Medical Applications

Hypnotherapy has been used to treat irritable bowel syndrome. Researchers who recently reviewed the best studies in this area conclude:

The evidence for hypnosis as an efficacious treatment of IBS was encouraging. Two of three studies that investigated the use of hypnosis for IBS were well designed and showed a clear effect for the hypnotic treatment of IBS.[39]

Hypnosis for IBS has received moderate support in the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guidance published for UK health services.[40] It has been used as an aid or alternative to chemical anaesthesia,[41][42][43] and it has been studied as a way to soothe skin ailments.[44]

A number of studies show that hypnosis can reduce the pain experienced during burn-wound debridement, bone marrow aspirations, and childbirth. TheInternational Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis found that hypnosis relieved the pain of 75% of 933 subjects participating in 27 different experiments.[45]

In 1996, the National Institutes of Health declared hypnosis effective in reducing pain from cancer and other chronic conditions.[45] Nausea and other symptoms related to incurable diseases may also be managed with hypnosis.[46][47][48][49] For example, research done at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine studied two patient groups facing breast cancer surgery. The group that received hypnosis reported less pain, nausea, and anxiety post-surgery. The average hypnosis patient reduced treatment costs by an average $772.00.[50][51]

The American Psychological Association published a study comparing the effects of hypnosis, ordinary suggestion and placebo in reducing pain. The study found that highly suggestible individuals experienced a greater reduction in pain from hypnosis compared with placebo, whereas less suggestible subjects experienced no pain reduction from hypnosis when compared with placebo. Ordinary non-hypnotic suggestion also caused reduction in pain compared to placebo, but was able to reduce pain in a wider range of subjects (both high and low suggestible) than hypnosis. The results showed that it is primarily the subjects responsiveness to suggestion, whether within the context of 'hypnosis' or not, that is the main determinant of causing reduction in pain.[52]

Treating skin diseases with hypnosis (hypnodermatology)has performed well in treating warts, psoriasis, and atopic dermatitis.[53]

Hypnosis may be useful as an adjunct therapy for weight loss. A 1996 meta-analysis studying hypnosis combined with cognitive-behavioural therapy found that people using both treatments lost more weight than people using CBT alone.[54]