Can Acupuncture Help With Hot Flashes?

Breeze Academy July 27, 2023
Acupuncture needles being inserted into person's back

Hot flashes are one of the most common symptoms of menopause and can be quite bothersome to some women. It can also occur due to some cancers and cancer treatment. Typically, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is used to manage hot flashes, but it is not always an appropriate or safe treatment. In this article, we explore the use of Acupuncture for hot flashes as an alternative to HRT.

So, can Acupuncture help hot flashes? A number of studies have reported that Acupuncture can ease hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause. They state that it is a particularly beneficial option for those that can’t, or don’t want to, take hormone replacement therapy.

Read on to learn more about Acupuncture and hot flashes with Breeze Academy.

Does Acupuncture for Hot Flashes Work?

A study in BMJ Open reported that Acupuncture may ease a number of menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes. This study was trialled on women that experienced moderate to severe symptoms. After 6 weeks of treatment, 80% of participants reported that the sessions helped. Compared with the control group who did not receive Acupuncture, these participants were significantly less troubled by symptoms like hot flashes.

The study prompted researchers to conclude that Acupuncture is, indeed, a realistic treatment option, and may be a good alternative treatment for those that can’t, or don’t want to, use hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

This is particularly beneficial for women with cancer as the oestrogen and progesterone in HRT could fuel the cancer. In 2016, the Journal of Clinical Oncology reported a study which concluded that Acupuncture can help to ease hot flashes and improve the quality of life in women with breast cancer. 

At each milestone of this study, the participants that received Acupuncture saw a significant decrease in hot flashes compared with the control group that practised enhanced self-help. These women also scored better than the control group in terms of physical and psychosocial health.

Does Acupuncture Work for Other Symptoms of Menopause?

Acupuncture doesn’t just work on hot flashes, it is also reported to help ease a number of other menopause symptoms. A small study from 2019 found that after 5 weeks of treatment, participants experienced reduced hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings and sleep disruptions. 

A women’s health specialist explained how this works; “Acupuncture affects fascia, it affects our connective tissue and, in real time, under fMRI the insertion of the acupuncture needle changes which parts of our brain light up — so, it’s changing the way our brain reacts.

Aside from the symptoms listed above, Acupuncture may also help ease the following menopause symptoms:

  • Pain
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Vaginal dryness

How Many Acupuncture Treatments are Needed for Hot Flashes?

There is no clear guidance on how many Acupuncture sessions are needed for hot flashes. However, various studies report successful results from 6-12 weeks and up to 6 months for long-term treatment plans.

In most cases, a minimum of 6-8 treatments are needed before patients begin to see the benefits of Acupuncture. Some may experience benefits, such as pain relief, after just 1 session, but it’s important to recognise that this is rarely enough to receive long-term benefits. 

Learn more about how often clients should have acupuncture sessions, and how many sessions they will typically need in our recent blog.

Where are the Acupuncture Points for Hot Flashes?

The below Acupuncture points were used in a 2013 study into the use of Acupuncture against hot flashes.

  • GV20 - Governing Vessel
  • M-HN - 3 - Extra Points
  • HT8 - Heart Meridian
  • KI10 - Kidney Meridian
  • LV2 - Liver Meridian

Contraindications for Acupuncture and Hot Flashes

Acupuncture is generally a low-risk treatment with minimal side effects. However, there are a few instances where patients should consult with their Doctor before proceeding with treatment. This is particularly important for women experiencing hot flashes, as cancer is sometimes regarded as a relative contraindication.

Other contraindications include:

  • Pregnant women
  • Those with uncontrollable movements or epilepsy
  • Those with spinal instability
  • Needling on scars, keloid, recent wounds or skin with sensory deficit
  • Those with blood disorders or those taking anticoagulant medication
  • Those with a pacemaker
  • Those that have had a stroke
  • Those with diabetes
  • Those with immuno-suppression
  • Anyone with undiagnosed or unclear medical conditions
  • Those with an abnormal physical structure

Contraindications don’t necessarily mean that these groups of people absolutely cannot have Acupuncture, but that they need to consult their primary care physician before proceeding. 

Learn more about Acupuncture contraindications in our blog, Is Acupuncture Safe?, where you’ll learn more about absolute and relative contraindications as well as risks and side effects, and how Acupuncture compares to Western medicine.

Final Thoughts

A number of studies and medical experts have found that Acupuncture can help to ease hot flashes, both in women with menopause and those with cancer. Some believe it to be particularly beneficial for those with cancer as the typical treatment for hot flashes (HRT) could fuel the cancer. Acupuncture, on the other hand, is relatively low-risk.

Acupuncture has also been found to help ease a number of other menopause symptoms such as night sweats, mood swings and sleep disruptions.

If you’re a healthcare professional interested in offering Acupuncture for individuals suffering with hot flashes, take a look at our Acupuncture courses online today. 

Our foundation-level Acupuncture courses are available throughout the UK, giving you all the knowledge you need to safely and effectively practise Acupuncture. There are also a number of more advanced CPD Acupuncture courses available to take your skills to the next level. 


What are Hot Flashes?

A hot flash is the sudden, overwhelming feeling of warmth in the upper body. It is usually the most intense across the face, neck and chest. The skin often reddens as if the person is blushing, and they may begin to sweat. 

In most cases, hot flashes are caused by menopause, but a number of other medical conditions can also cause the phenomenon, such as certain cancers, problems with the thyroid and medication side effects.

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