Women who find themselves facing the difficult and uncomfortable symptoms associated with menopause may discover that acupuncture has quite a lot to offer. Our Chinese medicine practitioners advocate acupuncture for menopausal patients, touting its ability to function as a natural treatment for the discomforts of menopause. Results with patients backed up by science and research show that acupuncture treatments help to reduce hot flushes, calm anxiety, improve mood swings, and soften emotional and hormonal imbalances.
Research Supports Acupuncture for Menopause
Studies as far back as 2011 show how traditional Chinese acupuncture can be used to relieve menopausal symptoms. These studies ranged in acupuncture treatments lasting 15-20 minutes over several weeks. The greatest benefit reported across the board was reduced severity of hot flushes. Researchers from these studies suggested that acupuncture may boost the production of endorphins, which may stabilize the body’s temperature controls. An additional study suggested that acupuncture also improved the severity or frequency of sweating (including night sweats), sleep disturbances, emotional symptoms, and skin and hair problems.
One scientific explanation for the benefits of acupuncture on menopause symptoms is that needling the acupuncture points stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. In this way, acupuncture works to ease and balance menopausal symptoms in a gentle, natural, non-evasive and effective way. In this way, menopausal symptoms are eased by acupuncture to help balance hormones, reduce hot flushes and improve symptoms of insomnia and irritability.
For many women, with menopause comes, sleeplessness, anxiety and nervousness a study conducted in 2013 showed that acupuncture can actually alter neurotransmitters in the brain to alleviate these types of symptoms. And a more recent study conducted in 2019 focused on cognitive behavioral therapy and acupuncture for insomnia found that acupuncture offered clinically significant results.
Acupuncture appears to increase blood flow and lower blood pressure in many studies, which can reduce fatigue-inducing stress on the heart. Additional studies on chronic illnesses and fatigue found that acupuncture was effective at reducing cancer-related fatigue, and fatigue is a common complaint from menopausal and perimenopause women.
Chinese Medicine, Acupuncture and Menopause
Traditional Chinese Medicine views menopause as a natural part of the aging process, thought to be brought about by a deficiency of yin. In a more positive sense, Chinese medicine views menopause as the “Second Spring”. Although in general terms the main principal of an acupuncture treatment is to nourish yin, acupuncture is a very individualized treatment and each person’s experience is slightly different. With thorough medical and emotional history, our licensed acupuncturists are able to create a treatment protocol that meets each person’s changing physiology, so every treatment may be adjusted to meet immediate needs.
How Acupuncture Works
The classic explanation for how acupuncture works is that the human body contains channels of energy that run in regular patterns called meridians. These meridians flow throughout the body and over its surface. When healthy, meridians irrigate and nourish the body systems, but they can become obstructed by illness, aging and emotional or physical trauma. Acupuncture works to regulate the flow of energy or Chi through the meridians. This is accomplished by very fine needles which are inserted into acupuncture points along the meridians to restore energy flow and unblock obstructions or stagnant energy. This activates the body’s own natural healing, helping to correct imbalances.
While acupuncture may not be a the only remedy available for the relief of menopausal symptoms, it can be a valuable tool to address the uncomfortable symptoms associated with menopause, helping women of all ages to reclaim a greater sense of well-being.