How effective is hypnosis for health? Is there any science behind hypnosis? For over 100 years, psychologists and psychotherapists have used hypnosis as part of a bigger treatment plan alongside cognitive behavioral therapy.
According to those who practice it, hypnosis can get below the conscious mind into the subconscious (the part where decisions are made). When a person is under a hypnosis trance, he or she is more susceptible to suggestion, and this is where positive statements are suggested.
There had been extensive research done on hypnosis for pain control (see also ‘Hypnosis for Back Pain‘), but are there other health benefits? Read on to find out if hypnosis can help you with your health issues and make sure to check out the closely related ‘Hypnosis for the Immune System’ post.
Surprising Health Benefits Of Hypnosis
The hypnotic trance (see also meditation hypnosis) you see depicted in movies is somewhat true. The actual method may change a bit depending on the professional you hired for the service, but there are two parts to any hypnosis session:
- Relaxation: For our subconscious minds to be open to suggestions, the hypnotherapist gets you to focus on something (this could be a recording of his voice, music in the background, an object, or even just your breathing). Focusing makes the brain more flexible or open.
- Suggestions: Once you are calm, the hypnotherapist will talk to you about your issue. Positive suggestions could be something as simple as: “you feel great eating lesser carbs,” or “you love eating boiled eggs.”
The hypnosis process has been shown to help with sexual dysfunction, colitis, low self-esteem, and a bunch of phobias (see hypnosis for claustrophobia here), but many trials and studies have been conducted (and is continuously being conducted) for conditions such as:
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Hypnosis may not cure irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), but it significantly eases symptoms associated with this condition. Based on a 2003 study where 204 IBS patients volunteered to be hypnotized an hour-long session per week within a span of 12 weeks, 71% of them felt improved symptoms during the study, while 81% continued to feel better after.
In multiple trials, participants who underwent hypnosis can fall asleep right after each session. Other trials actually monitor brain activity as participants slept right after listening to a hypnotic tape and discovered that about 80% went into a deep sleep phase, which contributes to cell generation and overall healing.
So if you’re suffering from insomnia and have found nothing to help with your anxiety or hyper-brain, perhaps you could manage your sleep issues with insomnia hypnosis.
Stress and Anxiety
Hypnosis has been proven to relax those who are suffering from stress or anxiety. Patients who are facing medical procedures, such as giving birth (see ‘Hypnosis for Childbirth‘), surgeries, chemotherapy, testing, scans are taught self-hypnosis and shown to reduce their fear or pain related to their ongoing health issue.
Hormonal, and Mood Disorders
The pain of hot flashes women experience during menopause is curbed with hypnosis. In a 50-women study conducted in 2013, the women had 5 weekly sessions, resulting in a 74% decrease in hot flash occurrence, while those who did not have hypnosis.
Also, if you’re looking for an alternative way to treat ADHD symptoms like anxiety, hyperactivity, and sleeplessness, hypnotherapy could be the answer.
People who do self-hypnosis vow that pain is reduced whether they’re experiencing a toothache, or suffering from migraines and headaches. What’s interesting is that even if the techniques and methods of relaxation vary between people, the participants still respond with reduced pain. Some researchers are also looking at hypnosis to help tissues heal at a clinical level and have seen physical changes (for example, fractures healing faster) to support this claim.
Hypnosis and Lifestyle Changes
Aside from serious medical conditions, can hypnosis also help you control overeating, aid in quitting smoking, can you use hypnosis for exercise motivation, to have more energy, or help with other lifestyle changes that you just can’t seem to make stick?
Can You Be Hypnotized to Eat Healthily?
Hypnosis has been used with some success in the treatment of behavioral issues to stop hair-pulling (see ‘Hypnosis for Trichotillomania‘), nail-biting, smoking, bedwetting, and overeating. All these disorders can be eliminated or at least reduced (see also ‘Hypnosis for Skin Picking‘) with the help of hypnosis.
It doesn’t treat obesity overnight, but hypnosis help in getting people “un-stuck” or replacing destructive habits with positive suggestions.
For example, let’s say you’re an emotional eater and had been craving sweets non-stop due to stress or anxiety. Also, skin conditions like Psoriasis ( check ‘Hypnosis for Psoriasis‘ post) can cause discomfort and relentless itching, all due to stress. If you seek the services of a hypnotherapist, he/she will first talk to you about your overeating or emotional eating issues during your first appointment. After this, the hypnotherapist will help you focus on other things, such as removing links of food to stress. Reducing the stress and anxiety that comes with it is a first stepping stone to solving numerous issues like hissing or buzzing sounds in one’s ear, among others (see ‘Hypnosis for Tinnitus‘) – similar to this is hyperacusis, which is a hypersensitivity to sound, which can also be treated by hypnosis.
True or False: Self Hypnosis May Help You Lose Weight
Hypnosis may help you manage your weight, but it can’t get you healthy overnight. Examples of behavioral changes that your therapist might address include:
- Changing your mindset about exercise.
- Switching your part of the brain that thinks food and stress are related
- Developing positive thoughts to relieve stress (negative thoughts can even affect fertility treatments as explained in our ‘Hypnosis for Infertility‘ post.
- Making your brain believe the importance of drinking enough water
- Changing your preference of junk food to fruits and vegetables
- and so on.
All these suggestions are focused on making healthy choices with food and diet. As such, they may also help you lose weight. On the other hand, Weight Gain Hypnosis will help you focus on healthy habits to increase muscle mass.
Can You get Hypnotized to Stop Smoking?
Many researchers state that hypnosis may be an effective smoking cessation technique. If you had been trying to quit smoking multiple times, you may respond positively with hypnosis.
Don’t expect the therapist to sway a pocket watch in front of your eyes and tell you to “stop smoking” during your appointment and you no longer crave smoking instantly upon the snap of his fingers. Hypnosis doesn’t work that quickly.
Instead, during your visit, the hypnotherapist will try to address the psychological aspects of your smoking addiction and look into your underlying motivations for smoking. As for any other addiction (check also hypnosis for masturbation addicts) what can start as a harmless habit, can turn into a monster with full control of your life.
The most popular method of smoking hypnosis is called the Spiegel method, where the therapist state 3 things:
- Smoking is a poison
- The body is entitled to protection from smoke
- There are advantages to life as a non-smoker
Just like in overeating and trying to stop drinking, the goal of your hypnotherapy visit is to break the habit and stop smoking long-term.
What are the Negative Effects of Hypnosis?
Hypnotherapy is considered a safe and alternative medical treatment if it is conducted by a trained hypnotherapist or health care professional.
This is because of adverse reactions such as:
- distress, or
- the creation of false memories could occur during hypnosis.
Self-hypnosis may not be appropriate for a person with severe mental illness. And if a psychotherapist is recommending his services as a way to handle past deep trauma or lost memories from earlier in life, hypnosis may do more harm than good. Sessions like these could develop false memories or result in strong emotions or behaviors.
Can Hypnosis Heal the Body?
The medical sector is careful about recommending the practice to anyone since hypnosis is not a cure. It cannot treat the body of aches, pains, and diseases. However, the benefits it has shown in pain control, lifestyle changes, and healing aspects are definitely worth the trouble.
More research and clinical trials are needed to prove the lasting benefits of hypnosis for certain health issues, but since it is a non-invasive and non-drug treatment, there’s no harm in adding hypnotherapy into a person’s health treatment plan, especially if no other medical treatments have worked. The same goes for hypnosis for children.
Hypnotherapy works by targeting the physiological triggers (that cause us to overeat, smoke, do drugs, freak out, and so on). Not only will people learn how to be comfortable and practice breathing techniques, which are both healthy for the mind and body, hypnosis could also benefit those who had been suffering from long-lasting pain (see hypnosis for chronic muscular pain – fibromyalgia), fears, and other disabling conditions.