Research Studies

Weight Loss, Bulima, Smoking, Bone Fracture Healing, Post Surgical Healing, Post Surgical Pain, Osteoarthritis, Dementia, Hot Flashes, Headaches, Pain, Sleep Walking, Sleep-Eating, Sleep-Sex, Nightmares, Night-Terrors, Sleep-Talking, Bed-Wetting, Restless Leg Syndrome, Teeth Grinding, Bruxism, Anxiety, High Blood Pressure, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Fear of Flying/Phobias, Skin Disorders, Warts, Female Incontinence, Fertility,  Embryo Transfer, Pregnancy, Child Birth, Male Sexual Dysfunction, Respiratory Conditions, Asthma


Sleep disorders researchers from the Sleep Disorders Center at the Mayo Clinic College in Rochester, MN replicated and extended an earlier study (by Hurwitz et al, 1991) looking at the effectiveness of one or two sessions of hypnosis in substantially improving “parasomnias” (sleep disorders such as sleepwalking, sleep-eating, nightmares, night terrors, bed wetting, sleep sex, teeth grinding, sleep talking, restless legs syndrome, and so on) up to five years later. The study sample consisted of thirty-six patients (19 male, 17 female), ages ranging from 6 to 71, with an average age of 32.7 years. Four were children aged 6 to 16. All had chronic, self-sustaining parasomnias. All underwent 1 or 2 hypnotherapy sessions and were then followed with a questionnaire for 5 years. Of the 36 patients, 45.4% were symptom-free or at least much improved at the 1-month follow-up, 42.2% at the 18-month follow-up, and 40.5% at the 5-year follow-up. The study concludes that one or two sessions of hypnotherapy might be an efficient, first-line therapy for patients with certain types of parasomnias.
Citation: Peter J. Hauri, Michael H. Silber, Bradley F. Boeve The treatment of parasomnias with hypnosis: a 5-year follow-up study. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. 2007 Jun 153 (4): pages 369-73.

Weight Loss

Researchers analyzed 18 studies comparing a cognitive behavioral therapy such as relaxation training, guided imagery, self monitoring or goal setting with the same therapy supplemented by hypnosis. Those who received the hypnosis lost more weight than 90% of those not receiving hypnosis and maintained the weight loss two years after treatment ended. Reference: University of Connecticut, Storrs Allison DB, Faith MS. J Consult Clin. Psychol. 1996;64 (3):513-516 Hypnosis can more than double the effects of traditional weight loss approaches. An analysis of five weight loss studies reported in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology in 1996 showed that the “… weight loss reported in the five studies indicates that hypnosis can more than double the effects” of traditional weight loss approaches.University of Connecticut, Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology in 1996 (Vol. 64, No. 3, pgs 517-519).

Bulimia Nervosa
A Randomized Controlled Trial of Guided Imagery The objective of this study was to test a guided imagery therapy designed to enhance self-comforting in bulimia nervosa. A randomized controlled trial compared 6 weeks of individual guided imagery therapy with a control group. Fifty participants who met DSM-III-R criteria for bulimia nervosa completed the study. Measures of eating disorder symptoms, psychological functioning and the experience of guided imagery therapy were administered. The guided imagery treatment had substantial effects on the reduction of bingeing and purging episodes; the imagery group had a mean reduction of binges of 74% and of vomiting of 73%. The imagery treatment also demonstrated improvement on measures of attitudes concerning eating, dieting and body weight in comparison to the control group. In addition, the guided imagery demonstrated improvement on psychological measures of aloneness and the ability for self-comforting. Evidence from this study suggests that guided imagery was an effective treatment for bulimia nervosa, at least in the short-term. link is M. J. ESPLEN, P. E. GARFINKEL, M. OLMSTED, R. M.GALLOP and S. KENNEDY (1998). A randomized controlled trial of guided imagery in bulimia nervosa. Psychological Medicine, 28, pp 1347-1357.


90.6% Success Rate for Smoking Cessation Using Hypnosis
Of 43 consecutive patients undergoing this treatment protocol, 39 reported remaining abstinent from tobacco use at follow-up (6 months to 3 years post-treatment). This represents a 90.6% success rate using hypnosis. University of Washington School of Medicine, Depts. of Anesthesiology and Rehabilitation Medicine, Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 2001 Jul;49(3):257-66. Barber J.

Hypnosis Patients Twice As Likely To Remain Smoke-Free After Two Years
Study of 71 smokers showed that after a two-year follow up, patients that quit with hypnosis were twice as likely to remain smoke-free than those who quit on their own. Guided health imagery for smoking cessation and long-term abstinence. Wynd, CA. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 2005; 37:3, pages 245-250.

Hypnosis Most Effective Says Largest Study Ever: 3X as Effective as Patch and 15X as Effective as Willpower
Hypnosis is the most effective way of giving up smoking, according to the largest ever scientific comparison of ways of breaking the habit. A meta-analysis, statistically combining results of more than 600 studies of 72,000 people from America and Europe to compare various methods of quitting. On average, hypnosis was over three times as effective as nicotine replacement methods and 15 times as effective as trying to quit alone. University of Iowa, Journal of Applied Psychology, How One in Five Give Up Smoking. October 1992. (Also New Scientist, October 10, 1992.)


Alladin (1988) reviewed the literature on hypnosis, identifying fully a dozen different hypnotic techniques that have been used in the treatment of chronic migraine headaches. Of these, hypnotic training emphasizing relaxation, hand warming (which, according to Anderson, 1975 seems the simplest method of establishing increased voluntary control of the sensitive vasomotor system) and direct hypnotic suggestions of symptom removal have all been shown to be effective in reducing the duration, intensity and frequency of migraine attacks during a ten-week treatment course and at thirteen-month follow-up when compared to controls. Reference: Alladin, A. (1988). Hypnosis in the Treatment of Severe Chronic Migraine. In M. Heap (ed.), Hypnosis: Current Clinical, Experimental and Forensic Practices. London: Croom Helm. pp. 159-166.

Chronic Headaches
A study (Gutfeld, G. and Rao, L., 1992) was conducted on 42 patients suffering from chronic headaches. These patients, all of whom had responded poorly to conventional treatments, were split into two groups. One received hypnotherapy to relieve their daily headaches; the rest acted as a comparison group. The hypnotherapy group experienced reduced frequency and duration of headaches, cutting the intensity by about 30%. “These results are impressive in such a difficult, hard-to-treat group of patients,” commented Egilius Spierings, M.D., Ph.D. director of the headache section, division of neurology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Reference:Gutfeld, G. and Rao, L. (1992). Use of Hypnosis with Patients Suffering from Chronic Headaches, Seriously Resistant to Other Treatment, as reported in Prevention, 44, 24-25.

Changes in the meaning of pain with the use of guided imagery
Researchers from Kent State University’s College of Nursing found that guided imagery changed the way patients described their pain. Imagery users found pain changeable; the controls found it never-ending. Researchers from Kent State University’s College of Nursing examined how guided imagery changes the way people describe their pain. Participants in the treatment group used guided imagery over a consecutive 4-day period, and those in the control group were monitored. Verbal descriptions of pain were obtained before randomization and at four daily intervals. Data were analyzed using content analysis. Six categories emerged from the data: pain is never-ending, pain is relative, pain is explainable, pain is torment, pain is restrictive, and pain is changeable. For participants in the guided imagery treatment group, pain became changeable. The description of pain as never-ending was a prominent theme for participants before randomization to treatment and control groups. It remained a strong theme for participants in the control group throughout the 4-day study period; however, pain as never-ending did not resurface for participants in the guided imagery treatment group.

Citation: Lewandowski W, Good M, Draucker CB. Changes in the meaning of pain with the use of guided imagery. Pain Management in Nursing. 2005 Jun; 6 (2): pp. 58-67.

Hypnosis Has a Reliable and Significant Impact on Acute and Chronic Pain
Hypnosis has been demonstrated to reduce analogue pain, and studies on the mechanisms of laboratory pain reduction have provided useful applications to clinical populations. Studies showing central nervous system activity during hypnotic procedures offer preliminary information concerning possible physiological mechanisms of hypnotic analgesia. Randomized controlled studies with clinical populations indicate that hypnosis has a reliable and significant impact on acute procedural pain and chronic pain conditions. Methodological issues of this body of research are discussed, as are methods to better integrate hypnosis into comprehensive pain treatment. Hypnosis and clinical pain. Patterson DR, Jensen MP, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA USA 98104 Psychol Bull. 2003 Jul;129(4):495-521.

Hypnosis and General Pain
Ernest Hilgard (1977) and coworkers: In extensive investigations, using experimental paradigms to induce pain (typically either a tourniquet cutting off the circulation to a limb or plunging the limb into cold water), they have demonstrated that various types of pain can be reduced by hypnotically induced analgesia. In these studies, 66% of the high susceptibility group, but only 13% of the lower and 17% of the medium susceptibility groups, were able to reduce their pain by 1/3 or more. Twenty-six percent of the high, 57% of the medium, and 31% of the low susceptibility groups were able to reduce their pain by 10-32% when compared to controls. Experimentally induced pain, while undeniably noxious, is different from the experience of patients in the clinical setting. Whereas experimental pain is brief, undergone voluntarily, and can be terminated at any time by the subject, in the clinical setting, pain is often long term, comes against the wishes of the individual and is usually experienced as being outside of personal control. Moreover, it is a part of a disease process that directly alters both physical and mental functioning. Reference: Hilgard, E. R. (1977). Divided Consciousness: Multiple Controls in Human Thought and Action. NY: John Wiley. 1977.

Hypnosis and Arthritic Pain
In a neurochemical study of hypnotic control of pain conducted by Domangue (1985), patients suffering from arthritic pain showed a correlation among levels of pain, anxiety and depression. Anxiety and depression were inversely related to plasma norepinephrine levels. Depression was correlated with dopamine levels and negatively correlated with levels of serotonin and beta endorphin. Following hypnotherapy, there were clinically and statistically significant decreases in depression, anxiety and pain, and increases in beta endorphin-like substances.

Guided Imagery: A Winning Strategy for Osteoarthritis
Researchers from Indiana University School of Nursing in Indianapolis looked at whether guided imagery and relaxation was a useful self-management strategy for osteoarthritis, and whether it could help control symptoms and decrease the use of medication. Specifically, they tested whether it could reduce pain, improve mobility and reduce medication use. Thirty older adults were randomly assigned to participate in the 4-month trial by using either Guided imagery or a sham intervention and planned relaxation. Repeated-measures analysis of variance revealed that, compared with those who used the sham intervention, participants who used Guided Imagery had a significant reduction in pain from baseline to month 4 and significant improvement in mobility from baseline to month 2. Poisson technique indicated that, compared with those who used the sham intervention, participants who used GIR had a significant reduction in over-the-counter (OTC) medication use from baseline to month 4, prescribed analgesic use from baseline to month 4, and total medication (OTC, prescribed analgesic, and prescribed arthritis medication) use from baseline to month 2 and month 4. Results of this study support the efficacy of GIR in reducing symptoms, as well as in reducing medication use. The researchers conclude that guided imagery with relaxation is a useful strategy for clinicians to use for pain management. Citation:Baird CL, Murawski MM, Wu J.Efficacy of Guided Imagery with Relaxation for Osteoarthritis Symptoms and Medication Intake. Pain Management Nursing. 2010 Mar;11 (1):apges 56-65. Epub 2010 Jan 4

IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)

Hypnotherapy Dramatically Decreases Pain in Children with IBS or with functional abdominal pain.
In a randomized, controlled clinical trial, Dutch researchers from St. Antonius Hospital find that hypnotherapy dramatically decreases pain in children with irritable bowel syndrome or with functional abdominal pain. Researchers from the Department of Pediatrics at St. Antonius Hospital in Nieuwegein, The Netherlands, conducted a randomized, controlled trial to look at the efficacy of gut-directed hypnotherapy (HT) for reducing abdominal pain in children with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Fifty-three pediatric patients, age 8-18 years, with functional abdominal pain (n = 31) or IBS (n = 22), were randomized to either hypnotherapy or standard medical care. Hypnotherapy consisted of 6 sessions over a 3-month period. Patients in the standard care group received standard medical care and 6 sessions of supportive therapy. Pain intensity, pain frequency, and associated symptoms were scored in weekly standardized abdominal pain diaries at baseline, during therapy, and 6 and 12 months after therapy.
Pain scores decreased significantly in both groups: from baseline to 1 year follow-up, pain intensity scores decreased in the hypnotherapy group from 13.5 to 1.3 and in the standard care group from 14.1 to 8.0. Pain frequency scores decreased from 13.5 to 1.1 in the hypnotherapy group and from 14.4 to 9.3 in the standard care group. The study concludes that hypnotherapy was highly superior, with a significantly greater reduction in pain scores as compared with standard care (P < .001). Further, at one year follow-up, successful treatment was accomplished in 85% of the hypnotherapy group as opposed to 25% of the standard care group (P < .001).

Gut-directed hypnotherapy was recommended as highly effective in the treatment of children with longstanding functional abdominal pain or IBS 

Citation: Vlieger AM, Menko-Frankenhuis C, Wolfkamp SC, Tromp E, Benninga MA. Hypnotherapy for children with functional abdominal pain or irritable bowel syndrome: a randomized controlled trial. Gastroenterology. 2007 Nov; 133 (5): pages 1430-6. Epub 2007 Sep 2.

Guided Imagery and IBS Symptom Severity Decrease
In a small pilot study, Israeli researchers from Tel Aviv University and Bar-Ilan University examined the impact of guided imagery on Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS. A total of 15 irritable bowel syndrome patients received guided effective imagery and 19 patients served as controls. Symptom severity and irritable bowel syndrome quality of life were measured at baseline and at 8 weeks. Findings revealed that IBS symptom severity decreased in the guided imagery group, as compared with the controls . Additionally, quality of life increased in the intervention group, as compared to the controls. A number of newly archived studies show strong support for including hypnosis/imagery as an important and useful element in standard treatment for irritable bowel syndrome.

A number of newly archived studies show strong support for including hypnosis/imagery as an important and useful element in standard treatment for irritable bowel syndrome. Researchers at Washington State in Pullman, Washington, conducted a modest clinical pilot study in order to provide preliminary data on the effects of hypnosis on irritable bowel syndrome sufferers. Eight patients who were unresponsive to other forms of treatment were assigned to either individually tailored hypnosis or a generic form of hypnosis. The study found that all 8 subjects showed favorable responses to treatment, immediately post treatment and at 10 month follow-up. 

Citation: Barabasz A, Barabasz M. Effects of tailored and manualized hypnotic inductions for complicated irritable bowel syndrome patients. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis. 2006 Jan; 54 (1): pages 100-12. .

Treatment of inflammatory bowel disease: a role for hypnotherapy

Fifteen patients with severe or very severe inflammatory bowel disease on corticosteroids but not responding to medication received 12 sessions of “gut-focused hypnotherapy” and were followed up for a mean duration of 5.4 years with disease severity being graded as remission, mild, moderate, severe, or very severe. Two patients (13.4%) failed to respond and required surgery. At follow-up for the remaining 13 patients, 4 (26.6%) were in complete remission, 8 (53.3%) had mild severity, and 1 (6.7%) was moderately severe. Quality of life became good or excellent in 12 (79.9%). Corticosteroid requirements dramatically declined with 60% of patients stopping them completely and not requiring any during follow-up. Hypnotherapy appears to be a promising adjunctive treatment for inflammatory bowel disease and has steroid sparing effects. Controlled trials to clearly define its role in this disease area are justified.   2008 Jul;56(3):306-17. doi: 10.1080/00207140802041884.

Long-term success of GUT-directed group hypnosis for patients with refractory irritable bowel syndrome: a randomized controlled trial. OBJECTIVES: Gut-directed hypnotherapy (GHT) in individual sessions is highly effective in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). This study aimed to assess the long-term effect of GHT in group sessions for refractory IBS. METHODS: A total of 164 patients with IBS (Rome-III-criteria) were screened, and 100 refractory to usual treatment were randomized 1:1 either to supportive talks with medical treatment (SMT) or to SMT with GHT (10 weekly sessions within 12 weeks). The primary end point was a clinically important improvement on several dimensions of daily life (assessed by IBS impact scale) after treatment and 12-month follow-up. The secondary end point was improvement in general quality of life (QOL; Medical Outcome Study Short-Form-36), psychological status (Hospital Anxiety Depression Scale) and reduction of single IBS symptoms. Analysis was by intention to treat. RESULTS: A total of 90 patients received allocated intervention. After treatment, 28 (60.8%) out of 46 GHT patients and 18 (40.9%) out of 44 SMTs improved (absolute difference 20.0%; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0-40.2%; P=0.046); over 15 months, 54.3% of GHT patients and 25.0% of controls improved (absolute difference 29.4%; 95% CI 10.1-48.6%; P=0.004). GHT with SMT improved physical and psychological well being significantly more than SMT alone (P<0.001). Gender, age, disease duration and IBS type did not have an influence on the long-term success of GHT. CONCLUSIONS:GHT improves IBS-related QOL, is superior to SMT alone, and shows a long-term effect even in refractory IBS.

Where does hypnotherapy stand in the management of IBS? A systematic review.

BACKGROUND: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a gastrointestinal disorder characterized by chronic abdominal pain and altered bowel habits in the absence of any organic cause. Despite its prevalence, there remains a significant lack of efficient medical treatment for IBS to date. However, according to some previous research studies, hypnosis has been shown to be effective in the treatment of IBS. AIM:To determine the definite efficacy of hypnosis in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. METHODS: A systematic review of the literature on hypnosis in the treatment of IBS from 1970 to 2005 was performed using MEDLINE.
RESULTS: From a total of 22 studies, seven were excluded. The results of the reviewed studies showed improved status of all major symptoms of IBS, extracolonic symptoms, quality of life, anxiety, and depression. Furthermore these improvements lasted 2-5 years.

CONCLUSIONS: Although there are some methodologic inadequacies, all studies show that hypnotherapy is highly effective for patients with refractory IBS, but definite efficacy of hypnosis in the treatment of IBS remains unclear due to lack of controlled trials supporting this finding.

Hypnosis and Changes in Colorectal Sensitivity
Researchers from the Dept of Internal Medicine at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Goteborg, Sweden reviewed recent studies in order to shed light on the mechanisms of action that make hypnosis such an effective treatment for IBS. They conclude that hypnosis may affect IBS partly through changes in colorectal sensitivity and improvement in psychological factors. The effects on GI motility and the autonomic nervous system are less clear and need further evaluation.

Citation: Simren M. Hypnosis for irritable bowel syndrome: the quest for the mechanism of action. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis. 2006 Jan; 54 (1): pages 65-84. –


Preoperative Guided Imagery Improves Cardiac Surgery Outcomes
“Cardiac surgery patients who listened to a pre-op guided imagery surgical tape had significantly less pain, anxiety, and two days shorter hospital stay.”

Reference: Tutsek, D. L., Cwynar, R., and Cosgrove, D.M., Cleveland Clinic, Ohio, Journal of Cardiovascular Management 10; 2: 22-8 1999

Mind/body suggestions control blood flow during surgery
In a trial with 93 spinal surgery patients at the University of California (Davis) Medical Center, those who received specific instructions about blood flow lost about half as much blood compared to the controls and a third group taught relaxation techniques.

Reference:Bennett, HL et al., Center for the Advancement of Perioperative Health, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT Anesthesiology. 1986; 65:A245.

Pre-operative suggestions improve abdominal surgery outcomes
Single-blind trial of abdominal surgery patients, to whom a 5 minute script was read preoperatively suggesting increased gastrointestinal motility after surgery. Suggestion group had significantly shorterileus time (disruption of bowel movement) and was discharged two days earlier, with an estimated savings of $1200.

Reference: Disbrow, E.A., Bennett, H.L., and Owings, J.T. Department of Anesthesiology, University of California, Davis School of Medicine, Sacramento, 1993 West J Med 158; 5:488-92.

Brief Guided Imagery Intervention Speeds Post-Surgical Healing
Researchers at the University of Auckland in New Zealand investigated whether a brief psychological intervention, using relaxation and guided imagery, could reduce stress and improve wound healing in surgical patients. The randomized controlled trial was conducted with 60 patients (15 male, 45 female). Inclusion criteria were English-speaking patients over 18 years of age, scheduled to undergo elective laparoscopic gallbladder removal. Exclusion criteria were cancellation of surgery, medical complications, and refusal of consent. Participants received standard care or standard care plus a 45-minute psychological intervention that included relaxation and guided imagery, with take-home relaxation CDs for listening for 3 days before and 7 days after surgery. In both groups teflon tubes were inserted during surgery and removed at 7 days after surgery, and analyzed for hydroxyproline as a measure of collagen deposition and wound healing.Change in perceived stress from before surgery to 7-day follow-up was assessed using questionnaires. Intervention group patients showed a reduction in perceived stress compared with the control group, controlling for age. Patients in the intervention group had significantly higher hydroxyproline deposition in the wound than did control group patients (difference in means 0.35, 95% CI 0.66-0.03; t(43)=2.23, p=0.03). Changes in perceived stress were not associated with hydroxyproline deposition. The investigators conclude that a brief relaxation intervention prior to surgery can reduce stress and improve the wound healing response in surgical patients. They also suggest that this intervention may have particular clinical application for those at risk of poor healing following surgery.

Citation:Broadbent E, Kahokehr A, Booth RJ, Thomas J, Windsor JA, Buchanan CM, Wheeler BR, Sammour T, Hill AG A brief relaxation intervention reduces stress and improves surgical wound healing response: A randomised trial.Brain, Behavior and Immunity. 2011 Jun 28.

Imagining Finger Movement Improves Function After Surgery
Researchers from the Department of Plastic Surgery of University Medical Center Groningen, in The Netherlands, sought to see whether practicing motor imagery during the immobilization period after flexor tendon injury results in a faster recovery of hand function. The randomized controlled trial included 28 patients, post-surgery for flexor tendon repair, who were randomly assigned to either an intervention group or a control group. The intervention group practiced kinesthetic motor imagery (imagining the feel of moving, in other words) of finger flexion movements during the postoperative dynamic splinting period. The central aspects of hand function were measured with a preparation time test of finger flexion, in which subjects pressed buttons as fast as possible following a visual stimulus. Additionally, the following hand function tests were used: the Michigan Hand Questionnaire, the visual analog scale for hand function, kinematic analysis of drawing, active total motion, and strength. After the immobilization period, the motor imagery group demonstrated significantly less preparation time than the control group (P=.024). There was no significant influence of motor imagery on the other tested hand function (P>.05). All tests except kinematic analysis (P=.570) showed a significant improvement across time after the splinting period

(P Citation: Stenekes MW, Geertzen JH, Nicolai JP, De Jong BM, Mulder T. Effects of motor imagery on hand function during immobilization after flexor tendon repair. Archives of Physical Medicine Rehabilitation 2009 Apr (4): pages 553-9.


Hypnosis and Phobic Reactions
In a report by David Spiegel in the Harvard Mental Health Letter, the following research was cited: One seven-year study showed that 50% of patients afraid of flying were improved or cured after hypnosis treatment for a fear of flying.

Reference: Spiegel, David, author. Report in the Harvard Mental Health Letter, September 1998, vol. 15, p. 5-6.

In a report by David Speigel in the Harvard Mental Health Letter, the research was cited that hypnosis methods have been used successfully for anxiety associated with medical procedures. 241 patients who were undergoing percutaneous vascular and renal procedures were randomly tested on three testing regimens, one of which was hypnosis. Patients rated their pain and anxiety on a 1-10 scales before, every 15 minutes during and after procedures. Pain remained flat over the duration of the procedure time in the hypnosis group; pain increased linearly with procedure time with both other groups. Anxiety decreased over time in all three groups; the sharpest decrease was in the group that was hypnotized. Procedure times were significantly shorter in the hypnosis group. In addition, hypnosis showed itself to be superior in improving hemodynamic stability.

Reference: Spiegel, David, author. Report in the Harvard Mental Health Letter, September 1998, vol. 15, p. 5-6.

Anxiety and High Blood Pressure
Harvard University professor Herbert Benson found that both meditation and self-hypnosis are effective in reducing anxiety (p=0.05) and lowering blood pressure (p=0.075).

Skin Disorders
Hypnosis improves or cures dermatologic disorders A comprehensive review of dermatology studies spanning 32 years that involved hypnosis concluded: “A wide spectrum of dermatologic disorders may be improved or cured using hypnosis as an alternative or complimentary therapy, including acne exoriee, alopecia areata, atopic dermatitis, congenital ichthyosiform erythroderma, dyshidrotic dermatitis, erythromelalgia, furuncles, glossodynia, herpes simplex, hyperhidrosis, ichthyosis vulgaris, lichen planus, neurodermatitis, nummular dermatitis, postherpetic neuralgia, pruritus, psoriasis, rosacea, trichotillomania, urticaria, verruca vulgaris and vitiligo.

Reference: Schenefelt PD, Department of Internal Medicine, College of Medicine, University of South Florida, Tampa, Arch Dermatol. 2000 Mar; 136(3):393-9.

Hypnotherapy as a treatment of Atopic Dermatitis in Adults & Children
Researchers now believe that hypnotherapy can greatly increase the healing process and general well-being of patients suffering from atopic dermatitis, a skin disease similar to eczema. Researchers at the Barnsley District General Hospital in the United Kingdom performed a study to show the affects of hypnotherapy on patients with atopic dermatitis. 18 adults with heavy AD, which had been resistant to standard medical treatments, and 20 children with severe AD were tested for the study.Almost immediately, all but 1 participant started showing improvements. The treatment lasted throughout an 18-month period of time and improvements remained constant throughout the next 2 clinical testing appointments following the initial session. Of the children, 10 experienced immediate relief from itching and scratching, 9 had an increase in calmer sleeping patterns, and 7 showed improvements in their general moods.

Sources:A.C. STEWART, S.E. THOMAS British Journal of Dermatology Volume 132, Issue 5, Pages778 – 783 1995 British Association of Dermatologists. Atopic dermatitis. (2008). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved October 26, 2008, from Encyclopædia Britannica

In research reported by Spanos (1988), a pair of randomized, carefully designed studies were conducted with a group of people who had warts. Subjects who were given hypnotic or non-hypnotic suggestions were significantly more likely to achieve wart regression than placebo or no-treatment groups.

Reference: Spanos, N.P., Stenstrom, R.J. & Johnston, J.C. (1988). Hypnosis, Placebo and Suggestion in the Treatment of Warts. Psychosomatic Medicine, 50, 245-260.

In a report by David Spiegel in the Harvard Mental Health Letter, the following research was cited: Several controlled experiments have shown that hypnosis can be effectively used to eliminate warts.

Respiratory Conditions

Hypnosis and Respiratory Conditions
In studies by Maher-Loughnan (1962, 1970), hypnosis was shown to alleviate the subjective distress of patients with asthma. This change was measured either by the number of attacks or the amount of medication that was needed when compared to supportive therapy. Reference: Maher-Loughnan, G. P., MacDonald, N., Mason, A. A. & Fry, L. (1962). Controlled Trial of Hypnosis in the Symptomatic Treatment of Asthma. British Medical Journal, 2, 371-376. In further study by Maher-Loughnan (1970) asthmatic subjects were randomly assigned to either hypnosis or relaxation therapy.The results showed both treatment modalities of benefit to the patients, but the improvement in the hypnotherapy group was significantly greater. There was a peak of improvement between the seventh and twelfth weeks of treatment. In addition, only the hypnotic subjects showed improvement in physiologic measures of respiration (forced expiratory volume).

Reference: Maher-Loughnan, G. P. (1970). Hypnosis and Auto-Hypnosis for the Treatment of Asthma. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 18, 1-14.

Hypnosis and Fertility Researchers from India’s Samanvaya Trust and MS University in Baroda investigated the efficacy of hypnotherapy for couples seeking fertility solutions. Over a period of 28 years, 554 couples with what is referred to there as “unexplained reproductive failure” were studied. Hypnotherapy was added to the standard protocol for fertility. Initially the hypnosis was targeted at general stress relief, but it evolved into including more specific, identified stressors such as the stress associated with infertility (100%) and other stressors of marital life. The success rate of pregnancy with hypnosis was 71.67%. Although this was not a double blind study, 349 of the 554 couples had been unsuccessfully treated elsewhere before entering the study. These couples had the same success rate of 70%. The researchers interpret this unprecedented, high success rate as evidence that “unexplained reproductive failure” is psycho-dynamically triggered and reversible with psychotherapeutic hypnosis. They conclude that when psychosomatic stress is alleviated with hypnotherapy, there are remarkable results. Citation: Vyas R1, Adwanikar G1, Hathi L1, Vyas B2. Psychotherapeutic intervention with hypnosis in 554 couples with reproductive failure. Journal of the Indian Medical Association. 2013 Mar;111 (3):pages 167-9, 173.

Hypnosis and Embryo Transfer
Investigators from Soroka University Medical Center in Beer-Sheva, Israel, investigated whether hypnosis during embryo transfer contributes to successful fertility outcomes. In this case-control, clinical study with infertile couples undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF), 98 IVF/ET cycles with hypnosis were matched with 96 regular IVF/ET cycles. Rates of clinical pregnancy and implantation were then compared between the two groups. There were 52 clinical pregnancies out of 98 cycles (53.1%), with an implantation rate of 28% among hypnosis IVF/ET cycles, as compared with 29 out of 96 (30.2%) clinical pregnancies and an implantation rate of 14.4% in the control cycles. The overall IVF program pregnancy rate for the same period was 32.1%. Logistic regression analysis was performed emphasizing the positive contribution of hypnosis to the IVF/ET conception rates. This study suggests that the use of hypnosis during embryo transfer may significantly improve the IVF/ET cycle outcome in terms of increased implantation and increased clinical pregnancy rates. In addition, it appeared that the patients’ attitude toward the treatment was more positive and favorable among the hypnosis group.
Citation: Levitas E, Parmet A, Lunenfeld E, Bentov Y, Burstein E, Friger M, Potashnik G. Impact of hypnosis during embryo transfer on the outcome of in vitro fertilization-embryo transfer: a case-control study. Fertility and Sterility 2006 May;85(5):1404-8. Epub 2006 Mar 29.

Guided Imagery and Childbirth
Researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University and Texas Tech University evaluated the efficacy of a guided imagery (GI) intervention for stress reduction in pregnant African American women, early on during their second trimester. This prospective longitudinal study of 72 women used a randomized, controlled experimental design with two groups conducted over 12 weeks. The intervention was a CD with 4 professionally recorded tracts designed and sequenced to influence study variables. Participants in both GI and usual care (UC) completed measures and donated 5?cc of blood at baseline, 8 weeks and 12 weeks. Participants also completed a daily stress scale. A mixed-effects linear model tested for differences between groups for self-reported measures of stress, anxiety, and fatigue as well as corticotrophin releasing hormone (CRH), a biologic marker of stress. Significant differences in perceived stress daily scores and at week 8 but not week 12 were found in the GI group compared to UC group. The GI group reported significantly less fatigue and anxiety than the UC group at week 8 but not week 12. There were no significant differences in CRH levels between groups. Results suggest that guided imagery (GI) intervention may be effective in reducing perceived stress, anxiety, and fatigue measures among pregnant African American women.

Citation: Jallo N1, Ruiz RJ2, Elswick RK Jr1, French E3. Guided imagery for stress and symptom management in pregnant African American women. Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2014; 2014:840923. doi: 10.1155/2014/840923. Epub 2014 Feb 25.

Self-Hypnosis and Pregnant Teens
Dr. Paul G. Schauble and his colleagues at the University of Florida at Gainesville randomly assigned 42 pregnant teenagers to receive either counseling or four sessions of instruction in self-hypnosis for childbirth. Teens in the hypnosis group learned deep relaxation and imagery techniques to help them cope with pain. They also received suggestions to help them respond to possible complications and boost their confidence in their ability to manage anxiety. According to the report, only 1 of 22 patients in the hypnosis group remained in the hospital longer than 2 days after delivery, compared with 8 of 20 patients who did not learn self-hypnosis. None of the patients in the hypnosis group needed surgical intervention, compared with 60% of those in the non-hypnosis group. In addition, fewer patients in the hypnosis group experienced complications such as high blood pressure or vacuum-assisted delivery, opted for medical anesthesia or oxytocin, or required medication after delivery. “This study provides empirical data demonstrating that the use of hypnosis in preparing pregnant women for labor and delivery reduces the risk of complications, decreases the need for medical intervention … and promotes safer, more comfortable delivery for mother and child,” Dr. Schauble told Reuters Health. “We anticipate this will lead to a reduction in the costs involved in childbirth.” Citation: Martin AA, Schauble PG, Rai SH, Curry RW Jr. The effects of hypnosis on the labor processes and birth outcomes of pregnant adolescents.

Journal of Family Practice, 2001; volume 50: pp. 441-443.Reference: Schwartz, M. (1963). The Cessation of Labor Using Hypnotic Techniques. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 5, 211-213.

Hot Flashes
Hypnosis and Hot Flashes Researchers from the Mind-Body Medicine Research Laboratory at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, conducted a randomized, single-blind, controlled, clinical trial to see if the frequency of hot flashes (as well as night sweats and disrupted sleep) could be reduced by hypnosis. Prescribing estrogen and progesterone has declined, due to concerns about possible health risks, and alternatives are being sought to help manage symptoms. The study involved 187 postmenopausal women who reported a minimum of seven hot flashes per day or at least 50 hot flashes per week. Eligible participants received five weekly sessions of either clinical hypnosis or structured-attention control. Primary outcomes were hot flash frequency (subjectively and physiologically recorded) and hot flash score assessed by daily diaries on weeks 2 to 6 and week 12. Secondary outcomes included measures of hot flash-related daily interference, sleep quality, and treatment satisfaction. In a modified intent-to-treat analysis that included all randomized participants who provided data, the reported subjective hot flash frequency from baseline to week 12 showed a mean reduction of 55.82 (74.16%) hot flashes for the hypnosis group, as opposed to a mean reduction of 12.89 (17.13%) hot flashes for the controls (P < 0.001; 95% CI, 36.15-49.67). The mean reduction in hot flash score was 18.83 (80.32%) for the hypnosis group, as compared with 3.53 (15.38%) for the controls (P < 0.001; 95% CI, 12.60-17.54). At 12-week follow-up, the mean reduction in physiologically monitored hot flashes was 5.92 (56.86%) for the hypnosis group and 0.88 (9.94%) for the controls (P < 0.001; 95% CI, 2.00-5.46). Secondary outcomes were significantly improved as compared with the controls at 12-week follow-up: hot flash-related interference (P < 0.001; 95% CI, 2.74-4.02), sleep quality (P < 0.001; 95% CI, 3.65-5.84), and treatment satisfaction (P < 0.001; 95% CI, 7.79-8.59). Compared with the structured-attention control, hypnosis resulted in significant reductions in self-reported and physiologically measured hot flashes and hot flash scores in postmenopausal women.

Citation: Elkins GR, Fisher WI, Johnson AK, Carpenter JS, Keith TZ. Clinical hypnosis in the treatment of postmenopausal hot flashes: a randomized controlled trial. Menopause. 2013 Mar;20 (3):291-8.

Guided Imagery Delivers Significant Improvement for Hot Flashes
Researchers from the Mind-Body Medicine Research Laboratory in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at Baylor University, Waco, TX developed a study to evaluate the feasibility of a guided self-hypnosis intervention for hot flashes. Thirteen postmenopausal women received 5 sessions of guided self-hypnosis (guided imagery) in which all the hypnotic inductions were audio recordings. Subjects were provided with guidance regarding symptom monitoring, individualizing the mental imagery and practicing the technique. Hot flashes were measured through diaries. Results indicated that the average frequency of hot flashes decreased by 72% (p < .001) and hot-flash intensity decreased by 76% (p < .001) on average. Although the measures were subjective and the number of subjects only 13 in this pilot study, the investigators concluded that the recorded guided self-hypnosis reduced the perceived hot flashes in the postmenopausal women, supporting the possible feasibility and potential benefit of the intervention.

Citation: Elkins G1, Johnson A, Fisher W, Sliwinski J, Keith T. A pilot investigation of guided self-hypnosis in the treatment of hot flashes among postmenopausal women. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis. 2013; 61 (3): pages 342-50.

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