Objective: To assess the effectiveness of acupuncture as a treatment option for menopausal hot flushes.
Design: We have searched the literature using 17 databases from inception to October 10, 2008, without language restrictions. We included randomized clinical trials (RCTs) of acupuncture versus sham acupuncture. Their methodological quality was assessed using the modified Jadad score.
Results: In total, six RCTs could be included. Four RCTs compared the effects of acupuncture with penetrating sham acupuncture on non-acupuncture points. All of these trials failed to show specific effects on menopausal hot flush frequency, severity or index. One RCT found no effects of acupuncture on hot flush frequency and severity compared with penetrating sham acupuncture on acupuncture points that are not relevant for the treatment of hot flushes. The remaining RCT tested acupuncture against non-penetrating acupuncture on non-acupuncture points. Its results suggested favorable effects of acupuncture on menopausal hot flush severity. However, this study was too small to generate reliable findings.
Conclusion: Sham-controlled RCTs fail to show specific effects of acupuncture for control of menopausal hot flushes. More rigorous research seems warranted.