Hypnosis eases post-breast cancer hot flashes
The power of the mind to help keep the body healthy continues to be explored alongside conventional treatments. Hypnosis seems to help with all kinds of ailments and this study seems to indicate that it could be useful in controlling the hot-flashes that patients recovering from breast cancer often report. The research needs repeating with a group being given a placebo treatment rather than just no treatment to check if the hypnosis positive effect on reducing hot-flashes is just a placebo effect itself.
The hypnosis sessions, which lasted about 50 minutes, involved helping the patient to reach a deeply relaxed state, and then offering suggestions for mental imagery to help her relax and feel cool. This could mean having a woman imagine herself walking down a cool mountain path, for example. Women also received instructions on how to practice hypnosis on their own.
Among the 51 women who completed the study, those who had hypnosis reported a 68% reduction in the severity and frequency of their hot flashes. This translated to 4.39 fewer hot flashes a day, on average, for women in the hypnosis group, while there was little change in the control group.
In an editorial accompanying the study, Dr. Nancy E. Avis of the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, calls the reduction in hot flashes seen by Elkins and his team "impressive," but points to the need to compare hypnosis to some type of placebo, rather than no treatment at all.