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Health & Balance

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Hypnosis: Focusing Subconscious on Change

Learn how hypnosis can help you cut back on medications, quit bad habits, and ease stress.

Pain Control Through Hypnosis continued...

Research from Harvard Medical School and other institutions is showing evidence that hypnosis is indeed a process of mind over body. Studies are documenting the physiological changes that occur under hypnosis -- activating certain parts of the brain, including the portion that focuses attention.

In fact, studies have shown pain related to cancer, surgery, back injuries, and migraines may respond well to hypnosis.

Hypnosis has been blessed by many mainstream medical institutions, says Oster, who heads the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis. In 1958, the American Medical Association officially recognized hypnosis as a form of treatment. The American Psychological Association has endorsed hypnosis for a number of years. In 1995, the NIH announced its support of hypnosis for cancer pain and other pain conditions.

Growing numbers of insurance companies, including Medicare, have begun covering hypnosis therapy for pain or posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Pain control is just one use for self-hypnosis. Among the others:

Digestive Problems: Chronic indigestion and other symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) have been treated with hypnotherapy. Recently, a large, long-term study showed that hypnosis provides sustained improvements in significant numbers of IBS patients. Hypnosis eased abdominal pain, distention, diarrhea, constipation, and other stomach upsets for many years -- even after the patients quit doing self-hypnosis.

Most of the patients took no medication or other treatments for their IBS symptoms. And, since only a couple of medications are approved for IBS, the drug treatment can be expensive long-term. But for those who tried hypnosis, the payoff was having a better quality of life. The procedure also dramatically cut medication expenses.


Hypnosis can also help kids who have chronic stomach pain -- the type of pain that is real, but unexplained. The problem results in lost time at school, frequent doctor visits, as well as anxiety and depression, and can last into adult years. But through a combination approach -- relaxation, guided imagery, and hypnosis -- it's possible for kids to gain control over their pain.

Panic Attacks: The onset of a panic attack has a cluster of symptoms: the feeling of intense fear, sense of doom, feelings of unreality, racing heartbeat, difficulty breathing, sweating, shaking, dizziness, nausea, fear of losing control, tingling or numbness in the hands. Hypnosis has been shown to help some people find relief from panic attacks.

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