Hypnosis May Help Reduce Hot Flashes
November 1, 2012

Study Looks At Reducing Hot Flashes With Clinical Hypnosis

Connie K. Ho for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online

While some people believe that hypnosis is just for fun and games, new research reports that clinical hypnosis is effective in helping menopausal females. A new study by scientists at Baylor University´s Mind-Body Medicine Research Laboratory recently revealed that clinical hypnosis can help decrease the occurrence of hot flashes and other related symptoms following menopause for women.

The scientists tracked the physical symptoms of hot flashes as well as had the female participants self-report the occurrence of hot flashes. The researchers discovered that hypnotic relative therapy can help decrease the number of hot flashes by as much as 80 percent. The results of the study also highlight how participants who undergo this type of therapy experience improve quality of life and fewer feelings of anxiety and depression. The findings of the study were recently featured online in Menopause: The Journal of The North American Menopause Society.

"This is the first study in which we compared both self-reporting and physiological monitoring–not just a change in tolerance or ability to cope, but the hot flashes themselves decreased," explained Gary Elkins, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor's College of Arts & Sciences, in a prepared statement.

In the study, 187 women participated in mind-body therapy over a five-week period. Working with clinically trained therapists, the females received weekly sessions of hypnosis. They also utilized audio recordings in practicing self-hypnosis and worked on visualizing images like a cool creek in the mountains or a snowy path. Based on the findings, hot flashes were reduced by approximately 70 percent by the fourth session. Furthermore, during a follow-up conducted three months after the start of the study, the researchers discovered that the hot flashes reduced by an average of 80 percent.

"Some women reported having nearly complete elimination of hot flashes,” commented Elkins, who also serves as the director of the Mind-Body Medicine Research Laboratory, in the statement.

To help record the physiological changes for the women, the participants were given skin monitors with electrodes to wear and they were required to push a response button whenever they felt a hot flash.

"This is one of the largest studies for menopausal intervention that has been done, and certainly for mind-body intervention," continued Elkins in the statement.

Apart from the reduction in the frequency of hot flashes, the team of investigators found that the sensations were milder for the participants.

"For women who want to be involved in their own therapy, this is very appealing," noted Elkins in the statement. "It also has the advantages of cost savings and few or no side effects. Over the long term, the intervention has the potential to reduce health care costs and provide a safe and effective choice for women during menopause."

The researchers note that, even though there are other treatment options, none are as effective. Hormones, such as estrogen and progestin, can help in reducing 90 to 100 percent of hot flashes but are related to an elevated risk of breast cancer or heart disease. Antidepressants can lower hot flashes from about 40 to 60 percent, but they are associated with side effects like dry mouth and diminished sexual interest.

The scientists are interested in moving the research project to the next phase and believe that further research will allow them to help women who are suffering from menopausal symptoms.

"Our next steps are to determine if the intervention can be provided by audio and video recordings as well as the long-term cost benefits," concluded Elkins in the statement. "If it can be provided by audio recording, we could achieve a wide usage and potentially help millions of women. Studies also need to be done to see whether this could benefit the immune system and ward off disease."