Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Hypnosis is a Substitute for Medical Marijuana

From Kelly Woods Blog
Recent statistics from the State of Colorado reveal that there is a big increase in the number of young males utilizing medical marijuana for such complaints as chronic pain, sleep improvement, relaxation and anxiety, among other uses. In fact, a large percentage of these patients are actually manifesting symptoms
in order to qualify for their MM cards

Understanding the power of the imagination to create and maintain physical conditions, I worry about these young men! The subconscious mind does not differentiate between real and imaginary. Try it for yourself: imagine, for a moment, biting into a tangy, juicy lemon! Did you immediately salivate or even feel that weird tingle in your jaw? That's the super-charged power of thought facilitating physiological responses and it happens on an unconscious level, all the time.

The good news for people who might be concerned about using medical marijuana for addressing some of those mentioned issues is that hypnosis is an excellent substitute. Research shows that entering the "rest and digest" state of trance, even on a light level, promotes the release of the same feel-good chemicals that getting stoned on pot does!

Hypnosis is side-effect free, it's safe and it's legal. Beyond the initial
consulting fee, hypnosis is a modality a person can use for free, for as long as they choose A qualified hypnotist such as myself can teach you how to help yourself feel better. 

Monday, 28 November 2011

The Effects of Drugs in Hypnosis 'Narco Hypnosis'

Hypnosis works by shutting down the physical senses in combination with the conscious mind so that the subconscious mind can be explored in vivid focus thus creating a greater understanding of mental processes. Traditional hypnotherapy uses simply a relaxed setting and carefully chosen words to create this effect successfully but in more recent times much research has gone into the use of drugs in hypnosis and what effect they might have on the entire process.

Drugs are a controversial subject in any kind of therapy but especially it seems with ‘psycho-active’ drugs that appear to tamper with the mind. LSD for instance is poison in the eyes of the press, with horror stories appearing frequently in most modern forms of media. But LSD has been used in research for many years now with some scientists believing it is the future of therapy due to its healing properties in line with a course of measured treatment. Stanislav Grof is one of the leading figures in this kind of work and his blog (here) makes for some fascinating reading.

Traditional hypnotherapists would argue strongly that there is no need for drugs in hypnotherapy as it is a very successful practice without any need of chemical aids. The list of what hypnotherapy can be used for is very long and varied of course, and it must be stated that many problems certainly can be solved without drugs simply using the power of the mind and moving it in the right direction. So why the research? The answer to that is the human mind will always seek to improve, and if hypnosis can be improved to go further and treat more complex disorders – surely that’s worth the exploration?  

The list of tested drugs in hypnosis includes; mescaline, LSD,  MDMA (a type of ecstasy),  DMT, ketamine, psilocybin,  diazepam,  nitrous oxide, zoplicone, sodium pentothal (aka truth serum), sodium amatol – as well as experiments with drugs in their more natural form; psychedelic mushrooms, salvia, peyote, ayahuaska, iboga, and cannabis. The drugs have been studied to see what effect they have on suggestibility in a test subject, or in other words how the drugs affect a person’s ability to be hypnotised.  

Studies have shown that some of these drugs show only a minimal effect, whereas others show a considerable effect under test conditions. Nitrous Oxide for instance has been recorded as making a 36% change in suggestibility of a test subject in hypnosis (Barber et al) which is a phenomenal increase by anyone’s standards. What is not known however is why these drugs make for increased suggestibility. Cannibis for instance recorded a 22.6% change (Kelly et al) – but is that to do with the drug aligning the conscious and the subconscious – or rather just the effect of making the test subject feel sleepy and relaxed, perhaps allowing them to focus more on the hypnosis or lowering their mental resistance to it? On the other hand alcohol has never been a drug to mix with hypnosis because it lowers suggestibility – so perhaps there is something in the ‘psycho-active’ element linked to these types of drugs.

For thousands of years shaman and tribes people have used naturally existing drugs such as cannabis, tobacco, ayahuaska, peyote, mushrooms, salvia  and iboga to perform what they would call ‘spiritual rituals’ of healing which although appearing very different share many of the same principles as hypnosis (read more). For these people the ‘sacred plants’ open the mind and connect the body and soul, and are used to heal various illnesses both mental and physical, as well as delving into the mind to further understand it - perhaps to a deeper level and faster than could be achieved without chemical aids. The fact that ancient people have used drugs in such a way for so long is significant because even if their work is not scientifically recognised yet, it highlights how humans the world over have used drugs successfully to enter deeper realms of the subconscious in order to heal themselves, something that hypnotherapy attempts to achieve in modern western society.

Both ancient practice and modern clinical trials appear to show that drugs can have a significant effect on hypnosis and mind treatments that attempt to connect with the subconscious, although it is still not clear how this is achieved. I would suggest more study is required until we get a better understanding of the role of drugs in hypnosis, and whether their effectiveness is due to their relaxing ‘drowsy’ lowing resistance element or whether they actually cause the mental experience and suggestibility to be more powerful.

The work of Stanislav Grof, Timothy Leary, Carlos Casteneda and Terrance McKenna on the subject is as ground breaking in the western world as it is controversial, but perhaps to the shaman of various cultures we are still far behind what they know and understand about herbal mind therapies. In the hands of experts and with precaution, I see no reason why drugs could not be used for hypnotherapy in certain cases, possibly for more serious conditions that ordinary hypnosis would not touch such as mental illness, or other cases where hypnotherapy has proved unsuccessful like serious addictions, but certainly more research is the only way to determine the subjects future. If it is possible to cure problems faster and more effectively through the use of drugs then I see no reason why it should not be explored in greater depth at the very least. 

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Hypnosis Myths...Solved!

One of the major problems that faces Hypnotherapy as a profession is the stigma attached to it's name. Hypnosis in the past has been associated with mind control; making people do things they are unconsciously aware of and have no control over. There are various novels where the villain is portrayed as a hypnotist maniac who leaves a trail of crime conducted using his super-human ability to control people against their will. Often in my daily practice I come across people who have completely incorrect ideas in their head about hypnosis, some expecting a pocket watch to be swing across their eyes before they fall asleep in the same instant. So this article is about dispelling at least some of the myths that surround hypnosis... let me know if I have missed any!!

  1. Hypnosis is a natural state of mind. It is not an unnatural or sacrilegious phenomena. Animals go into trance naturally in the wild to protect themselves against predators (a fear trigger) (click here for more) while we as humans day dream on a regular basis...that is the mind slipping into trance state. Have you ever been driving your car and lost 5 minutes on a regular route, maybe pulling into your street forgetting the journey? That is just the subconscious taking control. 
  2. Hypnosis is not the same as sleep. Some people do fall asleep during hypnosis because it is so relaxing, but generally speaking people in hypnosis are not asleep but instead awake and conscious the whole time only in an altered state of mind. Brainwave testing has showed this to be true, and highlights the different 'depths' of hypnotherapy that bridges the gap between waking state and deep sleep. 
  3. Hypnosis cannot be used to control you against your will. Despite the stories even the world's greatest hypnotherapist could not induce you into trance state without your mental consent. If you refused to comply with him there would be no hypnotic effect, a hypnotist has no 'special powers' above anyone else. Legally any hypnotherapist would require your consent anyway before proceeding with their work. Hypnotherapists do their job by facilitating the natural process of hypnosis in their client, not creating it. However, there is an argument that TV commercials control our buying attitudes without our say so...so if you are worried about that it might be best to keep your TV switched off!
  4. You will not experience complete amnesia during hypnosis. You may not remember certain aspects of the hypnosis experience but amnesia on the whole is quite rare. Distorted time experience is common though; perhaps you will think the session lasted 30 minutes when indeed it was 1 hour. Post-hypnotic amnesia is something that can be suggested during a session, where a client would then not remember the certain aspects suggested afterwards, but it would be nothing like complete amnesia and the effects would be minimal. Usually this technique is employed to keep various pieces of information in the subconscious mind so they will not be consciously considered and pulled apart, which can help in changing long held negative attitudes. 
  5. Hypnosis cannot make you remember every last detail of your life in crystal clear vision. I have watched many Sci-Fi TV shows and films where a character is taken back into their past memories as though they were relieving them exactly as they happened, most recently in the crime drama Fringe. Hypnosis can boost memory and has been used in criminal cases successfully to bring about clues that were otherwise forgotten, such as what colour the car was that drove past or a more detailed description of what an intruder looked like, but hypnosis cannot take anyone back in time to relive things over again - the memory is subjective and therefore not a true reflection of reality anyway. Although it does make for a good story!
  6. A Hypnotherapist will not make you 'cluck like a chicken'. Unless you want to of course... stage hypnotists are one of the big reasons why people are unsure of hypnotherapy. Hypnotherapy uses the relaxing state of mind of hypnosis to open the subconscious mind and improve its way of thinking about things for example stopping a bad habit, while stage hypnotists uses the state of hypnosis to give highly extroverted people the chance to become centre stage! The audience effect can make hypnosis stronger but you can rest assured if a person really did not want to do that Elvis impression they would not do it.
  7. During hypnosis you will not give away personal secrets or reveal embarrassing stories about yourself. Similar to what is written above, you can't be made to say anything that you do not agree with. If there are things you are guarded about and want to keep strictly personal then hypnosis will not affect that attitude. You will always remain in control of your actions and decisions.
  8. Hypnosis can work on any regularly functioning adult. I've heard many times the phrase 'hypnosis does not work on everyone so I doubt it will work on me'. It is true that some people are more receptive to hypnosis and naturally go deeper faster than others but that is not to say hypnosis cannot be used on just about anyone. Very young children do not have the attention span or focus to become hypnotised, while mentally impaired persons often have the same problem and generally are not treated. In the opposite way people with a strong focus and a creative imagination find the hypnotic state easier to reach.
  9. Hypnosis is not dangerous. If you have a session with a certified hypnotherapist the chances of dangers are very remote. Someone practising hypnosis without training could possibly cause problems for their client but they would still need to have learnt the art of hypnosis induction. But apart from a poorly trained or maverick hypnotherapist, hypnosis is a natural state of mind that feels relaxing both during and afterwards and has many benefits similar to meditation, decreased stress being a main one. There are no known side effects of hypnosis, it is perhaps the individual administering it that could be the dangerous one like in many therapeutic profession. Massage isn't dangerous until you experience giant clumsy Jim who damages you back because he does not know what he is doing.
  10. You cannot get stuck in hypnosis. Another Hollywood style myth. If you were placed into hypnosis then left alone, depending how comfortable you were in the state you would come around in your own time just like waking up from sleep, even in the deepest form of hypnosis named 'somnambulism' this would be the case. The body also has a great warning system, so if there was any danger around you such as a fire you would be quick to snap out of hypnosis.  
  11. You wont become dependant on hypnosis or the hypnotherapist. Typically hypnotherapy solves a problem in a handful of sessions and the client goes away never to return, unless they have another problem they want resolved or have a recurrence for any reason years later. Hypnotherapy is a  very rapid therapy compared to something like psychotherapy where the client would have scheduled meetings for sometimes years. Self-hypnosis is something that people often take up after having a treatment because of its relaxing, stress relieving properties rather than a dependency of any kind.
  12. Hypnotherapy is not a 'new age' concept. Hypnotherapy has existed since before the written record. In ancient Egypt and Greece 'sleep temples' existed where patients would be placed into deep trance in order to heal mental and physical conditions. Hypnotherapy has come in and out of fashion over the centuries but it has stood the test of time because of its success. Read more about the history of hypnosis here
  13. Hypnosis will not give you special powers! Hypnosis can be used to enhance physical performance through focus, motivation and confidence etc, but in no way can it make you stronger, faster or more intelligent. Hypnosis can make you train and perform better, study harder and longer with more concentration to make grades/work results improve - but it does not alter your genetics or your innate abilities. 
  14. And last but not least... the chances are you will NOT see your hypnotherapist use a pocket watch as part of their induction! That's not to say it could not be used effectively, there is just no need for it. Long ago hypnosis was linked to eye fixation, the idea being that if you focus your eyes on an object that in itself will bring you into trance. In these olden times what object was handy to everyone? Modern hypnosis has found that eye fixation is not necessary for hypnosis to work but it can help with induction so many hypnotherapists simply use their hand as the object or a mark on the wall/ceiling.
Do you know a hypnosis myth I have not included in the list? Or maybe there is a facet of hypnotherapy you are not sure of... leave a comment or contact me.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Hypnosis in Mexico

duerme ahora...

Monday, 21 November 2011

Hypnotherapy Online Via Skype Vs Traditional Appointment

For better or worse we now live as a part of one globalised community. You do not need to live in the same street, the same town or even the same country to be in face-to-face contact with someone any more, and thanks to computer programs like 'Skype' or ‘Oovoo’ this wonderful technology is available to each of us absolutely free. To use Skype you simply need a computer (or Smartphone) with a web cam and a microphone, and from there you can connect with anyone across the globe LIVE, their video and sound streamed to your computer, and yours streamed to them vice-versa, mimicking almost exactly an interaction with someone in the same room as you.

This futuristic technology not only allows friends and family to be in real contact no matter the distance they are apart, it also allows business meetings to function and lectures to be given when colleagues, students and teachers are thousands of miles away from one another. In recent years online therapy (E-therapy) has started to take place across the globe, with online hypnotherapy not far behind the innovation. Many hypnotherapists worldwide are now utilising the World Wide Web and its modern functionality to expand their businesses, allowing themselves to connect with a far broader spectrum of clients. But not everyone agrees to this new phenomenon, with traditionalists claiming real time face-to-face therapy can never be replaced.  

So what are the benefits of having an online hypnotherapy session as oppose to a traditional walk in appointment?

  • The session can be done from the comfort and convenience of your own home
  • Feel secure and relaxed in a place you are familiar with, if you want to do the session in your favourite chair with your favourite incense burning next to you – you can!
  • Usually after hypnosis you feel very relaxed, ordinarily you would have to walk back out onto the street or get into your car – whereas at home you could take a long bath or lie down for as long as you want to
  • Time effective – no time wasted in waiting rooms/travel to and from
  • No travel expenses/parking fees
  • Accessibility – no matter where you live in the world access is the same, or for that matter if you have mobility difficulties or constraints leaving your home for any reason.
  • Flexible service and hours, easy to make appointments outside office hours or unsociable hours.
  • Online sessions are often cheaper than ordinary appointments
  • Encoded video links mean the sessions stay confidential
  • A wider choice of hypnotherapists available at a touch of a button
The journal Psychiatric Services, conducted a 2000 study that revealed patients receiving treatment through video conferencing reported ‘high levels of satisfaction’. Another article in Newsweek in 2006 stated that some people might actually benefit from online therapy, especially those who do not feel comfortable with traditional person-to-person contact. Alleman’s (2002) study claimed that the anonymity of online therapy allows the client to express themselves more freely and securely than they would ‘in person’ therefore allowing the session to be more effective.
So why the negative toward online therapies from some quarters?
  • Some people will tell you there is nothing like having a ‘real life’ interaction with their therapist/client that cannot be replaced online (many of the arguments read in this category concern therapy without the use of live video stream).
  • Hypnosis online, and therapy online in general, is not suitable for people with serious psychological conditions mainly because the therapist is not on hand to deal with a crisis situation, for example suicide or self-harm.  
  • Unfortunately online there is always the heightened risk of unlicensed practitioners offering their services.
  • Online there is less legal protection for the client due to the various different laws that govern individual countries that could cause problems with a global grievance.
  • The laws regarding therapy are clear in one country, or state, to the next. But online laws are far less clear and this can cause confusion on the global circuit.
  • Equipment Failure. Even the best computers can break down for a host of reasons, and the same goes for internet connection or power cuts.

It is up to the reader to decide whether the pros outweigh the cons. I believe that the criticisms stated above should be taken seriously before proceeding in making contact with an online therapist, as well as basic common sense being taken into consideration.

If your problem is something that is putting you or others in direct danger you should seek the in person guidance of a mental health practitioner near to where you live immediately. Check the credentials of the online therapist. Even if they display their certification, if you are worried about the validity of those certificates go ahead and double check with their University or their regulatory body to ensure they have been trained where they say they have been trained. If you are seeing a certified expert in the field then there is a far smaller chance of problems being caused by their therapy sessions. If you are worried about breaking the law in your region, do some research and see what the literature says – but the chances are you will find that there is nothing illegal in taking an online hypnotherapy session.

Technical failure is a possibility, but as technology advances there are less problems with computers or power cuts and I for one can’t remember my current computer breaking down once in the two years I have been using it. A good hypnotherapist will advise what to do in the event of a technical issue, so if one does occur there will be no adverse effects from the session, you would simple stir out of hypnosis until the technical issue is resolved, and then go back into hypnosis once it starts up again.

I think that the way society is headed hand in hand with technology, online therapy is the future of the practice. The internet is playing a bigger and bigger role in people’s everyday life from shopping, keeping in contact with friends and family, work, school, entertainment – why should health matters be any different? The better computers and Smartphones get the greater the quality of video and sound will become meaning this ‘virtual’ interaction will be even more realistic and commonplace. Traditionalists in every field do not like change because it upsets the environment they know so well, and who can blame them for that, but looking at the list of advantages it is hard to dismiss online hypnotherapy. The online platform makes it accessible to far more people worldwide in a format that more and more people are most comfortable with, while in the same breath being more time and cost effective. Hypnotherapy has existed successfully for quite some time in the form of audio recordings, so I see no reason why it's effectiveness should be exclusive to in-person appointments. Perhaps the main drawback would be a persons reluctance to engage in computer based interaction, but once those barriers are knocked down through trial and experience I feel certain the individual will appreciate the ease and convenience of the online format.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

The Psychology of Racism

Racism has been amongst the news a great deal in recent times, so I wanted to do an article examining the mind processes of racism and what it is about humans that seems to make us so prone to racist attitudes and behaviour.

Its a simple place to start but what exactly is racism? The Oxford Dictionary describes it like this:

  • The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.
  • Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.
Or to put it another way, prejudging a person's characteristics depending on their race. This goes hand in hand with stereotyping, pigeon holing often large groups of people into one set of traits, for example that all Scottish people eat haggis and drink whisky, or that all Irish people wear green and have bad tempers. Stereotypes can be positive or negative, but it is the negative stereotypes that can lead to harmful beliefs such as racism.

So why do we humans have such a tendency to stereotype? Psychologytoday.com explains it like so:

The tendency to classify our experience into categories is a fundamental and universal aspect of human cognition. We create concepts in order to make sense of the endless complexity we encounter in our environment. This is a necessary part of human thought, allowing us to process information efficiently and quickly. If we did not create categories, our entire life would be a buzzing mass of confusion. In social categorization, we place people into categories. People also reflexively distinguish members of in-groups (groups of which the subject is a member) from members of out-groups. Furthermore, people tend to evaluate out-groups more negatively than in-groups. In this way, social categories easily lend themselves to stereotypes in general and to negative stereotypes in particular.

So we create categories to group things into to be able to make sense of our environment easier. From within our own species we group people as a survival instinct; those persons in our group and those that are outside our group. This behaviour is evident in the animal kingdom too, where primates are extremely vicious toward those of the 'out group' while doing everything they can to protect their 'in group'. (read more here http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/beyond_sex_violence/ ) Horses have also been known to shun creatures of their own kind of a different colour coat, for instance if there was one white horse amongst a group black horses the white horse would be at the bottom of the pecking order, and it is the same for many different groups of animals. Evolutionary speaking perhaps this is all to do with the inherent goal of keeping one's own gene pool strong for the future, and the fear of extinction from the hands of an out group.

So as humans we categorise our world to make it simpler, but also to order it the way we want it. We inherently seek to pass on our characteristics to the next generation and make an environment where those characteristics are the dominant feature of that group. We do this by protecting our in group and seeing our clan more favourably than outside clans as a mode of self preservation. 

Many wars throughout history have been fought on a territorial/racial context. One of the dark, often unspoken truths about these wars is the brutal aftermath of battle. Not only would the victorious party kill a great proportion of their opponents population, both man, woman and child, but rape on a grand scale would also take place, in effect altering the genetics of that population in one fell swoop. This happened not only in ancient battles such as the Sacking of Rome, but also in more recent history where it is believed at least 100,000 German women were raped in Berlin alone during the aftermath of WW2 and Soviet occupation, where it has been estimated 2m German women were raped overall throughout the country and surrounding lands. Read more here.

But in an educated modern society - surely there is no place for racism? In an affluent society there appears to be less racism and prejudice, but in times of hardship and economic slow down it appears racism rears its ugly head (read more). The recent London riots could be viewed in a similar vein, as could the rise of Nazi Germany, where vicious opinion flourished seemingly as a result of the country being left in tatters post WW1 and unemployment was at its peak. When a group has less resources the dynamics within the group/society alters, and the evolutionary battle of survival kicks in. The dominant gene pool will wish to defend itself against the minorities, and thus they become marginalised and discriminated against in nature's cruellest manner.

Is there a way to stop racism? Pschologytoday.com reports Gordon Allport's theory of inter-group contact from the 50's. Allport hypothesised that contact between racial groups in positive circumstances would reduce social prejudice; conditions being shared goals and social norms, equal social status and the support of local authorities. I would add to that mixed race schooling being of high importance as in childhood we manifest our deepest held beliefs, so to get these beliefs correct and healthy early on would be an obvious advantage. Having role models of mixed race is another tool for anti-racism, especially in films, TV and sports where so many people have a combined interest. 

I think we have seen big changes in the last 30 years and an overall decrease in outright racism in the western world. Unfortunately though we still have groups of people who do not mix racially as much as they could do. Taking for instance the United Kingdom, there are areas that are predominately white, others that are Asian and others again that are predominantly Afro-Caribbean. In the USA it is quite the same, but also with large Chinese communities in most cities. Grouping racially and culturally seems the natural thing to do for humans, but in the long run this is what causes racism, especially in times of slow economic growth and poverty when there is a perceived lack of resources within society.

I think that until this problem is resolved there will always be a degree of racism, whether open or as an undercurrent because it seems a natural part of make up as animals in competition with one another. With this in mind racism is certainly something that needs to be seriously considered in town planning as well as every aspect of local government if the future is ever going to be racism free. There needs to be an overall greater sense of mankind and less upon the subcategories we have been divided into.   

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Can Hypnotherapy Beat IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)?

Hypnotherapy appears to be an effective long-term treatment for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) with sufferers feeling the benefits for at least five years, new research claims.
More than 200 patients with IBS were monitored after undergoing gut-directed hypnotherapy, each recording their symptoms, quality of life and levels of anxiety and stress before and after treatment.
The researchers found that almost three-quarters (71%) of patients responded well to hypnotherapy and most did not deteriorate over time.
They concluded that "the beneficial effects of hypnotherapy appear to last at least five years", making it "a viable therapeutic option" for treating IBS.
The results of their study, published in the journal Gut, also showed that women were more likely to respond to hypnotherapy than men.
The research was carried out by a team at Withington Hospital in Manchester, where the UK's first NHS hypnotherapy unit has been established.
As many as one in five people in Britain goes on to develop IBS, with symptoms including stomach pain, diarrhoea and constipation.
The researchers said that around half the work done by gastroenterologists concerned IBS. They also pointed out that conventional treatments for the condition did not always prove successful.
Using 204 completed questionnaires, the researchers were able to assess the effects of hypnotherapy immediately after and six years after hypnotherapy sessions lasting one hour for up to 12 weeks.
Among those who responded well, all patients registered a significant improvement in symptoms compared with before treatment.
They also found there was little difference in how the patients rated the improvement for more than five years after treatment.
There was also improvement in quality of life and levels of anxiety and depression, although this decreased over time.
However, patients said they took fewer drugs and did not need to see their doctors as often after having hypnotherapy.
The researchers maintained that the sustained improvements in most of the patients could not be attributed to other treatments - as less than one in 10 attempted alternatives after finishing hypnotherapy.
They said that while past research had demonstrated the benefits of hypnotherapy in the short term, their study showed that it also worked over longer periods.
"A potential criticism for the use of hypnotherapy as a treatment for IBS has been that it is costly to provide because of the demands on therapists' time.
"However, because of its sustained effects in the majority of patients, costs of treatment could be rapidly offset by the ensuing reduction in cost of medication and other healthcare demands," the report said.

Monday, 14 November 2011

What Causes Headaches?

When experiencing a severe, throbbing headache, a person often places his hands on both sides of his head and claims, "It feels like my brain is pushing to get out, so it feels better to hold it in." This sensation gives a false impression that the brain itself is enlarging and causing the pain sensation. Interestingly, brain tissue does not feel pain in the same way skin or other organs do. Because the brain is encased in a hard, protective covering, it has not developed to respond to touch or pressure sensations like other, more exposed parts of our bodies have. Indeed, a brain surgeon can actually cut brain tissue in an awake patient without the patient feeling the knife.
Head pain instead occurs because of activation or irritation of structures that do sense pain: skin, bone or neck joints, sinuses, blood vessels or muscles. When a person has a brain tumor, pain is usually a late symptom to develop--brain tumors generally only cause pain when they have grown large enough to damage bone or stretch blood vessels or nerves. Neck problems may also result in head pain, with pain from the neck and back of the head often radiating over the top of the head to an eye. Sinus infection or inflammation (usually occurring as part of an allergy reaction), however, is an uncommon cause of recurring headaches. Interestingly, Roger Cady and Curtis Schneider of the Headache Care Center in Springfield, Mo., have shown that 25 to 30 percent of migraine sufferers report nasal symptoms during their typical migraine episodes, and nearly 98 percent of people who believed they had sinus headaches were actually experiencing a migraine.
The most common types of chronic headaches are the migraine and tension-type varieties. A migraine is an intermittent headache, usually occurring between once a month and twice a week, with each episode lasting eight to 12 hours. Migraine is often experienced as a one-sided, throbbing head pain that limits activities and may be associated with nausea and sensitivity to lights, noises and smells. Tension-type headaches may occur more frequently, and the pain-- typically a dull pressure pain on both sides of the head that does not limit activities--sometimes lasts several days. Both of these kinds of headache occur in response to exposure to internal or external triggers, such as hormonal changes, sleep deprivation, fasting or stress. Exposure to these triggers prompts the brain to signal pain centers that produce a variety of chemical messengers, including serotonin and norepinephrine, which cause expansion of meningeal blood vessels surrounding the brain. This expansion results in increased blood flow, and blood vessels on the side of the head can become more prominent and tender. As the blood vessels swell they stretch the nerves that surround them, causing these nerves to send signals to the trigeminal system, an area of the brain that relays pain messages for the head and face. Activation of the trigeminal system most commonly causes pain around the eye and cheek, creating the false perception of "sinus" pain. The trigeminal system also sends messages to the hypothalamus, an area of the brain involved in food cravings, and to the upper part of the cervical spinal cord, which may result in muscle spasms in the neck.
Once the full headache pathway is activated, it becomes more difficult for headache treatments to work effectively. Recent work led by Rami Burstein of Harvard University in both rats and humans has consistently shown that headache medications need to be taken early in a headache episode in order to be effective. Migraine patients often notice that their headaches begin with a throbbing sensation followed by increased skin sensitivity. This increased skin sensitivity, called allodynia, may take the form of scalp tenderness, "painful" hair or pain associated with hair brushing or wearing earrings or glasses. Once allodynia has occurred, headache treatments are much less effective. Carefully recording headache symptoms in a diary can provide a good estimate of when allodynia usually occurs and can help an individual determine when medications should be taken to offer the most relief.
Although most chronic headaches are not caused by serious disease, a significant change in headache pattern, a lack of effectiveness of previously effective therapy, or the development of new health problems in addition to the headache should prompt a visit to ones doctor for an evaluation. 

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Spiritual Plant Magic Medicine

True healing puts into order the body, mind and spirit with the past, present and future. What kind of agent or method or formula or treatment can help to effect such sweeping, integrated healing? I offer for your consideration ayahuasca, a psychoactive potion indigenous to the Amazon rainforest, and the only combinatory vision-inducing agent in the world. Made from the vine Banisteriopsis caapi (often called caapi) and the leaf Psychotria viridis, (known as chakruna) ayahuasca is both a portal to the spirit world, and an enigma that has baffled scientists and anthropologists for centuries.
Ayahuasca, traditionally administered in special healing ceremonies by highly trained shamans known as ayahuasceros, is sometimes referred to as a hallucinogen. But it is no such thing. For while a hallucinogen produces visual phenomena rooted in the individual psyche, ayahuasca opens up channels to the spirit world, and the drinker/participant bears witness to that landscape. Best to name ayahuasca a sacred plant medicine. For among those with whom the ceremonial healing use of ayahuasca is a way of life, the brew is referred to as “La Medicina,” the medicine.
In nature a number of plants and fungi are known for their vision-inducing effects. Peyote, San Pedro cactus, Iboga and the Psilocybe mushrooms are all used in traditional ceremonies to gain access to the spirit world, and to effect healing. But unlike all of these single-species agents, ayahuasca is combinatory- made up of two plants- and there the mystery is greatly compounded.
In the Amazon rainforest, approximately 80,000 higher plants grow in that lush, verdant environment. Perhaps as many as 10,000 plants are vines. Virtually all of the plants in the Amazon have leaves. And yet, somehow, somebody figured out to use one particular species of vine (Banisteriopsis caapi), and one species of leaf (Psychotria viridis), to make a ceremonial psychoactive brew. Here the so-called trial-and-error theory dissolves like sugar in water. Neither the vine nor the leaf is especially distinguished in appearance. There is simply nothing morphological to suggest that either one, or the two together, would in any way be more suitable for the making of a psychoactive healing brew than any other plants. The odds of selecting these two plants from all the others is a multi-billion to one long shot. So how did this take place? The shamans will soberly tell you that the plants originally told people.
The vine Banisteriopsis caapi, also known as “the vine of the soul,” contains a group of compounds called harmala alkaloids. These compounds are MAO inhibitors. They prevent the activity of naturally-occurring agents in our bodies called monoamine oxidase. Think of MAO’s as doormen standing in front of the night club of your brain. Psychoactive compounds, notably the potent vision-inducing agent DMT, want to get into the club and attach themselves to your brain’s receptors. But the MAO doormen prevent this from happening. The harmala alkaloids in Banisteriopsis caapi, however, tell the doormen to take a nice log coffee break. They do. That’s when the Psychotria viridis, rich in DMT (N,N Dimethyl Tryptamine), comes into play. DMT is the most potent vision-inducing agent known. And oddly, DMT is not only found in many hundreds of plants all around the world, but it is also manufactured in our own bodies. But thanks to MAO’s, we do not trip on DMT all day long.
DMT is not orally active. You can eat a handful of DMT, and nothing will happen. But if you consume an MAO inhibitor, then the DMT will in fact be orally active. So the enigma of ayahuasca is that somehow, by some means, some native person(s) a long time ago figured out to combine harmala alkaloid-rich caapi vine with DMT-rich chakruna.
Ayahuasca is made by pounding sections of the vine Banisteriopsis caapi, to remove the outer bark, and to soften up the rope-like fibers of the vine. A large amount of pounded caapi vine is placed into a large cooking pot. Atop the pounded vine, a large quantity of Psychotria viridis (chakruna) leaves are added. Then another layer of pounded vine is added, then another layer of leaves. When the pot is pretty filled almost to the top with pounded vine and leaves, then water is added. If the pot is large enough, as much as forty litres of water may be added. Then the mixture is cooked over a fire for several hours. Over time, the liquid in the pot begins to evaporate. After several hours, perhaps eight or so, the ayahuasca is finished. The pieces of vine and leaves are filtered out through a strainer. Perhaps only a litre of viscous fluid remains. This liquid is “La Medicina.”
While ayahuasca ceremonies vary from one shaman to another and from one tribal tradition to the next, certain features remain constant. A true ayahuasca ceremony brings together the ayahuasca brew, the shaman(s), and the plant spirits. This triune force engages in ceremony to effect healing, and to open up the doors of the spirit world to the participant. Typically an ounce or two of the brew is drunk. The ayahuasca brew is intensely bitter, and the taste is unpleasant, even for those who are experienced drinkers.
In some ceremonies, the shaman(s) sit quietly with the participants in the dark for about forty-five minutes or so, as the effects of the ayahuasca start to come on. However, some shamans begin to sing and make ethereal whistling sounds as soon as the brew has been drunk. Some shamans wave chacapas - noisy leaf fans – and others do not. It is typical and common for the shaman to blow smoke of potent Amazonian tobacco (called mapacho) on participants, to cleanse the atmosphere and to establish an aura of protection.
Within about an hour after drinking the brew, visions usually commence. There is a geometry common to the ayahuasca experience, and this geometry is beautifully represented in the textiles and ceramics of the Shipibo native people of Peru. Most people who journey with ayahuasca see that geometry. As the visions increase, the shaman(s) sing healing spirit songs known as icaros. These evocative, haunting tunes bring the yravlere deeper into the ayahuasca mystery.
If you ask the ayahuasca for healing, it will usually provide what you seek. There are many thousands of cases in which people have been healed of physical, mental and emotional disorders, and many curious cases of recovery from grave and even fatal disorders. There is much to investigate about the healing properties of ayahuasca. A large number of people have been cured of addictions through a few ayahuasca ceremonies, and the cases of post-ayahuasca cancer remission are too numerous to ignore.
Purging is typical and common in the ayahuasca ceremony. Most participants throw up at some point in ceremony. Some also get diarrhea. The cleansing effects of ayahuasca are well known, and are just part of the ceremony. For most participants, purging is a relief. Typically the purging does not last long, and the ayahuasca experience becomes stronger afterward.
People see and experience all kinds of phenomena while on an ayahuasca journey. You may see deceased relatives, spirits of every kind, vast landscapes of natural or manufactured forms, animals, insects, serpents, birds, and various creatures of nature. And as you engage in ceremonies over time, you start to learn to negotiate the spirit landscape, and to enlist the aid of certain spirits for your own healing and spiritual awakening.
For the person who has never participated in an ayahuasca ceremony, it is easy to assume that the brew causes the drinker to hallucinate, and that this explains the ayahuasca experience. But when you have engaged in ayahuasca ceremonies with highly trained shamans who make the brew correctly, such simplistic and reductionistic explanations fall apart completely. The spirit landscape, in all its mystery, beauty, splendor, terror, majesty and strangeness, is its own world, and the ayahuasca lets you into that world.
Ayahuasca is clearly not for everybody. The experience is typically intense, and can be terrifying. The spirit landscape is beautiful, but can also be overwhelming. Still, ayahuasca helps to put into order the body, mind and spirit with the past, present and future. Because of this extraordinary healing power, ayahuasca is a revered brew, and ayahuasca ceremonies are increasingly sought after by people from all over the world. Some flock to Peru, Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador to participate in ceremonines in the Amazon, and others drink in urban and suburban venues, in ceremonies led by shamans who tour. In many ways, through a great many people, ayahuasca, La Medicina, is making itself known. This potent Amazon brew has the power not only to heal, but to transform your understanding and experience of reality.
From the Medicine Hunter Chris Kilham http://www.medicinehunter.com/

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Hypnosis Quotes

Over the past few days I have scoured various sources for good hypnotherapy quotes that are either inspiring or pick up a certain essence regarding the topic. In no particular order here is my selection of findings:

"...hypnosis is the epitome of mind-body medicine. It can enable the mind to tell the body how to react, and modify the messages that the body sends to the mind."

"Hypnosis is the most effective way of giving up smoking, according to the largest ever scientific comparison of ways of breaking the habit."
New Scientist

"The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change"
Carl Rogers

"I should have done it years ago...It's amazing I didn't even want cigarettes any more."
Matt Damon describing his hypnosis experience to Jay Leno on The Tonight Show

"Studies show that people who combine diet and exercise with hypnosis lose more weight than they do with diet and exercise alone."

"He who looks outside, dreams; he who looks within, awakens"
Carl Jung

"[Hypnosis] can also be applied to improving study habits, stress reduction and raising self-esteem...If you are having difficulty controlling your appetite, sleeping or just need to relax, hypnosis might help you toward your goal."

'The findings suggest that hypnotherapy is a valuable tool when it comes to enhancing the coping mechanisms of cancer patients…most patients (19 out of 20) reported that after the first two hypnotherapy sessions they were able to relax for the first time in a very long period, felt less tired and more energetic, had more refreshing night sleep and as a result were able to cope better with their daily activities'
Peynovska, European Journal of Clinical Hypnosis 2005

“Life is ten percent what you experience and ninety percent how you respond to it.” 
Dorothy M. Neddermeyer

"...hypnosis can help adult patients control other forms of pain, relieve gastrointestinal problems, stimulate weight loss, clear up skin problems, and accelerate the healing of bone fractures and surgical wounds."
Consumer Reports

“Despite conclusive evidence for the efficacy of clinical hypnosis in the management of many cancer related symptoms and particularly acute and chronic pain, hypnosis is currently under-utilized in these applications.”                                                 Liossi, Contemporary Hypnosis 2006


Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Near Death Experience (NDE)

Near-death experiences (NDE­s) are common enough that they have enter­ed our everyday language. Phrases like "my whole life flashed before my eyes" and "go to the light" come from decades of research into these strange, seemingly supernatural experiences that some people have when they're at the brink of death. But what exactly are NDEs? Are they hallucinations? Spiritual experiences? Proof of life after death? Or are they simply chemical changes in the brain and sensory organs in the moments prior to death?
In this article, we'll discuss what makes an experience an NDE and who typically has them. We'll also explore spiritual, philosophical and scientific theories for why they happen.
Dr. Raymond Moody coined the term "near-death experience" in his 1975 book, "Life After Life." Many credit Moody's work with bringing th­e concept of the near-death experience to the public's attention, but reports of such experiences have occurred throughout history. Plato's "Republic," written in 360 B.C.E., contains the tale of a soldier named Er who had an NDE after being killed in battle. Er described his soul leaving his body, being judged along with o­ther souls and seeing heaven [ref].
For the purposes of this article, a near-death experience is any experience in which someone close to death or suffering from some trauma or disease that might lead to death perceives events that seem to be impossible, unusual or supernatural. While there are many questions about NDEs, one thing is certain -- they do exist. Thousands of people have actually perceived similar sensations while close to death. The debate is over whether or not they actually experienced what they perceived.
Most NDEs share certain common traits, but not all NDEs have every trait and some NDEs don't follow a pattern at all. Here are the traits that "typical" NDEs share:
  • ­­Int­ense, pure bright light - Sometimes this intense (but not painful) light fills the room. In other cases, the subject sees a light that they feel represents either Heaven or God.
  • Out-of-body experiences (OBE) - The subject feels that he has left his body. He can look down and see it, often describing the sight of doctors working on him. In some cases, the subject's "spirit" then flies out of the room, into ­the sky and sometimes into space.
  • Entering into another realm or dimension - Depending on the subject's religious beliefs and the nature of the experience, he may perceive this realm as Heaven or, in rare cases, as Hell.
  • Spirit beings - During the OBE, the subject encounters "beings of light," or other representations of spiritual entities. He may perceive these as deceased loved ones, angels, saints or God. ­
  • ­The tunnel - Many NDE subjects find themselves in a tunnel with a light at its end. They may encounter spirit beings as they pass through the tunnel.
  • Communication with spirits - Before the NDE ends, many subjects report some form of communication with a spirit being. This is often expressed a "strong male voice" telling them that it is not their time and to go back to their body. Some subjects report being told to choose between going into the light or returning to their earthly body. Others feel they have been compelled to return to their body by a voiceless command, possibly coming from God.
  • Life review - This trait is also called "the panoramic life review." The subject sees his entire life in a flashback. These can be very detailed or very brief. The subject may also perceive some form of judgment by nearby spirit entities.
For more on NDE's visit: http://www.near-death.com/
Or for a more sceptical view: http://www.skepdic.com/nde.html