The International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis recently published research showing that hypnosis can be used to dramatically reduce the hot flashes many women experience just before menopause. “This is an interesting finding because it begins to shed light on what is it, specifically, about hypnotic relaxation therapy that reduces the hot flashes,” said Dr. Gary Elkins of Baylor University.
“The finding may indicate that areas of the brain activated by imagery may be identical to those activated by actual perceived events. Consequently, it may be that while a woman suffering hot flashes imagines a cool place, she also feels cool rather than the heat of a hot flash,” he added.
Up to 85 percent of women experience hot flashes as they near menopause.
The Baylor researchers surveyed the 51 breast cancer survivors who participated in a study that used hypnosis as a treatment for their hot flashes.
Of course, this research on cool imagery to lessen hot flashes is no surprise to hypnotherapists, who have been using the technique for some time.
Hypnotherapists have long known that the body responds to the imagination as if it were reality. For example, it is common for people watching an scary movie to jump a little when something sudden happens on screen. We know that we are safe, but our bodies create fear response, and we jump a little.
The value of using hypnosis with cold imagery to lessen hot flashes is that it amplifies the response of the body to the imagination. So, it only makes sense that hypnosis increases the effectiveness of any technique that uses imagery.
Hypnotherapists have also found that in addition to reducing hot flashes, images of cold such as snow, ice, or frost on a winter morning have also been found to be effective in reducing bleeding during surgery, and in helping lessen or eliminate acute and chronic pain for some people.
I practice Ericksonian hypnosis and NLP, which is based, in part, on the principle of utilization. The principle of utilization, simply put, is the acceptance all of the client’s own thoughts and behaviors as an expression of their desire to be healthy and happy. So, it was wonderful to see that Dr. Elkins’s study used the imagery created by the participants themselves.
Elkins said: “This study supports the idea that the most effective images are those that are generated by the participant themselves, in relation to their own perceptions and life experiences.”