In a new study, hypnosis helped to cut hot flashes by as much as 74 percent.
While most people would like to hear that this approach provides instant relief,the women receiving hypnosis in the study had five weekly sessions. During their sessions they received suggestions for mental images of coolness, a safe place, or relaxation, depending on their preference. They received an audio hypnosis recording to practice daily.
The control group also had five sessions with a cognitive approach: They discussed their symptoms with a clinician who provided attentive listening, interpersonal exchange, monitoring, measurement and encouragement, without any negative suggestions. The control group was asked to listen daily to a recording with information about hot flashes.
According to the researchers, at the end of the 12 week study, the women in the hypnosis group reported 75 percent fewer hot flashes, compared with 13 percent fewer among the controls. The hypnosis participants also reported improved sleep.
Although researchers do not know how hypnosis eases hot flashes, they speculate that it may be because hypnosis may improve the function of the parasympathetic nervous system. Any well trained hypnotherapist will tell you that hypnosis does activate the parasympathetic nervous system. This system slows the heartbeat, reduces blood pressure and restores the calm operation of the body.
The sympathetic nervous system, which operates during a hot flash, provides the ‘fight or flight’ response. The two systems cannot both be active at the same time. Therefore, using hypnosis to repeatedly activate the parasympathetic response will reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes, which are often exacerbated by stress.
Hypnosis is an excellent therapy as it is completely non-invasive and has no negative side effects. To find a well-trained hypnotherapist in your area look for a practitioner who attended a live training with a minimum of 200 hours and has several years of experience. The American Council of Hypnotist Examiners, with their high educational standards, can refer you to a well trained hypnotherapist in your area. They can be reached at 818-242-1159 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Researchers from three different institutions were involved: The Mind-Body Medicine Research Laboratory at Baylor University, Waco, Texas; the School of Nursing at Indiana University in Indianapolis; and the college of Education at the University of Texas, Austin.
The study was published in Menopause, the journal of the North American Menopause Society.