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Acupuncture for hot flashes: a randomized, sham-controlled clinical study

Vincent, Ann MBBS, MD1; Barton, Debra L. PhD, RN1; Mandrekar, Jayawant N. PhD1; Cha, Stephen S. MS1; Zais, Teresa MD1; Wahner-Roedler, Dietlind L. MD1; Keppler, Marina A. LAc, MA, DiplAc1; Kreitzer, Mary Jo PhD, RN2; Loprinzi, Charles MD1

doi: 10.1097/01.gme.0000227854.27603.7d

Objective: Hot flashes are a significant problem in women going through the menopausal transition that can substantially affect quality of life. The world of estrogen therapy has been thrown into turmoil with the recent results of the Women's Health Initiative trial report. Pursuant to a growing interest in the use of alternative therapies to alleviate menopausal symptoms and a few pilot trials that suggested that acupuncture could modestly alleviate hot flashes, a prospective, randomized, single-blind, sham-controlled clinical trial was conducted in women experiencing hot flashes.

Design: Participants, after being randomized to medical versus sham acupuncture, received biweekly treatments for 5 weeks after a baseline assessment week. They were then followed for an additional 7 weeks. Participants completed daily hot flash questionnaires, which formed the basis for analysis.

Results: A total of 103 participants were randomized to medical or sham acupuncture. At week 6 the percentage of residual hot flashes was 60% in the medical acupuncture group and 62% in the sham acupuncture group. At week 12, the percentage of residual hot flashes was 73% in the medical acupuncture group and 55% in the sham acupuncture group. Participants reported no adverse effects related to the treatments.

Conclusions: The results of this study suggest that the used medical acupuncture was not any more effective for reducing hot flashes than was the chosen sham acupuncture.

This article reports the results of a double-blind, sham-controlled control of acupuncture for treatment of hot flashes. This trial failed to suggest any benefit for the tested acupuncture treatment arm.

From the 1Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, MN; and the 2Center for Spirituality and Healing, University of Minnesota, Saint Paul, MN.

Received February 22, 2006; revised and accepted April 11, 2006.

Funding/support: This trial was funded by a Mayo Foundation Award.

Financial disclosure: None reported.

Address correspondence to: Charles L. Loprinzi, MD, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905. E-mail:

©2007The North American Menopause Society