For decades, medical and university researchers published studies testing the effectiveness of hypnotherapy on a variety of ailments. The results of these placebo-controlled randomized clinical trials were published in prestigious medical journals such as The Lancet, and the New England Journal of Medicine.
Contrary to myths and some false claims you may have heard or read, hypnotherapy has been proven to be a quick and effective treatment modality. For example, the lead researcher on an extensive New York hospital study of the use of hypnosis right before breast surgery concluded: "If this were a drug, everyone would be using it."
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States--and a specialty of this practice. In 1985, 18% of UCLA incoming freshmen indicated, "I feel overwhelmed by all I have to do." In 2016, 41% of UCLA freshmen agreed with that statement. What would the number be now?
Unfortunately, most treatment modalities are not very effective. The pharmaceutical approach only provides some relief at best, and it can diminish over time. Psychotherapy or CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) which is currently popular, is promoted as effective in treating anxiety, yet those studies show a small improvement. In contrast, my goal posts are assisting a patient to accomplish a challenging task with little or no anxiety. Getting on an airplane, standing in front of a group to speak, dating, or driving at freeway speeds comfortably. To me this is a no-brainer. When I bring my car to a mechanic, I want it fixed. I don't want it returned "a little better."
A clinical review looked at the existing research on hypnosis and concluded: "There is good evidence from randomized, controlled trials that hypnosis can reduce anxiety." The same report also concluded that hypnotherapy was proven to be effective in treating panic attacks and phobia.
Vickers & Zollman, "Hypnosis & Relaxation Therapies," British Medical Journal 1999, vol. 319
The use of hypnosis was found to be safe and helpful in children, particularly for anxiety disorder, nocturnal enuresis or insomnia.
International Journal of Clinical Pediatrics, 2013, doi: 10.4021/ijcp104w
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
IBS is a disorder characterized by abdominal pain or discomfort, and altered bowel habit. IBS affects between 25 and 45 million people in the United States. Since there is a stress component in most IBS patients, it's not surprising that hypnotherapy has been tried and tested. Notice, this first study was published in one of the world's oldest and best-known general medical journals.
These patients showed a dramatic improvement in all features, and no relapses were recorded during the 3-month follow-up period.
Whorwell, P., Prior, A., & Faragher, E. (1984). "Controlled trial of hypnotherapy in the treatment of severe refractory irritable-bowel syndrome." The Lancet, 324(8414), 1232-1234.
The study authors found that members of the Gut Directed Hypnotherapy (GDH) group, compared to the control participants, showed significantly greater positive effects on IBS symptoms. Further, the participants maintained these improvements after one year.
Lindfors P et al. "Effects of gut-directed hypnotherapy on IBS in different clinical settings-Results from two randomized, controlled trials." The American Journal of Gastroenterology. 2012;107:276-85.
Obesity in the United States is a major health issue. It increases the risk of certain types of cancer, coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke. Excess weight also decreases the person's quality of life and longevity. Obesity has been cited as a contributing factor to approximately 100,000–400,000 deaths in the United States per year. Over 70% of American adults are either overweight or obese, and in most of those cases the causes reside in the subconscious mind. Thus, an investment in hypnotherapy for weight loss pays significant lifelong dividends!
Smokers and nonsmokers achieved significant weight losses and decreases in Body Mass Index.
"Weight Loss for Women: Studies of Smokers and Nonsmokers Using Hypnosis and Multicomponent Treatments With and Without Overt Aversion." D L Johnson.
Psychological Reports, 1997 Jun;80(3 Pt 1):931-3.doi: 10.2466/pr0.1922.214.171.1241.
This paper reviews the literature on the use of hypnosis in the assessment and treatment of eating disorders. It proposes that patients with eating disorders ought to be investigated as to the underlying dynamics behind the eating disorders symptoms.
M S Torem, "The Use of Hypnosis With Eating Disorders."
Psychiatric Medicine 1992;10(4):105-18.