Wednesday Bubble: Sham?

Posted by on Apr 15, 2009 in hot flash | 3 comments


Today’s Bubble troubles me because it’s a bit personal. You see; I want to believe.

Reporting in the Climacteric journal of the International Menopause Society, researchers say that a thorough review of scientific studies examining acupuncture and hot flashes failed to reveal any specific effects.  So, is acupuncture no more effective than sham acupuncture, i.e. placebo?

In this report, which appeared in the February 2009 edition of the journal, researchers searched studies published in 17 databases in different languages. Of the six well-designed trials that were ultimately included in their review, four compared regular acupuncture with sham acupuncture, in which a practitioner will insert needles on acupuncture points that are not relevant for treating hot flashes. The results: none of these trials showed any benefit of acupuncture in terms of frequency or severity of hot flashes.

Only one trial showed any favorable effects: this particular study tested acupuncture against needles that were place on non-relevant points but not inserted into the skin.

So, what can we conclude from these findings?

The researchers say that controlled studies, in which the environment is scientifically designed to mimic real life, fail to show any specific effects of acupuncture for controlling hot flashes. However, they do not appear to believe that this is the end all to be all. Instead, they call for more rigorous trials to further investigate the use of acupuncture for hot flashes.

Perhaps the ACUFLASH trial will shed more light.

What are your experiences with acupuncture? Have you used it specifically to treat hot flashes?


  1. 4-16-2009

    Liz, have thought about using acupuncture but shied away, not because of needles, just because it seemed like just another dead end. I have suffered, and suffered is the word, with this problem for 15 years, ever since my hysterectomy. The hot flashes come and go…but, they are horrible when they are here. I guess one learns to live with them. Medical science is not too concerned – the issue not being associated with any male problem, and all.

    • 4-16-2009

      Yvonne. Have you considered taking any herbal medicines? I’ve had great success as have many of my friends. I would be happy to chat with you or send you some resources beyond what’s on this blog.

  2. 4-27-2009

    Liz, I just had my first acupuncture treatment Thursday. I’ll go again this Thursday. I have two friends who swear by acupuncture for h.f., and they both saw this same practitioner.

    I have been in this perimenopause thing for several years and thought I was going to make it through sans hot flashes. An occasional night sweat a couple of years ago, but that ended. Alas, I started having hot flashes about 3 months ago — after my periods seem to have stopped. They happen at night, all night, sometimes in the evening, rarely during the day or only mildly. Thus the biggest issue is lack of sleep — and the resultant depression and lethargy.

    Thursday night after my first visit, I had the best night’s sleep I’ve had in weeks. But now I’m back to not sleeping much.

    I’ll keep you posted…


  1. Acupuncture and hot flashes – a winning combination « Flashfree - [...] researchers have pointed out that previous studies (which have shown mixed results) have relied on smaller numbers of patients,…

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