Doctors once dismissed acupuncture as nothing more than quackery. Today, researchers worldwide are learning that this ancient Chinese therapy can effectively treat medical conditions ranging from high blood pressure to chronic pain and asthma. Leading edge practitioners are also using it to treat the annoying symptoms of menopause. And to offer men and women the ultimate “New Facelift”! Read more
Using needles so thin that several of them could slip down the center of a hypodermic, acupuncture can ease menopause symptoms for the 2 million American women who start “the change” each year. Here’s what reputable research studies have found…
Hot Flashes… In a 3-year study, researchers followed 50 menopausal women bothered by hot flashes. Half were randomly assigned to take a medication commonly prescribed to relieve hot flashes; the other half received acupuncture. Both groups reported fewer and weaker hot flashes during treatment; but those receiving acupuncture reported no side effects while women using oral medication experienced multiple side effects (including nausea, dry mouth and dizziness). Self-reported improvement was similar in both groups, indicating that acupuncture was as effective as the oral drug. (For example, one acupuncture participant reported that she went from 1-2 hot flashes per hour to only 1 or 2 a day.) Two weeks after treatment ended, women who had discontinued the medication were back to experiencing frequent and intense hot flashes whereas hot flashes in the acupuncture group remained infrequent and milder.
Weight Gain… Last winter, the International Journal of Obesity published a review of 31 separate studies looking at the efficacy of acupuncture in treatment of obesity. Analyzing more than 3,000 patient cases, investigators found that while acupuncture alone cannot consistently lead to weight loss, it does appear to enhance the results of a responsible diet regimen. Other studies have found that acupuncture increases the production of ghrelin (a hormone that activates appetite) and simultaneously decreases levels of leptin (a hormone that regulates fat storage and metabolism). Some practitioners offer “ear seeds,” which patients wear home so that they can be massaged to help suppress appetite. These techniques should not be confused with ear stapling, which uses surgical staples to penetrate the cartilage of the ear and can promote infection.
Headaches…This is one of the best-documented areas of acupuncture research. Since the early 1970s, studies around the globe have suggested that acupuncture can relieve headaches and migraines. In one investigation (reported a full decade ago), scientists reviewed 22 patient trials. A total of 1,042 patients were studied, and the team concluded that those receiving headache-specific acupuncture treatments experienced significantly more relief than those who were given “sham” acupuncture or over-the-counter pain relievers. (FYI: Acupuncturists do not treat all headaches alike. Before beginning therapy, they explore when the headaches tend to occur, where exactly the pain is located, its response to light and dark, the distinction between dull throbbing and sharp, piercing pain. All these qualities help determine the constellation of needles required and how often treatment must be given.
Facial Lines & Wrinkles… For some women, facial aging is among the more demoralizing symptoms of menopause. Acupuncture clients find benefits here, too. “These’s a lot more firmness and my brown spots are gone,” reports one woman after just three cosmetic acupuncture treatments. Her licensed practitioner starts each session by tapping on various facial points with a needle to squeeze out “stagnant” blood and stimulate circulation. Then she inserts 12 very fine needles and leaves them in place for 60 minutes. “It’s not painful at all,” the woman says. “In fact, I often doze off.” In this way, the acupuncturist explains, she can minimize fine lines, reduce a double chin, lift sagging skin and brighten the eyes. More important, from her perspective, “When I regulate the face, it helps the organs all over the body.”
By the way, a lot of men have also jumped onboard. “It’s less expensive than cosmetic surgery. It’s discrete and I can do it on my lunch hour,” said one L.A. executive. “It’s just one more way that I try to stay professionally competitive.”
Currently, U.S. doctors won’t officially endorse acupuncture. Nevertheless, some are being swayed by reputable studies that have found the technique therapeutically effective. Considering the risks now associated with hormone replacement therapy, menopausal women might do well to investigate it as another option. Not all insurance companies cover this treatment choice, but some do; so check with your provider.
Amazing-Health Tip: If you want to locate an acupuncturist in your area, check out AcuFinder.com and choose someone certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM).
The Recipe Box
■ 8 large red potatoes,
■ 2 cups sliced mushrooms
■ 1 green pepper,
cut into thin strips
■ 1 white onion,
■ 2 large tomatoes, diced
■ ¼ cup olive oil
■ ¼ tsp oregano
■ salt & pepper to taste
In a large skillet, lightly brown the potatoes, mushrooms, green pepper and onion in olive
Place the vegetable mix in a casserole dish. Add the tomatoes, oregano, salt and pepper.
- Cover and bake at 375º for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender but not mushy.
Serves 8-10 as a side dish.