Hypnotize Away Hot Flashes

Self hypnosis for menopause hot flashes reduced frequency in controlled trial

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D.

(RxWiki News) Women who don't want to take hormones have limited options in controlling hot flashes for menopause. But one option doesn't involve drugs at all.

A recent study revealed that learning self-hypnosis techniques helped women reduce their hot flashes from menopause.

The women undergoing self-hypnosis also reported significantly better sleep quality and satisfaction with their treatment compared to the control group of women.

"Try hypnosis for hot flashes."

The study, led by Gary Elkins, PhD, from the Mind-Body Medicine Research Laboratory at Baylor University in Texas, involved 187 postmenopausal women who were having seven or more hot flashes each day.

All the women had also stopped using hormone therapy and were not using any other treatments for their hot flashes.

Half the women attended five 45-minute sessions a week in which they learned to practice self-hypnosis, including "cooling imagery" and were provided audio recordings and materials to help them practice at home.

The other women also attended five weekly sessions for 45 minutes, but these involved "structured-attention" conditions as a control group.

It involved encouragement and talking but not instruction in self-hypnosis or suggestions for cooling. These participants also received audio recordings.

The women tracked their hot flashes in a Hot Flash Symptoms Diary for one week, noting whether they were mild, moderate, severe or very severe.

They kept the one-week diary at the start of study, during weeks 2 through 6 and 12 weeks later for follow-up.

They were also asked about their sleep quality and how happy they were with the treatments they received for hot flashes.

The women who underwent self-hypnosis lessons reduced the number of their hot flashes by about 74 percent on average.

The control women who experienced structured-attention reduced their hot flashes by 17 percent.

When the researchers looked at the women's hot flash scores, which takes into account how often they have them and how bad they are, the women who practiced hypnosis had a decrease of 80 percent in their scores, compared to 15 percent in the control group.

At the follow-up three months later, the average decrease in hot flashes that the researchers physically measured was about 57 percent on average for the women who learned hypnosis, compared to a 10 percent reduction for the women who did not practice hypnosis.

"Compared with structured-attention control, clinical hypnosis results in significant reductions in self-reported and physiologically measured hot flashes and hot flash scores in postmenopausal women," the authors reported.

The study was published October 22 in the journal Menopause. The research was funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The authors reported no conflicts of interest.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
November 2, 2012
Last Updated:
November 11, 2012