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Medical Edge: Acupuncture for Hot Flashes

Created: 08/15/2013 7:02 PM KSTP.com
By: Kenny King

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- Polly Gilgenbach Has hot flashes.
 
"It starts at your toes and feels like your blood is getting hotter."
 
"You break into a sweat, you turn red. People wonder what's wrong with you."
 
"It feels like you can't concentrate because you're hot and sweaty."
 
When the heat subsides, chills set in.
 
"I live with this. The blankie. It's not fun."
 
Rather than take medication, Polly opted to try acupuncture.
 
"It involves placing very small sterile needles along the body on specifics points," Mayo Clinic acupuncturist Molly Mallory explained.
 
The traditional Chinese philosophy behind the practice is to use the needles to bring balance to energy that flows through the body.
 
If this energy gets out of balance, you can develop symptoms. In Polly's case, hot flashes.
 
Here's a more scientific explanation of how acupuncture may work: needles in the skin stimulate pathways that travel through peripheral nerves to the spinal cord and brain. This causes your body's natural pain killers, called endorphins to rise and other chemicals to change, unblocking trapped energy and restoring its flow.
 
This is Polly's sixth treatment. She says the needles do not hurt - she can barely feel them, and the sessions are relaxing. Plus they effectively treat her hot flashes.
 
"I'm down to two or three a day instead of 10 to 12."