Hypnosis for Health Conditions?

Everything you need to know about medical hypnosis

(RxWiki News) Hypnosis is known for making people very, very sleepy, but can it also be used to help people become healthy?

Hypnosis, otherwise known as hypnotherapy, is a trance-like state. When used to help with health and wellness issues, it's called medical hypnosis.

The American Medical Association first approved hypnosis as a way to manage health conditions in 1958. Today, a trained therapist or health care professional will typically conduct medical hypnosis in two parts:

  1. The health care professional gets the person's attention by asking them to focus on something. This may be a particular object or breathing.
  2. Then, the health care professional can offer a suggestion. If the person is undergoing treatment for pain, the suggestion may be something like, "You feel greater comfort." Alternatively, the health care provider could suggest that the person undergoing hypnosis focus on being able to handle the pain more easily.

Hypnosis can indeed help you relax and focus your mind. As a result, your brain becomes more open to suggestion. That's why hypnosis is sometimes used for people who are struggling to quit smoking.

“Hypnosis takes advantage of the fact that people are able to be open to absorbing new ideas,” said Dr. Mark P. Jensen, a pain expert and hypnosis researcher at the University of Washington, in an article published by the National Institutes of Health. “You get someone’s attention and then you offer them a new way of looking at a problem that will make the problem easier for them to manage.”

Hypnosis may help with more than pain and quitting smoking. Some studies have suggested that hypnosis may also help with health issues like irritable bowel syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety. In particular, hypnosis may help manage anxiety before a surgical procedure.

Other health conditions for which hypnosis has been studied include the following:

  • Hot flashes tied to menopause
  • Behavior changes like insomnia, bed-wetting and overeating
  • Cancer treatment side effects

Although side effects from hypnosis are rare, they can occur. Possible hypnosis side effects include the following:

  • Headache
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety or distress
  • Creation of false memories

Hypnosis is not mind control by another person. Furthermore, those who actually want to be hypnotized tend to see more success. And if you are not able to fully enter a state of hypnosis, you may not find hypnosis to be effective for you.

Additional studies are needed to fully understand the possible medical benefits of hypnosis and how it can work.

Written by Anyssa Garza, PharmD, BCMAS

Last Updated:
September 16, 2019