Women's Second Spring! In Chinese culture the menopause is called the "second spring," because the end of a woman's childbearing years gives rise to a new phase of life empowered by her accumulated wisdom. It is a new chapter and creation for your life! Celebrate and embrace your second spring--Time to blossom as who you are once again!

Study Shows Acupuncture Reduces Hot Flashes

According to data from The North American Menopause Society, about 75% of women going through menopause experience hot flashes. These episodes can cause great discomfort, lack of sleep and even embarrassment. Most women suffering from these elevations in body temperature turn to hormone replacement therapy, over-the-counter remedies or just tough it out.

Now, a recent scientific study shows that there may be relief for women beyond what they can get from their local pharmacy. Researchers in Ankara, Turkey found that acupuncture reduces the severity and frequency of hot flashes and night sweats. The study was conducted by a team at the Ankara Training and Research Hospital. They studied two groups of women-one group of 27 women received acupuncture while the other 26 received "sham" acupuncture, in which the acupuncture didn't actually penetrate the skin.

The research team found that the women who received real acupuncture treatments showed significant improvement over those in the sham group, and therefore concluded that acupuncture should be used as a therapy to treat menopausal symptoms.

The use of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to help regulate hormones, bringing the body into better balance and normalizing temperature. This involves more than just acupuncture. Chinese herbal remedies and nutrition are also important parts of treating hot flashes.

Where Are We Going With Hormone Replacement Therapy?

For some women, menopausal symptoms can be very difficult to manage even with modification of life style. The desire to replace this hormonal deficiency with some exogenous hormones remains strong. The use of these exogenous hormones such as estrogen began as early as the 1950's and have increased steadily ever since. In the late 1970's, the risk of developing endometrial cancer was discovered, resulting in additions of progesterone.

Since 1980, the use of a combination of estrogen and progesterone has dominated most of the hormonal replacement regimen. Most studies in the 1970's have shown benefits of using estrogen alone. With the change to combined use, interpretations of the evidence became murky at best and confusing since whatever the effects of estrogen or progesterone have on menopause will differ. As time elapsed, increasing risks of using combined therapy began to gradually surface until 2002. The evidence of increased risks of breast cancer, coronary heart disease, stroke, and venous thromboembolism from a randomized trial called The Women's Health Initiative (WHI) was reported in the July 2002 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

There were several arms to this trial. The trial of combined therapy of using both estrogen and progesterone, specifically Prempro (Wyeth Ayerst) containing conjugated equine estrogen (CEE), 0.625 mg, and medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA), 2.5 mg was stopped early. There were 16,608 women with an average duration of 5.2 years of usage in which 50% of the population was randomized to placebo. The unopposed estrogen only arm was recommended to continue and will be reassessed in 2005.

The result of combined estrogen and progesterone trial showed that breast cancer risk increased by 24%, while the risk of stroke increased by 31%. In the August 2003 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, WHI published the final coronary heart disease results for the combined therapy arm showing a 24% overall increase in the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) and an 81% increased risk of CHD in the first year after starting the Estrogen plus progesterone combined therapy. On the positive sides of the studies, overall bone fractures were decreased by 24% ,while hip fractures were reduced by 33%. The endometrial cancer rate was also reduced by 19%.

  • Breast Cancer 24% Increase
  • Endometrial Cancer 19% Decrease
  • Ovarian Cancer 58% Increase
  • Colorectal Cancer Decrease
  • Coronary heart disease 24% Increase
  • Stroke 31% Increase
  • Blood Clots Increase
  • Blood Clots Increase
  • Hip fractures 33% Reduction
  • Cognitive function No change – does not protect

Quality of life - No clear benefit

The risk is simply too great for using combined therapy without any symptomatic reasons. Even with severe symptoms of menopause, many women have chosen to tolerate the symptoms and avoid hormones all together. But the symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes, disturbed sleep, moodiness, fatigue, loss of mental clarity, vaginal dryness, decreased libido and many others can be debilitating and difficult to ignore. Many women have come to Rachel seeking alternative assistance with their conditions.

If you answer yes to any of the following questions, you should consier TCM / Acupuncture.

  • Are you experiencing increasingly shorter menstrual cycles?
  • Are you feeling warmer at times especially during your sleep?
  • Are you finding your sleep becoming more restless and light?
  • Are you finding yourself more moody overall without any specific cause?
  • Are you having increasingly difficult time losing weight?
  • Are you having increasingly tender and enlarged breasts premenstrually?

If you answer yes to any one of the above questions, you may have the onset of perimenopausal symptoms. When the symptoms are discovered and treated earlier, they are much easier to manage. There are also many things you can do to improve these symptoms by examining areas of exercise activities, dietary intake, sleep patterns, and regular stress levels. Normally one should incorporate a variety of cross training exercises such as passive strengthening, aerobic exercises and meditative exercises. These would include walking, hiking, gentle weight lifting, yoga, Tai Ji Chuan, Qi Gong, jogging, and many other activities. The key is to alternate them and not to just do one form of exercise.