Acupuncture No Better Than Placebo For Hot Flashes


Acupuncture Presure Interview with:
Carolyn Ee
Department of General Practice
University of Melbourne
Carlton, Victoria, Australia

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Hot flushes affect up to 90% of women during the menopause and beyond, and women are turning to complementary therapies. Our randomised sham-controlled trial found no difference between real and sham acupuncture (given with a blunt needle) for hot flushes, with both groups improving by around 40% at the end of treatment.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: Clinicians should understand that acupuncture is a safe treatment, with serious side effects being rare, and has been shown to be more effective than “no treatment” for hot flushes. However, needling does not appear to make a difference with the acupuncture effect. Women appear to benefit from seeing a therapist regularly, which indicates that a having a supportive health practitioner can have a therapeutic effect.

Women should discuss the pros and cons of all treatment options for hot flushes with their doctors. They should also be reassured that hot flushes tend to get better with time. If they wish to continue having acupuncture for hot flushes, they should understand that our study suggests that needle acupuncture is not superior to blunt stimulation of the skin.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: We excluded women with breast cancer as they have more severe hot flushes and warrant treatment as a separate group. Research on acupuncture for hot flushes in breast cancer survivors has yielded inconsistent results, and I would like to see more research in this area especially given that treatment options for breast cancer survivors are limited.

Medical Research: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: Acupuncture has been shown to be more effective than sham for a number of conditions especially chronic pain (including osteoarthritis, low back pain, neck pain adn elbow pain), tension type headache, period pain and hayfever.


Ee C, Xue C, Chondros P, Myers SP, French SD, Teede H, et al. Acupuncture for Menopausal Hot Flashes: A Randomized Trial. Ann Intern Med. [Epub ahead of print 19 January 2016] doi:10.7326/M15-1380


Dr. Carolyn Cheng-Ling Fe (2016). Acupuncture No Better Than Placebo For Hot Flashes 

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