Hypnotherapy for Integrative Medicine

Neuroscience is at the very forefront of medical science and we are continuously being stunned at how powerful the mind is for everything that we do and experience. A report available in the US Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health (published in 2006) claims that while only a recent phenomenon, research has shifted to studying the mind/body connection effects in medicine and has become a much more mainstream and accepting view of healing the body.

Although the understanding that emotions affect physical health dates as far back as the second-century physician Galen and the medieval physician and philosopher Moses Maimonides, modern medicine has largely continued to treat the mind and body as two separate entities. In the past 30 years, however, research into the link between health and emotions, behavior, social and economic status and personality has moved both research and treatment from the fringe of biomedical science into the mainstream.

For thousands of years eastern medicine, the oldest system of medicine in the world, has combined the body and mind. They treat the whole person encouraging a healthy body to prevent illness and have faster recoveries. Western medicine tends to focus on diagnosing and treating a disease or illness based on a patient’s symptoms. Both have an important place in today’s current heath care.

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That being said, most of the medical techniques still used today were developed when the body was being treated separately from the mind. It’s really still only “holistic medicine” that has developed a radically different approach to treatment. It has been estimated that between 75 - 90% of all visits to the doctor’s office are for stress-related symptoms. Just by reducing stress, the average person can greatly improve their health and well-being. This probably comes as no big surprise. But what could be surprising is how the mind can actually be used to help heal the body from illnesses in ways that traditional medicine cannot.

We are blessed to live in a wonderful time with incredible healthcare, doctors and the latest advancements in technologies and surgeries. Hypnosis, is truly an adjunct and a complement to physical interventions. It is not a replacement or a substitute. But the situation need not be reduced to an either/or choice. Really we need both: pharmaceuticals and operations affect the physical body. Hypnosis addresses the mind-body connection. Without the latter, those other things will only have limited efficacy.

The average human body is made up of 50 trillion cells, which are constantly dying and being replaced. Turnover rates vary: neutrophils are replaced every 1-5 days; gastrointestinal epithelium turns over ever 5-7 days. Adipose tissue is the longest lived, replacing itself every 8 years.

The point here is that the body is constantly renewing itself. So why do so many diseases become chronic and uncontrollable?

Why does the body renew its illnesses? If someone has IBS, we know the entire lining of the GI tract is turning over in a week, why aren’t the new cells fresh and healthy? The tissues are turning over, but all too often, the person’s psyche is stuck in cycles of self-defeating thoughts, deeply engrained negative emotions, and unhealthy behaviors. These often have roots in early life trauma. Together, they create a template for perpetuating illness.

Hypnosis is a tool set for breaking cognitive and emotional cycles and retraining the psyche to engender health and wellbeing and to unlock the most powerful pharmacy of all: our own nervous systems. Our bodies were created to heal automatically. The greatest lie we’ve ever been told is the idea that we are powerless to heal ourselves. Teaching people how to control their own minds, so as to give their bodies some calm and peace, is the most powerful self-help tool known to humanity.”

Traditional medicine excels at treating acute illness. Acute conditions are severe and come on suddenly, like a broken bone or appendicitis. Most visits to the ER deal with these kinds of medical problems. Where traditional medicine struggles is with chronic conditions. A chronic condition, by contrast is a long-developing syndrome, such as osteoporosis, diabetes or asthma. In most cases chronic conditions are managed, usually with prescription drugs, rather than cured.

The latest scientific research is proving that hypnotherapy mobilizes the healing power of the mind to produce evidence-based results. This study addressed a chronic condition that 33 million Americans, one-tenth of the population, suffer from—Overactive Bladder/Urinary Urgency Incontinence.

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This 4-year, 3 million dollar study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and conducted at the University of New Mexico Hospital utilizing our techniques is now complete. It was a great success for hypnotherapy. This study’s purpose was to determine if hypnotherapy is, or is not, inferior to the current standard medical treatment of Overactive Bladder (OAB)/Urinary Urgency Incontinence (UUI). Part of what makes this so significant is the scientific rigor of this research study. For example, it involved 152 patients—a significant sample of the population. Also unique to this study is that it tested our Integral Hypnotherapy methodology against the current standard medical treatment. This clinical trial randomized 74 patients into the hypnotherapy group and 78 into the standard medical treatment group.

Reports from the physician investigators, which show that the patients receiving hypnotherapy for overactive bladder and urinary incontinence had equivalent results to the current standard medical treatment overall. In those patients who were moderately to highly responsive to hypnosis, the one-year follow-up showed superior results to the standard medical treatment. This indicates that overall, hypnotherapy is not inferior to the current standard medical treatment of OAB/UUI, and in many cases is superior. While hypnotherapy may not be appropriate for everyone, this scientifically rigorous study is breaking new ground in the mainstream acceptance of hypnotherapy as an adjunctive modality. The peer-reviewed research was presented in abstract form at the American Urogynecologic Society (AUGS) conference, held in Chicago on October 11, 2018. In another study it was found that hypnotherapy is an effective treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Hypnotherapy compliments your current medical treatments. Hypnotherapy usually produces a significant improvement in symptoms for over 80% of IBS sufferers.  Testing done 12 months and up to 5 years after treatment showed a lasting change for long term effectiveness. 

There have been other studies that showed that hypnosis could speed up the healing of bone fractures, help relieve chronic neck pain, improve chronic and severe asthma symptoms, and 2 meta-analyses even found that hypnosis could effectively control cancer symptoms.

It’s clear that when more studies are conducted and the research money is spent, many more effective treatments will be found.

As healthcare costs are spiraling out of control, anything that helps to speed up healing and cut costs will be valuable to the medical community. One from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York found surgery patients who received hypnosis (medical hypnotherapy) an hour before their operation saw a number of positive benefits. A study on the effects of hypnosis on breast cancer biopsy surgery found that patients experienced 53% less pain, 74% less nausea, 46% less fatique, and 74% less emotional upset from the surgery. The benefits to the hospital included: less drugs needed, less analgesia needed, shorter surgery time, and an average cost savings of $772 per patient! All this from one single hypnosis session before the surgery. Imagine the benefits for other types of medical procedures, surgeries and illnesses that require hospital stays.

The study’s author Dr Montgomery stated that the connection between anxiety and pain is well documented. When people are less anxious they report having less pain. He adds that the expectations people carry into surgery are also important in how they respond. With the expectation that the experience would be tolerable, as was suggested to the women while in hypnosis, the better the outcome.

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Image by Radu Florin

Self-hypnosis for pain management instead of dangerously addictive opioids is also being proposed by a Stanford researcher. The role of medical hypnosis in pain relief is becoming more mainstream. Hypnotherapy has been shown in other clinical trials to aid individuals with pain relief and it has been shown to help relieve pain in patients with cancer and burn victims. Hypnotherapy has also been shown to dramatically reduce pain in childbirth and in dental patients undergoing dental procedures.

In dentistry, medical hypnotherapy helps patients overcome anxiety, being able to help patients relax and stay calm during treatment paves the way for a more pleasant experience for both dentist and patient. There are also patients who have medical conditions or history that rule out the use of sedation or general anesthetic therefore a natural, drug free solution is ideal.

To date some 200+ clinical studies have been completed researching the mind-body connection where surgery is concerned, providing compelling evidence for more positive patient outcomes before, during and after surgery including:

79%

less anxiety

76%

less emotional upset

54%

less pain and discomfort

74%

less nausea after surgery

50%

less medication required

37%

faster recovery times

82%

sleep improvement

50%

less anesthesia required

Using the mind to treat the body

The outcome of utilizing hypnotherapy as a medical adjunct can bring happier more relaxed patients, experiencing fewer complications, a reduction in pain, a faster recovery and better healing. We are just beginning to scrape the surface in terms of the possibilities of using the mind to treat the body. Hypnosis and hypnotherapy are already showing huge benefits for medical support and allowing the body to heal itself.