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Hypnosis Delivers Dramatic Reduction in Hot Flashes

23 Sep

Researchers from the Mind-Body Medicine Research Laboratory at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, conducted a randomized, single-blind, controlled, clinical trial to see if the frequency of hot flashes (as well as night sweats and disrupted sleep) could be reduced by hypnosis.
 
Prescribing estrogen and progesterone has declined, due to concerns about possible health risks, and alternatives are being sought to help manage symptoms.
 
The study involved 187 postmenopausal women who reported a minimum of seven hot flashes per day or at least 50 hot flashes per week.

Eligible participants received five weekly sessions of either clinical hypnosis or structured-attention control.  Primary outcomes were hot flash frequency (subjectively and physiologically recorded) and hot flash score assessed by daily diaries on weeks 2 to 6 and week 12.

Secondary outcomes included measures of hot flash-related daily interference, sleep quality, and treatment satisfaction.

In a modified intent-to-treat analysis that included all randomized participants who provided data, the reported subjective hot flash frequency from baseline to week 12 showed a mean reduction of 55.82 (74.16%) hot flashes for the hypnosis group, as opposed to a mean reduction of 12.89 (17.13%) hot flashes for the controls (P < 0.001; 95% CI, 36.15-49.67).
 
The mean reduction in hot flash score was 18.83 (80.32%) for the hypnosis group, as compared with 3.53 (15.38%) for the controls (P < 0.001; 95% CI, 12.60-17.54).
 
At 12-week follow-up, the mean reduction in physiologically monitored hot flashes was 5.92 (56.86%) for the hypnosis group and 0.88 (9.94%) for the controls (P < 0.001; 95% CI, 2.00-5.46).

Secondary outcomes were significantly improved as compared with the controls at 12-week follow-up: hot flash-related interference (P < 0.001; 95% CI, 2.74-4.02), sleep quality (P < 0.001; 95% CI, 3.65-5.84), and treatment satisfaction (P < 0.001; 95% CI, 7.79-8.59).

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

Citation:  Elkins GR, Fisher WI, Johnson AK, Carpenter JS, Keith TZ. Clinical hypnosis in the treatment of postmenopausal hot flashes: a randomized controlled trial. Menopause. 2013 Mar;20 (3):291-8. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award