After suffering from extreme hot flashes day and night, Rayshell Purifoy had given up hope of ever finding relief. But then, she happened upon an unconventional solution that stopped them in their tracks: hypnosis.
Rayshell Purifoy groaned, lowering her makeup brush as a wave of heat washed over her. Another hot flash, the Texas native thought, turning toward a fan nearby. But as sweat poured down her face, Rayshell couldn’t help but sigh. How can I fix this?
It was a question she’d been asking for more than a year. At 47, she’d started experiencing menopausal symptoms, the worst of which were severe hot flashes that left her covered in sweat, feeling dirty and stressed at work and waking up multiple times each night.
But to her dismay, nothing had helped. Doctors prescribed sublingual testosterone, expensive injections, and even holistic medicines. But each one fell short. I don’t know what else to do, Rayshell worried, losing hope. I just have to live with it.
Then one day, Rayshell was visiting her acupuncturist, Dr. Naeem Abuassaf, who had been treating her for back pain, when he reached to flick on the heat lamp above her.
“Oh, no!” she recoiled. “I can’t sit under a heat lamp! I’ll have a hot flash.”
“Hot flashes?” Dr. Naeem asked. “I can help. Have you ever tried hypnosis?”
As a devout Christian, Rayshell felt uncertain and nervous, so she prayed, God, please be with me in this. Feeling a renewed sense of peace, she settled in the chair and closed her eyes.
“Take a deep breath and relax,” Dr. Abuassaf said, as Rayshell steadied her breathing. “Repeat after me: 'My parts that are giving me the hot flashes: Thank you for sending me a signal that something is happening in my body. Today I want my body to give me signals for the words no and yes.'”
Though she felt a bit silly, Rayshell said the words to herself — and upon asking for a signal for “no,” felt her finger twitch. When she asked for “yes,” her knee itched.
Dr. Abuassaf continued, “Now, ask the parts that are sending you hot flashes as a signal if they can send you a different signal.” Is that possible? Rayshell wondered. But to her surprise, her knee itched ever so slightly.
An Answered Prayer
Minutes later, Rayshell opened her eyes. “That wasn’t what I expected!” she exclaimed. “I didn’t lose consciousness, and it felt so relaxing… like I was praying or meditating.” But as she headed home, all she could think was: I really hope this works.
As the days passed, Rayshell got her wish. Though she couldn’t identify what subtle new signal had taken the place of her hot flashes, they had all but disappeared. And when she experienced a mild flash after a month of relief, Dr. Abuassaf walked her through hypnosis again and assured her that she could do it herself if another one arose.
Today, hot flashes are a thing of the past for the 51-year-old, and she credits hypnosis. “I felt so out of control of what was happening to me, but by redirecting my body’s reactions in a loving way, it turned around — and the effects were immediate!” she smiles. “It gives me so much peace to feel in control of my own body again!”
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.