THE SCIENCE

Benefits of Hypnosis

Hypnosis is scientifically proven to help with a variety of physical and emotional conditions. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, hypnosis is helpful with anxiety, headaches, smoking cessation, pain control, hot flashes, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Smoking Cessation
Hypnosis has long been appreciated as an effective way to overcome unwanted habits. Generally, between 45 and 60 percent of smokers who use hypnosis will successfully quit (compared to 10 percent for those who try nicotine replacement therapy). While studying the brains of smokers, researchers found that the brain network that is activated when craving a cigarette (Default Mode Network) is the same region that is deactivated during hypnosis. A multi-session approach, combined with at-home audio practice increases your chances of long-term success.
Source: Viswesvaran and Schmidt, "A Meta-analytic Comparison of the Effectiveness of Smoking Cessation Methods." Elkins and Rajab, "Clinical Hypnosis for Smoking Cessation." Jiang H, White MP, Greicius MD, Waelde LC, Spiegel D., "Brain Activity and Functional Connectivity Associated with Hypnosis."
Weight Loss
One of the advantages of using hypnosis for weight loss is that it's a brief and pleasant process, with often long-lasting results. Hypnosis helps by enhancing your confidence, commitment, and motivation. Studies have shown that incorporating hypnosis into a lifestyle program can double your weight loss. Researchers also found that participants who use hypnosis are able to maintain their weight loss longer. This suggests that hypnosis can be especially helpful for long-term weight management.
Source: Evelyn Greaves, G. Tidy, R.A.S. Christie, "Hypnotherapy as an Adjunct to the Dietetic Management of Obese Patients." Irving Kirsch, "Hypnotic Enhancement of Cognitive-Behavioral Weight Loss Treatments: Another Meta-Reanalysis."
Anxiety Reduction
Hypnosis has proven to be a "highly effective" intervention for reducing anxiety. Researchers at the Univeristy of Hartfort in Connecticut analyzed 15 studies (incorporating 17 trials) where hypnosis was used for anxiety reduction. The findings showed a 79% reduction in symptoms. The study also showed an 84% reduction in anxiety symptoms in 7 of the trials. This analysis suggests hypnosis may be more effective than other common interventions for anxiety.
Source: Keara E. Valentine, Leonard S. Milling, Lauren J. Clark & Caitlin L. Moriarty, "The Efficacy of Hypnosis as a Treatment for Anxiety: A Meta-Ananysis."
Sleep Improvement
Hypnosis has shown to be a safe, side-effect free way to improve troubled sleep. In a study measuring brain wave activity, researchers found that hypnosis not only boosts deep sleep quantity but also improves deep sleep quality. Study participants slept 67% more and saw their "deep sleep" time rise by roughly 80% after hypnosis. The research team observed that slow-wave activity during the deep sleep was "significantly enhanced" following hypnosis.
Source: Cordi, M. J., Schlarb, A. A., & Rasch, B., "Deepening sleep by hypnotic suggestion."
Chronic Pain
Studies confirm that hypnosis is highly effective at reducing pain intensity in individuals with chronic pain. According to research, hypnosis "drastically reduces severe pain in hospital patients." After receiving a single 15-minute session, patients reported an immediate reduction in pain similar to what one might expect from an opioid painkiller. Patients also reported a significant decrease in the perceived need for pain medication.
Source: Eric L. Garland, Anne K. Baker, Paula Larsen, Michael R. Riquino, Sarah E. Priddy, Elizabeth Thomas, Adam W. Hanley, Patricia Galbraith, Nathan Wanner, Yoshio Nakamura, "Randomized Controlled Trial of Brief Mindfulness Training and Hypnotic Suggestion for Acute Pain Relief in the Hospital Setting."
Repair Your Relationship
By the time a couple enters counseling, their problems have typically reached a boiling point (the average couple is unhappy for six years before seeking help). Common issues include arguments, jealously, infideltiy, forgiveness, and trust. While traditional counseling focuses on the consciousness between a couple, hypnosis can be a powerful way of breaking through defense mechanisms and delves below conscious dynamics to the underlying issues. Couples hypnotherapy offers an affordable, alternative approach to developing healthy habits for building and sustaining long-lasting love.
Source: Ferguson, Amanda. "Working with couples using hypnotherapy." Australian Journal of Clinical Hypnotherapy and Hypnosis.
Headaches, Migraines
There is sufficient evidence to show that hypnosis can help those who suffer from headaches and migraines manage their symptoms and may also prevent triggers that cause headaches. One study examined whether hypnosis could reduce medication usage and migraine duration in a program which consisted of six sessions. They found that the number of patients in the hypnosis group who experienced a complete remission from migraines was 43.5%, compared to 12.5% from the medication group.
Source: J.A.D. Anderson, M.A. Basker, R. Dalton, "Migraine and Hypnotherapy." DC Hammond, "Review of the efficacy of clinical hypnosis with headaches and migraines."
Hot Flashes
Of all complementary approaches, hypnosis is uniquely effective in alleviating symptoms of menopause. A report commissioned by the North American Menopause Society showed hypnosis significantly decreases hot flashes in both frequency and severity and reduces hot flashes by as much as 74%.
Source: Elkins GR, Fisher WI, Johnson AK, et al. "Clinical hypnosis in the treatment of postmenopausal hot flashes: a randomized controlled trial."
Gastrointestinal Problems
People with gastrointestinal problems (irritable bowel, inflammatory, bowel, ulcerative colitis, crohn's) often find relief through hypnosis. Studies have shown that "gut-directed hypnotherapy" helps to reduce abdominal pain, bloating, bowel dysfunction, and improves quality of life. On average, 75% experience "significant" relief and 80% continue to feel better for up to 6 years. Hypnosis is now considered a primary intervention and is recommended by the American Gastroenterological Association. Given how closely the gut and brain interact, functional gastrointestinal disorders are now referred to as "disorders of gut-brain interaction (DGBI)."
Source: Whorwell PJ; Prior A; Faragher EB., "Controlled trial of hypnotherapy in the treatment of severe refractory irritable-bowel syndrome." Palsson OS, Turner MJ, Johnson DA, Burnett CK, Whitehead WE., "Hypnosis treatment for severe irritable bowel syndrome: investigation of mechanism and effects on symptoms." Megan E. Riehl, "The Emerging Role of Brain-Gut Therapies for Irritable Bowel Syndrome."
Relax Before a Medical Procedure
Feeling stressed or worried can negatively impact the outcome of a medical procedure. Hypnosis offers a non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical way to tap into the mind's natural ability to reduce stress and pain. In clinical trials, those who received hypnosis reported far less pain and anxiety, suffered fewer complications, and recovered faster than those who received standard care.
Source: Flory N, Salazar GM, Lang EV., "Hypnosis for acute distress management during medical procedures." Lang EV, Rosen M., "Cost analysis of adjunct hypnosis for sedation during outpatient interventional procedures." Lang EV, Berbaum K, Faintuch S, Hatsiopoulou O, Halsey N, Li X, Berbaum M, Laser E, Baum J., "Adjunctive self-hypnotic relaxation for outpatient medical procedures: A prospective randomized trial with women undergoing large core needle biopsy of the breast."
Stress-Related Skin Problems
Numerous studies have demonstrated hypnosis is especially helpful when dealing with stress-related skin problems (acne, psoriasis, eczema, and hives). Hypnosis has also been shown to decrease pain and inflammation and to limit behaviors such as scratching, skin picking and hair pulling.
Source: Shenefelt PD., "Hypnosis in dermatology." Perczel, K. and Gál, J., "Hypnotherapy of atopic dermatitis in an adult." Stewart, A. C. & Thomas, S. E., "Hypnotherapy as a treatment for atopic dermatitis in adults and children." Spanos, N. P., Stenstrom, R. J. & Johnston, J. C., "Hypnosis, placebo, and suggestion in the treatment of warts."

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Author: The content on this page was researched, written, and verified by Harley Sears. This website has been evaluated by a medical expert and is in compliance with the HONcode (click to verify). All material © 2019. Last updated on October 16, 2019.
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