What is it?
Hypnotherapy is the use of hypnosis for therapeutic purposes. Hypnosis means producing a state of mind in which a person cannot perform voluntary actions and is very responsive to suggestions or instructions.
Some people are more able to be hypnotized than others. Self-hynosis might also be used along with sessions with a hypnotherapist.
There is a wide variation in the training and credentials of hypnotherapies. Certification is given by many organizations, with different requirements. In the United States, there is no universally accepted standard or licensing for hypnotherapies. Although many therapists are not licensed medical professionals, some doctors, dentists, and psychologists are trained in hypnotherapy and might use hypnosis in their practices.
People use hypnotherapy for many conditions, including acne, aging, fear of places that might cause panic (agoraphobia), alertness, Alzheimer’s disease, missing menstrual periods (amenorrhea), amnesia, irregular heartbeat, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), blindness, cancer, cerebral palsy, diarrhea, shortness of breath, chronic fatigue syndrome, confidence boosting, a skin condition called congenital ichthyosiform erythroderma, constipation, cystic fibrosis, diabetes, multiple personality disorder, painful periods, painful intercourse, endurance, vision improvements, fear of flying, inflamed stomach lining, acid reflux, gout, an immune disorder called Graves’ disease, mental well-being, heart disease, anemia, HIV/AIDS, an inherited brain disease called Huntington’s disease, overactive bladder, increased muscle strength, breast milk stimulation, increasing memory, vertigo disorder called Ménière’s disease, menstrual cramps, migraine, mood, multiple sclerosis, muscle weakness caused by a disorder called myasthenia gravis, nail biting, uncontrolled daytime sleepiness, itchy skin condition called neurodermatitis, panic disorder, paralysis, Parkinson’s disease, inability to urinate in the presence of others, fears of objects or situations (phobias), nerve damage caused by shingles, depression after giving birth, premenstrual syndrome, itching, quality of life, a blood flow condition called Raynaud’s disease, restless leg syndrome, restlessness, scoliosis, sleep terror disorder, speech disorders, stuttering, thumb sucking, tics, tongue biting, twisted neck, trauma, irresistible urge to pull out hair, and tightness in the vagina.
People also use hypnotherapy for anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome(IBS), pain, mental disorders that cause physical symptoms, tension headache, mental performance, alcoholism, hay fever, hair loss, asthma, bed-wetting, fractures, chemotherapy-related side effects, showing psychological stress in physical symptoms (conversion disorder), depression, drug addiction, stomach ulcers, anorexia, bulimia, erectile dysfunction (ED), infertility, fibromyalgia, heartburn, blood clotting disorder (hemophilia), oral herpes, high blood pressure, insomnia, jaw clenching, menopausal symptoms, nausea, vomiting, recovery after surgery, rheumatoid arthritis, schizophrenia, skin swelling (eczema), itchy skin that builds up (psoriasis), smoking cessation, ringing in the ears, inflammatory bowel disease, warts, weight loss, and skin problems caused by radiation.
Insufficient Evidence to Make a Determination for …
- Cancer-related pain. Early research shows that hypnotherapy might reduce pain, anxiety, and medication use in patients being treated for cancer.
- Chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting. Early research suggests that hypnotherapy might improve chemotherapy side effects such as nausea and vomiting.
- Mental performance. Early research shows that hypnotherapy might have potential benefits on academic performance. But other research shows no effect.
- Depression. Early research shows that group therapy with hypnosis might prevent depression.
- Oral herpes. Early research suggests that hypnotherapy might help people who have recurring herpes on the mouth.
- High blood pressure. Early research suggests that hypnosis might benefit people with slightly elevated blood pressure.
- Insomnia. Early research suggest that hypnosis might decrease the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, increase sleep time, and improve sleep quality in people with insomnia.
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Some research suggests that hypnotherapy might reduce the symptoms of IBS.
- Menopausal symptoms. Early research suggests that hypnotherapy might help hot flashes and improve quality of life in menopausal women.
- Mouth sores. Early research suggests that hypnotherapy might improve mouth sores caused by chemotherapy.
- Pain. Some research suggests that hypnotherapy might help manage pain, including low back pain, surgery-related pain, cancer-related pain, dental procedure-related pain, burn pain, strain injury, pain from needle electromyography, joint disorders, pain during an abortion, sickle cell disease-related pain, pain from irritable bowel syndrome, swelling in the mouth, tension headache, and chronic pain.
- Anxiety before medical procedures. Some research suggests that hypnosis might reduce anxiety, particularly when used before dental or medical procedures. It might also help manage fear of going to the dentist. Its effects might last for up to 3 years.
- Tension headache. Some research suggests that tension headaches might decrease following several weekly hypnosis sessions.
- Recovery after surgery. Early research suggests that hypnosis might be helpful for pain and anxiety after surgery. It might also reduce the time spent in the hospital and improve mental well-being.
- Quitting smoking. Some research suggests that hypnosis helps people quit smoking. Other research shows that it does not help.
- Inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis). Early research shows that hypnosis might reduce symptoms of ulcerative colitis.
- Warts. Early research suggests that hypnosis might help treat warts.
- Weight loss. Early research shows that hypnosis might help people lose weight when used with cognitive behavioral therapy.
- Alzheimer’s disease.
- Menstrual disorders.
- Irregular heartbeat.
- Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
- Cerebral palsy.
- Shortness of breath.
- Chronic fatigue syndrome.
- A skin condition called congenital ichthyosiform erythroderma.
- Cystic fibrosis.
- Multiple personality disorder.
- Painful intercourse.
- Acid reflux.
- An immune disorder called Graves’ disease.
- Mental well-being.
- Heart disease.
- An inherited brain disease called Huntington’s disease.
- Overactive bladder.
- Increased muscle strength.
- Breast milk stimulation.
- Vertigo disorder called Ménière’s disease.
- Multiple sclerosis.
- Muscle weakness caused by a disorder called myasthenia gravis.
- Uncontrolled daytime sleepiness.
- Itchy skin.
- Parkinson’s disease.
- Fears of objects or situations (phobias).
- Nerve damage caused by shingles.
- Quality of life.
- A blood flow condition called Raynaud’s disease.
- Restless leg syndrome.
- Irresistible urge to pull out hair.
- Hay fever.
- Hair loss.
- Showing psychological stress in physical symptoms (conversion disorder).
- Stomach ulcers.
- Eating disorders.
- Erectile dysfunction (ED).
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Recovery after surgery.
- Rheumatoid arthritis.
- Ringing in the ears.
- Radiotherapy side effects.
- Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of hypnotherapy for these uses.
Some scientists suggest that pathways in the brain are important to connecting body functions with the mind, memory, and emotions. Hypnosis is thought to activate these pathways. Different parts of the brain and spinal cord might be related to the pain-relieving effects of hypnotherapy. It has also been suggested that the release of certain pain-relieving peptides might play in role, but early evidence suggests otherwise.
Hypnosis can cause a deep state of relaxation. In theory, the conscious mind should become relaxed to allow the unconscious mind to become more accessible. However, it is not clear if this represents a specific altered state of consciousness. There are also reports that just suggesting something without hypnosis might have many of the same results. It is not known why some people are more able to be hypnotized than others.
Special Precautions & Warnings:
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of hypnotherapy during pregnancy and breast-feeding. However, there’s no reason to suspect safety concerns when used correctly.
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