Hypnosis Therapy and Acupuncture for Hot Flashes
Irene Dougherty, DOM, L.Ac., Dipl. Ac., and
John A. Brady, Ph.D., C.Ht., CCMC
with research from
Gary R. Elkins, Ph.D., ABPP, ABPH,
Director of the Mind-Body Medicine Research Laboratory
at Baylor University
2018 © HeartLight Wellness
for Hot Flashes
THE CURSE OF HOT FLASHES
Hot flashes also called "hot flushes," are predominately a vasomotor symptom of menopause and other hormonal disorders. This means that hot flashes disrupt the normal regulation of blood vessels, resulting in intense heat, perspiration, and other mild to severe symptoms.
The duration and frequency of hot flashes vary from woman to woman. Hot flashes can occur at any time of the day or night, though they are often called night sweats when they happen during sleeping hours.
COMBINING TWO PROVEN THERAPIES TO TREAT HOT FLASHES
Hypnosis therapy and acupuncture have been used separately for many years to resolve various types of women’s health issues. Both therapies are well founded in ancient and modern medical texts as alternative and adjunct treatments to western medicine.
Combining hypnosis therapy and acupuncture for hot flashes is a new, safe, and effective method for reducing hot flashes from menopause, breast cancer treatment, or other hormonal issues.
Although HeartLight Wellness of Santa Fe uses these combined therapies in our practice, many women are unaware of proven benefits of this treatment method. This blog is intended to provide solid information for women seeking drug-free relief from the curse of hot flashes.
HOW DOES HYPNOTIC RELAXATION THERAPY REDUCE HOT FLASHES?
Hypnotic relaxation therapy has been the subject of a number of research trials to reduce hot flashes. This research includes case studies, clinical studies, and randomized trials with breast cancer survivors, postmenopausal women, and women with other hormonal imbalances. In each study, it has been found that hypnotic relaxation therapy reduces hot flashes by 70 to 80 percent on average.
Gary R. Elkins, Ph.D., ABPP, ABPH, Director of the Mind-Body Medicine Research Laboratory at Baylor University conducted a large-scale clinical study to determine if hypnotic relaxation therapy could reduce hot flashes in postmenopausal women with moderate to very severe hot flashes.
Dr. Elkins examined if hypnotic relaxation improved both self-reported hot flashes and those measured through physiological monitoring. To do this, he enrolled 187 postmenopausal women in a five-year study and a large randomized clinical trial. During the study, approximately half of the 187 women received the hypnotic relaxation therapy, and the other half received “structured attention.”
• The first group of women completed the hypnotic relaxation therapy program reported significantly reduced hot flashes. After five weeks the hot flashes had decreased by about 70 percent and the decrease continued, reaching 80 percent after three months in the program.
• The structured attention group did not receive any hypnotic relaxation therapy but met individually with a research therapist for five visits, each lasting about 45 to 60 minutes. At each visit, the women discussed their hot flashes and received supportive counseling. The results were approximately six percent of the subjects had reduced hot flashes.
HOW DOES ACUPUNCTURE REDUCE HOT FLASHES?
At HeartLight Wellness we have added Five Element Acupuncture to address the “body” aspect of mind-body therapy to reduce hot flashes. How Does Acupuncture Work? Acupuncture uses needles to stimulate the production of hormones. The most commonly used analogical explanation of acupuncture is to say that the human body has energy running through it called meridians. If a meridian is blocked, the energy cannot flow properly, and because of this stoppage, people experience health problems like hot flashes.
Dr. Irene Dougherty of HeartLight Wellness uses acupuncture with hair-thin needless, to realign your body's thermal equilibrium, and stimulate the release of natural hormones in the body.
Nancy Avis, the professor of public health sciences, conducted an acupuncture study at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, NC, concluding that "After the first six months, the treatment group reported 36.7 percent fewer hot flashes per day. In contrast, the control group (who had no acupuncture treatment) reported an increase of 6 percent.”
In addition to the Wake Forest study, a 2014 Swedish Medical Review of the use of acupuncture for the relief of hot flashes concluded that five to twelve weeks of treatment reduced symptoms by more than 43 percent and that the benefit lasted for at least three months.
HOW DO HYPNOTIC RELAXATION AND ACUPUNCTURE WORK TOGETHER?
Hypnosis therapy and acupuncture is a mind-body therapy involving applying Five Element acupuncture treatment at key meridians controlling the bodies internal thermoregulatory process to create a state of thermal equilibrium, followed by hypnotic relaxation, stress reduction, guided imagery, and positive sub-conscious suggestions.
What do we mean by mind-body? In our everyday waking consciousness, there is a connection between our mind and the body. We are not always aware of this connection, but it affects us in both positive and negative ways.
For example, if you are stressed or worried, the stress and worry translate into physical tension, such as tight muscles, achy, tense shoulders, tension/migraine headaches, and digestive upset.
Through a combination of hypnotic relaxation and acupuncture treatments, you can control the mind-body connection to use your sub-conscious mind to calm, relax, and restore your body’s natural balance and positively control your thermal equilibrium.
During a hypnotic relaxation therapy and acupuncture session, you enter a very pleasant restful and relaxed state, and acupuncture balances your body’s thermoregulatory system (you are neither hot nor cold). This state is similar to what it feels like when you are drifting comfortably off to sleep. While in this state, your therapist assists you to vividly imagine different scenarios, such as seeing yourself in a very cool place and gives you therapeutic suggestions to minimize and relieve your hot flashes for an extended period.
HYPNOTIC RELAXATION THERAPY AND ACUPUNCTURE VS. HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY (HRT)
When a woman experiences hot flashes, conventional medical practitioners assume that she is suffering from an imbalance of estrogen and progesterone in the body, and they prescribe various forms of chemical hormone replacement therapy. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has health risks to consider.
According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Internal Medicine, it was found that women taking estrogen and progestin had higher risks of heart disease, and it also poses serious risks for gallbladder disease.
Estrogen-only HRT is linked to endometrial cancer (sometimes called uterine cancer), and the combination of estrogen and progesterone is associated with breast cancer. In addition, blood clots, or venous thrombosis is likely if a patient has previous risks or takes oral HRT.
In contrast to HRT, acupuncture is as a safe, drug-free, and effective alternative treatment for hot flashes in women who choose to forego the risks of hormone replacement therapy.
COMBINED HEALING EFFECTS OF HYPNOTIC RELAXATION AND ACUPUNCTURE THERAPIES
Based on the numerous medical and scientific studies it is apparent that the combination of hypnotic relaxation and acupuncture are a viable alternative to reducing hot flashes for over 80 percent of :
• pre-, menopausal, and post-menopausal women
• women with breast cancer, and
• young women and women with hormonal imbalances
Every patient is different, and results may vary depending on the severity of the symptoms and the frequency and interval of the combined acupuncture and hypnotic relaxation therapy sessions.
RELIEF FROM HOT FLASHES AND IMPROVED QUALITY OF LIFE
Two patients of Dr. Gary R. Elkins, Director of the Mind-Body Medicine Research Laboratory at Baylor University, Lara and Holly (pseudonyms), shared their experiences with hypnotic relaxation therapy for their hot flashes in the interview below.
How did you find out about hypnotic relaxation therapy?
Holly: My husband went to great lengths to help me with my hot flashes, and he found an article in the newspaper about this program and brought it to me. He wanted me to try it. Had you considered hormone replacement therapy to treat your hot flashes?
Lara: I was just getting ready to try hormone replacement therapy when the media started reporting on the negative side effects it had on women’s bodies. Breast cancer runs in my family, and it was reported that if you’re prone to breast cancer, hormone replacement therapy could cause some problems. And I thought I don’t want HRT if I don’t have to.
When I learned about hypnotic relaxation therapy on the news, I wanted to talk to my doctor about it. At my next appointment, I said, “You know, let me try this first.” I almost saw him roll his eyes. He said, “You can try this if you want to, but we should set you up an appointment in a couple of months, and we can talk more about hormone replacement then.” I thought, “I’m going to show you, I’m going to try this.”
I waited until I went through the whole program to go back to him. When I did, I gave him a couple of brochures, and a magazine article and I told him to read up on it because it worked for me.
What was your reaction to the idea of hypnosis?Holly: I was excited and intrigued. I’m not the kind of person looking for “here is the pill, take it.” I was looking for a more natural way to deal with my hot flashes. The thought of a natural process to get control of my hot flashes was just so appealing to me. I recognize there’s a stigma attached to the word “hypnosis.” People think it’s about making someone bark like a dog. That’s not what it really is.
Lara: I always tell people I do relaxation therapy because that seems to have a little better response than hypnosis. They understand relaxation therapy; a lot of them don’t understand hypnosis. Because hypnosis does have kind of a carnival-vibe based on the way it’s presented.
How would you describe a hypnotherapy session?
Holly: It’s like a spa. It’s wonderful. It’s my time. It’s my “me” time. Sometimes I have trouble calling it hypnosis because you [Dr. Elkins] are just helping us relax our own bodies. Yes, we are visualizing something to help calm us down, but you’re not really suggesting that we do something that we wouldn’t normally do. To me, it’s really just relaxation and helping you get control over your own body.
Lara: You go to a place in your mind that’s going to cool you off. It’s almost like your body is cooling itself off.
What surprised you about hypnosis?
Lara: I was surprised that you don’t go completely under. I thought I was going to be put completely under and I wasn’t going to remember anything that happened to me or know what I was doing. But you do know exactly what you’re doing. You’re conscious of everything that you’re doing. You’re aware of everything that is happening to you. You always have control. And that’s what I wanted, to get control of my own body.
When did the hot flashes start to decrease?
Lara: Mine decreased as time went on. I think at my last session I was down to four or five a day. And they’ve even gone down below that now. I listen to the audio recordings each night and do self-hypnosis when I feel a hot flash coming on. If I’m at work, I’ll just go off alone and put myself in a little trance and talk to myself for a minute, and then they go away, and I’m fine. And there are days that I don’t have any.
In addition to a reduction in your hot flashes, what benefits have you experienced?
Holly: The visualization is great, it really is, but teaching me to relax one muscle, one body part at a time, is just amazing. Hypnotic relaxation therapy is a great tool to help in every aspect of your life, not just the hot flashes. It helps me in so many ways, like in the stress relief at work and home. It’s wonderful.
What benefits of therapy stood out to you?
Holly: The absolute euphoria when you wake up. You feel rested and relaxed. It’s 30 minutes, and you could have slept for 10 hours.
CONSIDER THE POSSIBILITY!
Consider the possibility of your life without hot flashes!
It is natural to be optimistic or skeptical or somewhere in between when it comes to considering hypnotic relaxation AND acupuncture therapies for hot flashes. We understand. This is a new and innovative protocol, and you may be among the first in Santa Fe to learn about it.
Rest assured, at HeartLight Wellness of Santa Fe, Dr. Irene Dougherty, and Dr. John Brady will help you break the curse of hot flashes and improve the quality of your relationships and your life!
Contact us today for your free phone consultation at 505.428.0862.
2904 Via Chiquita
Santa Fe, NM 87505
Irene Dougherty, DOM, L.Ac., Dipl. Ac., and
John A. Brady, Ph.D., C.Ht., CCMC
Elkins, G., Sliwinski, J., Johnson, A., & Fisher, W. (2012). Guided self-hypnosis for the control of
hot flashes: A pilot study. Menopause, 19(12), 1387 (P-32).
Elkins, G., Fisher, W., Johnson, A., Carpenter, J., & Keith, T. (2013). Clinical hypnosis in the
treatment of postmenopausal hot flashes: A randomized controlled trial. Menopause, 20(3),
Elkins, G., Marcus, J, Stearns, V., Perfect, M., Rajab, M. H., Ruud, C., … Keith, T. (2008).
Randomized trial of a hypnosis intervention for treatment of hot flashes among breast cancer
survivors. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 26 (31), 5022–5026.