Acupuncture Studies

The following are the results of some scientific studies showing the health benefits of acupuncture for menopausal symptoms:

i. In a study undertaken by Dong et al (2001) it was determined that acupuncture is shown to be effective in relieving vasomotor and physical disturbances of menopausal women with effects lasting at least up to 3 months after termination of treatment.  Acupuncture may be a useful treatment alternative for women who are unable or do not want to receive hormone replacement therapy.

ii. In a study by Kraft and Coulon (1999) the authors concluded that acupuncture with a standardized combination of acupuncture points according to Chinese syndrome can transitorily reduce postmenopausal complaints, but does not alter blood pressure or serum lipids at the same time.

iii. In a pilot study conducted by Porzio et al (2002) it was concluded that acupuncture seems to be safe and effective for the treatment of menopausal symptoms in women with previous breast cancer taking tamoxifen.

iv. According to a study on the effects of acupuncture on ovariectomized mice conducted by Toriizuka et al (1999) it was concluded that acupuncture could improve the memory loss and decrease of immune responses accompanying aging and/or menopause, and that it may play an important role in the medical care of the elderly.

v. In a study done using two types of acupuncture on perimenopausal women Wyon et al (1994) found that the frequency of hot flushes decreased significantly by more than 50% in both groups.  In the electroacupuncture treated group it remained decreased, whereas in the superficial needle position treated group it increased slightly again over the three months after treatment.

vi. A study done by Aso et al (1976) demonstrated that acupuncture stimulation might affect female endocrine function.

Herbal Studies

The following are the results of some studies on the use of  herbs for treatment of menopausal symptoms:

i. According to Liu et al ((2001) methanol extracts of red clover, chasteberry and hops showed significant competitive binding to estrogen receptors alpha (ER alpha) and beta (ER beta).  Chasteberry also stimulated PR (progesterone receptor) induction. Dong quai and licorice showed only weak ER binding and PR and pS2 (presenelin-2) m RNA induction.  Black cohosh showed no activity in any of the above in vitro assays.  [It should not be a surprise that black cohosh showed no activity in the above in vitro assays because black cohosh is not a phytoestrogen — it contains triterpenes which have steroid-like actions via its response on LH (luteinizing hormone).  pS2 is a marker of breast tissue proliferation.  However, for the results of this experiment to be useful we need to know at what time of the cycle this measurement took place, because breast tissue should proliferate for the first 15 days of the cycle.  It is only in the last 15 days of the cycle when a woman does not need proliferation.]

ii. In an article reviewing the literature Dharmananda (1999) reported on a study using the Chinese herbal “Rehmannia Six Formula” (Liu Wei Di Huang Wan) in women with menopause of recent onset.  The authors of the study noted that the treatment resulted in decline of serum FSH and LH by half, and increase of estradiol of 20%.  Estrogen receptors in peripheral leukocytes more than doubled.  The authors suggested that this formula benefited menopausal women by regulating both hormone levels and hormone receptors.  Another study reported that the use of Rehmannia Six Formula with regard to menopausal syndrome not only relieved the symptoms and ailments of the patients but also brought back the normal balance of their female sex hormones, i.e., it increased the serum estrogen level while lowering the high FSH and LH levels.

iii. In an article on herbs and their effects on cancer Dharmananda (1999) concludes that most of the concern related to estrogen levels and herbs is currently focused on women who have a diagnosis of breast cancer (even if it is fully in remission) or ovarian cancer.  In these cases, Chinese herbs cannot be advocated as part of the therapeutic regime.  The same restriction would apply to other herbs that are not classified as Chinese, and also to men with prostate cancer who are concerned about the adverse impact of testosterone on cancer development (certain testosterone metabolites stimulate growth of prostate cancer cells).

iv. According to an article by Kass-Annese (2000) the author observed that although there has been limited clinical research of herbal and homeopathic alternative therapies for menopause, when taken according to directions and if no contraindications exist, they have the potential for being extremely effective and safe options.

v. In a double-blind placebo controlled study undertaken by Clifton-Bligh et al (2001) to evaluate the effects of a red clover preparation (Rimostil) containing genistein, daidzein, formononetin and biochanin it was found that this combination was associated with a significant increase in HDL (“good”) cholesterol, a significant fall in apolipoprotein B and a significant increase in the bone mineral density of the proximal radius and ulna after 6 months of treatment. [Apolipoprotein B is a “bad” protein involved in Alzheimers and arteriosclerosis formation.  Genistein is present in only very, very small amounts in red clover compared to the amount of genistein in soybeans.]

Progesterone Studies

i. According to Dennerstein, et al (1985) in a double blind crossover trial using oral micronized progesterone for PMS symptoms the authors found an appreciably beneficial effect of progesterone over placebo for mood and some physical symptoms and it was identifiable after both one and two months of treatment.


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