Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine offers effective relief for menopause symptoms
Recent studies show that acupuncture for menopause symptoms is effectively giving women relief. You don’t have to tell us that – I’ve been helping women ease through this transition in life for decades now. There is nothing better than offering hope to a patient who has been told there is no other option than to just deal with the insomnia, night sweats and annoying weight gain as “normal,” and to get used to this new way of life. So frustrating!! Let’s look at the effectiveness of acupuncture and Chinese medicine, and explore how it can help those of you who are experiencing menopausal symptoms.
World Health Organization has cited acupuncture as a treatment for over 43 conditions, including allergies, asthma, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, colds, flu, constipation, depression, gynecological disorders, headaches, heart problems, infertility, insomnia, premenstrual syndrome, sciatica, sports injuries, tendonitis, and stress – and now perimenopausal symptoms too!
Remember, perimenopause is a long hormonal shift that transitions a menstruating person into menopause over a course of years. Once you have hit the one year mark of no menstrual cycles – you are in menopause! (For simplicity sake, I will clump perimenopause in with menopausal symptoms.) Unfortunately, these symptoms are intensely experienced by people who are undergoing medical menopause induced by chemotherapy or gender reassignment therapies as well. The symptoms of menopause include hot flashes, mood swings, irregular periods, night sweats, and nutritional deficiencies.
Hormone replacement therapy, also known as HRT, is one of the most common Western treatments for menopause discomforts. In HRT, estrogen and progestin, a synthetic form of progesterone, are administered. There are concerns about the effects of HRT with long term use. The use of hormone replacement therapy increases the risk of breast cancer, heart disease, stroke, and blood clots with some past medical histories. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely take an integrative approach with HRT and value the relief it can offer BUT there are many other solutions that can be used first to improve your symptoms without medication. This allows you to reserve HRT for a shorter term solution as a last measure rather than leaping into it as the first and only remedy to menopausal symptoms. Holistic, all-natural treatments such as acupuncture and moxa, along with nutritional therapies, stress management and even meditation are safe alternatives to try first before starting hormone replacement therapy .
As an alternative to hormone replacement therapy, acupuncture can be a first line of defense. Several studies have shown that acupuncture significantly reduces the intensity of nighttime hot flashes. According to a 2007 study conducted by Stanford University School of Medicine, acupuncture eases menopausal symptoms. In the study, 29 women experienced at least seven hot flashes a day, ranging in intensity from moderate to severe. Compared to the placebo group, the active acupuncture group experienced 28 percent fewer nocturnal hot flashes (28%) than the placebo group.
For menopausal symptoms, Chinese herbal medicine is another option. For example, black cohosh is an effective natural menopause remedy that alleviates hot flashes, heart palpitations, and headaches. In addition, St. John’s Wort is effective for mild anxiety and depression. Herbs have shown positive results when treating menopausal symptoms because they can balance estrogen, progestin, and testosterone levels.
A growing number of people are replacing HRT with non-estrogenic herbs. As far as non-estrogenic herbs are concerned, they can treat hormonal problems without introducing artificial hormones into the body. Non-estrogenic herbs are widely used in countries like France, Japan, and Germany, and doctors often prescribe them specifically for menopausal symptoms.
As a Chinese Medicine doctor, I develop individual treatment plans for each patient, unlike many Western treatments that treat the same symptoms for every patient. Every person is unique, and her menopausal symptoms vary greatly. There are no one-size-fits-all treatments in Chinese medicine.
Benefits of Acupuncture for Menopause Support
There are several symptoms of menopause that acupuncture may help with, including:
- hot flashes
- night sweats
- mood swings
- vaginal dryness
Acupuncture can help to reduce hot flashes and night sweats, two common symptoms of menopause. It can also help to improve mood swings and irritability, improve sleep patterns, increase energy levels, and reduce the risk of depression associated with hormonal changes during menopause. Additionally, acupuncture may be beneficial in reducing joint stiffness, improving digestion and circulation, reducing headaches, and alleviating stress.
Chinese Herbal Medicine
In addition to acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine has been used for centuries to address menopause-related symptoms. Many herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine have been shown to be effective in relieving hot flashes, night sweats, joint pain, mood swings, and other issues. Examples of these herbs include Dong Quai, Xi Yang Shen and Wu Wei Zi.
Acupuncture for Menopause Research
There is a growing body of research that has looked into the efficacy of acupuncture in providing relief from menopause-related symptoms. A systematic review published in 2016 looked at several randomized controlled trials that had been conducted on the use of acupuncture as a relief for hot flashes and night sweats. The results showed that routine acupuncture treatments reduced the intensity and frequency of both symptoms. Other studies have also suggested that acupuncture may help to reduce joint stiffness, improve mood, and improve sleep patterns in menopausal women.
This study (as of 2/09) compared the effectiveness of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) with acupuncture and ear acupressure for the relief of hot flashes. In menopause, the ovaries cease to function and an endocrine feedback loop ensues which creates the symptoms we associate with menopause such as hot flashes, irritability, and sleep disturbance. HRT replaces the hormones (estrogen and progesterone) the ovaries once produced. It has been associated with increased risk for breast cancer, stroke, heart disease, and blood clots.
Are you having trouble with insomnia or anxiety? Are you waking up drenched from night sweats? Are you so exhausted you can’t keep up with your kids? Enough is enough! Come in with your questions, and learn more about how I can help. Don’t delay feeling your best one day longer – Book your Consultation!
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