Research on acupuncture to help hot flashes has been mixed. Some studies have shown that acupuncture can help ease hot flashes. Other research has shown that it offers no help. A study adds to these mixed results. The researchers found that women who had 6 weeks of what they thought were acupuncture sessions had slightly fewer hot flashes each day, whether or not they actually received genuine acupuncture.
In acupuncture, sterile, hair-thin needles are inserted into specific points on the skin, called "acupuncture points," and then gently moved. Half of the women in this study didn't have the acupuncture needles actually inserted into their skin (the "sham" group) but still had fewer hot flashes. The researchers think that because the women didn't know whether they were getting genuine acupuncture or the "sham" treatment, the psychological effects of the treatment may have caused the benefits. Doctors call this the placebo effect. It's also possible that genuine acupuncture may have had more benefits if the women had received more acupuncture sessions or the sessions were more intense.
To learn more about acupuncture and other complementary medicine techniques, visit the breastcancer.org Complementary Medicine section. To learn more about other techniques to help ease hot flashes, visit the breastcancer.org All About Hot Flashes page.