Wednesday Bubble: Relax, just do it.

Posted by on Nov 28, 2012 in hot flash, Meditation/mindfulness therapy | 1 comment

You think that hormones are the only solution to hot flashes?

Think again!

This is not the first time that I have reported that the mind-body connection is an important key to menopausal symptoms. Moreover, it probably won’t be the last. In fact, in a second study published within the past 18 months in Menopause journal, researchers are again moving away from hormones and moving towards applied relaxation. (A related study topic-wise can be found here.)

This time, Swedish researchers assigned 60 women in menopause to either ten sessions of group therapy combined with relaxation or to no intervention for three months. All of the women had been experiencing moderate to severe hot flashes at least 50 times a week. During the 10 group therapy relaxation sessions, the women were taught to methodically move through the body’s muscle groups and use breathing techniques to systematically relax each group. They were then provided with exercises to practice daily at home, with the the goal being to learn the relaxation method and self-manage their symptoms. During this period, all participants kept a regular hot flash diary and filled out a quality of life survey on three different occasions. They also provided the researchers with a sample of their saliva.

The findings? Women practicing daily relaxation and engaging in regular coaching sessions actually reduced their daily hot flash count from an average of 9.1 to 4.4 a day; that’s about a 50% reduction. In the group of women who had no interventions, a reduction in daily hot flashes was also observed but on average, these women experienced less than two fewer flashes a day; this is likely the result of what researchers consider a ‘placebo effect.’

More importantly,  benefits of relaxation remained for at least three months after the study ended and the final therapy sessions. The women who practiced relaxation also reported improvements in overall wellbeing and quality of life, including sleep and memory. What’s more, saliva testing showed reductions in cortisol; as I’ve written previously, stress leads to cortisol release and ups the hot flashes ratio. Once that cycle starts, who knows how long the endless loop plays out?!

Time to stop the loop? Forget the drugs. Breathe deeply, exhale and repeat. Just do it.


One Comment

  1. 11-29-2012

    Thumbs up!  This just proves what many of us have known all along.  Hormones alone aren’t the answer!  Thanks for this.


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