More and more doctors now realize that hypnosis is powerful medicine. Why this is and how it happens is still something of a mystery, but science is showing hypnosis can improve your health in amazing ways. It can help relieve pain, make breathing easier for people with respiratory illnesses, aid with gastrointestinal ailments and relieve depression just to name a few. The most astonishing evidence is coming from research on healing.

In a pilot study published in 1999, Harvard University psychologist Carol Ginandes, Ph.D., showed that hypnosis can help broken bones heal faster and, in a follow-up experiment published in 2000, Ginandes and her research team discovered that women who had breast reduction surgery recovered far more quickly after undergoing hypnosis.

It is speculated that hypnosis alters the levels of certain chemicals found in the brain that influence the nervous system, hormone production, and the immune system. It appears that hypnosis effects how genes in cells express themselves, turning some functions on and others off. Studies using brain scans and other imaging technology are providing explanations as to how and why hypnosis works in helping the body heal itself.

Hypnotherapy uses relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, imagery, visualization and positive suggestions. Clients often say that they experience a feeling of peacefulness and euphoria yet are fully aware during a session. This is similar to what is experienced during meditation. As David Spiegel, director of the psychosocial treatment laboratory at Stanford University School of Medicine and coauthor of Trance & Treatment: Clinical Uses of Hypnosis (American Psychiatric Publishing) explains, there is "some overlap with meditation" however, "hypnosis focuses on the ability to do something for a specific purpose." And this is how hypnosis achieves its strength, by using positive statements and suggestions while a client is in a fully relaxed state. This enables the client to more easily focus on past problematic patterns or behaviors and it is this ability to more easily focus that results in the desired change. A sort of spring cleaning for the mind. Working from the inside out, releasing negative thoughts, perceptions and behaviors and replacing them with the positive thoughts and suggestions that the client desires.

It is this technique of focusing and strengthening willpower that is responsible for hypnotherapy's high success rate, particularly for clients who want to lose weight or quit smoking. A University of Connecticut review of six weigh-loss studies found that 70 percent of study participants rated hypnosis better than cognitive therapy alone.

Arreed Barabasz, director of the laboratory of hypnosis research at Washington State University in Pullman and coauthor of Hypnotherapeutic Techniques (Brunner-Routledge) agrees. "The suggestions must emphasize what you're against." For the client who wishes to quit smoking, positive suggestions about their body and visualizing their lungs becoming clear and free of smoke as well as instilling images of the client happy, healthy and smoke free are the types of suggestions that are most effective. When Barabasz tested this approach on 300 heavy smokers who had previously quit and relapsed, almost half stayed smoke-free 18 months after hypnotherapy - compared with 10 percent for the nicotine-replacement therapy alone.

Is there a definite answer as to whether hypnotherapy is the solution to all medical conditions or just a mild placebo? We may never know, however the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. As one of my clients told me, “I don’t care why it works, I’m just happy it does.”

I believe the answer lies in our own perception. After all, it is our perception of anything that determines whether we feel happy or sad, joy or hopelessness, feel we are making progress or stagnating. And it is the ability to manipulate perception with the aid of hypnosis that very well may prove to be the single most powerful tool each of us has at our disposal.

Studies worldwide demonstrate how hypnosis can help with conditions such as gastrointestinal disorders; functional dyspepsia (Gastroenterology, December 2002) where the group of subjects who received hypnotherapy sessions had fewer symptoms such as nausea and bloating than the medicated group; skin conditions; even faster recovery for surgical patients (Anesthesia and Analgesia, June 2002).

Research has shown that cancer patients who receive hypnotherapy prior to or during chemotherapy sessions experience less nausea and vomiting than those going through chemotherapy without the aid of hypnosis.

The International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, April 2000 discovered that hypnosis relieved pain in 75 percent of the people studied.

And this list goes on and on.

As more and more doctors and patients are beginning to recognize that mental states and emotional and physical well-being are connected, hypnosis continues to be used more frequently. The pathology of depression shows clearly that the mind and body aren't separate, they are part of a single system. A system that you can control with the aid of hypnosis.

Hypnosis can help you to take back control of your health and your life and once you have taken back control, then the real fun can start, realizing all the possibilities available to you, all the directions you can go and finally realizing that your life is a journey not just a destination. A journey that you can now control.

It is possible to get help with just one session, but more often it takes several. Repetition is the key to success. Listening to CD’s or downloadable mini-sessions repeatedly is not only the most cost effective way of utilizing hypnosis, but extremely effective at accomplishing the desired results.

Linda Simmon, C.Ht.

Author's Bio: 

After over 20 years of being a paralegal, Linda Simmon decided it was time to take a new direction with her life and is a graduate of The Hypnosis Motivation Institute, the first and only nationally accredited school for hypnotherapy in the United States. For more information on Linda, her CD’s and downloadable mini-session as well as telephone and face to face sessions, visit