Acupuncture is an effective drug free treatment for balancing the energy of the body and removing the unwanted physical and psychological symptoms of menopause. This includes hot flush treatment and or hot flush relief
What is Menopause?
Menopause is the permanent end of a woman’s menstrual periods. This time of change may last a few months to several years. Menopause occurs when a woman runs out of eggs and ovulation can no longer occur. The entire menstrual cycle slowly comes to an end along with the rise and fall of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. The rate that these hormones decline and the balance between the two is mainly responsible for the unwanted menopausal symptoms along with the overall state of health.
What are the symptoms of Menopause?
Symptoms vary from mild to severe, and are brought on as our bodies try to adapt to changes in hormones, particularly decreasing amounts of estrogen. Most women go through menopause between the ages of 45 and 55 although the experience for each woman is quite different. Some women may have no unwanted symptoms, whilst others can have several unwanted symptoms in varying combinations.
Common symptoms of menopause include:
- hot flushes
- night sweats
- mood swings
- memory loss
- vaginal dryness
- joint pain
- weight gain
What are the causes of Menopause and its associated negative symptoms according to Chinese Medicine theory?
According to Chinese Medicine theory, menopause occurs when a woman’s body begins to preserve blood and energy in order to sustain her vitality and allow for the maximum available nourishment for her body. It is seen as a natural and normal part of a woman’s life, yet it has the power to affect her mind, emotions and spirit. If a women is healthy and her internal energy, or Qi, is in balance then no menopause symptoms are experienced. However if Qi is deficient, especially in the Kidneys then unpleasant symptoms including hot flushes, mood swings and memory loss can be experienced. The kidney is the organ that is responsible for growth, maturation and aging and therefore according to traditional Chinese medicine the fundamental changes and negative symptoms that occur during menopause can be attributed to kidney deficiency and imbalance.
Another organ that plays an important role in menopause and its associated negative symptoms is the liver. The Liver is a fundamental organ in terms of women’s health. As the meridian of the liver runs through the reproductive area, when the Liver Qi is deficient or stagnant then this area will be negatively affected.
How can Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine help relieve the symptoms of Menopause?
Numerous studies have shown the effectiveness of acupuncture in dealing with the negative symptoms associated with menopause.
From 1997 to 1999, one of the fAcupuncture for menopauseirst studies in the United States to explore the effectiveness of acupuncture in alleviating nervousness, hot flashes (flushes) and insomnia was conducted by Dr. Susan Cohen, D.S.N., APRN, associate professor of the University of Pittsburg. The study demonstrated that during the course of acupuncture treatments, insomnia decreased by 50% and hot flashes decreased by 35%. A follow-up study revealed hot flashes significantly decreased in those receiving acupuncture, compared to those receiving routine care.
Research studies have suggested that acupuncture reduces and alleviates menopause symptoms via the following mechanisms:
- Increasing relaxation and reducing tension (Samuels 2008). Acupuncture can alter the brain’s mood chemistry, reducing serotonin levels (Zhou 2008) and increasing endorphins and neuropeptide Y levels (Lee 2009), which can help to combat negative affective states.
- Regulating serum estradiol, follicle stimulating hormone and luteotrophic hormone (Xia 2008);
- Stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues, which leads to release of endorphins and other neurohumoral factors, and changes the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord (Zijlstra 2003, Cheng 2009).
How many sessions of Acupuncture are needed to assist with the symptoms of menopause?
A Chinese medical diagnosis for the unwanted symptoms associated with menopause is made by looking at the complete picture, taking all the symptoms into account along with the person’s overall state of health. The acupuncture treatment and a prescription of Chinese herbs is then tailored to the individual, restoring a balance to the hormone levels and optimizing overall health and vitality. Typical treatments include one acupuncture session one or two times a week. Some symptoms are relieved after the first treatment, while more severe or chronic ailments often require multiple treatments.
Cheng KJ. Neuroanatomical basis of acupuncture treatment for some common illnesses. Acupunct Med2009;27: 61-4.
Lee MS et al. Acupuncture for treating menopausal hot flushes: a systematic review.Climacteric. 2009; 12: 16-25.
Samuels N et al. Acupuncture for psychiatric illness: a literature review. Behav Med2008; 34: 55-64
Xia XH et al. Multicentral randomized controlled clinical trials about treatment of perimenopausal syndrome with electroacupuncture of sanyinjiao (SP 6). Zhen Ci Yan Jiu. 2008 Aug;33(4):262-6.
Zhou Q et al. The effect of electro-acupuncture on the imbalance between monoamine neurotransmitters and GABA in the CNS of rats with chronic emotional stress-induced anxiety. Int J Clin Acupunct 2008 ;17: 79-84.
Zijlstra FJ et al. Anti-inflammatory actions of acupuncture. Mediators Inflamm 2003;12: 59-69.