This article was originally written by Linda Simmon
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More and more doctors now realize that hypnosis is powerful medicine.
Why this is and how it happens is still something of a mystery, but
science is proving that hypnosis can improve your health in amazing
ways. It can help relieve pain, make breathing easier for people
with respiratory illnesses, aid with gastrointestinal ailments and
relieve depression just to name a few. The most astonishing evidence
is coming from research on healing.
In a pilot study published in 1999, Harvard University psychologist
Carol Ginandes, Ph.D., showed that hypnosis can help broken bones
heal faster and, in a follow-up experiment published in 2000,
Ginandes and her research team discovered that women who had breast
reduction surgery recovered far more quickly after undergoing
It is speculated that hypnosis alters the levels of certain chemicals
found in the brain that influence the nervous system, hormone
production, and the immune system. It appears that hypnosis affects
how genes in cells express themselves, turning some functions on and
others off. Studies using brain scans and other imaging technology
are providing explanations as to how and why hypnosis works in
helping the body heal itself.
Hypnotherapy uses relaxation techniques such as deep breathing,
imagery, visualization and positive suggestions. Clients often say
to me that they experience a feeling of peacefulness and euphoria yet
are fully aware during a session. This is similar to what is
experienced during meditation. As David Spiegel, director of the
psychosocial treatment laboratory at Stanford University School of
Medicine and coauthor of Trance & Treatment: Clinical Uses of
Hypnosis (American Psychiatric Publishing) explains, there is “some
overlap with meditation” however, “hypnosis focuses on the ability to
do something for a specific purpose.” And this is how hypnosis
achieves its strength, by using positive statements and suggestions
while a client is in a fully relaxed state. This enables the client
to more easily focus on past problematic patterns or behaviors and it
is this ability to more easily focus that results in the desired
change. A sort of spring cleaning for the mind. Working from the
inside out, releasing negative thoughts, perceptions and behaviors
and replacing them with the positive thoughts and suggestions that
the client desires.
It is this technique of focusing and strengthening willpower that is
responsible for hypnotherapy’s high success rate, particularly for
clients who want to lose weight or quit smoking. A University of
Connecticut review of six weigh-loss studies found that 70 percent of
study participants rated hypnosis better than cognitive therapy
Arreed Barabasz, director of the laboratory of hypnosis research at
Washington State University in Pullman and coauthor of
Hypnotherapeutic Techniques (Brunner-Routledge) agrees. The
suggestions, however, must not emphasize what you are against, but
rather stress the positive goals and imagery that you are seeking.
For the client who wishes to quit smoking, positive suggestions about
their body and visualizing their lungs becoming clear and free of
smoke as well as instilling images of the client happy, healthy and
smoke free are the types of suggestions that are most effective.
When Barabasz tested this approach on 300 heavy smokers who had
previously quit and relapsed, almost half stayed smoke-free 18 months
after hypnotherapy – compared with 10 percent for the
nicotine-replacement therapy alone.
Research has shown that cancer patients who receive hypnotherapy
prior to or during chemotherapy sessions experience less nausea and
vomiting than those going through chemotherapy without the aid of
The International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis,
April 2000 discovered that hypnosis relieved pain in 75 percent of
the people studied.
And this list goes on and on.
As more and more doctors and patients are beginning to recognize that
mental states and emotional and physical well-being are connected,
hypnosis continues to be used more frequently. Hypnosis can help you
to take back control of your health and your life and once you have
taken back control, then the real fun can start, realizing all the
possibilities available to you, all the directions you can go and
finally realizing that your life is a journey not just a destination.
A journey that you can now control.
Linda Simmon, C.Ht.
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