Women asking for relief from hot flashes, without taking a pill, may now have a good answer. Currently, the best complementary and alternative medicine treatment for hot flashes is hypnosis.
A five-session hypnosis program reduced the frequency and severity of postmenopausal hot flashes by 80%, according to results of a recent study, which is getting a ton of buzz.
In this study 184 postmenopausal women, with moderate to severe hot flashes, received five weekly hypnosis sessions. The frequency and severity of hot flashes fell by 70% at 5 weeks and even further to 80% at 12 weeks of follow-up (7 weeks after their last hypnosis session!)
Another bonus of the five weekly hypnosis sessions was that postmenopausal women also had improved sleep and less depression.
So, what was really done during these hypnosis sessions? Among other things the intervention involved mental imagery to evoke coolness, such as walking down a mountain path on a cool day. The imagery was individualized to include places a patient had been to and things she’d experienced. The emphasis was on teaching the women self-hypnosis with the goal of patient empowerment.
In this study hypnosis performed better than previous treatments for hot flashes including black cohosh, soy, and vitamin E which have been shown to be the same as placebo for relieving hot flashes.
Medications such as Venlafaxine (Effexor) and other antidepressants have achieved roughly a 50% reduction in hot flashes in clinical trials. While that’s a clinically meaningful improvement, it’s a weaker effect than seen in the hypnosis trial. For women who don’t want to take medications, including hormone replacement therapy, this may be a great option.
What’s the downside?
- Dr O.
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