A British study has found that behavioral therapy could help women manage hot flashes – one of the most bothersome effects of the menopausal process. This may be good news for women who are unwilling or unable to use hormones to manage their menopause symptoms.
Behavioral therapy for hot flashes
Cognitive behavior therapy is generally used for treating depression, sleep disorders and even at time digestive disturbances. It can also be effective for eating disorders, relationship issues and other anxiety disorders. The aim here is to change behavior and thinking patterns that are unhealthy and which can actually exacerbate physical manifestations of the disease.
In this case researchers used behavioral therapy for women undergoing menopausal transition who were having trouble with hot flashes.
According to Myra Hunter, at King’s College London, the study found that both group therapy sessions as well as self help were able to significantly improve problems relating to hot flashes and night sweats.
The therapy involved breathing exercises that helped women turn their thoughts away from negative thoughts as well as the discomfort of their hot flashes.
The women were taught how to be more accepting of their hot flashes which also seemed to help.
Efficacy of other no-drug approaches as hot flash remedies
Since hormone replacement therapy is known to be associated with higher risk of several health problems, women have long sought effective and safe approaches to managing menopause symptoms, including hot flashes.
Alternative approaches or herbal remedies for menopause such as black cohosh, St. John’s wort, chaste berry, certain mineral and vitamin therapies as well as flaxseed are often used by women looking for a ‘natural’, ‘safe’, non-drug remedy for menopause symptoms. However the efficacy of these herbs remains doubtful.
Clinical trials have not been able to demonstrate that they do in fact help women manage their symptoms or that the symptoms become less frequent and severe as a result of this alternative therapy. When studies looked at the efficacy of these herbal remedies for controlling hot flashes, the benefits were seen to be no better than placebo. However a combination of St John’s Wort and Black Cohosh was seen to have somewhat more positive results.
On the other hand, a study found that using acupuncture was able to help control menopause symptoms to a significant extent. The control group that received sham acupuncture received less benefit for their psychological menopause symptoms as well as hot flashes than did women who underwent actual acupuncture.