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Way to go, Fergie!

Hypnosis helpful with non-cardiac chest pains

Hypnosis may help improve hair loss

Hypnosis may boost in vitro fertilization success

Think Yourself Thin

Hypnosis Really Changes Your Mind

Pain Reduction By Hypnosis

Pre-Surgery Anxiety

Way to go, Fergie!

Congratulations to Stacy “Fergie” Ferguson
on kicking the habit.

In the October '06 issue of People, the 31 year old
singer tells about her romance, and how she
got into the “edgier underground music scene”
where she experimented with Ecstasy, which
she called, along with other drugs, her “new
creative outlet.”

After she wasted away to a measly 90 lbs, she
sought help through Hypnotherapy to “choose
this drug-free path.

Now, she’s dating ‘Las Vegas’ star Josh Duhamel,
and they’re living “happily ever after...”

OK, I have to admit: Even as a member of the
male species, I LOVE happy endings!

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Public release date: 30-Oct-2006

Hypnosis helpful with non-cardiac chest pains

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Individuals who experience chest pain that is not caused by a heart condition or heartburn may benefit from hypnotherapy, research suggests.

So-called non-cardiac chest pain "is an extremely debilitating condition of uncertain origin which is difficult to treat and consequently has a high psychological morbidity," Dr. Peter J. Whorwell and colleagues from Wythenshawe Hospital, Manchester, UK, note in a report published this month.

They examined the efficacy of hypnotherapy in 28 patients with non-cardiac chest pain. Doctors determined that esophageal reflux was not contributing to the chest pain in these patients.

The subjects were randomly assigned to receive either 12 sessions of hypnotherapy or supportive therapy plus placebo medication over 17 weeks.

Twelve of the 15 hypnotherapy patients (80 percent) experienced a lessening of their chest pain, compared to 3 of the 13 control patients (23 percent).

Hypnotherapy patients reported a significantly greater reduction in pain severity than did control patients. However, the frequency of pain was not reduced significantly.

Global assessment of general well being was also improved in 73 percent of hypnotherapy patients compared with just 23 percent of controls.

Patients in the hypnosis arm were also able to reduce their medication usage whereas this increased in controls, creating a significant difference in favor of hypnotherapy.

SOURCE: Gut, September 2006.

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Public release date 27-Aug, 2006

Hypnosis may help improve hair loss

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - People with a patchy form of hair loss called alopecia areata might be helped with hypnosis, a preliminary study suggests.

"Hypnotherapy may enhance the mental well-being of patients with alopecia areata and it may improve clinical outcome," Dr. Ria Willemsen, of Free University in Brussels, and colleagues write in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease characterized by sudden, recurrent hair loss in round spots from the scalp or any part of the body that has hair. Psychological factors, such as stressful events and psychotrauma have also been reported to play a role in the onset of the condition, but few studies have looked at the efficacy of psychological treatments.

Willemsen's team explored hypnosis as a treatment for 21 individuals with extensive hair loss on 30 percent or more of their scalp that had lasted for at least three months. These patients, all of whom previously failed to respond to treatment with steroids, were followed for anywhere from six months to six years.

In most cases, the study participants received hypnosis along with some other medical treatment. During the hypnotherapy sessions, which took place once every three weeks, study participants were given various suggestions, such as to imagine the healing effects of the sun's warmth on their scalp.

After treatment with a minimum of just three to four sessions of hypnotherapy, 12 patients experienced hair growth on at least 75 percent of their scalp, and nine of these 12 experienced total hair growth, Willemsen and colleagues report.

None of the patients reported any negative side effects due to the hypnotherapy. Yet, five study participants experienced a significant relapse during the follow-up period, four of whom experienced enough hair loss to return them to their pretreatment status, the researchers note.

In other findings, all of the patients for whom the pertinent data was analyzed scored lower on a measure of psychological symptoms, including phobia, hostility and interpersonal sensitivity, after their hypnotherapy treatment. They also scored lower on items that specifically looked at symptoms of anxiety and depression, study findings indicate.

Exactly how hypnosis might stimulate hair growth is unknown. In the past, researchers have shown that the hypnotic suggestion to improve blood flow in the scalp was linked to an actual increase in blood flow and skin temperature of the scalp. Willemsen and colleagues speculate that hypnosis may also indirectly lead to certain immune system changes.

Still, despite the findings, the researchers maintain that it "is still controversial" whether hypnosis is an effective treatment for alopecia areata. Since most patients received hypnotherapy as an add-on treatment, "it is not possible to evaluate how much of the changes and improvement in the hair growth was caused by the hypnotic interventions," they write.

SOURCE: Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, August 2006.

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Public release date 23-May, 2006

Hypnosis may boost in vitro fertilization success

Tue May 23, 11:52 AM ET

Women who are hypnotized before undergoing the transfer of an embryo created by in vitro fertilization (IVF) may be more likely to become pregnant, Israeli researchers report.

Dr. Eliahu Levitas of Soroka University Medical Center in Beer Sheva and colleagues found that nearly 60 percent of a group of women who were hypnotized during the procedure became pregnant, versus about 30 percent of a group of women who weren't hypnotized.

Many infertility experts see the transfer of an embryo to a woman's uterus as a key event that determines whether IVF will succeed, the researchers report in the journal Fertility and Sterility. Women may be stressed during embryo transfer from fears that the treatment will fail, they explain, or that the transfer will be painful.

Hypnosis has been shown to be helpful in reducing patients' stress during many types of surgical procedures and can also reduce pain during and after surgery. To investigate if this technique might help IVF patients, the researchers assigned 89 couples that underwent 98 treatment cycles to hypnosis, and compared the outcome to that of 96 couples who underwent 96 cycles and were not hypnotized.

Women in the hypnosis group met with a physician certified in hypnosis, who asked them to select a "very pleasant" past experience to think of during embryo transfer. Patients were hypnotized before the transfer, and told to compare the procedure "with the reception of long-awaited and very welcome guests." After the woman was in a trance state for about 10 minutes, the doctors began the transfer. When the procedure was finished, before patients were taken out of the hypnotized state, they were given instructions intended to help them feel calm, relaxed and optimistic.

In the hypnosis group, 52 pregnancies occurred, for a pregnancy rate of 58.4 percent per patient and 53 percent per cycle. In the regular-procedure group, there were 29 pregnancies, for a per patient and per cycle pregnancy rate of 30.2 percent.

Levitas and his colleagues hypothesize that hypnosis helped a woman's uterus to remain relaxed, allowing the embryo to implant more easily. It is also possible, they say, that hypnosis produced changes in immune or hormonal uterine function resulting in "an improvement in the interaction between the blastocyst and the endometrium," or the lining of the uterus.

While the researchers attempted to make the hypnosis and non-hypnosis groups as similar as possible, the group that did not receive hypnosis had, on average, been infertile for a longer period. Levitas and his team performed statistical analysis to account for this, and found that hypnosis remained the key factor in pregnancy success. They call for additional studies to confirm these findings.

SOURCE: Fertility and Sterility, May 2006.

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Public release date: 8-Feb-2006

Think yourself Thin

By Laura Oates, CBS 11 News Reporter

Eating healthy is a good start if you're trying to lose weight. But could hypnosis be another powerful tool? Doctors across the country are using it more and more to help people lose weight.

Beth Fredericks's story is a familiar one. She was 30 pounds overweight and tried every diet under the sun.

“Nothing ever worked. Nothing ever worked,” said Fredericks, Hypnosis Patient.

So she opened her mind to a more unconventional approach: hypnosis.

During a session, hypnotherapist, Jean Fain puts Fredericks into a trance-like state. Fredericks says it kind of feels like being half-awake.

Then Fain starts feeding healthy suggestions into Fredericks 's subconscious.

So does it work?

“I look at fruits and vegetables more. They are much more appealing to me,” said Fredericks.

And this isn't hocus-pocus. Studies have shown, when used by a trained therapist, hypnosis can help patients lose weight and keep it off.

Fain teaches other psychotherapists at the Cambridge Health Alliance in Boston. She says hypnosis is only part of the ongoing therapy. The other part is helping a patient understand why they're overeating.

“The most important first lesson is learning that it's not an instant cure--that they have some responsibility for their change,” said Jean Fain, Harvard Medical School.

Fredericks believes the conscious therapy helps her learn how much to eat, while the subconscious suggestions help her make good choices.

“The suggestion is in my head. I don't have to do it so much, it's kind of automatic,” said Fredericks.

As for the results, here's some food for thought: Fredericks has slowly lost around 15 pounds, and says she never felt like she was on a diet.

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Hypnosis Really Changes Your Mind

  • 13:28 10 September 2004
  • news service
  • Anna Gosline, Exeter

Hypnosis is more than just a party trick, it measurably changes how the brain works, says a UK researcher.

Hypnosis significantly affects the activity in a part of the brain responsible for detecting and responding to errors, says John Gruzelier, a psychologist at Imperial College in London. Using functional brain imaging, he also found that hypnosis affects an area that controls higher level executive functions.

“This explains why, under hypnosis, people can do outrageous things that ordinarily they wouldn’t dream of doing,” says Gruzelier, who presented his study at the British Association for the Advancement of Science Festival in Exeter, UK.

The finding is one of the first to indicate a biological mechanism underpinning the experience of hypnosis. Gruzelier hopes it will also benefit emerging research showing, for example, that hypnosis can help cancer patients deal with painful treatments.

Highly susceptible

Gruzelier and his colleagues studied brain activity using an fMRI while subjects completed a standard cognitive exercise, called the Stroop task.

The team screened subjects before the study and chose 12 that were highly susceptible to hypnosis and 12 with low susceptibility. They all completed the task in the fMRI under normal conditions and then again under hypnosis.

Throughout the study, both groups were consistent in their task results, achieving similar scores regardless of their mental state. During their first task session, before hypnosis, there were no significant differences in brain activity between the groups.

But under hypnosis, Gruzelier found that the highly susceptible subjects showed significantly more brain activity in the anterior cingulate gyrus than the weakly susceptible subjects. This area of the brain has been shown to respond to errors and evaluate emotional outcomes.

The highly susceptible group also showed much greater brain activity on the left side of the prefrontal cortex than the weakly susceptible group. This is an area involved with higher level cognitive processing and behavior.

Stage hypnotists

Gruzelier concludes that, under hypnosis, these brain areas are having to work much harder to achieve the same cognitive task results. “This is confirming our model of hypnosis with very direct evidence of brain function,” he says.

Peter Naish, at the UK's Open University, says this moves the understanding of hypnosis away from the popular misconceptions created by showy stage hypnotists.

“We have a technique that has now moved towards evidence-based treatments,” he says. “Gruzelier’s work is showing for sure that the brain is doing quite different things under hypnosis than in normal everyday existence.”

Clinical trials of therapeutic hypnosis are starting to confirm its potential benefits. Christina Liossi, a psychologist at the University of Wales in Swansea, recently conducted a study of 80 cancer patients aged 6 to 16.

She found that those under hypnosis experienced far less pain during treatments than control children, who simply talked to the researchers normally.

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Public release date: 14-Mar-2005

Contact: Jennifer Brown
[email protected]
University of Iowa

Brain imaging studies investigate pain reduction by hypnosis

Although hypnosis has been shown to reduce pain perception, it is not clear how the technique works. Identifying a sound, scientific explanation for hypnosis' effect might increase acceptance and use of this safe pain-reduction option in clinical settings.

Researchers at the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and the Technical University of Aachen, Germany, used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to find out if hypnosis alters brain activity in a way that might explain pain reduction. The results are reported in the November-December 2004 issue of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine.

The researchers found that volunteers under hypnosis experienced significant pain reduction in response to painful heat. They also had a distinctly different pattern of brain activity compared to when they were not hypnotized and experienced the painful heat. The changes in brain activity suggest that hypnosis somehow blocks the pain signal from getting to the parts of the brain that perceive pain.

"The major finding from our study, which used fMRI for the first time to investigate brain activity under hypnosis for pain suppression, is that we see reduced activity in areas of the pain network and increased activity in other areas of the brain under hypnosis," said Sebastian Schulz-Stubner, M.D., Ph.D., UI assistant professor (clinical) of anesthesia and first author of the study. "The increased activity might be specific for hypnosis or might be non-specific, but it definitely does something to reduce the pain signal input into the cortical structure."

The pain network functions like a relay system with an input pain signal from a peripheral nerve going to the spinal cord where the information is processed and passed on to the brain stem. From there the signal goes to the mid-brain region and finally into the cortical brain region that deals with conscious perception of external stimuli like pain.

Processing of the pain signal through the lower parts of the pain network looked the same in the brain images for both hypnotized and non-hypnotized trials, but activity in the top level of the network, which would be responsible for "feeling" the pain, was reduced under hypnosis.

Initially, 12 volunteers at the Technical University of Aachen had a heating device placed on their skin to determine the temperature that each volunteer considered painful (8 out of 10 on a 0 to 10 pain scale). The volunteers were then split into two groups. One group was hypnotized, placed in the fMRI machine and their brain activity scanned while the painful thermal stimuli was applied. Then the hypnotic state was broken and a second fMRI scan was performed without hypnosis while the same painful heat was again applied to the volunteer's skin. The second group underwent their first fMRI scan without hypnosis followed by a second scan under hypnosis.

Hypnosis was successful in reducing pain perception for all 12 participants. Hypnotized volunteers reported either no pain or significantly reduced pain (less than 3 on the 0-10 pain scale) in response to the painful heat.

Under hypnosis, fMRI showed that brain activity was reduced in areas of the pain network, including the primary sensory cortex, which is responsible for pain perception.

The imaging studies also showed increased activation in two other brain structures - the left anterior cingulate cortex and the basal ganglia. The researchers speculate that increased activity in these two regions may be part of an inhibition pathway that blocks the pain signal from reaching the higher cortical structures responsible for pain perception. However, Schulz-Stubner noted that more detailed fMRI images are needed to definitively identify the exact areas involved in hypnosis-induced pain reduction, and he hoped that the newer generation of fMRI machines would be capable of providing more answers.

"Imaging studies like this one improve our understanding of what might be going on and help researchers ask even more specific questions aimed at identifying the underlying mechanism," Schulz-Stubner said. "It is one piece of the puzzle that moves us a little closer to a final answer for how hypnosis really works.

"More practically, for clinical use, it helps to dispel prejudice about hypnosis as a technique to manage pain because we can show an objective, measurable change in brain activity linked to a reduced perception of pain," he added.

In addition to Schulz-Stubner, the research team included Timo Krings, M.D., Ingo Meister, M.D., Stefen Rex, M.D., Armin Thron, M.D., Ph.D. and Rolf Rossaint, M.D., Ph.D., from the Technical University of Aachen, Germany.


University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5135 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

MEDIA CONTACT: Jennifer Brown, (319) 335-9917, [email protected]

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Presurgery Anxiety? Hypnosis May Help Easing Anxiety May Make for a Smoother, Less Painful Recovery
By Miranda Hitti
WebMD Medical News
Reviewed By Brunilda  Nazario, MD
on Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Oct. 25, 2005 -- Hypnosis could help soothe anxiety before surgery, new research shows.

Doctors at Yale University's medical school reported the news at the American Society of Anesthesiologists' annual meeting.

They tested hypnosis on a small group of adults right before outpatient surgery.

Their finding: Hypnosis worked. After one hypnosis session, patients were less anxious about their operation than they had been just half an hour before.

Less Anxiety Before, Less Pain Later

Why do presurgery jitters matter? They've been linked to greater pain, increased need for painkillers, and longer hospital stays after surgery, write the researchers.

"We all know that anxiety increases the chances of postoperative pain, postoperative analgesic consumption, and also hospital stay and recovery," researcher Haleh Saadat, MD, tells WebMD.

"We were hoping that by using behavioral modification like hypnosis programs, preoperatively, we can get rid of the [postoperative] complications," she says.

Saadat is an assistant professor of anesthesiology at Yale's medical school.

Presurgery Jitters

Saadat's study included 76 patients of similar backgrounds. They were approached in a waiting room before getting any type of outpatient surgery.

First, the patients took surveys that gauged their anxiety level.

Then, 26 patients got a 25-30 minute hypnosis session. Another 26 patients got caring attention and support for the same amount of time. For comparison, 24 other patients just sat there for half an hour, without hypnosis or special attention.

Next, all of the patients took the anxiety surveys again. They took the survey a third time -- right before surgery, in the operating room, where they "saw the knives and everything," says Saadat.

Easing Anxiety

Patients were less anxious after hypnosis, even in the operating rooms, the surveys showed.

Right after hypnosis, anxiety levels were 68% lower than in the waiting room. In the operating room, the hypnosis group's anxiety levels were still less than half of what they had originally been, says Saadat.

Caring attention helped a bit at first, cutting anxiety by 10%. But the effect wore off in the operating room, when patients' anxiety level was 10% higher than it had been in the waiting room.

The comparison group fretted the most. Their anxiety levels were up 17% in the second survey and then shot through the roof. Those patients' anxiety levels were 47% higher in the operating room than in the waiting room.

Soothed by Hypnosis

Hypnosis can be used for many purposes, such as weight loss and smoking cessation, notes Saadat.

"For our study, we were looking to decrease anxiety," she says. "We [gave] them the suggestion of well-being and relaxation while they were in a trance."

Patients who got caring attention got encouragement and attentive listening from one of Saadat's colleagues -- but no hypnosis.

Next Steps

Hypnosis was "effective" at treating presurgery anxiety, writes Saadat's team. They call for more studies to confirm their finding.

Saadat and colleagues are already working on another study to see if presurgery hypnosis curbs pain, nausea, and vomiting after operations.

Those results will "hopefully" be available in a year or so, says Saadat.

Medication or Hypnosis?

Saadat says she's often asked about calming anxious patients facing surgery with medications instead of hypnosis.

"The answer that I always give is that first of all, most hospitals in the United States don't give medications to relieve anxiety routinely because there is no one there to monitor the patient," she says.

"The other thing is that the medications that they use [are] very short acting, and it doesn't have any postoperative effect for the patient," Saadat continues.

She says her team is working to extend antianxiety effects before, during, and after surgery.

SOURCES: American Society of Anesthesiologists' annual meeting, Atlanta, Oct. 22-26, 2005. Haleh Saadat, MD, assistant professor of anesthesiology, Yale School of Medicine. News release, American Society of Anesthesiologists.


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