A Guide to Congestive Heart Failure

Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) can be a scary and confusing diagnosis. Congestive heart failure has a number of causes including heart attacks, infections, cardiac arrhythmias, high blood pressure and even genetics. Once you are diagnosed with congestive heart failure it is important to alter your lifestyle to limit the impact that the disease has on your health. You may be stuck with congestive heart failure, but it doesn’t have to define your life.

Let’s start at the beginning. What is Congestive Heart Failure?

The heart is a pump. Its job is to pump old non oxygenated blood from the body to the lungs so it can be oxygenated and then be pumped out so that each and every cell can be supplied. Congestive heart failure is the inability of the left side of the heart to pump an adequate amount of blood due to different factors. Because of this condition, the heart is weak and unable to pump all of its blood forward and some of it backs up to the lungs. This results in the lungs becoming congested with blood and fluid. Thus the name, “congestive” heart failure. This congestion makes the patient, feel short of breath. The more you exert yourself, the more oxygen the body requires and the less able the heart is to supply it. This is mainly the reason people may have a poor tolerance for activity if the CHF is not well controlled.

Heart failure, if left untreated, can cause damage to other important organs. Each and every tissue in your body requires a supply of oxygen and nutrients to do well. Your kidneys, your liver, your abdominal organs, and even your lungs must be supplied constantly with an adequate supply of oxygenated blood. If your heart is unable to deliver that oxygen rich blood those vital organs will begin to fail over time.

 

Additional Resources:

Signs and Symptoms

Some of the signs and symptoms of heart failure may be easy to miss or to blame on other simpler issues. They include:

  • Feeling tired more often and with less exercise
  • Experiencing shortness of breath with less and less exertion
  • Unexplained weight gain – especially the appearance of being bloated, this is called “edema”
  • Cough without the presence of a cold or sinus infection, along with traces of blood in the saliva

Resources to help you recognize the signs and symptoms of heart disease:

What Treatments are Available for Congestive Heart Failure?

Most treatment options for congestive heart failure involve the use of various medications. A physician will work closely with you to find the perfect combination of medications that will help your heart work better and help with the demands of the body. Managing CHF requires a delicate balance between taking the work load off the heart and supplying enough oxygen and nutrients to the organs of the body. There are a couple of things you can do to make that job just a bit easier for your heart. We will discuss those a little later in the article.

There are invasive treatments for advanced congestive heart failure including heart transplantation and even the implantation of a pump that helps the heart push the blood along, but they are beyond the scope of this article. Let’s concentrate on some of the more common treatment options.

You may be prescribed a combination of the following medications to help with your heart failure.

  • Anticoagulants – (commonly known as blood thinners) – they don’t actually “thin” the blood, but they prevent clots from happening. If your heart is not beating in an organized and strong manner, sometimes blood can remain in small pockets of the atrium and form blood clots. This increases your risk of stroke or blood clots in the lungs if they were to dislodge and travel there. If you are on a blood thinner you will most likely require regular blood tests to check your levels. You should be careful not to injure yourself and pay attention to symptoms that may indicate internal bleeding such as dark stools.
  • Antiplatelet Agents – (Plavix) these medications also help with preventing blood clotting by inhibiting platelets that play an important role in forming them.
  • ACE Inhibitors – Decrease the work that the heart has to do in order to pump blood around the body. They do this by dilating (widening) the blood vessels and decreasing the resistance that the heart has to pump against. They also help keep blood pressure under control.
  • Beta Blockers – used to take the “workload” off of the heart. They slow your heart rate and decrease the strength of contraction to allow your heart to pump using less energy. These are used to control hypertension as well.
  • Calcium Channel Blockers – used to decrease the work load of the heart. They are also used to control arrhythmias (irregular heart rhythms). The most common in congestive heart failure is atrial fibrillation.
  • Statins – used to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. They have also been shown to help raise HDL (good) cholesterol levels and lower triglycerides. All patients with any type of heart disease are generally prescribed a statin due to the fact that one of the forms of plaque formation is a direct cause of lipid acids.
  • Digitalis Preparations – used to keep the heart rhythm regular with patients who have a problem with atrial fibrillation along with congestive heart failure. They are also used in advanced stages of the disease. Special care must be taken with the use of these medications due to its adverse effects.
  • Diuretics – cause the body to excrete excess water. This prevents the heart from becoming overloaded and backing up into the lungs and causing symptoms of congestive heart failure, particularly shortness of breath. In addition, they prevent the build up of fluid and subsequent edema in the body such as the legs and ankles.
  • Vasodilators (Nitroglycerin) – is given to reduce the amount of oxygen needed by the heart muscle and to dilate the coronary arteries to increase the amount of oxygen available to the heart muscle. This medication is particularly used to treat the pain of angina.

For more information regarding medications used to treat congestive heart failure:

Since you will be taking multiple medications at multiple times during the day it is essential that you develop a system that works for you. Perhaps purchasing a pill box that you can fill once a week and use each day may help. It is imperative that you be 100% compliant with your medication regimen. Each medication is designed to not only to work with your body, but to also work with each other to maximize your heart’s ability to pump blood. It can be dangerous to take your medications at the wrong times or in wrong dosages.

Keeping your Heart Failure from Progressing

There are some relatively straight forward recommendations that may help keep your congestive heart failure at bay. The first we have already dealt with: 100% compliance with medication.

  • Regular visits with both your PCP and your Cardiologist. Congestive heart failure must be monitored closely and any changes treated promptly. You should weigh yourself at least weekly and any 3lb or more weight gain should be reported to your physician. It may be the result of your body retaining fluid.
  • Dietary Changes – If you are even slightly overweight, weight loss is imperative to prevent further damage to your heart muscle. The larger your body, the harder your already damaged heart has to work in order to supply much needed oxygen and nutrients. Even moderate weight loss can have a large impact on your congestive heart failure management.
  • Exercise – can be a challenge because of the symptoms of congestive heart failure. However, any increase in activity is of utmost importance. Simple things like parking far away from the store instead of looking for the closest space. Walking is a great low impact exercise for patients with congestive heart failure. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, or you don’t have a safe, level place to walk, try the local shopping mall. Many malls open early and even place distance markers to be used by people who utilize the mall for exercise. It’s a great way to meet people, have some fun and stay healthy too! Just be careful not overdo it. You always have to consult your doctor before you start exercising and more so when have CHF.
  • Avoid Fluid Overload – restricting fluid intake is important. Do remember, that the more fluid the heart is unable to pump forward, the more symptoms that will appear in the long run due to the amount of workload imposed. It only stands to reason that a decrease in fluid intake can reduce the amount of work the heart has to deal with.
  • Salt Intake – where there is salt there is water. If you have a lot of salt in your body, you will retain fluid. It is important to avoid foods with high salt content and to refrain from salting foods.
  • Smoking – Must be avoided at all cost. The smoke in cigarette carries a lot of carbon monoxide, this molecule worsens the ability of oxygen to be carried properly to the different tissues
  • Stay healthy – it takes a lot of energy for your body to fight off everyday illnesses like the flu virus. Be sure to stay current on flu and pneumonia vaccinations. A respiratory disease may cause decompensation of your heart failure, so it’s not a good idea to take the risk.

Additional resources to help with healthy life style changes in patient with congestive heart failure:

Retrieved from https://www.acls.net/guide-to-congestive-heart-failure.htm

Treating Autoimmune Diseases with Acupuncture

Over 50 million Americans suffer from autoimmune disease including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, thyroid disease, Addison’s disease, pernicious anemia, celiac disease, multiple sclerosis, myasthenia gravis and Guillain-Barré syndrome. An autoimmune disease occurs when the body’s immune system attacks healthy tissue. Due to the complexity of treating autoimmune disorders, integrative medicine solutions including acupuncture and Oriental medicine have received much attention as successful treatment therapies. Acupuncture is specifically noted for its use in pain relief, regulating the immune system, managing symptoms, and improving quality of life.

What Causes Autoimmune Disease?

Under normal conditions, an immune response cannot be triggered against the cells of one’s own body. In certain cases, however, immune cells make a mistake and attack the very cells that they are meant to protect. This can lead to a variety of autoimmune diseases. They encompass a broad category of over 100 diseases in which the person’s immune system attacks his or her own cells and tissue.

The exact mechanisms causing these changes are not completely understood, but bacteria, viruses, toxins, and some drugs may play a role in triggering an autoimmune process in someone who already has a genetic (inherited) predisposition to develop such a disorder. As the disease develops, vague symptoms start to appear, such as joint and muscle pain, general muscle weakness, rashes, low-grade fever, trouble concentrating, or weight loss. Numbness and tingling in hands and feet, dry eyes, hair loss, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, or repeated miscarriages may also indicate that something is wrong with the immune system.

How Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Treats Autoimmune Disorders

According to Oriental medicine, autoimmune disorders occur when there is an imbalance within the body. Imbalance can come from an excess or deficiency of Yin and Yang that disrupts the flow of Qi, or vital energy, through the body. Acupuncture is used to help the body restore balance, treating the root of the disorder, while specifically addressing the symptoms that are unique to each individual.

Clinical research has shown that acupuncture causes physical responses in nerve cells, the pituitary gland and parts of the brain. These responses can cause the body to release proteins, hormones and brain chemicals that control a number of bodily functions. Acupuncture affects blood pressure, body temperature and immune system by these actions.

In addition to acupuncture, a treatment program to manage your autoimmune disorder may involve a combination of therapies, including stress reducing exercises, moderate physical activity, herbal medicine, nutritional support and bodywork.

To learn more about how acupuncture can safely and effectively be incorporated into a treatment plan for an autoimmune disorder, please call for a consultation today.

Study Finds Acupuncture Effective for Systemic Lupus Pain

Acupuncture can be an effective treatment for pain caused by systemic erythematosus lupus (SLE). These positive results were shown in the 2008 study ‘Acupuncture for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: A pilot study RCT feasibility and safety study’ published in Sage Journals which assessed the safety and effectiveness of acupuncture as a means to treat pain associated with lupus.

At the end of the trial, 40% of the patients in both the standard acupuncture treatment group and the minimal needling group experienced an improvement in their pain levels of at least 30%. In contrast, the group that remained on their usual care plan reported no improvement in their pain levels. The study concluded that acupuncture is a valid, safe and effective method to treat pain in patients with SLE.

Source: Greco, C., A. Kao, K. Maksimowicz-McKinnon, R. Glick, M. Houze, S. Sereika, J. Balk, and S. Manzi. “Acupuncture for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: A Pilot RCT Feasibility and Safety Study.” Lupus 17.12 (2008): 1108-116. Print.

Relief from Raynaud’s Syndrome Symptoms

Raynaud’s syndrome, also known as Raynaud’s disease, causes a sudden constriction of the vessels supplying blood to the skin, largely affecting the fingers and toes. The symptoms, commonly known as an attack, may be triggered by cold temperatures or emotional stress. Most cases are mild and can be treated with lifestyle changes such as wearing warm gloves and socks, and avoiding rapid temperature changes. While not life-threatening, in rare cases, when left untreated, the affected tissue may become necrotic and gangrenous.

According to a small 1997 study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine, acupuncture is effective in treating primary Raynaud’s syndrome. The patients that received acupuncture experienced a statistically significant decrease in the frequency, severity and duration of their vasospastic attacks. The patients in the control group showed no improvements. Researchers concluded acupuncture was safe and effective for treating the symptoms of primary Raynaud’s syndrome.

As a cold environment or object is often responsible for triggering an attack, this may indicate a Yang deficiency. When Yang energy is low, blood circulation may slow down as a result. Symptoms of Yang deficiency include feelings of cold, lower back or knee pain and a weak pulse. Treatment in this case would focus on boosting Yang energy, circulation and the immune system.

Source: http://inm.center/treating-autoimmune-diseases-with-acupuncture/

Electroacupuncture releases stem cells to relieve pain, promote tissue repair, study finds

A study led by Indiana University School of Medicine researchers demonstrates how electroacupuncture triggers a neurological mechanism that can help promote tissue repair and relieve injury-induced pain.

Their findings, published online March 16 in the journal Stem Cells, provide the most comprehensive picture yet of how electroacupuncture stimulates the brain to facilitate the release of and adds new insight relating to the cells’ healing properties.

Electroacupuncture is a form of acupuncture that uses a small electrical current to augment the ancient Chinese medical practice of inserting fine needles into the skin at pre-determined points throughout the body.

For the study, a team of more than 40 scientists at institutions in the United States and South Korea was led by four senior authors including IU School of Medicine’s Maria B. Grant, MD, Marilyn Glick Professor of Ophthalmology and co-corresponding author; Mervin C. Yoder, MD, IU Distinguished Professor, Richard and Pauline Klingler Professor of Pediatrics, associate dean for entrepreneurial research at IU School of Medicine, director of the Herman B Wells Center for Pediatric Research and co-corresponding author; and Fletcher A. White, PhD, Vergil K. Stoelting Chair of Anesthesia, professor of anesthesia, pharmacology and toxicology.

“This work is a classic example of the power of team science, where investigators in different institutions with specific expertise worked together to unravel the complexity of how electroacupuncture works to help the body respond to stressors,” said Dr. Yoder.

The researchers performed a series of lab tests involving humans, horses and rodents that follow the effects of electroacupuncture from the stimulus of the needle all the way to the brain, resulting in the release of reparative (MSCs) into the bloodstream.

Depending on the species, electroacupuncture led to activation of the hypothalamus—a part of the brain that controls the nervous system and involuntary bodily functions such as heart rate and digestion—within nine to 22 minutes. The stem cells were mobilized within two hours.

“The acupuncture stimulus we’re giving these animals has a rapid effect on neuroanatomical pathways that connect the stimulus point in the arm to responsive neurons in the spinal cord and into a region in the brain called the hypothalamus. In turn, the hypothalamus directs outgoing signals to stem cell niches resulting in their release,” said Dr. White, who is a neuroscientist at the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis.

The researchers found electroacupuncture treatments resulted in higher thresholds for injury-induced pain, as well as considerable increases in the presence of a type of collagen that promotes tendon repair and anti-inflammatory cells known to be predictors of faster healing time.

Dr. White said these findings could lead to new strategies for and pain management related to injuries.

“We could potentially capture the MSCs from an individual’s blood following electroacupuncture and save the cells for future re-introduction in the patient post-surgery or to treat chronic pain due to an injury,” he said.

The horses used in the study had been injured during training for international dressage competitions, and the six people who took part were healthy volunteers, who still showed activation of their hypothalamus through brain imaging.

More information: Tatiana E. Salazar et al, Electroacupuncture Promotes CNS-Dependent Release of Mesenchymal Stem Cells, STEM CELLS (2017). DOI: 10.1002/stem.2613

Provided by: Indiana University

Acupuncture Can Ease Carpal Tunnel

Acupuncture can relieve wrist pain, and researchers have tracked the brain and nervous system changes that may help explain why.

Scientists randomized 80 people with mild or moderate carpal tunnel syndrome — pain caused by nerve compression at the wrist — to one of three groups. The first received acupuncture at the wrist and ankle. The second got acupuncture at the wrist alone. And the third received sham acupuncture, using “fake” needles near the affected wrist, as a placebo. Using functional M.R.I. and nerve conduction tests before and after the procedures, they measured the effect on brain and nerves.

Carpal-Tunnel-AcupunctureAll three groups found relief from pain, but both of the true acupuncture groups showed measurable physiological improvements in pain centers in the brain and nerves, while sham acupuncture did not produce such changes. Improvement in brain measures predicted greater pain relief three months after the tests, a long-term effect that placebo did not provide. The study is in Brain.

“What’s really interesting here is that we’re evaluating acupuncture using objective outcomes,” said the senior author, Vitaly Napadow, a researcher at Harvard. Sham acupuncture was good at relieving pain temporarily, he said, but true acupuncture had objective physiological — and enduring — effects.

“Acupuncture is a safe, low-risk, low side-effect intervention,” he continued. “It’s perfect for a first-line approach, and it’s something patients should consider before trying more invasive procedures like surgery.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/02/well/live/acupuncture-can-ease-wrist-pain-of-carpal-tunnel-syndrome.html?_r=3

Acupuncture May Help Prevent Migraines

24f035c2-ae9b-483e-9eb8-b99229ac0e61For people with a certain type of migraine headache, regular acupuncture treatments may help reduce the frequency of these debilitating attacks, a recent study from China suggests.

Patients who suffered migraines without aura, and who received five true acupuncture treatments per week for four consecutive weeks had about one less headache per month than similar patients who got the same number of sham acupuncture treatments, researchers report.

“Acupuncture should be considered as one option for migraine prophylaxis in light of our findings,” the authors write in JAMA Internal Medicine.

About 18 percent of women and 6 percent of men in the U.S. suffer from migraine headaches in a given year, according to a 2001 study, making the condition a leading cause of disability.

Acupuncture is commonly used to treat migraines in China, however, studies of whether it works for migraine prevention have been inconsistent, the study team notes.

Ling Zhao of Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Sichuan, China, and colleagues recruited 249 adults who had an average of two to eight migraines without aura per month from three clinical centers in China.

For the study, participants kept track of their migraine headache frequency and severity for four weeks before being randomly assigned to receive true acupuncture treatment, sham acupuncture treatment or to be put on a waiting list for treatment.

People in both the true and sham acupuncture groups received 20 treatments with acupuncture needles and electrical stimulation, each lasting thirty minutes.

The true acupuncture group was treated at four acupuncture points thought to affect headaches and with enough electrical stimulation to elicit a “Deqi” sensation, which includes “soreness, numbness, distention or radiation that indicated effective needling,” according to the authors.

For the sham treatment, the needles were placed in areas not known to be acupuncture points and the deqi sensation wasn’t induced.

At 16 weeks, the number of migraines reported in the true acupuncture group fell by about three attacks per month, while people in the sham acupuncture group had two fewer attacks per month.

Among the study’s limitations, about 20 percent of the participants had previous experience with acupuncture, and it’s not known how many may have been able to guess whether their treatments were real or sham.

“Placebo response is strong in migraine treatment studies, and it is possible that the Deqi sensation . . . that was elicited in the true acupuncture group could have led to a higher degree of placebo response because there was no attempt made to elicit the Deqi sensation in the sham acupuncture group,” Dr. Amy Gelfand writes in an accompanying editorial.

Gelfand, a neurologist at the University of California, San Francisco, told Reuters Health that the placebo effect is interesting and important, especially in migraine studies, but she thinks about it differently as a researcher and as a clinician.

“When I’m a researcher, placebo response is kind of a troublesome thing, because it makes it difficult to separate signal from noise,” she said. But when she’s thinking as a doctor about the patient in front of her, placebo response is welcome, Gelfand said.

“You know, what I really want is my patient to feel better, and to be improved and not be in pain. So, as long as something is safe, even if it’s working through a placebo mechanism, it may still be something that some patients might want to use,” she said.

When a patient is interested in a treatment that may have a strong placebo effect, Gelfand added, “There’s a real checklist in my head, with safety being the first thing; and if it seems like it’s safe then I think about things like cost, because often these things are not going to be covered by insurance, but to a certain extent that’s the patient’s decision; and I think about time, because these treatments can be time-consuming.”

It’s a good idea to keep your doctor informed of any treatments that you’re using, be they over-the-counter supplements or non-pharmacologic behavioral treatments, she said.

“I think that that’s part of the picture, and as a provider, I like to know about all of those things. If for no other reason than it just helps me understand what kind of treatments my patient values and is looking for,” Gelfand said.

http://www.newsmax.com/t/health/article/775313?ns_mail_uid=58186744&ns_mail_job=1714212_02262017&s=al&dkt_nbr=ydnurkei%C2%A7ion&keywords=acupuncture-prevent-migraines&year=2017&month=02&date=23&id=775313&aliaspath=%2FHealth%2FArticle%2FArticleTemplate&oref=news.newsmax.com

Acupuncture Arts Hawaii Voted #1 Acupuncturist in Honolulu

Acupuncture Arts Hawaii Voted #1 Acupuncturist in HonoluluAcupuncture Arts Hawaii Voted #1 Acupuncturist in Honolulu Acupuncture Arts Hawaii Voted #1 Acupuncturist in HonoluluAcupuncture Arts Hawaii Voted #1 Acupuncturist in Honolulu Acupuncture Arts Hawaii is a Honolulu acupuncture, herb, and Chinese medicine clinic. Areas of expertise include Chinese and Japanese style acupuncture, fire cupping, tui-na, electro-stimulation, moxibustion, guasha, Qi Gong, and energy healing. The techniques are used to help treat addiction, arthritis, diabetes, infertility, allergies, depression, immune diseases, spinal problems, and more. Both doctors are Hawaii State-Licensed acupuncturists. Marc Capener, L.Ac. has an academic background in Ethno-Botany and Oriental Medicine, and has experience helping patients with PTSD, addiction, and insomnia. Leon Letoto, L.Ac. has nearly four decades of Qigong experience, is a Reiki master, and specializes in musculoskeletal disharmonies. Original Link to Article Posted Below: https://www.expertise.com/hi/honolulu/acupuncture#provider11

Acupuncture Arts Hawaii is a Honolulu acupuncture, herb, and Chinese medicine clinic. Areas of expertise include Chinese and Japanese style acupuncture, fire cupping, tui-na, electro-stimulation, moxibustion, guasha, Qi Gong, and energy healing. The techniques are used to help treat addiction, arthritis, diabetes, infertility, allergies, depression, immune diseases, spinal problems, and more.Marc Capener, L.Ac. is a Hawaii State-Licensed acupuncturist and has an academic background in Ethno-Botany and Oriental Medicine, and has experience helping patients with PTSD, addiction, and insomnia. Original Link to Article Posted Below:

https://www.expertise.com/hi/honolulu/acupuncture#provider11

 

Grand Opening!

Grand Opening Aloha Acupuncture Clinic Honolulu Hawaii

Come help us celebrate our official Grand Opening Celebration for our new non-profit 501c3 ‘Aloha Health Collective’. Which features Acupuncture Arts & Align DaKine with Dr. Kevin Cabriales. We will be having an all day meet and greet for the community and surrounding businesses to share our vision of making Holistic medicine accessible to everyone. Come check out our brand new Penthouse clinic, get free consultations. Free community style Acupuncture.

We will also be doing a raffle of gift certificates for free, and half off treatments & other healthful goodies. Drinks and pupus at 5. Pot luck style welcome. Lantern Floating ceremony/blessing at 7pm.

Friday September 30, 2016 – 5-8pm

Aloha Collective / Acupunctures Arts Hawaii

1136 Bishop St, 9th Floor, Penthouse 1B

Honolulu, Hawaii 96813

Fire Cupping Takes the Olympics by Storm

August Special: Chinese Fire Cupping Plus Consultation $40 for one treatment (regularly $69), 3 treatments for $100

Fire Cupping Hawaii Honolulu

If 19-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps does it for his health, then it’s gotta be good, right?

That’s what many are wondering after spotting cupping marks — those purplish circles — on the swimmer’s upper body poolside at the 2016 Olympics in Rio this week. Phelps also posted a shot of himself on Instagram being cupped last year.

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Phelps isn’t the only Olympic athlete sporting the circular purple markings. U.S. men’s gymnast Alex Naddour posted a recent selfie on Instagram showing a hint of cupping bruising. And some of his teammates have tried it, too.

It causes blood vessels to dilate and increases blood flow. The aim of cupping is to relieve any blockages in the flow of energy and blood and lead to better recovery. The suction pulls the tight muscles and stretches the fascia, the connective tissue around the muscles, and in effect, allows blood vessels to expand. The theory is that the increased blood flow speeds healing.

To try Chinese Fire Cupping, which has been around for thousands of years, call us today.

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New Research Acupuncture Can Ease Menopause Symptoms

A new study has found that acupuncture treatments can reduce the number of hot flashes and night sweats associated with menopause by as much as 36 percent.

“Although acupuncture does not work for every woman, our study showed that, on average, acupuncture effectively reduced the frequency of hot flashes and results were maintained for six months after the treatments stopped,” said Nancy Avis, Ph.D., a professor of public health sciences at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and lead author of the study.

Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the study included 209 women between the ages of 45 and 60 who had not had a menstrual period for at least three months. On average they had at least four hot flashes or night sweats a day in the previous two weeks.

Participants received a baseline assessment and were then randomly placed in one of two groups.

The first group received acupuncture treatments during the first six months. They were then followed without receiving acupuncture for the second six months.

The second group did not receive any acupuncture during the first six months, but did receive acupuncture for the second six months.

The women were allowed up to 20 treatments within six months provided by licensed, experienced acupuncturists in the community.

According to Avis, the study was designed to make it more “real world” by leaving the frequency and number of the acupuncture treatments up to the study participants and their acupuncturists.

All the women kept a daily diary on the frequency and severity of their hot flashes. They also answered questionnaires about other symptoms every two months.

After six months, the first group reported an average 36.7 percent decline in the frequency of hot flashes compared to baseline measurements. After a year, the benefits persisted, with the women maintaining an average 29.4 percent reduction from baseline.

The second group reported a six percent increase in symptom frequency during the six months when they were not getting acupuncture, but had similar results — an average 31 percent reduction in frequency — to the first group after receiving acupuncture during the second half of the trial, the researchers reported.

“There are a number of non-hormonal options for treating hot flashes and night sweats that are available to women,” Avis said. “None of these options seem to work for everyone, but our study showed that acupuncture from a licensed acupuncturist can help some women without any side effects. Our study also showed that the maximum benefit occurred after about eight treatments.”

Avis cautioned that the effect shown in the study could be due to non-specific effects, such as the additional care and attention the study participants received or the expectation of a benefit.

She also said that additional research is needed to identify individual differences in response to acupuncture.

The study was published in the journal Menopause.

Source: Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center