Hypnosis and Hot Flushes

16 May 2008


Elkins G, Marcus J, Palamara L, Stearns V. Can hypnosis reduce hot flushes in breast cancer survivors? Am J Clin Hypn. 2004 Jul;47(1):29-42.

Hot flushes are a significant problem for many breast cancer survivors and can cause discomfort, insomnia, anxiety, and decreased quality of life. In the past, the standard treatment for hot flashes has been hormone replacement therapy. However, recent research has found an increased risk of breast cancer in women receiving hormone replacement therapy. As a result, many menopausal women and breast cancer survivors reject hormone replacement therapy and many women want non-pharmacological treatment.

In this critical review we assess the potential use of hypnosis in reducing the frequency and intensity of hot flashes. We conclude that hypnosis is a mind-body intervention that may be of significant benefit in treatment of hot flashes and other benefits may include reduced anxiety and improved sleep. Further, hypnosis may be a preferred treatment because of the few side-effects and the preference of many women for a non-hormonal therapy. Two case studies are included to illustrate hypnosis for hot flashes. However this intervention has not been adequately studied. We discuss an NIH-funded randomized clinical trial of hypnosis for hot flashes in breast cancer survivors that is presently being conducted.