Aims: To review controlled clinical trials of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) therapies for hot flushes and at least one other co-occurring symptom among sleep, cognitive function, mood, and pain.
Methods: An experienced reference librarian performed an extensive search of PubMed/Medline, CINAHL Plus, PsycInfo, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Web of Science, EMBASE, AMED, and Alt-Health Watch for randomized, controlled trials reported in English between 2004 and July 2011. Of 1193 abstracts identified, 58 trials examined effectiveness of therapies for hot flushes and at least one additional co-occurring symptom.
Results: Eleven trials (13 publications) examined TCM therapeutics of acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) or moxibustion. Acupuncture trials (eight) yielded mixed results; five trials significantly reduced hot flushes. Of those five trials, one also showed benefit for sleep and pain and two trials found benefit for mood symptoms. Of three CHM trials, three trials had significant findings: one for hot flushes and mood, one for hot flushes and pain, and one for hot flushes, sleep, mood symptoms and pain. Moxibustion and counseling (one trial) significantly reduced hot flushes, mood symptoms and pain. None of the trials reported any serious adverse events.
Conclusions: TCM therapeutics of acupuncture, CHM and moxibustion show promising results for the treatment of mood and pain symptoms co-occurring with hot flushes. Although the controlled clinical trials of TCM therapeutics reviewed here measured multiple symptom outcomes, few report treatment effects in ways that allow clinicians to consider symptom clusters when prescribing therapies. Future studies need to measure and report results for individual symptoms or group like symptoms together into subscales. Controlled clinical trials with larger numbers of participants are essential to allow evaluation of these therapies on hot flushes and multiple co-occurring symptoms.
Keywords: ACUPUNCTURE; CHINESE HERBAL MEDICINE; HOT FLUSHES; MENOPAUSAL TRANSITION; MENOPAUSE; MOXIBUSTION; SYMPTOM CLUSTER; SYSTEMATIC REVIEW; TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE.