A new study presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society of Behavioral Medicine in New Orleans gave a new tool for women in menopause looking for an alternative treatment for hot flashes – hypnosis.
A five-session program reduced both the frequency and the severity of hot flashes by 80%. And there were side benefits as well; women generally felt better, and had better sleep.
The study, presented by Gary Elkins, PhD, studied 184 women in menopause with moderate to severe hot flashes and gave them either five weekly sessions of hypnosis or simply helped them to structure their attention. Patients kept a hot flash diary.
By week 5, hot flashes reduced by about 70% and continued to reduce by 80% at the end of 12 weeks. Their findings were confirmed by hooking the women up to a monitor that measured skin changes that occur with hot flashes during the study. The hypnosis group improved by 50% at five weeks and 60% at 12 weeks compared with a 15% reduction in hot flashes among the control patients.
The hypnosis they used was very similar to meditation in that they were encouraged to relax, imagine coolness with images like walking down a mountain path on a cool day, and individualized images that brought back times and places that were cool and positive.
I think this is an interesting and potentially important study because it gives women in menopause a potentially powerful tool that does not require hormones or even over the counter remedies such as black cohosh or soy, or prescription non-estrogen drugs such as SSRI’s and SNRI’s. We will likely be seeing self-hypnosis CDs in the future. Stay tuned.