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Albert Stern is a healer, artist, and instructor. He practices acupuncture, visceral manipulation, and craniosacral therapy. He creates anatomical illustrations and fine art paintings. He is also an acupuncture instructor and teaches at various schools and facilities. He works with the Lotus Institute of Integrative Medicine and Peak Research Institute. 

Blog

Acupuncture, Hot Flashes, and Visions of Health

Albert Stern

Negative research about acupuncture is often due to a different outlook on health. 

The Annals of Internal Medicine published at a study titled, "Acupuncture for Menopausal Hot Flashes: A Randomized Trial." The conclusion of this study stated there was no difference between placebo, "sham-acupuncture" and true acupuncture for reducing hot flashes in women. This led to headlines in major publications such as The New York Times reading, "Acupuncture Offers No Benefits Over Placebo for Hot Flashes of Menopause." 

Like many acupuncturists, I have successfully treated clients for menopausal hot flashes. I find such a blanket statement concerning. Therefore I took a closer look at the study. 

The study recorded symptoms of the participants at the end of treatment, 1-month, 3-months, and 6-months afterwards. Acupuncturists view hot flashes as an ongoing process in the body. It is not something like an injury which is simply "fixed".

Hot flashes are considered an imbalance in the body which is corrected and maintained over time. Correcting an imbalance is more akin to "eating well" than "fixing an injury". For example, one can be deficient in vitamin C. The solution is not to take a whole lot of vitamin C, then stop, and wait six months. The solution in to take the vitamin and then continue to maintain healthy levels afterwards.  The same holds true for hot flashes, they are not "fixed", they are maintained. 

I believe the data in the study to be true. However the underlying vision of health is different. 

For my fellow acupuncturists, it may be tempting to ignore articles with negative headlines. But let us not fall into that trap. This study is a great tool to highlight the different vision of health which acupuncture embraces.