4 Ways Hypnosis Can Help

“You are getting sleepy”—or so the saying goes. But, actually, experts now know that hypnosis is nothing like sleep, because the brain is hyperfocused and aware, allowing it to be more receptive to “suggestions.” And while the method was once considered the subject of freaky stage shows, hypnosis is finding its way into a small but growing number of doctors’ offices, as these physicians, pushed by their patients, hunt for natural, side-effect-free techniques.

I’ve experienced hypnosis myself, and in addition to getting good healing results, I found it deliciously relaxing. Not surprisingly, it’s also proving its power in research. When patients get into this trance-like state—with a therapist or, eventually, by themselves—it changes the brain enough to allow the body to heal.

Here are some impressive areas where scientists have documented the method’s success:

Stops hot flashes. Women who had five weekly sessions of hypnosis (plus doing it daily themselves at home) had a whopping 68 percent drop in hot flash frequency and severity—some 4 fewer flashes per day!—than women who didn’t, found a study by Baylor University funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Banishes headache pain. A review of headache studies in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis in 2007 found it is a “well-established treatment that is both efficacious and specific.” For one thing, imagining yourself in a peaceful place during hypnosis encourages the brain to release feel-good endorphins, says Steven Gurgevich, Ph.D., author of the book, Hypnosis House Call.

Improves TMJ. Forty women suffering from TMJ (inflammation of the temporomandibular joint around the jaw) who had four 1-hour hypnosis sessions and also practiced at home reported much less daily pain than a control group doing other relaxation techniques.

Speeds recovery from surgery. Women asked for less pain medicine after having a breast biopsy when they were hypnotized before going under the knife, Boston’s Beth Israel Medical Center discovered.

Image credit: Roger McLassus / Flickr

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Veronica H.
Veronica H.22 days ago

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irene fernandez
irene Fernandez3 years ago

Alternative medicine IS an ALTERNATIVE, and this is a great tool for those seeking

Dennis Atkinson
Dennis Atkinson3 years ago

@ Victor: Ah, a skeptic ... good for you. Come see me and I can show you how effective hypnosis and guided imagery can be.

Victor M.
Victor M.3 years ago

not enough evidence

David Ross
David Ross4 years ago

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Carina Engstrom
Carina Engstrom4 years ago

I use hypnosis in my work almost every week and for weight loss it's a good tool. Since you work with the subconscious mind - where the feelings and experiences are - it's very important that the subconscious mind and the rational mind have reached an agreement about the benefits of making changes from a bad habit to a good one. If the subconscious mind doesn't want to make any changes no change will happen. Hypnosis - or trance - is something we all go in to every day; you read a book and don't hear the door bell ringing, you drive your car and suddenly you realise that you have passed a certain place without noticing it. You listen to music and you vanish into a dreamworld etc. For deep relaxation hypnosis is one of the best tools, I think. In meditation the goal is to reach "nothingness", you are trying to become inactive, as I have understood it. In hypnosis you are active - subconsciously and consciously.

Ana F.
Ana F.4 years ago

I didn't know about how good hypnosis, in future I will try it if I need for some reason. Thanks for share.

Meryl Davids Landau

@Dennis That 20 percent figure was related to me by two prominent experts in the field of hypnosis. It does make sense that if some people are super suggestible, others on the other end of the spectrum won't be suggestible at all. Although maybe it would be more accurate to say those people are minimally hypnotizable--I can't say.

Eileen B.
Eileen B.4 years ago

@ Dennis Atkinson: Thanks for your comment Dennis, I just don't see doctors or psychologists any more, they seem to think that my depression is chronic and that there is nothing that they can do apart from giving me drugs. I guess I would have to ask around for a good hypnotist and take it from there no? Thanks again.

Dennis Atkinson
Dennis Atkinson4 years ago

@ Meryl: I have heard this 20% hypnotizable figure before but I am unsure who collected the data. I am not disagreeing with your comment, just offering some food for thought. Anyone reading this article can gain a greater understanding about hypnosis and the hypnosis community by visiting a website called www.hypnothoughts.com Hypnothoughts is a website for anyone interested in hypnosis, and by reading many of the discussions available, one may come away with a better understanding of hypnosis.

Hypnosis is a naturally occurring process ... athletes remark of "being in the zone" ... people "zone out" ... people day dream ... people fantasize ... etc.

It is my belief anyone who has the ability to focus for any period of time is capable of enjoying hypnosis, however not everyone will have the same experience while in a state of hypnosis or trance. Essentially, there is little difference between a person meditating, enjoying guided imagery, or participating in hypnosis.

A hypnotist is essentially a tour guide, as it is the client who will take themselves into and out of what ever level of hypnosis they are comfortable with.

People on certain medications, people with some mental disorders, and people with an inability to focus (low I.Q. or mental retardation for example) may experience difficulty achieving a level of trance, but even they are capable of being hypnotized.