When it comes to treating menopause symptoms naturally, a simple online search will produce a long list of allegedly proven methods. In reality, only a small fraction has been tested and shown effective in clinical trials.
Stinging nettle and acupuncture, however, have both been found to benefit menopausal women.1,2 This 2019 clinical trial explored their benefits in more depth, evaluating their effects on mid-life symptoms when used separately and combined.
This randomized clinical trial was conducted on 72 postmenopausal women, aged 45 to 60, who were experiencing at least 20 hot flash episodes on a weekly basis.
They were divided into four groups in order to compare the effects of each treatment type on hot flashes:
- Group A: stinging nettle tablets (450 mg) + acupuncture (11 sessions)
- Group B: placebo tablets + acupuncture (11 sessions)
- Group C: stinging nettle tablets (450 mg) + placebo acupuncture (“sham acupuncture,” 11 sessions)
- Group D: placebo acupuncture + placebo tablets
The intervention lasted for seven weeks. Four weeks after its termination, women underwent a follow-up.
Measured outcomes included hot flashes severity and frequency as well as quality of life. Women's hormone levels were also measured to assess treatments' effects on hormonal balance.
Women in groups A, B, and C showed significant improvements in terms of their hot flash scores. No substantial improvements were observed in women in group D.
Likewise, mean qualify of life scores improved in participants in groups A, B, and C, but not D.
There were no major differences in the extent of these benefits between groups A, B, and C. Also, the improvements remained significant during the four weeks between the end of treatment and the follow-up.
No significant hormonal changes were noted in either of the groups.
What Does It Mean?
As can be seen in the results of this study, stinging nettle can decrease hot flashes during menopause and improve women's quality of life when taken on its own. Equally beneficial and lasting effects were also shown for acupuncture when performed separately.
Interestingly, combining stinging nettle with acupuncture has shown not to potentiate their individual therapeutic benefits.
Additionally, the lack of hormonal changes after both stinging nettle and acupuncture treatments suggest that their properties are due to another mechanism of action.
- Complementary Therapies in Medicine. (2019). Urtica dioica in comparison with placebo and acupuncture: A new possibility for menopausal hot flashes: A randomized clinical trial. Retrieved December 12, 2020 from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31126551/
- Acupuncture Medicine. (2009). The acupuncture treatment for postmenopausal hot flushes (Acuflash) study: traditional Chinese medicine diagnoses and acupuncture points used, and their relation to the treatment response. Retrieved December 12, 2020 from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19734379/
- Frontier Neuroendocrinology. (2011). The pros and cons of phytoestrogens. Retrieved December 12, 2020 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3074428/