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Q: How can I reduce hot flashes without medication?

A: If you're a smoker, quit. Research has shown that smoking increases the likelihood and severity of hot flashes, possibly due to changes in estrogen metabolism. Hypnosis also has a remarkably positive effect; it can produce a 74 percent reduction in hot flashes after 12 weeks, as well as improved sleep, according to a study I helped conduct. The hypnosis involved mental imagery of coolness and relaxation. I'm collaborating with the research team now to see whether we can deliver this type of treatment over the phone. Acupuncture may also help: A new report suggests it may provide hot-flash relief for up to three months. While the results may be due to the placebo effect, there's likely no harm in trying it. — Janet S. Carpenter, PhD, associate dean for research and scholarship at the Indiana University School of Nursing