Thursday, 7 March 2013

The Role of Hypnosis In Medicine

What Actually is Hypnosis?
Basically, it is an induced state of mind in which our normal critical, judgemental  biased and sceptical nature is bypassed, a state of relaxed highly focused attention, allowing for the acceptance of suggestion, induced with cooperation from the patient. It may be surprising to know that it is a natural state of mind, similar to being absorbed in a book, or lost in a movie, and daydreaming.

Hypnosis is a window into which the very powerful subconscious mind is rendered receptive to suggestion, where the conscious mind is distracted and dormant, and perhaps contrary to what many people perceive about hypnosis—an alert state of mind, not at all related to sleep or unconsciousness, and is in fact a waking state. Hypnosis is not merely a process of following instructions as you would see performed on stage entertaining an audience, it is an actual change in the perception of the brain exhibited by brain tests of people undergoing hypnosis.
For instance, volunteers were placed in a hypnotic state and evaluated using positron emission tomography (PET). When given the suggestion to see color, the color perception areas of the cerebral cortex were activated as they were looking at color or black-and-white color patterns. When given the suggestion to see black-and-white, the color perception areas of the brain showed decreased activity regardless of what the subjects were viewing, demonstrating hypnosis actually changes the brain’s perception.

How it Started
Hypnosis began with the Austrian physician Franz Anto Mesmer in France in 1778. In the 19th century, English surgeon John Elliotson and Scottish surgeon James Esdaile performed hundreds of surgical procedures using only hypnosis as the anesthesia. It was the same time that both ether and chloroform became popular, displacing hypnosis as anesthesia.

(more on the history of hypnosis here, here and here)

Hypnosis in Medicine
We all possess the power to heal ourselves as our bodies fight off illness every day. Hypnosis is a vehicle to tap into and enhance that power residing within the subconscious, managing illnesses with less medication or none. Unlike a procedure or medication, hypnosis is not something administered to you, rather, its healing power comes from within; the hypnotherapist being only a guide to reach it.
It seems hypnosis is an underutilized therapy in medicine—in 1958 the American Medical Association published and approved a report from a two-year study by the Council on Medical Health indicating there is “definite and proper uses of hypnosis in medical and dental practice,” recommending the establishment of “necessary training facilities” in the U.S. The American Psychiatric Association said, “hypnosis has definite application in the various fields of medicine,” and a panel from the National Institutes of Health issued the statement that there is “strong evidence for the use of hypnosis in alleviating pain associated with cancer.”

So, what are some of the potential applications hypnosis offers patients?

Pain……The fact that hypnosis has been successfully used as an anesthesia for surgery for over a century speaks volumes. Clinical trials showed significant pain relief in patients with burns and jaw pain. It also relieves pain caused by chronic headache and back pain.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)……In a 1984 study in England, thirty patients with IBS were randomly selected for seven individual hypnotherapy sessions, all of which showed significant improvements with no relapses at a three-month follow-up; and very good results with hypnosis for IBS have been confirmed in many other trials.
Peptic Ulcers……Thirty patients with recurring peptic ulcer disease were randomly treated with either ranitidine or hypnosis whereby they were all healed. After twelve-months of monitoring only 53% of the hypnosis group experienced relapse compared to 100% of the ranitidine group.
Obstetrics……As reported in the article Hypnosis in Contemporary Medicine by Dr. James H. Stewart of Mayo Clinic, “Hypnosis as anesthesia for childbirth has a long successful history supported by several trials.”
Oncology……The nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy has been lessened with hypnosis in children as compared to the control group.
Tinnitus (Ringing in the Ear)……Patients with chronic tinnitus improved significantly with hypnosis.
Asthma……A study of 55 asthmatic patients used bronchodilators less frequently and had less wheezing than control groups. One study showed that 21% had become symptom free and were able to discontinue medication.
Smoking……In 1992 an analysis of smoking cessation involving 633 studies and 72,000 participants, hypnosis was the most successful method.
Impotence……Many trials have shown impressive results for treating nonorganic impotence with hypnosis. One trial comparing hypnosis with a placebo group, showed an 80% improvement in sexual function to only 36% with the use of a placebo.
Dentistry……Hypnosis relieves pain, anxiety, speeds up the perceived time of the procedure, and minimizes bleeding and gagging.
Obesity……Obesity is a complex problem involving emotional behavior where hypnosis has had limited success. Several studies have shown that hypnosis enhanced the success of weight loss over other methods not using it, and also in conjunction with them. Certainly it would make sense to consider hypnosis before any type of surgery is considered.

One would think with all the data available regarding the efficacy of hypnosis, far more doctors would be working in conjunction with hypnotherapists as a first line of attack for many diseases in light of its noninvasive nature. It seems there still remains some stigma about hypnosis, much to the loss of the patient. As more people become aware of the potential it offers, it will empower them to explore that potential. According to Dr, Stewart, acceptance is increasing as a result of “careful, methodical, empirical work of many pioneer researchers,” but he also writes, “Nonetheless, skepticism may prevail and hypnosis may remain underused because of the tendency to doubt or fear of the unknown.”
Hypnosis is a testament to the mind-body connection, supporting the irrefutable fact that they both constitute one eloquent inextricable mechanism, and should be treated as such. At this moment the National Institute of Health (NIH) is funding clinical trials of complementary and alternative medicine, and hypnosis is one of its focuses. Because of this effort, hypnosis may become a greater part of mainstream medicine, and taken full advantage of by health care providers, as it affords a harmless, noninvasive and viable treatment option.

No comments: