This article is from the Alternative Medicine Therapies guide.
Clinically, the hypnotic trance is mainly used to change unwanted behaviors, such as smoking, overeating, or overreacting to stress. Studies are controversial, however, as to its ultimate benefits for smoking and weight loss. Psychiatrists may also recommend hypnotherapy for controlling phobias or panic attacks.
Deep hypnosis can be beneficial in relieving chronic pain from such ailments as arthritis, fibromyalgia, and even cancer. In a study funded by the NIH's Office of Alternative Medicine, researchers taught a self-hypnosis technique to people suffering from chronic back pain. By practicing the technique regularly, these patients were able to reduce their pain sensation by 80%. They also said they felt significantly less depressed and were able to sleep better at night.
Research published in medical journals also offers intriguing evidence of the effectiveness of hypnosis in acute illness and crisis situations. Emergency room doctors use the spontaneous trance induced by severe injury to help accident victims relax. Intensive care nurses use hypnosis to stabilize patients' heart rates and respiration. Burns may heal more quickly, with less infection and scar tissue, when hypnosis is part of the recuperative therapy. In an NIH-funded pilot study, Harvard researchers found that broken bones healed faster with the help of hypnosis. The cardiac surgery unit at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York has some patients consult with a staff hypnotherapist before surgery to reduce their anxiety and increase their sense of control.
Other medical conditions shown to respond to hypnotherapy include allergies, asthma, skin rashes, migraine, irritable bowel syndrome, and high blood pressure. Moreover, dentists use hypnosis to calm their patients' nerves, decrease pain, and reduce bleeding during oral surgery. And obstetricians and midwives may induce a trance to control the pain of childbirth.