Women who specifically pictured images associated with coolness during hypnotherapy or meditation tend to have a dramatic decrease in hot flashes that are experienced just before menopause, a new American study has found. "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. As many as 85 percent of women experience hot flashes as they approach menopause. The Baylor researchers surveyed the 51 breast cancer survivors who participated in a hypnosis intervention study for the treatment of their hot flashes. They found that all participants showed a preference for images associated with coolness, while none used imagery associated with warmth. Of the themes, 27 percent of participants visualized water associated with coolness. However, 17.6 percent pictured cool air or wind and 16.2 percent pictured cool mountains. Also 11.5 percent visualized a cool forest or leaves and 6.8 percent pictured snow. 20.9 percent pictured other things like a cool movie theater or frost on a winter morning. Elkins said: "These findings really give guidance to what women respond to. "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." The results appear in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis.