Effexor itself has troubling side effects, but acupuncture doesn't, says study leader Eleanor Walker, MD, a radiation oncologist at Detroit's Henry Ford Hospital.
"With acupuncture you can get a treatment for those hot flashes that can alleviate them equal to drug therapy -- without side effects and with improved quality of life," Walker tells WebMD.
Acupuncture is a technique from Chinese medicine. It involves the usually painless process of placing extremely thin needles into the skin along specific "acupuncture points." Acupuncturists think of these points as nodes where lines of bodily energy converge, although these lines of energy do not correspond to any actual physical structures known to Western medicine.
Walker and colleagues studied 47 women receiving either tamoxifen or Arimidex after breast cancer treatment. Each woman suffered at least 14 hot flashes a week.
Half the women were treated with Effexor for 12 weeks; the other half received acupuncture. The two groups had similar, significant decreases in hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. Both groups also had fewer symptoms of depression.