TIME prostate cancer

Hypnosis Reduced This Person’s Hot Flashes By 94%

One man's hot flashes vanished with hypnosis

One man with terrible hot flashes—about 160 a week—found relief through hypnosis.

In a Baylor University case study recently published in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, a 69-year-old man referred to as Mr. W underwent seven weeks of hypnotic relaxation therapy for hot flashes, and had positive results.

Although it’s less common, men indeed can get hot flashes, though they are typically less inclined to seek treatment for them. Unlike women, whose hot flashes are usually related to changes in estrogen, prostate cancer survivors can develop hot flashes as well. Hot flashes due to prostate cancer can actually be more severe and last longer than hot flashes among women.

“If a guy has hot flashes, you can’t say, ‘Well, why don’t we put you on estrogen?’ But it’s a pressing problem,” said study author Gary Elkins, director of Baylor’s Mind-Body Medicine Research Laboratory in a statement.

Mr. W, who was a prostate cancer survivor, went under both hypnosis with a therapist, and self-hypnosis. During the hypnosis, Mr.W imagined he was at his favorite fishing spot, sitting on a bucket between two trees on a long shore of grass, watching the water early in the morning. The hypnosis transcript would tell he would experience comfort and coolness, and that he would feel a cool breeze coming across the lake and would feel it on his face. Mr. W reported that he learned how to stop his hot flashes with self-hypnosis, and by the end of the sessions, he had a 94% decrease in hot flashes and a 87% increase in sleep quality.

The findings support earlier studies from the researchers on postmenopausal women and breast cancer survivors. People have varying responses to being hypnotized, but the researchers are hopeful, since it could be a cost effective way for people to deal with their symptoms themselves, without drugs.

TIME menopause

The Best Cures for Hot Flashes

Non-hormonal treatments for hot flashes and night sweats work as well as estrogen therapy, study says

For many women, the symptoms of menopause can feel unbearable, especially those hot flashes and night sweats. Although there’s continuous debate over the risks and benefits of hormone therapy, current recommendations are that women undergoing treatment should take the smallest dose for only a brief period of time. For women who want care for longer, there’s a desire for a non-hormonal alternative.

Estrogen therapy tends to be the go-to treatment, but Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) researchers looked at whether a non-hormonal treatment called venlafaxine hydrochloride is just as effective. Generally, the authors note, venlafaxine hydrochloride is thought to be an inferior treatment.

(MORE: The Truth About Hormones)

The researchers had 339 perimenopausal and postmenopausal women with at least two bothersome symptoms a day take either estrogen therapy, venlafaxine hydrochloride, or a placebo. They discovered that estrogen therapy and venlafaxine hydrochloride were similarly successful at combating menopause-related problems.

After eight weeks, hot flash and night sweat frequency went down by 52.9% among the women taking low-dose estradiol (estrogen therapy) and 47.6% among women taking venlafaxine. Symptoms went down by 28.6% for women taking placebo. The researchers acknowledge that while the findings show estrogen therapy had a slight edge over venlafaxine, it was so small that it’s considered of low clinical significance.

Treating menopause symptoms got complicated when the 2002 Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study, a 15-year investigation into the factors that contribute to the health of postmenopausal women, was halted three years early when an early data review showed women taking the combination of estrogen and progestin had a higher rate of breast cancer, heart disease and stroke than women taking a placebo. In 2012, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force confirmed the WHI trial’s findings, concluding after a review of 51 studies published since 2002 that the risks of HRT outweighed the benefits. Given the potential risks, there’s a push to find other options.

The knowledge that treatments that don’t involve hormones are effective and available, is therefore extremely valuable for women seeking relief, the study concludes.

The study is published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

 

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