Acupuncture  for Night Sweats

Night sweats (nocturnal hyperhidrosis) are often associated with menopausal symptoms in women but there can be many underlying causes of night sweats in both men, women and children, including infections, cancers, thyroid and other endocrine disorders.  Night sweats not related to menopause or accompanied by other worrying symptoms should always be investigated by a GP as they may be a symptom of other underlying medical conditions.

 

However the most common cause in women are the natural hormonal changes related to peri-menopause and menopause and are often accompanied by hot flushes. Severe night sweats can drench bedding and nightclothes[1] even when the environment is cool and whist the experience is distressing it is often harmless. Many women can experience night sweats and hot flushes for 10years after the menopause[2].

Traditional Chinese medicine has been used to treat hot flushes for centuries and its herbs long been known to aid menopausal symptoms.  The west is now familiar in the common use of herbs such as  “Dong Quai” (Chinese Angelica), “black cohosh” and other phytoestrogens in the treatment of menopausal symptoms in women[3].  Acupuncture alongside herbs can also be effective in reducing night sweats both in menopausal women [4]and for women who have breast cancer related hot flushes and night sweats[5].

According to TCM night sweats are associated with a diminished Yin essence, by nourishing the yin deficiency, Chinese herbs and acupuncture aim to reduce the occurrence and frequency of night sweats.

 

Case Study

M (aged 58) came for acupuncture treatment towards the end of her Tamoxifen treatment cycle post breast cancer surgery and radiotherapy.  Her breast cancer treatment had been successful, however, she was experiencing intense night sweats which were resulting in insufficient restless sleep.  She had complained of having to get up at night to shower and change bedclothes.  She also experienced hot flushes and anxiety.  She received regular weekly acupuncture sessions for 7 weeks and was referred for Chinese herbal formula in addition to the acupuncture. Initially she reported less frequency and severity of night sweats within a couple of weeks.  After her course of TCM treatment she had no night sweats and was sleeping much better, she also reported improved general wellbeing.  The breast cancer treatment had left her feeling weak and tired a lot of the time so M continued with bi-monthly then monthly acupuncture treatments for health maintenance and reported feeling stronger and more balanced for it with the night sweats no longer an issue.

 

[1] “Night Sweats Causes, Treatment Information”. MedicineNet. 2012-03-20. Retrieved 2012-08-15.

[2] Hunter et al 2011. ‘Prevalence, frequency and problem rating of hot flushes persist in older postmenopausal women: impact of age, body mass index, hysterectomy, hormone therapy use, lifestyle and mood in a cross-sectional cohort study of 10 418 British women aged 54–65’. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

[3] Lane L ‘relieving menopausal symptoms naturally’ Life Extension 2009,Vol. 15 Issue 2, p30-36

[4] https://nccih.nih.gov/sites/nccam.nih.gov/files/Get_The_Facts_Menopause_09-19-2013.pdf

[5] De Valois et al. Using traditional Acupuncture for Breast Cancer-related Hot Flashes and Night Sweats. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2010, 16(10):1047-1057.