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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Acupuncture Beats Drug to Treat Hot Flashes

Acupuncture works as well as Effexor, a drug commonly used to combat hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms that can accompany breast cancer treatment.

In fact, the benefits of acupuncture last longer than the effects of Effexor, and without any bad side effects. After 12 weeks of treatment, symptoms were reduced for 15 additional weeks for women who had undergone acupuncture, compared with just two weeks for those who had taken Effexor.

Not only were no bad side effects associated with acupuncture, women who underwent the treatment reported increased energy and overall sense of well-being. Those taking Effexor reported side effects including nausea, headache, difficulty sleeping, dizziness, increased blood pressure, fatigue and anxiety.

Sources:
Reuters September 22, 2008
American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology Meeting September 21-25, 2008 Boston, MA

Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years in China and other Asian countries, and studies continue to show its benefits for a wide variety of health problems.

The type of acupuncture most widely used and studied involves penetrating your skin with thin needles that are then manipulated by hand or electrical stimulation. The idea is that inserting needles at certain points in your body will unblock the flow of qi (or vital energy) along your body's meridian pathways.

According to traditional Chinese medicine, if qi cannot flow along your body's meridians -- due to an imbalance in yin (cold, slow) and yang (hot, excited) forces -- this is when disease develops.

Western studies, meanwhile, have shown that the use of acupuncture on pain-relief points cuts the blood flow to key areas of your brain within seconds, which may explain how this ancient technique might help relieve pain and even treat addictions. It's also been suggested that acupuncture may help support the activity of your body's natural pain-killing chemicals.

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine states that over 8 million U.S. adults have used acupuncture, with relatively few complications.

A Much Safer Alternative to Drugs

If you have the option of using acupuncture or drugs to treat a health complaint, the former is the much safer option. For instance, while the women who took Effexor in the above study had side effects ranging from fatigue and nausea to increased blood pressure, those who had acupuncture felt increased energy and levels of well-being.

So it really is a no-brainer. Acupuncture is helpful not only for pain, addictions and hot flashes, but also:

• Headaches
• Nausea
• Fertility problems
• Arthritis
• Morning sickness during pregnancy
• Fibromyalgia

Is acupuncture a wonder "cure-all" that can make up for a lifetime of poor eating, stress and no exercise? Not even close. You still need to follow the basic principles of healthy eating, emotional management, and exercise to prevent disease. But acupuncture is an effective, safe, and relatively non-invasive method for relieving a large variety of health complaints.

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