Think cool: Hypnotic thoughts may reduce hot flashes, study reports

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From Green Right Now Reports

If you are among the 85 percent of pre-menopausal women who endure hot flashes, you probably don’t appreciate the comment “It’s all in your head.”

You might not like the results of a recent study by Baylor University, either. Their findings: It may be in your head. Or, to put it another way – imagining coolness may cool you down.

Women who pictured images of coolness and cool places while under hypnosis saw a marked decrease in hot flashes. The results, printed recently in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, shed light on the effectiveness of particular images – a cool mountain stream or perhaps snow.

Actually, an earlier Baylor study had already determined that hypnotherapy reduced hot flashes in 68 percent of a group of breast-cancer survivors. This new study scrutinized the specific mental images the women chose to use under hypnosis.

The results give researchers a better idea of how hypnotic relaxation therapy can put the chill on a hot flash. The findings show that the area of the brain activated by imagining is the same area activated by “actual perceived events,” Dr. Gary Elkins, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor’s College of Arts and Sciences, said in a release from the university.

Among the findings:

All 51 participants in the study chose to imagine cool places. The most common images were of  mountains, water, wind, snow or trees/leaves/forests.

Breaking it down further, 27 percent of study participants visualized cool water – a waterfall or rain. Nearly 21 percent of the women pictured a variety of other things — a cool movie theater or a frosty winter morning, for example

The study shows that the most effective hypnotic imagery is whatever the woman prefers to visualize, as opposed to being told what to imagine, Elkins said.

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