Researchers from Norway report it reduced both frequency and intensity.

First, the details.

  • 267 postmenopausal women experiencing, on average, at least 7 hot flashes per day for 7 consecutive days were assigned to a treatment group.
    • 10 acupuncture treatment sessions and advice on self-care.
    • Advice on self-care only.
  • The frequency and severity (0-10 scale) of hot flashes were recorded in a diary.
  • Hot flash frequency and changes in health-related quality of life were measured using the Women’s Health Questionnaire.
  • Urine excretion of calcitonin gene-related peptide (the most potent peptide blood vessel dilator) was measured.

And, the results.

  • Hot flash frequency decreased significantly in the acupuncture group vs. the control group (6 vs 2 per day, respectively).
  • Hot flash intensity decreased significantly in the acupuncture group vs. the control group (-3 vs -2, respectively).
  • The acupuncture group experienced statistically significant improvements in the vasomotor, sleep, and somatic symptoms dimensions of the Women’s Health Questionnaire vs. the control group.
  • Urine calcitonin gene-related peptide excretion didn’t change.

The bottom line?
The authors concluded, “Acupuncture plus self-care can contribute to a clinically relevant reduction in hot flashes and increased health-related quality of life in postmenopausal women.”

The researchers have conducted a large study, and a reduction in hot flash frequency from 6 to 2 per day should be meaningful for most women, even if the difference in intensity is small.

However, Prof. Ernst has warned against using a study design that randomly assigns patients to either usual care (A) + the experimental treatment (B) or to usual care (A) alone — A + B vs A — because is stacks the deck against the possibility of a negative result.

The results become more problematic considering that sham-controlled studies of acupuncture don’t support this option to manage menopausal hot flushes.

5/9/09 20:43 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.