Women seeking relief of hot flashes and other bothersome symptoms of menopause might want to take a pass on laser acupuncture, based on a new study showing that it is largely ineffective in relieving menopausal symptoms.
Laser acupuncture uses a laser beam instead of the traditional acupuncture needles. The low-power laser beam is directed at the same points used in traditional acupuncture.
Studies on the ability of traditional acupuncture to cool hot flashes have been mixed and data regarding the effect of laser acupuncture on symptoms of menopause are lacking.
To investigate, Dr Paul A Komesaroff, at Monash University Department of Medicine in Victoria, Australia and colleagues studied 40 otherwise healthy women 54 years old on average.
The women were having about 40 to 50 daily and 20 or so nightly hot flashes a week and other symptoms of menopause, but were not using hormone replacement therapies.
Similar symptom improvements
Over 3 months, the women documented their menopause symptoms. During this time, 23 had laser-on and 17 had laser-off (sham) acupuncture to 10 specific body points every 14 days. Neither the women nor the laser operator knew the state of the laser during treatments.
By the end of treatment, the women reported no adverse events and very similar symptom improvements, regardless of treatment group, the researchers report in the journal Menopause.
On average, the laser-on and laser-off groups, respectively, reported about 37 and 33% fewer daytime and about 30 and 39% fewer nighttime hot flashes.
Other menopause symptoms also declined, but detailed analyses of the women's diaries showed no significant between-group differences in specific symptoms such as mood, energy level, bloating, or sex drive.
The investigators surmise that touching the laser probe to the skin, as occurred in both treatment arms, may explain the similar between-group responses. Based on the current study, Komesaroff and colleagues do not recommend laser acupuncture for relief of menopause symptoms.
In this direct comparison of laser-on versus laser-off acupuncture, laser-on treatments were "ineffective in altering menopausal symptoms", Komesaroff noted in an e-mail to Reuters Health.
The researchers suggest further studies of laser acupuncture in menopausal women focus on alternative acupuncture points. - (Reuters Health, February 2010)