Dodin, S., Blanchet, C., Marc, I., Ernst, E., Wu, T., Vaillancourt, C., . . . Maunsell, E. (2013). Acupuncture for menopausal hot flushes. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 7, CD007410.doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD007410.pub2
STUDY PURPOSE: To determine whether acupuncture is effective and safe for reducing hot flashes and improving the quality of life of menopausal women with vasomotor symptoms
PHASE OF CARE: Mutliple phases of care
Studies that compared acupuncture versus sham acupuncture did not provide sufficient evidence to show whether acupuncture is an effective treatment for vasomotor symptoms. A debate exists about whether sham acupuncture is a placebo intervention or possesses an active effect related to peripheral sensory stimulation. Currently, insufficient evidence exists to determine whether acupuncture is effective as a treatment for hot flashes. Data on adverse effects were not included. Further high-quality studies are needed to determine the effect of acupuncture on vasomotor symptoms. An exclusion of the one study with breast cancer survivors comparing acupuncture with sham acupuncture had shown no difference related to hot flush severity.
The evidence was of low or very low quality, and the studies comparing acupuncture versus no treatment or hormone therapy were not controlled with sham acupuncture or placebo hormone therapy. Most had small sample sizes and questionable methodological quality. Many had an inadequate level of blinding and no intention-to-treat analysis.
This review included menopausal women and women with breast cancer. Risk of infection should be considered in immunosuppressed patients. Studies with larger sample sizes of women with breast cancer are needed to determine the effectiveness of acupuncture for treating hot flashes in this group.