-effects reported in the Effexor group including dry-mouth, decreased appetite, nausea, and constipation.
Acupuncture and Osteoporosis
While hot-flashes can be inconvenient, loss of bone density leading to fractures is much more serious. Can acupuncture really stop bone loss or possibly increase bone density? The answer is YES! Several studies have been performed on both animals and humans measuring bone density before and after several acupuncture treatments. The results have uniformly demonstrated that acupuncture increases bone density on post-menopausal patients. So how does it do this? Acupuncture was shown to actually lower IL-6 levels. As a result, osteoclast concentration is lowered and bone-loss is prevented.
Other Natural Solutions ?
Aside from Traditional Chinese Medicine, other options to address menopause symptoms include foods containing phytoestrogens (substances that ACT like estrogen on estrogen receptors in the body) such as isoflavones in Soy, along with herbs such as black cohosh While they are considered natural, they are not completely harmless and may have their own potential side-effects. For example, black cohosh can possibly cause headaches, rashes, possible weight gains, and vaginal spotting.
Quality sources of calcium such as calcium citrate along with Vitamin D are recommended to maintain good bone health.
Probably the cheapest way to prevent and even reverse bone-loss is through weight-training. Several studies show that it can increase bone density in menopausal women.
Women who are going or will be going through menopause no longer have to suffer, or anticipate this change with dread. There are several natural, safe, and effective options including acupuncture to reduce symptoms of menopause. Acupuncture has been proven to treat the following menopause symptoms:
- Hot Flashes
- Drop in Libido
It’s inexpensive, safe, and proven to work.
Craig Amrine, L.Ac. is a licensed acupuncturist and leading expert on Cold Laser Therapy. He can be reached through his website at Hidden Rhythm Acupuncture.
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