Alternative Therapy for Hot Flashes Not Proven Effective

A new study alternative medicine for hot flashes, which has included the use of soy products, Chinese herbs and hypnosis, has not found these treatments effective.

The study of acupuncture by Mayo Clinic researchers found that sham treatments were no better than real acupuncture in relieving menopausal hot flashes.

The research, presented in May 2006 at the North American Research Conference on Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Edmonton, Alberta, is scheduled to be published in the journal Menopause early next year.

Acupunture is widely used around the world, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health, and according to the World Health Organization. The NIH's 1997 health institute Consensus Statement on acupuncture found that acupuncture might be effective in blunting postoperative pain and in reducing the vomiting and nausea that often follows chemotherapy. But today's evidence concerning hot flashes failed to follow up on those early promises.

In part, the study highlights research innovations such as the use of sham acupuncture, which makes it more difficult to show that acupuncture is indeed superior to placebo. Rather than discounting Chinese medicine, the research suggests that techniques to study this kind of medicine are becoming more advanced, creating a higher burden of researchers to show efficacy in ways that are acceptable to current scientific method.