Perimenopausal and menopausal hot flushes and night sweats are issues we frequently see at Poke Acupuncture. With estimates suggesting that 30 - 50% of perimenopausal women suffer from hot flushes it is no surprise that many are now seeking acupuncture and Chinese herbal Medicine treatment for their symptoms.
Hot flushes occur when blood vessels in the skin of the neck and head dilate larger than normal, allowing more blood to transition to these areas. This phenomenon creates a sudden feeling of heat, visible redness and blotching that is most intense in the head, neck and chest.
Hot flushes can come on quickly and can last from 1 - 5 minutes. They can range in severity from a sense of warmth to a feeling of being consumed by fire from the inside out. Their frequency can vary widely, with some women experiencing just a few over the span of a week, with others experiencing 10 or more during the day, plus more at night. Hot flushes are not the only thing these women are dealing with. Clinically a number of perimenopausal women often report experiencing additional symptoms of: moodiness, night sweats, sleep disturbance and difficulty concentrating.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory the cause of hot flushes is primarily viewed as a relative imbalance between the Yin & Yang aspects of the Kidneys. The key roles of the Kidneys in TCM relate to hormonal balancing and body temperature regulation, therefore it is no surprise that when the Kidneys in TCM are in decline a common symptom that patients will experience is hot flushes and/or night sweats.
In Western Medicine the exact cause of hot flushes is not completely understood, and the main theory is that declining levels of the primary female sex hormone estrogen causes hot flashes. There are, however, cases of women experiencing hot flushes with normal estrogen levels but high progesterone levels or fluctuating estrogen levels. Other hormonal fluctuations may also play a role in causing hot flushes. High levels of FSH (follicle stimulating hormone), surges of LH (luteinizing hormone), increases in cortisol and stress hormones have all been linked to hot flushes.
The most commonly recognised form of treatment for hot flushes here in the West is hormone replacement therapy. Acupuncture & Chinese herbal Medicine have been used for thousands of years in the East and more recently used in the West as a clinically proven form of treatment for hot flushes, hormone regualtion and other menopause-related symptoms.
Researchers in Turkey decided to put Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine to the test in order to discover if it could be an effective form of therapy for hot flushes. A ten-week Acupuncture trial was conducted on fifty-three menopausal women suffering from hot flushes. Twenty-seven women received Traditional Chinese Acupuncture twice a week, and the other twenty-six women received “sham” Acupuncture (Acupuncture with blunt needles that did not penetrate the skin). Estrogen and other hormonal levels were measured prior to the study and after the first and last Acupuncture treatments.
At the end of the ten weeks the women that received Traditional Chinese Acupuncture reported their hot flushes to be significantly lower in severity versus the “sham” Acupuncture group. The researchers also found that the estrogen levels were significantly higher, while LH (luteinizing hormone) levels were significantly lower in the group of women that received Traditional Chinese Acupuncture versus “sham” Acupuncture group.
For more information about Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine treatment for hot flushes or to book an appointment contact us.