The dreaded hot flash is among the most annoying and common side effect experienced while taking various hormonal medications commonly prescribed for patients with breast and prostate cancers.
Fortunately, there are ways to help reduce the intensity and/or frequency of hot flashes:
- Conventional therapies (although, these may have side effects of their own):
- Antidepressant medications (i.e. Effexor, etc.)
- Non-conventional/Complementary therapies:
- Meditation and breathing exercises
Did you know that acupuncture was reported (Journal of Clinical Oncology, February 2010) to be as effective as taking an anti-depressant medication (Effexor) in reducing hot flashes in women receiving antiestogren hormone therapy for breast cancer. Effexor is commonly prescribed to reduce hot flashes in these women, however we now have evidence that a non-pharmacologic therapy is equally effective. The patients who received Effexor experienced numerous side effects (eg, nausea, dry mouth, dizziness, anxiety), whereas the acupuncture group experienced no adverse effects. Acupuncture had the additional benefit of increased sex drive in some women, and most reported an improvement in their energy, clarity of thought, and sense of well-being.
As an oncologist with training as a medical acupuncturist, I have seen many of my patients benefit from this 3,000+ year old traditional therapy. If you haven’t tried acupuncture, I recommend you do.
Acupuncture can help reduce pain,muscle/joint stiffness (read more here), inflammation, stress & anxiety (read about a 5-minute treatment, here), sleeping problems, nausea, dry mouth (read more here), and many other commonly experienced symptoms. Check with your medical insurance carrier to find out if this is a covered benefit; approximately 60-70% of plans cover acupuncture treatments.
(Read about the importance of selecting an acupuncturist with experience in treating individuals with a diagnosis/history of cancer.)
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