Hypnosis helps breast cancer survivors with hot flashes

By Sheryl Kay • Published: February 3rd, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Once again hypnosis has been found to be more than just an eerie entertainment phenomenon.

Studies show very real medical benefits from the practice, most recently for breast cancer patients.

Published recently in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the study tracked sixty breast cancer survivors who suffered from hot flashes, a highly common symptom for which there are few treatment options that are both harmless and effective. The women underwent five weekly sessions of either hypnosis or no treatment to stop the episodes.

During hypnosis, the women were encouraged to distance themselves from any thoughts of hot flashes. They also were exposed to mental imagery for rest and feeling cool.

These women felt less depression and anxiety, slept better and had an easier time performing daily activities. Moreover, about sixty-eight percent also reported a decrease in the incidence and severity of hot flashes.

It was difficult to know whether the hypnosis group got better simply because participants thought they should after receiving some sort of treatment. Still, researchers concluded that because the improvement was so significant, it was more likely that hypnosis truly helped.

The study also noted that today’s women are interested in alternatives to traditional drug therapies. So entertainment hype aside, consider this a news flash about the hot flash. Researchers say hypnosis can be viewed as a bonafide alternative treatment, right up there with other approaches, such as meditation and yoga.