There may be some complementary therapies that women find help to control hot flushes. Some of these have been researched, but for others the evidence is only anecdotal (based on personal accounts rather than facts).
Some of these therapies may be available on the NHS; your GP can give you further details. If you would like to find a complementary therapist, make sure that they are properly qualified and registered. The British Complementary Medical Association has lists of registered therapists throughout the UK. Always talk to your cancer doctor before you start any complementary therapy.
Some therapies may interfere with your cancer treatment or with other drugs you may be taking.
Doing breathing exercises may help. Two research trials have shown that using a slow controlled breathing technique called paced respiration can be an effective way to manage hot flushes. The results showed that the number of flushes was reduced on average by 50–60%.
To develop paced respiration, it’s important to practise for 15 minutes twice a day. Find a quiet place where you can sit comfortably without being interrupted while you practise the following exercise:
- Keep your rib cage still and breathe in and out by using your stomach muscles (pushing out and pulling in your tummy muscles).
- Without moving your rib cage, breathe in for five seconds and then breathe out for five seconds.
Once you’re confident in doing paced respiration, you can use it whenever you feel a flush coming on. You should continue with paced respiration until you feel the flush has passed.
There’s also a yoga breathing technique, known as the ‘cooling breath’ or sheetali, that can help to reduce your body temperature. Contact the British Wheel of Yoga to find a registered yoga teacher.
This involves putting sterile needles through the skin at specific points in the body. There is some evidence that acupuncture may help reduce the frequency and severity of hot flushes. Always ask your cancer doctor or specialist nurse if acupuncture is safe for you first.