This is hot off the press. A very recent review on menopause and hot flushes, written by a collaboration of menopause experts including Professor Martha Hickey from our very own University of Melbourne and Royal Women’s Hospital, commented that “Acupuncture may ameliorate climacteric symptoms but good-quality clinical trials are needed.” There is a need for more research into this area that is carefully designed so that it sheds more light on this issue. It’s always good to get validation for what you are doing, but now it’s back to business as usual – the challenge of getting enough volunteers for a clinical trial.

D. F. Archer et al., Climacteric : the journal of the International Menopause Society 14, 515 (2011 Oct (Epub 2011 Aug, 2011).

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That is what I am presumably spending the next six years finding out, though I don’t think I can really claim to answer the question after doing a mere PhD on the topic – but I will hopefully be adding to the “body of evidence”.

For the past eight months I’ve slaved away and written protocols, trained acupuncturists, designed surveys, and seen to every tiny detail that will make this come together. “This” being a large clinical trial, to the tune of 360 women, and requiring more than half a million dollars to run. (Before you get too heated up, very little of that loot is coming to me. In fact, as most academics know, it would be a very sad thing if I was doing this for the money).

The lovely people at the Human Research Ethics Committee (aka HREC – there’s a lot of acronyms in University bureaucracy) at the University of Melbourne have rubber-stamped my application to post on my blog about the trial. So here is the link to our official website.

This project really is “my baby”, being something I conceived in 2008 and gestated as a pilot study (my Masters project). I’m an acupuncturist, and we often see dramatic results in practice, but it can be difficult to know if it was due to our skill and expertise or if it was all a “placebo effect”. (Which some people argue is a large part of the acupuncture experience – and they are probably right).

Women in midlife are probably my largest clientele, and I would be overjoyed if we discovered acupuncture works for hot flushes, because it may just ease the burden that these wonderful women carry – they work, look after partners, look after ageing parents, stepchildren, children, sometimes grandchildren, and they just don’t need the bother of hot flushes.

If you know any women who are postmenopausal, suffering from hot flushes, and who have not had acupuncture in the past, and who live in Melbourne, please point them to my website.

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