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Acupuncture no better than sham for relief of hot flashes.


Chinese medicine needle acupuncture was about as effective as a sham blunt needle treatment in the relief of hot flashes, although women reported a 40% drop in symptoms with both treatments.

The findings, published in Annals of Internal Medicine, add to a growing but conflicting body of evidence about the benefits of acupuncture in the treatment of menopause symptoms.

Prior to this study, two trials had demonstrated the effectiveness of acupuncture, compared with self care. And a pilot study had shown the effectiveness of acupuncture, compared with a noninsertive sham control. However, a Cochrane review found that acupuncture was more effective, compared with no treatment, and it had a moderate effect size, but was not effective when compared with a sham control (Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Jul 30;7:CD007410. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD007410.pub2).

The current trial sought to add to the evidence with an adequately powered trial involving a sham control. But Carolyn Ee and her associates at the University of Melbourne noted that their study did not control for the nonspecific effects of acupuncture, such as regular interaction with a therapist.

The researchers randomly assigned 327 women aged older than 40 years who were in late menopause transition or postmenopause and experiencing at least seven moderate daily hot flashes to receive either a standardized Chinese medicine acupuncture treatment or a noninsertive, blunt needle sham acupuncture treatment. Patients received 10 treatments over 8 weeks (Ann Intern Med. 2016 Jan 18. doi:10.7326/M15-1380).

Both groups had about a 40% improvement in their hot flashes at the end of treatment, compared with their mean baseline hot flash score. The improvement was sustained at 3 and 6 months after the trial. In the acupuncture group, the mean hot flash scores at the end of treatment were 15.36, compared with 15.04 in the sham group, which was not statistically different. The researchers also found no advantage for acupuncture in quality of life, anxiety, or depression.

"Unless further high-quality evidence emerges, we cannot recommend skin-penetrating acupuncture as an efficacious treatment of this indication; the effects, if any, of acupuncture on these symptoms seem to be unrelated to needling," the researchers wrote.

Some of the researchers reported receiving grant, scholarship, or fellowship support from the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, which funded the study.

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Title Annotation:MENOPAUSE
Author:Schneider, Mary Ellen
Publication:OB GYN News
Date:Feb 1, 2016
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