Acupuncture Treatments for Hot Flashes and Night Sweats
Hot flashes and night sweats affect many women as they go through menopause and as they go through certain health care treatments that may induce menopause symptoms or as a side effect from medication. Hot flashes are when you feel sudden warmth spreading throughout your body. They may occur at any time of the day and the severity and frequency varies from person to person. You may also appear flushed as they happen. There also may be sweating, especially at night, causing night sweats. Then, there is often a chilled feeling as the hot flash disappears.
Although it is very common and many people suffer through having hot flashes, there are safe and effective treatments that can help substantially to decrease the frequency and severity of hot flashes and night sweats.
Acupuncture has shown to be effective for helping to reduce hot flashes and night sweats. In a randomized control study, researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine found a significant decrease in the severity of patient’s hot flashes when treated with acupuncture (1). Hot flashes are thought to be a result of reproductive hormone changes and changes in the hypothalamus, which regulates temperature (2). Although the mechanism of how acupuncture helps treat hot flashes and night sweats is not completely understood, there is evidence that acupuncture affects hormones related to menopause and sleep, such as estrogen and melatonin. One study found that acupuncture decreased the secretion of calcitonin gene-related peptide, a vasodilating neuropeptide that has been shown to affect hot flashes (3). A general way to look at acupuncture is that it helps your body to function better. Your body wants to be at homeostasis and there are many mechanisms that it uses to get there, but during periods of transitions (such as menopause) it may need assistance in maintaining balance and acupuncture can trigger your body to achieve homeostasis.
Hot flashes and night sweats may be a result of chemically induced menopause symptoms from surgery, or hormone medication, such as Tamoxifen. Acupuncture is a safe, nonpharmaceutical treatment with little to no side effects and no interactions with medications, making it an ideal choice for people that are not able to or do not want to take estrogen to treat hot flashes. In a study published in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, women on Tamoxifen receiving acupuncture decreased their hot flashes 50-60% (4).
A usual treatment for hot flashes and night sweats at Red Panda Acupuncture consists of a health history intake, a reading of your tongue and pulse, and the insertion of thin, sterile, single-use needles at specific points on your arms, legs, hands, feet, and/or ears. The needles remain in for about 30 minutes as you lie on a massage table, at which point you are feeling very comfortable and relaxed, most people fall asleep. Then the needles are removed and you may receive cupping, massage, and/or ear seeds, if appropriate for your treatment. Generally after four treatments you will notice a decrease in severity, frequency, and duration of your hot flashes and night sweats but it may take up to ten treatments, depending on your condition. Some people may need tune ups once a month, some people need tune ups once a year to help your body maintain balance.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or would like to set up an appointment. Red Panda Acupuncture is located in Elkins Park, PA.
All the best,
Kearney DeFillipo L.Ac., Dipl.Ac.
Y. Wyon, J. Frisk, T. Lundeberg, E. Theodorsson, and M. Hammar, “Postmenopausal women with vasomotor symptoms have increased urinary excretion of calcitonin gene-related peptide,” Maturitas, vol. 30, no. 3, pp. 289–294, 1998.