Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Meditation May Be An Effective Treatment For Insomnia

ScienceDaily (June 15, 2009) — Meditation may be an effective behavioral intervention in the treatment of insomnia, according to a research abstract that will be presented on June 9, at Sleep 2009, the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies.

Results indicate that patients saw improvements in subjective sleep quality and sleep diary parameters while practicing meditation. Sleep latency, total sleep time, total wake time, wake after sleep onset, sleep efficiency, sleep quality and depression improved in patients who used meditation.

According to principal investigator Ramadevi Gourineni, MD, director of the insomnia program at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Evanston, Ill., insomnia is believed to be a 24-hour problem of hyperarousal, and elevated measures of arousals are seen throughout the day.

"Results of the study show that teaching deep relaxation techniques during the daytime can help improve sleep at night," said Gourineni.

The study gathered data from 11 healthy subjects between the ages of 25 and 45 years with chronic primary insomnia. Participants were divided into two intervention groups for two months: Kriya Yoga (a form of meditation that is used to focus internalized attention and has been shown to reduce measures of arousal) and health education. Subjective measures of sleep and depression were collected at baseline and after the two-month period.

Both groups received sleep hygiene education; members of the health education group also received information about health-related topics and how to improve health through exercise, nutrition, weight loss and stress management.

Abstract Title: Effects of Meditation on Sleep in Individuals with Chronic Insomnia

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

Color Test Predicts Response to Hypnotherapy

ScienceDaily (Dec. 6, 2010) — When people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) were asked to relate their mood to a color, those choosing a positive color were nine times more likely to respond to hypnotherapy than those who chose a negative color or no color at all. Researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine suggest that these findings could be used to predict responders to treatment.

Peter Whorwell worked with a team of researchers from the University of Manchester, UK, to carry out the study using a color chart called the 'Manchester Color Wheel' which allows patients to choose colors that have previously been defined as positive, neutral or negative. He said, "Our unit has been providing hypnotherapy for the treatment of IBS for over twenty years with approximately two thirds of patients responding to treatment. Unfortunately, patients may require as many as twelve one hour sessions of therapy to secure a response and therefore this results in the treatment being relatively expensive to provide. Consequently it would be very useful to be able to predict responders."

Speaking about the results Whorwell said, "Being able to describe mood in terms of a positive color is a sign of an active imagination, which is an important component of hypnotic ability." The hypnotherapy provided in Professor Whorwell's Unit is called gut-focused hypnotherapy. The technique aims to give a patient control over their gut and they have shown that following a course of treatment actual changes in gastrointestinal function can be demonstrated.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

Story Source:
The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by BioMed Central, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Journal Reference:
   1. Helen R Carruthers, Julie Morris, Nicholas Tarrier and Peter J Whorwell. Mood color choice helps to predict response to hypnotherapy in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, (in press) [link]

BioMed Central (2010, December 6). Color test predicts response to hypnotherapy. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 8, 2010, from­ /releases/2010/12/101206201231.htm

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Smokers Burnt by Alzheimer's Risk Later in Life

By Crystal Phend, Senior Staff Writer, MedPage Today
Published: October 25, 2010

Heavy smoking in middle age may more than double the risk of Alzheimer's disease later in life, according to a large population-based study.

The prospective cohort study of more than 21,000 people found that those who smoked more than two packs a day developed dementia of any kind twice as often as nonsmokers, Rachel A. Whitmer, PhD, of Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, Calif., and colleagues reported.

The brain might not see the most immediate impact of smoking -- but isn't immune to its long-term effects, Whitmer and co-authors cautioned online in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Action Points 

    * Point out that as smoking data were collected only at midlife, the study cannot determine whether subsequent smoking cessation will reduce the dementia risk.

Smokers are more likely to die of other causes but shouldn't think they've gotten off scot-free if they don't have a heart attack or get lung cancer or emphysema, Whitmer noted in an interview monitored by a Kaiser Permanente media relations employee.

"If they've made it to late life and don't have respiratory disease or vascular disease, they need to know that their brain is also at risk," Whitmer told MedPage Today. "They need to know that there are long-term consequences."

The negative public health impact of smoking has the potential to become even greater as the population worldwide ages and dementia prevalence increases, she and her colleagues warned in their paper.

Tobacco's link with neurodegenerative or cognitive damage has been somewhat controversial, with some studies even suggesting a lower risk for smokers, Whitmer's group noted.

To get a handle on potential links between smoking and Alzheimer's disease (given its long preclinical phase), the researchers analyzed data from a multiethnic cohort of 21,123 individuals insured by Kaiser Permanente and surveyed as part of routine medical care between 1978 and 1985, when they were ages 50 to 60.

Over the next two to three decades (mean 23 years of follow-up), 25.4% of the study cohort received a diagnosis of dementia -- including 1,136 cases of Alzheimer's disease and 416 cases of vascular dementia.

Light or moderate smoking in middle age didn't appear to increase dementia risk in a direct linear fashion.

Rather, the risk of dementia jumped substantially to an age-adjusted 786.42 per 10,000 person-years once smoking topped two packs a day in mid-life -- producing a 2.14 fold higher risk (95% CI 1.65 to 2.78) than for nonsmokers in the fully-adjusted model.

The same was true for Alzheimer's disease risk, with a fully-adjusted risk 2.57 times higher for those who smoked more than two packs per day compared with nonsmokers (95% CI 1.63 to 4.03). The risk for vascular dementia was similar -- a 2.72-fold higher risk (95% CI 1.20 to 6.18) among heavy smokers.

The adjusted hazard ratio for dementia at lower levels of tobacco use when compared with nonsmokers was:

    * 1.44 for one to two packs per day (95% CI 1.26 to 1.64)
    * 1.37 for half to one pack per day (95% CI 1.23 to 1.52)
    * A nonsignificant 1.04 for less than half a pack a day (95% CI 0.91 to 1.20)
    * Not elevated for former smokers (HR 1.00, 95% CI 0.94 to 1.07)

None of those with less intense smoking habits or former smokers appeared to be at significantly increased risk of Alzheimer's disease or vascular dementia later in life -- but smoking less or quitting didn't seem to be protective either.

The researchers noted that the evaluation of smoking in middle age likely helped to reduce bias from falsely-recalled information or from the effect of subclinical dementia that might have been more of a concern in an elderly population.

But the study was limited by its use of medical records to determine dementia diagnoses and possible undiagnosed dementia in the cohort, Whitmer and colleagues cautioned. Moreover, the assessment of smoking only in middle age left it unclear whether quitting reduced dementia risk, they added.

Heavy smoking could have its impact on the brain via oxidative stress and inflammation -- both believed to be important in development of Alzheimer's disease -- or through vascular and neurodegenerative pathways, the investigators suggested.

However, the exact mechanism whereby smoking may lead to dementia still needs to be clarified, Whitmer's group concluded.

The study was supported by the National Graduate School of Clinical Investigation and by grants from Kuopio University Hospital, the Juho Vainio Foundation, Maire Taponen Foundation, a Kaiser Permanente Community Benefits, and National Institute of Health and Academy of Finland.

One of the authors reported having received honoraria for serving on the scientific advisory board of Elan and Pfizer and serving as a speaker on scientific meetings organized by Janssen, Novartis, and Pfizer.

Primary source: Archives of Internal Medicine
Source reference: Rusanen M, et al "Heavy smoking in midlife and long-term risk of Alzheimer disease and vascular dementia" Arch Intern Med 2010; DOI:10.1001/archinternmed.2010.393.

Reviewed by Zalman S. Agus, MD; Emeritus Professor, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Dorothy Caputo, MA, RN, BC-ADM, CDE, Nurse Planner

Friday, October 8, 2010

Sleep Makes the Body Leaner

By Cole Petrochko, Staff Writer, MedPage Today
Published: October 07, 2010

Diet and exercise are important factors in a healthy lifestyle, but a third factor -- sleep -- may be the real key to eliminating fat, according to a small study.

Middle-age, overweight patients who slept 8.5 hours burned more fat than those who slept just 5.5 hours, according to Plamen D. Penev, MD, PhD, of the University of Chicago, and colleagues, who reported their findings in the Oct. 5 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

By contrast, those who were sleep deprived burned more lean muscle mass.
Action Points 

    * Explain to interested patients that middle-aged, overweight patients who slept 8.5 hours burned more fat than those who slept just 5.5 hours.

    * Note that the study also found that participants in the sleep deprivation group were hungrier and expended less energy to compensate for reduced sleep.

They also found participants in the sleep deprivation group were hungrier and expended less energy to compensate for reduced sleep.

Researchers concluded that sleep loss while dieting, "amplifies the pattern of ghrelin-associated changes in human hunger, glucose and fat utilization, and energy metabolism."

The study measured fat and fat-free body mass loss, as well as secondary endpoint measures of caloric use, energy expenditure, hunger, and 24-hour metabolic hormone concentrations in 12 sedentary nonsmokers. The average age was 41 and at baseline the participants slept an average of 7.7 hours each night. Body mass indices ranged from 25 kg/m2to 35 kg/m2 .

Only 10 of the 12 volunteers completed the study (seven men).

Patients were randomly assigned to sleep for either 8.5 or 5.5 hours each night over 14 days and then crossed over for a second 14-day period at least three months later. Sleep was recorded nightly and patients were not allowed daytime naps.

Those in the study were given the same diet with calorie counts based on 90% of resting metabolic rate. Actual consumption was measured by weighing food before and after each meal.

Patients' energy expenditure, hunger scores, respiratory quotients, body water changes, and body composition were measured. Additionally, the researchers measured metabolic hormone levels, including acylated ghrelin, which acts as a switch to control energy expenditure, hunger, and fat retention, as well as regulate glucose production in the liver.

Regardless of sleep duration, patients lost about 3 kg, but the weight loss came from mostly lean mass in the sleep deprivation group -- 2.4 kg versus 1.5 in those who slept for 8.5 hours. Conversely, those who slept for more than 8 hours lost an average of 1.4 kg versus just 0.4 kg of fat loss in the sleep deprivation arm.

Also, patients in the sleep deprivation group were hungrier and 24-hour acylated ghrelin levels increased from an average 73 ng/L pretreatment to 84 ng/L group versus a decline in acylated ghrelin levels (81 ng/L to 75 ng/L) in the normal sleep group, which was statistically significant (P=0.04).

Alternately, resting metabolic rates were significantly higher in the better rested arm and 24-hour plasma epinephrine concentrations were lower, (P=0.005 for both).

There were no significant differences in the measures of the fractional thermic effect of food and 24-hour norepinephrine, cortisol, growth hormone, and thyroid hormone concentrations at the end of study between conditions.

The study was limited by its small sample size and short duration. The authors suggested, however, that the findings supported a larger trial with longer follow-up to examine long-term effects of reduced sleep on body composition, and energy metabolism.

The study was funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Reviewed by Robert Jasmer, MD; Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco and Dorothy Caputo, MA, RN, BC-ADM, CDE, Nurse Planner

Primary source: Annals of Internal Medicine
Source reference:  Nedeltcheva, AV. "Insufficient Sleep Undermines Dietary Efforts to Reduce Adiposity" Ann Intern Med 2010; 153: 435-441.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Stress Before Cancer Therapy Could Help Deadly Cells Survive Treatment, Lead to Disease Recurrence

ScienceDaily (Sep. 22, 2010)

Patients who experience physical or psychological stress -- including rigorous exercise -- one or two days before a cancer treatment might be unknowingly sabotaging their therapy, new research suggests.

Stress in the body -- even physical stress caused by intense exercise -- activates a stress-sensitive protein that can spark a series of events that allow cancer cells to survive such treatments as chemotherapy and radiation, according to the research.

Though the study involved a series of experiments in breast cancer cell cultures, the researchers say the findings are a clear indication that cancer cells have found a way to adapt and resist treatment with the help of this stress-inducible protein.

This cancer cell survival can be traced to the presence of heat shock factor-1, which previous research has linked to stress. Ohio State University researchers first noticed that this common protein can help heart tissue survive in a toxic environment, leading the scientists to suspect that in cancer, this phenomenon could have serious consequences.

A series of experiments using breast cancer cells showed that a protein activated by the presence of heat shock factor-1 could block the process that kills cancer cells even after the cells' DNA was damaged by radiation. The same was true when the cells were subjected to a common chemotherapy drug.

The researchers hope to develop a drug that could suppress heat shock factor-1 as a supplement to cancer therapy, but in the meantime, they recommend that patients avoid both psychological and physical stress in the days leading up to a cancer treatment.

"One of the known inducers of this factor is exercise. I am not against exercise, but the timing is critical. It looks like any intense or prolonged physical activity a couple of days before the start of cancer therapy is highly risky, and has potential to reduce the benefits of the treatment," said Govindasamy Ilangovan, lead author of the study and associate professor of internal medicine at Ohio State.

The study appears online in the journal Molecular Cancer Research.

Ilangovan, an investigator in Ohio State's Davis Heart and Lung Research Institute, specializes in cardiovascular medicine. But when he observed in previous research that this stress-inducible protein could salvage heart cells that otherwise were doomed to die, he collaborated with radiology specialists to test the protein's effects in cancer.

While he used breast cancer cells for this study, he suspects that the widespread presence of heat shock factor-1 in the body means the protein could have this same effect on any kind of adenocarcinoma, a class of cancer cells that originate in a gland.

Heat shock factor-1 activates a specific protein, known as Hsp27, that ends up helping the cancer cells survive, Ilangovan said.

The researchers conducted numerous experiments to observe how Hsp27 behaves in cancer cells after they undergo ultraviolet-C radiation. The radiation is used as a model for treatments designed to kill cancer cells by damaging their DNA. In this study, the stress of the UV radiation itself also induced the heat shock factor and, subsequently, Hsp27, which reduced the cell death.

In every experiment, a heightened presence of the Hsp27 protein was associated with lower levels of other proteins that participate in the process of cell death. When the researchers introduced siRNA, a molecule that interferes with Hsp27's function, the cell death mechanism was restored.

When the breast cancer cells were treated with doxorubicin, a common chemotherapy drug, the experiment produced similar results. When the Hsp27 protein was silenced, more of the cancer cells died.

"We clearly showed that a reduction in the level of the Hsp27 protein made the cancer cells more susceptible to both treatments," Ilangovan said.

This finding suggested to the scientists that a drug with the same effects as the interference molecule could stop Hsp27 from preventing cancer cell death. No such drug currently exists, and the siRNA molecule isn't suitable for use in patients, Ilangovan said.

But the interfering molecule had a significant effect, in one experiment leading to the death of at least 60 percent of the cancer cells that had undergone UV radiation.

Among the key reactions the researchers observed was Hsp27's relationship to a protein called p21, which allows cells to pause, repair themselves and continue dividing, leading to their survival. Damage to the DNA in cancer cells should disable this step in cell division, but the research showed that the Hsp27 caused p21 to change positions in a way that allowed for cell survival.

"It looks like a compensatory act. We are doing something to kill the cell, but cells have their own compensatory action to oppose that," Ilangovan said.

After irradiation, the levels of Hsp27 reached their height within 48 hours, suggesting that the protein is highly active in the two days following any stressful event that activates heat shock factor-1.

"The process that sets these activities in motion takes a couple of days," Ilangovan said. "It is not proven in a clinical setting, but our hypothesis leads us to strongly caution cancer patients about avoiding stress because that stress might trigger recurrence of cancer cell growth."

Grants from the National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association supported this research.

Co-authors of the study are Ragu Kanagasabai, Karthikeyan Krishnamurthy and Kaushik Vedam of the Department of Internal Medicine, and Qien Wang and Qianzheng Zhu of the Department of Radiology, all at Ohio State.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Anxiety Treatment with Hypnotherapy

September 1, 2010
By Chester Chives

Anxiety relates to what we actually feel  and how we react to it. Stimulated by an excess of stress in our life, anxiety can cause harm to the human body. When a person is experiencing an anxiety attack, often symptoms like churning in stomach, nausea, backache, diarrhea, and even sweating can be observed.

Anxiety is a part of everday life and everyone gets anxious on numerous occasions. Anxiety can come in the form of nervousness, fear, concern etc. Most people are equipped to deal with these feelings and they know how to control their body during this time. But around 15% of the total human population is not able to react appropriately to such situations. They tend to get panic attacks due to the severity of their anxiety.

Anxiety often becomes a serious problem when the feelings still continue even after the event has passed. For people who suffer from such anxiety, without intervention, relief is infrequent and short lived. For that reason they need some form of anxiety treatment.

The feelings of the person suffering from anxiety can easily turn into panic. Anxiety sets off the hormone adrenalin in the body, which causes more and more fear. Due to this hormone, the body reacts with a number of responses and creates many symptoms including some or all of those mentioned above.

Hypnotherapy is the therapeutic application of hypnosis and can be invaluable as a psychotherapy tool in the treatment of anxiety. During hypnotherapy, the subconscious mind is reprogrammed and the beliefs and self image of the patient are brought back to a healthy state. The faulty perception once found is neutralised and corrected. No one can live a healthy and happy life with constant anxieties prevailing inside. With hypnotherapy treatment this anxiety is relieved and the mind relaxed.

There is no definite dividing line between a normal state of consciousness and a hypnotic state, it is but a range, as there are many levels to the mind. When this approach is used for treating anxiety it is invariably very successful.

Even the unconscious mind is the part of ones thinking. It can lead a person to old unhelpful memories and feelings, with hypnotherapy treatment, faulty perceptions are altered in the unconscious mind.

When using hypnotherapy treatment, symptoms can vanish in a just few days. During such anxiety treatment, hypnotherapy induces a complete state of relaxation, which is very beneficial in assisting patients to calm down. In some cases using hypnotherapy, when appropriate, the therapist tries to find out the root cause of the anxiety in that persons childhood. More often however, story telling techniques are used with anxiety patients, as it is a more gentle method than the psychoanalysis approach and more effective than directly giving suggestions. In many cases, hypnotherapy can literally act as a miracle medicine for anxiety treatment.

For information on how hypnotherapy can help you, please contact Inner Awareness Hypnosis Center.

Article Source:

Friday, August 27, 2010

Stop Smoking Hypnotherapy

 August 26, 2010 by Dan Hicks

Many people look upon stop smoking hypnotherapy as something that is magical.  They aren’t sure why it works, or are suspicious as to whether people are successful at being a non smoker. They question whether smokers who used hypnosis to quit smoking just quit on their own and then used hypnosis as the excuse or the placebo to get them to quit. Well there is a real reason why it’s so easy to quit when you use stop smoking hypnotherapy, and I’ll explain that for you in the rest of this article.

Smoking is not a natural act for human beings. It is an unnatural act that was a learned behavior. But unlike other learned behaviors that are natural, smoking is so very unnatural that it goes against what we are instinctively driven to do to survive. This unnatural act is the cause of many problems, both real and acknowledged, and not yet recognized by the individual. In other words, some of the bad effects of smoking are felt by smokers taking it’s toll on their bodies. And some of smoking’s bad effects are expected to happen, but we haven’t yet felt them.

The fact that smoking is such an unnatural act makes it easy to make the change, when this knowledge is correctly communicated with the part of our minds responsible for keeping us safe. And do you know what part of the mind is responsible for our safety? It’s the subconscious/unconscious mind. That is where our instinctual behavior resides and where we keep the lessons of what we can do to keep us out of danger.

It is this subconscious mind that is being communicated with when you use stop smoking hypnotherapy. By revealing to that part of your mind responsible for your safety and well being, you can change the incorrect lessons that were learned previously. Those incorrect lessons will then be superseded by the improved information that is meant to keep you safe and secure. And once accepted by the subconscious the new attitudes will lead to new more satisfying behaviors.

These new behaviors, when performed enough times, become the new habits of choice. Once that occurs these new habits will be adhered to with the same tenacity that you have adhered to the smoking behavior. It is just that quality that has made it difficult to stop smoking that is then used on your behalf to become a non smoker.

By taking the action that you have taken so far, and reading this article, you are closer to deciding to use hypnosis to quit smoking and help you get rid of your bad habit. Congratulations and good luck on your search for the truth.

For information on how hypnotherapy can help you stop smoking, contact Susan Gallaher at Inner Awareness Hypnosis Center.

Article Source: Medical News (

Friday, August 20, 2010

Hypnosis for Weight Loss: Does It Work?

Yes, research demonstrates a significant effect when using hypnosis for weight loss. 

In a 9-week study of two weight management groups (one using hypnosis and one not using hypnosis), the hypnosis group continued to get results in the two-year follow-up, while the non-hypnosis group showed no further results (Journal of Clinical Psychology, 1985).

In a study of 60 women separated into hypnosis versus non-hypnosis groups, the groups using hypnosis lost an average of 17 pounds, while the non-hypnosis group lost an average of only .5 pounds (Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 1986). 

In a meta-analysis, comparing the results of adding hypnosis to weight loss treatment across multiple studies showed that adding hypnosis increased weight loss by an average of 97% during treatment, and even more importantly increased the effectiveness POST TREATMENT by over 146%. This shows that hypnosis works even better over time (Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 1996).

Here are some of the studies:

Cochrane, Gordon; Friesen, J. (1986). Hypnotherapy in weight loss treatment. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 54, 489-492. 

Kirsch, Irving (1996). Hypnotic enhancement of cognitive-behavioral weight loss treatments--Another meta-reanalysis. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 64 (3), 517-519.

Allison, David B.; Faith, Myles S. Hypnosis as an adjunct to cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy for obesity: A meta-analytic reappraisal. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 1996 Jun Vol 64(3) 513-516

Stradling J, Roberts D, Wilson A, Lovelock F. Controlled trial of hypnotherapy for weight loss in patients with obstructive sleep apnoea. International Journal of Obesity Related Metababolic Disorders. 1998 Mar;22(3):278-81.

For information about how hypnotherapy can help you accomplish your goals, contact Susan Gallaher at Inner Awareness Hypnosis.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

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,

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

How Effective Is Hypnosis in Relieving Pain?

Hypnosis is a state of altered awareness in which we can become absorbed in more relaxing thoughts, ideas, images and feelings, and more easily distracted from negative or painful ones. Many people who benefit from hypnosis respond well to suggestions about feeling less pain, more comfort, increased energy, better sleep, and having rapid healing outcomes. Only about 10-20% of the general population does not receive good results from hypnosis; this group may benefit more from biofeedback and other methods.

There are many published, well-controlled research studies that focus on the use of hypnosis with surgery. In a recent review of 18 of these studies1, the overall result was that most patients treated with hypnosis have moderate to significantly better surgical outcomes including reports of less pain, use of fewer pain medications, and faster recovery. For example, medical hypnosis for orthopedic hand surgery, which is typically very painful, showed benefits that included significantly less post-surgery pain and anxiety, and fewer complications2. In a different study, 339 patients undergoing thyroid and parathyroid neck surgery, were divided into two groups. One group had hypnosis and an intravenous medication that kept them conscious while the other group was given general anesthesia. The hypnosis group had less pain, used fewer pain medications, and had shorter hospital stays3. In a similar study of 241 patients who underwent invasive medical procedures4, those who received pre-surgical instruction in self-hypnosis had less pain and anxiety than those who did not receive self-hypnosis instruction. In summary, a year 2000 review of published articles in the field of hypnosis concluded that "the research to date generally substantiates the claim that hypnotic procedures can ameliorate many psychological and medical conditions." 5

There has also been evidence that hypnosis may affect the way that pain is processed in the brain. In a recent study, volunteers who plunged their hands into hot water were measured by a PET scan. Later, they were hypnotized and told that the water would not seem as painfully hot. During hypnosis, the PET scan was readministered, showing significantly less activation in the anterior cingulate cortex, the part of the brain that is involved in expanding feelings of emotional distress and can also influence the inhibition of pain. On the other hand, the PET scan data obtained during hypnosis showed no decrease in activation in the somatosensory cortex region which is involved in processing the sensation of pain.6 These results suggest that even though the brain may continue to register the sensation of pain, hypnosis seems to help patients shift their experience of pain away from distress and suffering.

Hypnotic intervention has also been used successfully with many types of specific pain. In the treatment of burn patients, hypnosis has been used to reduce the pain associated with debridement (the scrubbing away of burned tissue to give new tissue a chance to grow) and wound cleaning, to modulate anxiety related to burn procedures, and to enhance coping styles such as repression and intellectualizing.7 With cancer patients, hypnotic suggestion helps to reduce the suffering related to many painful procedures such as the administration of chemotherapy and treatment-related throat pain and nausea. Hypnosis can also help to reduce the frequency and intensity of migraine headaches, and to relieve tension headaches8. In the area of dentistry, hypnosis is used to reduce orofacial pain held in the muscles and jaw, and pain, distress, and anxiety related to specific dental procedures such as root canals and extractions. Other significantly effective applications of hypnosis include reduction of anxiety and physical pain related to invasive medical procedures including endoscopies, intubation, catheter discomfort, and blood transfusions.

Additional Resources: For more information on how hypnosis and hypnotherapy can help you, contact Susan Gallaher at Inner Awareness Hypnosis.
1 Montgomery, G.H., DuHamel, K.N., and Redd, W.N. (2000). A meta-analysis of hypnotic analgesia: How effective is hypnosis? International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 48, 138-153.
2 Mauer, M.G., Burnett, K.F., Ouellette, E.A., Ironson, G.H., & Dandes, H.M. Medical hypnosis and orthopedic hand surgery: Pain perception, postoperative recovery, and therapeutic comfort. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 47, 144-161.
3 Defechereux, T., Meurisse, M., Hamoir, E., Gollogly, L., Joris, J., & Faymonville, M.E. (1999). Hypnoanesthesia for endocrine cervical surgery: A statement of practice. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 5, 509-520.
4 Lang, E.V., Benotsch, E.G., Fick, L.J., Lutgendorf, S., Berbaum, M.L., Berbaum, K.S., Logan, H., & Spiegel, D. (2000). Adjunctive non-pharmacological analgesia for invasive medical procedures: A randomized trial. Lancet, 355, 1486-1490.
5 Montgomery, G.H., David, D., Winkel, G., Silverstein, J.H., and Bovbjerg, D.H. The effectiveness of adjunctive hypnosis with surgical patients: A meta-analysis. Anesthesia and Analgesia, 94, 1639-1645.
6 Rainville, P., Duncan, G.H., Price, D.D., Carrier, B., & Bushnell, M.C. Pain affect encoded in human anterior cingulated but not somatosensory cortex. Science, 277, 968-971.
7 Patterson, David. (1996). Burn pain. In Joseph Barber (Ed.), Hypnosis and Suggestion in the Treatment of Pain, pp. 267-302. New York: Norton.
8 Barber, J. (Ed.). (1996). Headache. In J. Barber (Ed.). Hypnosis and Suggestion in the Treatment of Pain, 158-184. New York: Norton.
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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

American Soldiers Brainwashed with “Positive Thinking”

- The U.S. military has become increasingly excited about positive psychology techniques. Maybe a better route would be to offer soldiers respect for their critical thinking -

While U.S. military psychiatrists are prescribing increasing amounts of chill pills, America’s psychologists are teaching soldiers how to think more positively about their tours in Afghanistan, Iraq, and wherever else they are next ordered to kill the bad guys and win the hearts and minds of everyone else.

The U.S. Army is planning to require that all 1.1 million of its soldiers take intensive training in positive psychology and emotional resiliency. Army Research Psychologist Capt. Paul Lester, who leads the assessment of the program, told the National Psychologist (“Army to Train its Own in Positive Psychology,” July/August 2010), “As far as I can tell this is the largest, deliberate, psychological intervention in human history. . . . We don’t know when the global war on terrorism is going to end so we’re preparing to have to be engaged for a long period of time.”
Lester said the program would develop “communication skills, cognitive reforming skills and help soldiers not to catastrophize — don’t think of the worse case scenario about every potential problem.” The program also teaches soldiers to focus on “expressing appreciation” and “correcting negative views of ambiguous events.”

In August 2009, the New York Times reported that Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the Army’s chief of staff, said the total cost of this program would be $117 million. The New York Times was alerted to the program by psychologist Martin Seligman, director of the University of Pennsylvania Positive Psychology Center, who has been consulting with the Pentagon. Seligman’s particular program at Penn is costing the U.S. Army $25 to $30 million, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, which in its profile of Seligman (May 30, 2010) noted that he “confidently walked the line between grand and grandiose”; and it quoted him asserting, “We’re after creating an indomitable Army.”

Seligman initially thought that training the entire Army would be nearly an impossible chore because of the enormous number of teachers required. However, Gen. Casey informed him that the Army had 40,000 teachers. “You do?” Seligman said. “Yes,” Casey retorted, they’re called drill sergeants.” Now 150 sergeants come to Penn each month to take a course in positive psychology.

At one training session given at a hotel near Penn, according to the New York Times, 48 sergeants in full fatigues sat at desks, took notes, and role played. In one exercise, Sgt. First Class James Cole of Fort Riley, Kansas and his classmate transformed Sgt. Cole’s negative thinking about an order late in the day to have Sgt. Cole’s exhausted men do one last difficult assignment.

“Why is he tasking us again for this job?” the classmate asked, pretending to be Sgt. Cole. “It’s not fair.”

Sergeant Cole gave the “correct” positive-thinking response, “Maybe he’s hitting us because he knows we’re more reliable.”

While positive psychology makes some sense for teenagers who are catastrophizing their first relationship breakup to the point of becoming suicidal, how much sense does it make to teach soldiers who are trying to stay alive in a war zone to put a positive spin on everything? Moreover, wouldn’t soldiers like their officers to consider worst-case scenarios before ordering them into combat? And wouldn’t soldiers like politicians to take seriously worst-case scenarios before embarking on a war? The healthy option to negative thinking is not positive thinking but critical thinking. Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Bright-sided and astute critic of the dark side of positive thinking and positive psychology, points out:
It’s easy to see positive thinking as a uniquely American form of naïveté, but it is neither uniquely American nor endearingly naïve. In vastly different settings, positive thinking has been a tool of political repression worldwide. . . . In the Soviet Union, as in the Eastern European states and North Korea, the censors required upbeat art, books, and films, meaning upbeat heroes, plots about fulfilling production quotas, and endings promising a glorious revolutionary future. . . .The penalties for negative thinking were real. Not to be positive and optimistic was to be ‘defeatist’. . . . Accusing someone of spreading defeatism condemned him to several years in Stalinist camps.
While the U.S. military has only recently become excited about positive psychology techniques, it has, for the last decade, increasingly used psychiatric drugs to keep soldiers going. One in six service members is now taking at least one psychiatric drug, according to the Navy Times (“Medicating the Military,” March 17, 2010), with many soldiers taking “drug cocktail” combinations. Soldiers and military healthcare providers report that psychiatric drugs are “being prescribed, consumed, shared and traded in combat zones.” While soldiers’ increasing use of antidepressants is troubling enough (as the Food and Drug Administration now requires warnings on antidepressants about their increasing the risk of “suicidality” in children, teenagers, and young adults), what’s as or even more worrisome is the increase of other psychiatric drugs. In the last decade, antipsychotic drug use in the U.S. military has increased more than 200 percent, and anti-anxiety drugs and sleeping pills have increased 170 percent. These kinds of drugs impair motor skills, reduce reaction times, and generally make one more sluggish — or what soldiers call “stupid,” as the Navy Times notes.

While pushing drugs and teaching positive thinking earns mental health professionals money and brownie points with the elite, there is another path for mental health professionals working with U.S. soldiers. First, offer soldiers respect for their critical thinking, even if such critical thinking brings them to conclusions unwanted by their superiors. Second, if soldiers are anxious or angry because they believe that an ego-tripping commanding officer is going to get them killed, do NOT tell them to stop “catastrophizing”; instead take what they say seriously. And if soldiers are depressed because they have seen too much death, instead of directing them to “express appreciation,” try offering genuine compassion. But don’t stop with only compassion. Speak truth to power. Tell politicians who are maintaining America’s wars and planning still others: Don’t kid yourself into thinking positive psychology and chill pills are the answers, especially if soldiers and veterans discover that you deceived them about the necessity and the meaningfulness of their mission. Psychologists should loudly warn politicians, military brass, and the nation that if soldiers and veterans discover that they have been deceived about the meaningfulness and necessity of their mission, it is only human for them to become more prone to emotional turmoil, which can lead to destructive behaviors for themselves and others.

Bruce E. Levine is a clinical psychologist and his latest book is Surviving America’s Depression Epidemic: How to Find Morale, Energy, and Community in a World Gone Crazy (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2007). His Web site is

Monday, August 9, 2010

Hypnosis helps healing: Surgical wounds mend faster

By William J. Cromie
Harvard University Gazette

Marie McBrown was invited to test whether or not hypnosis would help heal the scars from her breast surgery. Marie (not her real name) and 17 other women underwent surgery to reduce their breast size.

It's a common operation for women whose breasts are large enough to cause back and shoulder strain, interfere with routine tasks, or prompt social and psychological problems. The pain and course of healing from such surgery is well-known, and a team of researchers headed by Carol Ginandes of Harvard Medical School and Patricia Brooks of the Union Institute in Cincinnati wanted to determine if hypnosis could speed wound healing and recovery.

"Hypnosis has been used in Western medicine for more than 150 years to treat everything from anxiety to pain, from easing the nausea of cancer chemotherapy to enhancing sports performance," Ginandes says. A list of applications she provides includes treatment of phobias, panic, low self-esteem, insomnia, sexual dysfunction, stress, smoking, colitis, warts, headaches, and high blood pressure.

"All these functional uses may help a person feel better," Ginandes continues. "I am also interested in using hypnosis to help people get better physically. That means using the mind to make structural changes in the body, to accelerate healing at the tissue level."

Four years ago, Ginandes and Daniel Rosenthal, professor of radiology at the Harvard Medical School, published a report on their study of hypnosis to speed up the mending of broken bones. They recruited 12 people with broken ankles who did not require surgery and who received the usual treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. In addition, Ginandes hypnotized half of them once a week for 12 weeks, while the other half received only normal treatment. The same doctor applied the casts and other care, and the same radiologists took regular X-rays to monitor how well they healed. A radiologist who evaluated the X-rays did not know which patients underwent hypnosis.

The result stood out like a sore ankle. Those who were hypnotized healed faster than those who were not. Six weeks after the fracture, those in the hypnosis group showed the equivalent of eight and a half weeks of healing.

How to hypnotize

Not everyone is convinced by the results. Some experts claim that the differences can be explained by the extra attention - the increased psychological support - given to the hypnotized patients. So when she was ready to try hypnosis again on 18 breast surgery patients, Ginandes randomly separated them into three groups. All got the same surgical care by the same doctors. Six received standard care only, six also received attention and support and from a psychologist, and six underwent hypnosis before and after their surgery.

Hypnosis sessions occurred once a week for eight weeks. Psychological soothing took place on the same schedule.

Ginandes did not put the patients to sleep by swinging a watch like a pendulum while the patients lay on a couch. "That only happens in the movies," she laughs. "In hypnosis, people don't lose control and go into a zombie-like state where they can be made to do things against their will. They don't have to lie down, you can enter a state of hypnosis standing up, even standing on your head. Patients don't even go to sleep, rather, they enter a state of absorbed awareness, not unlike losing oneself in a good book or favorite piece of music."

While in this state, Ginandes offered suggestions that were custom-tailored to different stages of surgery and healing, Before surgery, the suggestions emphasized lessening pain and anxiety. "You can even suggest to a patient that she can reduce bleeding during surgery by controlling her blood flow," Ginandes notes. Overall, the suggestions focused on things such as expectation of comfort, decreased inflammation, diminished scar tissue, accelerated wound healing, return to normal activities, and adjustments to self-image.

The women received audio tapes of these sessions so they could practice at home.

At one week and seven weeks after surgery, nurses and doctors participating in the study visibly assessed and measured the wounds of all three groups without knowing which group the women were in. They took digital photographs for three physicians to review. Each patient also rated her own healing progress and how much pain she felt on scales of zero to 10.

The result was clear. Marie McBrown and the women who had undergone hypnosis healed significantly faster than the others. Those who received supportive attention came in second.

From hooey to hurrah

The researchers reported these results in the April issue of the American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis. This report, of course, doesn't prove conclusively that hypnosis will accelerate the healing of wounds. The biggest limitation of the study involves the small number of patients, which makes it difficult to generalize the results to other types of wounds. Then there is the possible effect of expectation, the belief of some patients that hypnotism will work. It's the same effect seen when people who take a sugar pill for a backache do as well as people who take medicine. It's going to require more studies involving many more people to get the majority of doctors to shout hurrah instead of hooey.

Ginandes agrees. "Our study underscores the need for further scientific testing of hypnosis," she says. "Subsequent studies might clarify unresolved speculations about the mechanisms by which hypnotic suggestion can trigger the physical and psychological effects that we see."

She and her colleagues suggest future experiments to compare the effects of simple hypnotic relaxation versus "targeted suggestions for tissue healing." They would also like to see more work done using hypnosis for people suffering from other kinds of wounds, such as foot ulcers caused by diabetes.

Nevertheless, Ginandes believes that the study of healing after breast surgery "breaks the ground for studying a broad and exciting range of new adjunctive treatments. Since clinical hypnosis is a noninvasive, nondrug treatment, finding that it can speed healing of wounds and other conditions could lead to fewer visits to doctors' offices and faster return to normal activities. Also, further investigation might confirm our supposition that the mind can influence healing of the body."


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Hypnotherapy Boosts Quality Of Life And Health For Ulcerative Colitis Patients

ScienceDaily (May 15, 2009) — One of Laurie Keefer's patients was afraid to be a bridesmaid in a friend's wedding, others worried about traveling with the boss or even going to parties in peoples' homes.

The patients have ulcerative colitis, a nasty gastrointestinal disease that flares without warning and makes it vital for them to find a bathroom fast. The disease is often diagnosed when people are in their late 20s and early 30s. The flare-up is like having a severe stomach bug that can drag on for weeks. It ruins vacation plans, causes lengthy absences from work and generally messes up peoples' lives at a time when they are trying to build careers and meet a romantic partner or marry.

But some of Keefer's patients are less fearful these days and starting to embrace activities they once avoided. They've been taking part in a new National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded research study to test whether hypnotherapy can extend the time between their flare-ups. Currently, the treatments for ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease, include a fistful of pills -- up to a cumbersome 12 a day that reduce the risk of flares but that many forget to take, as well as steroids or surgery to remove their colon.

In an early look at the data for the ongoing study, Keefer, a clinical health psychologist and an assistant professor of medicine at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, is finding that treatment with hypnotherapy enabled some subjects' to socialize more and get involved in activities such as eating at restaurants, exercising and road trips. Some subjects feel less impaired by their disease and are better at remembering to take their pills.

The patient who was afraid to stand up at a friend's wedding is now going to be a bridesmaid. The patient who was nervous about getting on a plane with the boss is now taking business trips with him.

The study will be enrolling a total of 80 patients over three years and will track the progress of each patient for one year. Thus far, 27 subjects have enrolled in the study and completed the required eight weeks of hypnotherapy sessions. As a part of the study, subjects also listen to special relaxation tapes up to five times per week.

While it's too early in the study to know if the hypnotherapy has prolonged their remissions, only two of 12 subjects who have participated in the study for a full year have experienced a relapse, whereas based on their history, all 12 subjects would have been expected to have had two or more relapses within the year.

"These numbers are encouraging because the study specifically targets individuals who flare a couple times a year," Keefer said. Subjects are also expected to take their routine maintenance medication during the trial.

Keefer presented her findings recently at the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America's 13th Annual Medical Symposium and 14th Annual Patient and Family Conference in Chicago.

The goal of the trial is to see if hypnotherapy can help subjects learn to manage their stress and develop a sense of control over their health, explained Keefer, who is director of the Center for Psychosocial Research in Intestinal Bowel Disease at Northwestern's Feinberg School.

"Managing stress is really important for managing inflammatory bowel disease," Keefer said. "We see young adults about to get married, pregnant women, people worried about losing their jobs in this difficult economy. The body doesn't differentiate between good stress and bad stress. When people are under stress, their disease flares up."

In the experimental hypnosis sessions, Keefer suggests to subjects that they closely monitor their stress and be aware of how it's affecting them. "If they're not getting enough sleep, part of the hypnosis is encouraging them to know this is a trigger and make an effort to take naps and take it easier, " she said. "I also tell them your body can detect slight changes in stress and can adapt easily and not be affected."

The key issue is how confident subjects feel in their ability to manage their disease. "There is quite a bit of data in a variety of diseases that shows people who have a higher sense of control over their health feel better and have fewer symptoms than people who don't," Keefer said. "This is a proactive approach."

Keefer said the trial is one of the few NIH-funded behavioral studies for inflammatory bowel disease, which affects between 250,000 to 500,000 people in the U.S.

Her preliminary data on the overall quality of life for 27 subjects after eight weeks of hypnotherapy showed that 80 percent of them reported an increased belief that they could affect and manage their disease versus 50 percent of subjects in standard care (no hypnotherapy.) In addition, subjects reported a 76 percent increase in the quality of their lives (the improvements were most notable in their bowel symptoms) compared to a 25 percent increase for standard care. In another measure, 73 percent of the subjects experienced a general improvement in their health and well being compared to a 25 percent increase for standard care.

"The preliminary results on the improved quality of life for the 27 subjects in this ongoing study (aiming for a total of 80 subjects) look positive so far," Keefer said.

Once the eight weeks of hypnotherapy are completed, subjects are expected to listen to the relaxation tapes or practice relaxation twice a week to maintain the benefits. They are also encouraged to "step up their practice" of relaxation tapes if they think they are at risk for a flare, Keefer said.

Currently the treatment for the disease is a maintenance medication called 5-ASA. "The problem is most people forget to take the full dose," Keefer said. If that doesn't work steroids are often the next treatment, but long-term use can cause joint problems and other side effects such as anxiety and insomnia. When doctors try to taper the patient off steroids, symptoms tend to flare again.

Story Source:
The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by Northwestern University, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Additional Resources:
For information on how hypnosis can help you, visit Inner Awareness Hypnosis today.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Fetuses May Have Memories

By Rachael Rettner, LiveScience Staff

Exposed to repeated sounds, a fetus is at first startled, but then gets used to the sound in what scientists say is a form of learning and memory. When the sound was stopped, then repeated 4 weeks later in the tests, the fetuses were found to have remembered it.

You probably recall little of your days in the womb, but a new study suggests that short-term memory may be present in fetuses at 30 weeks of age.

Until a few decades ago, "people would say that the human fetus is a sort of black box," said Dr. Jan Nijhuis, a co-author of the study and an obstetrician at Maastricht University Medical Center in The Netherlands. Studies over the years have started to reveal more about the neurological development of humans before they are born, but researchers are still trying to figure out when memory begins and how long it can last.

The new study tested how fetuses in nearly 100 pregnant women responded to a specific stimulus, in this case, a "vibroacoustic stimulation," which is a very low sound that makes a vibration. The researchers observed the reaction using an ultrasound. When the fetus first receives the stimulation, it is startled. But after repeated trials of the same stimulation, 30 seconds apart, the fetus gets used to the sound and doesn't react.

"A normal fetus, of about 30 or 32 or 34 weeks, would stop responding after [about] 13 or 14 stimuli," said Nijhuis.

This lessened response to a repeated stimulus is called habituation, a process that both humans and animals are known to experience. For example, you might become habituated to the sound of your heater at nighttime, hearing it at first, but growing used to the noise after a while and falling asleep, Nijhuis explained.
"Habituation is a form of learning and a form of memory," Nijhuis said. He and his colleagues used the habituation tests to examine memory in fetuses 30 to 38 weeks old. They found that 30-week-old fetuses had a "memory" of 10 minutes — if the fetuses received a second round of sound stimulation 10 minutes after the initial test, it took them a lot less time to become habituated to the noise during their second session, and they stopped responding after only a few stimuli, he said.
The researchers also found that 34-week-old fetuses were able to "store information and retrieve it four weeks later," he said. The team came to this conclusion after performing the habituation tests at 34 weeks and then again at 38 weeks. The scientists compared the response of the 38-week-old fetuses who had been tested before with that of fetuses who had not been tested before.

"We saw this striking difference," Nijhuis said. "The fetuses who had been tested before were habituated within two or three or four stimuli, and the other fetuses of 38 weeks responded in the same way as [32 week-old fetuses who had not been tested before]," meaning it took many more stimuli to habituate the 38-week-old fetuses if they had not previously experienced the test at 34 weeks.

"So that shows that there is a sort of remembrance of 4 weeks," he said.
Previous research has shown that fetuses can habituate to sounds and that the fetus has a short-term memory of 24-hours, but this study further examined how long these memories can last.

Fetuses younger than 30 weeks do not seem to be able to habituate, Nijhuis said, although this may be because the scientists are not using the right type of stimulus, he said. Future research will work on refining their current protocol to test habituation at different times during fetal development.

Since fetuses that have developmental problems take longer to habituate than normal fetuses, these types of studies may help indicate fetuses that are at risk for certain conditions.

The results were published in the July/August issue of the journal Child Development.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Hypnotherapy For Smoking Cessation Sees Strong Results

ScienceDaily (Oct. 24, 2007) — Hospitalized patients who smoke may be more likely to quit smoking through the use of hypnotherapy than patients using other smoking cessation methods. A new study*  shows that smoking patients who participated in one hypnotherapy session were more likely to be nonsmokers at 6 months compared with patients using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) alone or patients who quit "cold turkey". The study also shows that patients admitted to the hospital with a cardiac diagnosis are three times more likely to quit smoking at 6 months than patients admitted with a pulmonary diagnosis. 

"Our results showed that hypnotherapy resulted in higher quit rates compared with NRT alone," said Faysal Hasan, MD, FCCP, North Shore Medical Center, Salem, MA. "Hypnotherapy appears to be quite effective and a good modality to incorporate into a smoking cessation program after hospital discharge."

Dr. Hasan and colleagues from North Shore Medical Center and Massachusetts General Hospital compared the quit rates of 67 smoking patients hospitalized with a cardiopulmonary diagnosis. All patients were approached about smoking cessation and all included in the study were patients who expressed a desire to quit smoking.

At discharge, patients were divided into four groups based on their preferred method of smoking cessation treatment: hypnotherapy (n=14), NRT (n=19), NRT and hypnotherapy (n=18), and a group of controls who preferred to quit "cold turkey" (n=16). All patients received self-help brochures. The control group received brief counseling, but other groups received intensive counseling, free supply of NRT and/or a free hypnotherapy session within 7 days of discharge, as well as follow up telephone calls at 1, 2, 4, 8, 12, and 26 weeks after discharge. Patients receiving hypnotherapy also were taught to do self-hypnosis and were given tapes to play at the end of the session.

At 26 weeks after discharge, 50 percent of patients treated with hypnotherapy alone were nonsmokers, compared with 50 percent in the NRT/hypnotherapy group, 25 percent in the control group, and 15.78 percent in the NRT group. Patients admitted with a cardiac diagnosis were more likely to quit smoking at 26 weeks (45.5 percent) than patients admitted with a pulmonary diagnosis (15.63 percent). 
"Patients admitted with coronary symptoms may have experienced 'fear and doom' and decided to alter a major health risk to their disease when approached about smoking cessation," said Dr. Hasan. "In contrast, pulmonary patients admitted for another exacerbation may not have felt the same threat. They likely felt they can live for another day and continue the smoking habit." 

The researchers note that hospitalization is an important opportunity to intervene among patients who smoke.
"Doctors and other health personnel should use this occasion to firmly recommend smoking cessation and emphasize the impact of smoking on their disease process and hospital admission," said Dr. Hasan. "Pulmonologists, in particular, should make a stronger case and more passionate message to their patients, and efforts should be coordinated with counseling."
"As physicians, we are constantly reviewing new approaches for smoking cessation and revisiting existing approaches to confirm their effectiveness," said Alvin V. Thomas, MD, FCCP, President of the American College of Chest Physicians. "The results of this study and many others confirm that using a multimodality approach to smoking cessation is optimal for success."

This study as presented at Chest 2007, the 73rd annual international scientific assembly of the American College of Chest Physicians. 


The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by American College of Chest Physicians, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Additional Resources:
For additional information on how hypnotherapy can support you in your desire to stop smoking, please contact Susan Gallaher at the Inner Awareness Hypnosis Center.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Hypnotherapy Eases Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptoms, Expert Says

ScienceDaily (Mar. 18, 2010) — Hypnotherapy seems to be very effective for easing the distressing symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and in a goodly proportion of cases, clears up symptoms altogether, reveal experts during a wide ranging discussion of the condition in a Frontline Gastroenterology podcast.

Excluding certain foodstuffs may help alleviate symptoms, but usually only for a while, says Professor Roland Valori, editor of Frontline Gastroenterology. That's because dietary measures don't tackle the root cause of the symptoms -- an overly sensitised gut. One of the best ways to do that is to use hypnotherapy, he says.

His experience of using hypnotherapy in the first 100 IBS patients treated with it showed that it significantly improved symptoms in nine out of 10 of them. It stopped symptoms altogether in four out of 10, while the remainder said they felt more in control of their symptoms. "To be frank, I have never looked back," he says.

Another option for patients is probiotics, which can be very effective, says Professor Quigley of the University of Cork, Ireland, and past president of the World Gastroenterology Organisation.

But given the current regulations for food products making medicinal claims, patients are not really in a position to know which ones might work best.

Probiotic products need to contain the specific live strain and species of bacteria they claim to contain; maintain viability throughout their shelf-life; and be backed up by good quality clinical trial evidence, he says.

Doctors have tended to diagnose IBS when they couldn't find any other cause for the symptoms, making it something of a "wastebasket diagnosis," he says. It is "extremely important" to get away from that and recognise that IBS is a constellation of symptoms in its own right.

And he points out that while anxiety and depression worsen IBS symptoms, not all patients with IBS will be anxious and depressed. None the less, it is important to take into account the way in which the brain and gut can interact to increase the severity and impact of symptoms.

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by BMJ-British Medical Journal, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Gastric Band Hypnotherapy as Effective as Surgery for the Obese

Apr 17, 2010 Grace Joubarne 

The European hypnotherapy technique "gastric band fitting" successfully facilitates weight loss in the obese without the cost and side effects of surgery.

While the basic concept of using hypnotic techniques to reduce the size of the stomach has been around for many years, hypnotherapists Marion and Martin Shirran, of the Elite Clinics in Spain, formally developed and trademarked their technique after an obese client quipped “If only a person could be hypnotized to believe they had a gastric band…” Now, this virtual procedure is gaining favor around the world under several trademarks.

Dangers of Actual Gastric Band Surgery
A surgically implanted gastric band is usually reserved for those classified as "obese" and who demonstrate a body mass index (BMI) over 30. It reduces the size of the stomach, thus the patient feels fuller after eating smaller portions of food.

The surgery has several significant drawbacks:
• The surgery is expensive; hospitalization is required;
• Gastric band surgery is considered a "last gasp" option because of fatalities;
• There is a possibility of complications and side effects of prescribed drugs during recovery.

Why Gastric Band Hypnotherapy Works
Researchers and scientists all over the world have conceded that the "mind/body connection" holds the key to wellness, achievement and personal development. The technique of using the subconscious mind to imagine a gastric band around the neck of the stomach as a "reality" has been showing great results (Maclean, 2010, Bruce, 2010). Certainly it is entirely safe, very cost-effective and has none of the side-effects and dangers of surgical gastric band fitting.

Standard weight management hypnotherapy involves hypnosis, direct suggestion and dietary changes. Gastric band hypnotherapy adds the imagination of the actual surgical procedures, including later "adjustments" to the virtual "band" tightness. As well, the mind is convinced the stomach has become smaller and thus clients feel full more quickly. By eating less and adhering to a healthy lifestyle, weight dissolves permanently.

How Gastric Band Hypnotherapy Works
Essentially gastric band hypnotherapy treatment has evolved to combine cognitive behavior therapy, hypnotherapy, guided imagery and nutritional counseling, with variations in methodology from practitioner to practitioner. The procedure of gastric band surgery is explained to the client during an in-depth and detailed intake session and before the client is hypnotized. Typically the emotional root-cause of the over-eating issue is dissolved using standard hypnotherapeutic techniques, including regression.

Typically, clients are hypnotized over four to five sessions and eventually guided to imagine, in detail, that they are having gastric band surgery: Surgery-free Weight Loss Solution for the Obese.

A European hypnotherapy technique, "gastric mind band," uses the mind to facilitated weight loss in obese people by guiding them to imagine the gastric band procedure:

1. Over the first three to four sessions, depending upon the client’s readiness and the practitioner’s preferences, the client is guided to imagine the overall preparation and procedures involved in the placement or fitting of a band around the upper part of their stomach.
2. At the fourth to fifth session, the client imagines that the band is actually “fitted” into place at the upper part of their stomach.
3. Positive and direct suggestions are given for weight loss, meal portion and quality of diet throughout the hypnotherapy process; the client is assisted to develop a new and more productive relationship with food.
4. The client is typically asked to listen to a reinforcement CD regularly until the desired weight and diet control is permanently achieved.
5. After 28-30 days the client is hypnotized and guided to imagine the band being "adjusted" and reinforcement for positive dietary and exercise changes is also repeated.
6. Dietary and lifestyle changes are also "suggested" in hypnosis and reinforcement CDs are utilized for continuing support as indicated.

Some practitioners such as Jagi Egnell in British Columbia, Canada, work with nutritionists to further empower and support their clients, while others actually create the hospital smells to further reinforce, for the subconscious mind, the "reality" of the surgery. Some practitioners orchestrate the entire "surgery" ensuring the client fasts before the "fitting" and have someone pick up the client after the "virtual fitting."

Practitioner Bryan Knight of Montreal points out the importance of doing a detailed interview to ensure the procedure is not used on those with issues such bulimia. Practitioners interviewed for this article have indicated that gastric band hypnotherapy is not indicated for those with thyroid problems, not qualified as obese, not fully committed or for those who do not have medical clearance.

John Maclean of the UK has developed the Hypno-Band technique, which utilizes cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) to analyze client behavior and habits, and hypnotherapy to dissolve the emotional and psychological reasons for over-eating and to provide a "mechanism" to allow the client to eat less and feel full more quickly.

Dr. Bob Bruce of the UK, offers his weight management program "Virtualgastroband" in two parts where he employs a number of techniques including hypnotic suggestion. Part 1 can be taken on either a one-to-one or group session basis and includes the setting of a weight-loss goal. Part 2 can only be carried out effectively on an individual basis and after a full psychological evaluation of the client’s mental attitude and commitment toward the process and satisfaction of the agreed weight loss goal set in Part 1.

A companion article on hypnosis gastric band fitting "Gastric Band Hypnotherapy May be the Solution for Obesity" provides information on where to access this treatment.

Bruce,B., Virtualgastroband 2007, Virtualgastroband Ltd, UK
Egnell,J., (2010) Innervisions Hypnotherapy Clinic, BC, Canada
Knight, B. (2010) Hypnosis Depot, Montreal, PQ, Canada
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Saturday, July 24, 2010

How Does Hypnotherapy Reduce Stress and Anxiety?

Unfortunately, anxiety and stress seem to show up like unwelcome guests in nearly everyone’s lives. It can come from our jobs, our homes, our relationships or any other situation. The way we react to stress dictates how it affects us and unfortunately, many of us let it overwhelm us.

As much as we try not to let stress and anxiety affect our relationships with others, it often does. We may be rude to co-workers or short with our spouses, even snap at our children. This type of behavior makes us feel worse, raising our stress levels and compounding the problem.

Hypnosis can break that vicious cycle by giving us the tools we need to turn stress and anxiety to our advantage instead of allowing it to overwhelm us. A hypnotherapist can provide a door of communication with the subconscious mind, that part of our brain that drives our desires and actions.

A good example of a subconscious reaction is meeting a person and automatically disliking them even though they are well liked by everyone else. Although we don’t know why we dislike that person, it is probably because they inadvertently tripped a memory recollection in the subconscious—perhaps a gesture or facial expression reminded us of a negative or painful experience that our conscious mind has forgotten.

The subconscious is made up of memories and reactions to those memories that aren’t readily available to our conscious mind. A dog that frightened you as a child may be responsible for your aversion to dogs as an adult. There is no logical reason for the fear but if you could access your subconscious memories you would recognize that it came from an unpleasant experience.

Hypnosis puts you in touch with your subconscious and allows you to insert new instruction through suggestions. For instance, if you feel stress or anxiety every time you get on the freeway your therapist can suggest that the freeway is perfectly safe and pleasant. He or she can suggest the traffic jams are a good opportunity to listen to music or an audio book. The situation can be turned into a relaxing advantage through a few positive suggestions to the subconscious.

A hypnotherapist doesn’t help you deal with stress by turning you into an incurable optimist or anything else that changes your personality. He or she merely gives you options to deal with anxiety and stress in such a way that those options will come to mind before anything else. You will be able to deal with everyday stress in a positive rather than a negative manner.

Hypnosis will not make you invulnerable to stress and anxiety but your subconscious will then deal with it in different ways. You may even find it relaxing but it will no longer impact your life, your job and your relationships in a negative way.

For more information about how hypnotherapy can help to reduce stress and anxiety, please contact Susan Gallaher at Inner Awareness Hypnosis.

Article Source:

Friday, July 23, 2010

Hypnosis Reduces Pain and Costs in Breast Cancer Surgery

The use of hypnosis prior to breast cancer surgery reduced the amount of anesthesia administered during the operation, the level of pain reported afterwards, and the time and cost of the procedure, according to a study published online August 28 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute

Breast cancer surgery patients often suffer side effects such as pain, nausea, and fatigue during and after their operation. These complications can lengthen their hospital stay, lead to hospital readmission, or require additional medications all of which increase medical costs. Several previous studies have suggested that hypnosis may reduce pain, recovery time, and the need for medications after surgery.

Guy Montgomery, Ph.D., of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York and colleagues conducted a clinical trial to examine the effects of hypnosis when it is given within one hour before surgery. Two hundred women were randomly assigned to either 15 minutes of hypnosis by a psychologist or a control session in which they spoke with a psychologist. The researchers then compared the use of pain medications and sedatives during surgery, as well as the levels of pain and other side effects reported afterwards.

The hypnosis session began with suggestions for relaxation and pleasant visual imagery. The patients were also given suggestions on how to reduce pain, nausea, and fatigue, and instructions on how to use hypnosis on their own. 

Patients in the hypnosis group required less anesthesia than patients in the control group. They also reported less pain, nausea, fatigue, discomfort, and emotional upset after surgery. They spent less time in surgery (almost 11 minutes less), and their surgical costs were reduced by about $773 per patient, mainly due to the time savings. 

Together, the combination of potential improvements in symptom burden for the hundreds of thousands of women facing breast cancer surgery each year and the economic benefit for institutions argues persuasively for the more widespread application of brief presurgical hypnosis, the authors write. 

In an accompanying editorial, David Spiegel, M.D., of the Stanford University School of Medicine in Palo Alto, Calif., describes the history of hypnosis in medicine and the evidence for why hypnosis could reduce pain. 

It has taken us a century and a half to rediscover the fact that the mind has something to do with pain and can be a powerful tool in controlling it. It is now abundantly clear that we can retrain the brain to reduce pain: float rather than fight, Spiegel writes.

Article: Dana Paravati, newsroom specialist, Mount Sinai Medical Center,, (212) 241-9200
Editorial: David Spiegel,, (650) 723 6421

Article: Montgomery GH, Bovbjerg DH, Schnur JB, David D, Goldfarb A, et al. A Randomized Clinical Trial of a Brief Hypnosis Intervention to Control Side Effects in Breast Surgery Patients. J Natl Cancer Inst 2007; 99:1304-1312
Editorial: Spiegel D. The Mind Prepared: Hypnosis in Surgery. J Natl Cancer Inst 2007; 99:1280-1281

The Journal of the National Cancer Institute is published by Oxford University Press and is not affiliated with the National Cancer Institute. Attribution to the Journal of the National Cancer Institute is requested in all news coverage. Visit the Journal online at