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Acupuncture as a treatment for “hot flashes” associated with ADT

Posted Aug 21 2010 12:00am

Many patients have sought out acupuncture as a method to gain relief from hot flashes associated with androgen deprivation therapy (ADT). However, data from prospective clinical trials is at best limited.

Ashamalla et al. have reported the results of a small, prospective clinical trial of acupuncture in 17 men on ADT who were suffering three of more hot flashes a day. Patients could not have been receiving any other form of therapy for their hot flashes.

The investigators used a hot flash score (HFS) to assess the severity of each patients hot flashes. They then multiplied each patient’s HFS by the frequency of the patient’s hot flashes to obtain a composite score. The baseline scores (measured before the patient receive acupuncture) were compared with scores taken at 2 and 6 weeks and at 8-month average follow-up. Clinical improvement for each patient was defined as the percent decrease in the mean HFS at each time point.

Acupuncture treatment was given by a single, experienced, licensed acupucturist. Ten bilateral acupuncture points were targeted in each patients, and after needle placement, electrostimulation at 2 Hz was carried out at 4/10 acupuncture points. The patients received acupuncture sessions twice weekly for 4 weeks.

The results of this study, as reported by the authors, include the following:

  • 3/17 patients dropped out of the study before receiving any treatment, so the resulst are based exclusively on the 14 patients who received therapy.
  • There were no apparent side effects of therapy during treatment, immediately after treatment, or at 8 months of follow-up.
  • The average (mean) HFS at baseline was 28.3.
  • The mean HFS dropped to 10.3 at 2 weeks, to 7.5 at 6 weeks, and 7.0 at 8 months post-treatment.
  • The mean clinical improvements were

The authors report that, at their clinic, acupuncture appears to offer excellent control of hot flashes in men with a history of ADT, and that the absence of other side effects is an obvious benefit for patients.

It would be helpful to see a larger, multi-center clinical trial of acupuncture as a means for the relief of hot flashes, based on a standardized multi-center protocol.

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