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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...

Hypnosis can strengthen the effect of mind over body, researchers say. It can change the way you perceive sensations. By narrowly focusing your attention, you're not overwhelmed by panic attack symptoms when they begin. You are able to relax physically. The attack fades away.

Childbirth: It's known as "hypnobirthing" -- women learning how to hypnotize themselves to manage their labor. It helps them to relax and let their bodies take over. The theory is that, in the absence of fear and tension, severe pain does not have to accompany labor. In this calm state, endorphins -- naturally occurring pain-relieving chemicals -- replace the stress hormones that contribute to pain. Even women choosing more traditional methods, such as painkilling drugs, can still benefit from the stress-relieving power of hypnosis.

Lose Weight, Quit Smoking via Hypnosis?

A "cure" to help us lose weight and quit smoking is the Holy Grail for those who have tried everything. Hypnosis can help -- but it can't do the whole job, NIH researchers say. Only a quack will advertise that he can hypnotize you to lose weight.

Weight Loss: Lifestyle changes matter most here. That means better eating habits and more exercise. But hypnosis can be extremely effective in reinforcing a commitment to lifestyle changes. The

patient might be asked to visualize himself or herself exercising and feeling good about it. An anti-doughnut suggestion -- visualizing the harm that doughnuts do to the body -- can make them seem unappetizing.

Smoking Cessation: The American Cancer Society advocates hypnosis as one of many stop-smoking techniques -- helping some smokers stay off tobacco for six months or longer. They suggest it might be helpful for some people.

For many people, hypnosis is a way to change beliefs and attitudes that stand in the way of quitting. Hypnosis might enhance confidence, promote a general sense of well-being, decrease withdrawal urges, and help people focus on the importance of quitting. Best results come when hypnosis is simply used as an aid -- combined with other stop-smoking methods, such as the nicotine patch, researchers say.

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