Clinical hypnosis may reduce hot flashes in postmenopausal women, according to a recent study.
Various forms of hypnosis, trance and altered states of consciousness have been documented in a number of cultures throughout history. Hypnosis-like practices can be traced to ancient Egypt, Babylon, Greece, Persia, Britain, Scandinavia, America, Africa, India and China. Wong Tai, a father of Chinese medicine, made an early written reference to hypnosis in 2600 BC.
The way hypnosis works is not well understood. Some changes in the body have been associated with hypnosis, including changes in skin temperature, heart rate, intestinal secretions, and immune response. During hypnosis, decreases have been noted in heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and brain wave patterns (alpha waves). Similar changes have been reported with other forms of relaxation. Early evidence shows that hypnotherapy may be beneficial in the treatment of hot flashes and may improve quality of life in women who are experiencing menopausal symptoms; however, data are not conclusive.
In a recent study, researchers randomly assigned 187 postmenopausal women experiencing at least seven hot flashes daily to receive five clinical hypnosis or structured-attention control sessions weekly for 12 weeks. Hot flash frequency and score were evaluated as the main outcome measures.
The researchers found that the average number of reported hot flashes from the beginning of the study to week 12 significantly reduced in the clinical hypnosis group when compared to the control group, with average reductions of 55.82 and 12.89 for the hypnosis and control groups, respectively. Psychological measurements also showed significant hot flash reductions in the hypnosis group with an average reduction of 5.92, compared to 0.88 in the control group. Furthermore, hot flash scores reduced by an average of 18.82 in the hypnosis group and only 3.35 in the control group.
The authors concluded that hypnosis may be effective in reducing hot flashes in postmenopausal women. Additional research is warranted to further evaluate these findings.
In addition to hypnosis, black cohosh is a popular alternative to prescription hormonal therapy for the treatment of menopausal symptoms, such as migraine headaches, sleep disturbances, hot flashes, mood problems, perspiration, heart palpitations and vaginal dryness. Initial human research suggests that black cohosh may improve some of these symptoms for up to six months. However, the current evidence is mixed and more studies are needed before a firm conclusion can be made.
For more information about integrative therapies for hot flashes, please visit Natural Standard's Comparative Effectiveness Database.
For more information about hypnosis, please visit Natural Standard's Health & Wellness Database.