Scientific Research

Introduction to Scientific Research
Over the years, there has been an accumulation of thousands of studies documenting how effective hypnosis is for a wide variety of medical, behavioral and self improvement issues. Listed below is a small sampling of research from a variety of areas. If you have any questions about this research, please email me at and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Relief From Pain

The Los Angeles Times has written about a 2002 review of 20 studies on hypnosis and surgical pain, saying “Mount Sinai researchers found that adding hypnosis to standard post-surgical care sped recovery almost 90% of the time, in terms of pain, anxiety and need for pain killers.”

1. Integrative Oncology: Complementary Therapies for Pain, Anxiety, and Mood Disturbance
Researchers Gary Deng, MD, PhD and Barrie R. Cassileth, PhD found that many people with cancer experience pain, anxiety, and mood disturbance. Conventional treatments do not always satisfactorily relieve these symptoms, and some patients may not be able to tolerate their side effects. Complementary therapies such as acupuncture, mind-body techniques, massage, and other methods can help relieve symptoms and improve physical and mental well-being. Self-hypnosis and relaxation techniques help reduce procedural pain. Acupuncture is well documented to relieve chronic cancer pain. Massage and meditation improve anxiety and other symptoms of distress.

Source: CA Cancer J Clin 2005; 55:109-116

2. Hypnosis and Headache Pain
In a study conducted by Anderson (1975), migraine patients treated with hypnosis had a significant reduction in the number of attacks and in their severity compared to a control group who were treated with traditional medications. The difference did not become statistically significant until the second six-month follow-up period. In addition, at the end of one year, the number of patients in the hypnosis group who had experienced no headaches for over three months was significantly higher.

In a controlled trial conducted by Olness (1987), self-hypnosis was shown to be significantly more effective than either propranolol or placebo in reducing the frequency of migraine headaches in children between the ages of six and twelve years of age.

In a research conducted by Schlutter (1980), hypnosis was also found to be effective in dealing with the relief of tension headache.

Alladin (1988) reviewed the literature on hypnosis, identifying fully a dozen different hypnotic techniques that have been used in the treatment of chronic migraine headaches. Of these, hypnotic training emphasizing relaxation, hand warming (which, according to Anderson, 1975) seems the simplest method of establishing increased voluntary control of the sensitive vasomotor system) and direct hypnotic suggestions of symptom removal have all been shown to be effective in reducing the duration, intensity and frequency of migraine attacks during a ten-week treatment course and at thirteen-month follow-up when compared to controls.

A study (Gutfeld, G. and Rao, L., 1992) was conducted on 42 patients suffering from chronic headaches. These patients, all of whom had responded poorly to conventional treatments, were split into two groups. One received hypnotherapy to relieve their daily headaches; the rest acted as a comparison group. The hypnotherapy group experienced reduced frequency and duration of headaches, cutting the intensity by about 30%. “These results are impressive in such a difficult, hard-to-treat group of patients,” commented Egilius Spierings, M.D., Ph.D. director of the headache section, division of neurology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.


  • Alladin, A. (1988). “Hypnosis in the Treatment of Severe Chronic Migraine. In M. Heap (ed.), Hypnosis: Current clinical, Experimental and Forensic Practices. London: Croom Helm. pp. 159-166.
  • Anderson, J.A., Basker, M.A. & Dalton, R. (1975). “Migraine and Hypnotherapy.” International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 23, 48-58.
  • Gutfeld, G. and Rao, L. (1992). “Use of Hypnosis with Patients Suffering from Chronic Headaches, Seriously Resistant to Other Treatment,” As reported in Prevention, 44, 24-25.
  • Olness, K., MacDonald, J.T. & Uden, D.L. (1987). “Comparison of Self-Hypnosis and Propranolol in the Treatment of Juvenile Classic Migraine.” Pediatrics, 79, 593- 597.
  • Schlutter, L.C., Golden, C.J. & Blume, H.G. (1980). “A Comparison of Treatments for Prefrontal Muscle Contraction Headache.” British Journal of Medical Psychology, 53, 47-52.

Pregnancy and Childbirth

1. Hypnosis for Pain Relief in Labor and Childbirth: A Systematic Review
A 2004 study involving 8,395 women showed that fewer patients needed analgesia and rated their pain less severe because they used hypnosis while in labor.

Link to the study:

2. Self-Hypnosis: Alternative Anesthesia for Childbirth
MCN, American Journal of Maternal Child Nursing. 27(6):335-340, November/December 2002.

Ketterhagen, Debra MSN, RNC, CNM; VandeVusse, Leona PhD, RN, CNM, FACNM; Berner, Margaret Ann MSN, RN, CNM, HBCE

This study showed that when used for childbirth pain, self-hypnosis helped the women maintain control by managing anxiety and discomfort though the process of inducing a focused state of relaxation. The study notes that before the widespread use of drugs for pain, hypnosis was one of the few pain relief methods available for labor. “However, as new technologies for pain relief emerged, hypnosis received less attention.” The researchers felt that it is “important that nurses learn about self-hypnosis to be able to inform pregnant women fully about all pain control options and to maximize the benefits for the woman choosing hypnosis.”

Additional view of the study:

3. The effects of hypnosis on the labor processes and birth outcomes of pregnant adolescents.
In another study, women who used self-hypnosis for their labors had shorter hospital stays (p<0.005) and fewer surgical interventions (p<0.001) than a matched control group who received psychosocial counseling (Martin, Schauble et al. 2001).

Older studies:
Researchers Harmon, Hynan, and Tyre studied 60 pregnant women, half of whom received hypnotic suggestions for a comfortable labor, deep relaxation, and glove anesthesia.

Those using hypnosis had shorter Stage 1 of labor, reported less pain, and used less medication than the control group. The babies of the treatment group had higher Apgar scores at 1 and 5 minutes.

Pregnancy and Depression

Prevalence, Course, and Risk Factors for Antenatal Anxiety and Depression cgi/content/ abstract/ 110/5/1102

More research is pointing to anxiety and depression during pregnancy as a pervasive problem affecting the health and wellbeing of both women and their babies. New findings published in the November issue of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology suggest that anxiety and depression during pregnancy are both “highly prevalent” and a strong predictor of postpartum depression (PPD). The study found that anxiety and depression are most prevalent and most severe during the first and third trimesters of pregnancy, and that strong risk factors for anxiety or depression during pregnancy include younger age and a history of alcohol use.

Other studies:

1. Behavior Therapy, Psychoanalysis and Hypnotherapy
In a comparative study of Behavior Therapy, Psychoanalysis and Hypnotherapy published by American Health Magazine, the 2000 study reveals that hypnotherapy is highly effective in the treatment of people who have mental health issues.

Furthermore, with the use of hypnotherapy patients saw a 93% recovery after 6 sessions:—Research-Study&id=1016070

2. A comparative study of hypnotherapy and psychotherapy in the treatment of methadone addicts. Manganiello AJ. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis 1984; 26(4): 273-9.
Dr. Gayle Peterson:

3. Additional studies:

  • A comparative study of hypnotherapy and psychotherapy in the treatment of methadone addicts. Manganiello AJ. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis 1984; 26(4): 273-9.

Significant differences were found on all measures. The experimental group had significantly less discomfort and illicit drug use, and a significantly greater amount of cessation. At six month follow up, 94% of the subjects in the experimental group who had achieved cessation remained narcotic free.

  • Intensive Therapy: Utilizing Hypnosis in the Treatment of Substance Abuse Disorders American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, Jul 2004 by Greg Potter

Treatment was given to 18 clients over 7 years. A 77 per cent success rate was maintained at the 1-year follow-up. 15 were treated for alcoholism or alcohol abuse, 2 were treated for cocaine addiction, and 1 client was treated for marijuana addiction.

  • American Journal of Clinical Hypnotherapy (a publication of the American Psychological Association) 2004 Apr;46(4):281-97)

This research study on Self-hypnosis for relapse preventing training with chronic drug-/alcohol users showed raised Self-esteem & Serenity. Lowered Impulsivity and Anger Participants were 261 veterans admitted to Substance Abuse Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Programs (SARRTPs). Individuals who used repeated self-hypnosis, “at least 3 to 5 times a week,” at 7-week follow-up, reported the highest levels of self-esteem and serenity, and the least anger/impulsivity, in comparison to the minimal-practice and control groups.

  • The use of hypnosis in cocaine addiction. Page RA, Handley GW. Ohio State University, Lima 45804. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis 1993 Oct;36(2):120-3.

The subject was a female in her twenties. Hypnosis was successfully used to overcome a five gram per day cocaine addiction of approximately eight months. She decided to use hypnosis. She used hypnosis three times a day for four months, her addiction was eliminated. She has been drug free for nine years. Hypnosis was the only intervention.

  • University of Washington School of Medicine, Depts. of Anesthesiology and Rehabilitation Medicine, Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 2001 Jul;49(3):257-66. Barber J.

90.6% Success Rate Using Hypnosis. Of 43 consecutive people undergoing this treatment protocol, 39 reported remaining abstinent at follow-up (6 months to 3 years post-treatment).

  • Texas A&M University – System Health Science Center College of Medicine, USA. Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 2004 Jan;52(1):73-81.

Thirty smokers enrolled in an HMO were referred by their primary physician for treatment. Twenty-one patients received hypnosis for smoking cessation. At the end of treatment, 81% reported that they had stopped smoking, and 48% reported abstinence at 12 months post-treatment.

  • University of Connecticut, Storrs – Allison DB, Faith MS. Hypnosis as an adjunct to cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy for obesity: a meta-analytic reappraisal. J Consult Clin Psychol. 1996;64(3):513-516.

Hypnosis Subjects Lost More Weight Than 90% of Others and Kept it Off – Researchers analyzed 18 studies comparing a cognitive behavioral therapy – relaxation training, guided imagery, self monitoring or goal setting with the same therapy supplemented by hypnosis. Those who received the hypnosis lost more weight than 90 percent of the non hypnosis, and maintained the weight loss two years after treatment ended.

  • Patterson DR. Ptacek JT. Baseline pain as a moderator of hypnotic analgesia for burn injury treatment. Journal of Consulting & Clinical Psychology 1997; 65(1): 60-7.

Hypnosis Lowered Post-treatment Pain in Burn Injuries. Participants in the hypnosis group reported less post treatment pain than did patients in the control group.

  • Karl Menninger School of Psychiatry and Mental Health Sciences, Menninger Clinic, Topeka, Kansas, USA. Emerg Med Clin North Am. 2000 May;18(2):327-38, x. The use of hypnosis in emergency medicine. Peebles-Kleiger MJ.

Hypnosis Useful in Hospital Emergency Rooms – Hypnosis can be a useful adjunct in the emergency department setting. Its efficacy in various clinical applications has been replicated in controlled studies. Application to burns, pain, pediatric procedures, surgery, psychiatric presentations – coma, somatoform disorder, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress), and obstetric situations – hyperemesis, labor, and delivery are described.

Breech Birth

Hypnosis and Conversion of the Breech to the Vertex Presentation

A study from the Archives of Family Medicine Journal, (Vol. 3, Oct. 1994) showed the following:

Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness of hypnosis to convert a breech presentation to a vertex presentation.

Design: Prospective case series compared with historical, matched comparison group.

Subjects: One hundred pregnant women whose fetuses were in breech position at 37 to 40 weeks’ gestation and a matched comparison group of women with similar obstetrical and sociodemographic parameters derived from databases for other studies from the same time period and geographical areas.

Intervention: The intervention group received hypnosis with suggestions for general relaxation with release of fear and anxiety. While in the hypnotic state women were asked for the reasons why their baby was in the breech presentation. As much hypnosis was provided as was convenient and possible for the women until they were delivered of the baby or the baby converted to the vertex position.

Main Outcome Variables: A successful conversion for the intervention group was scored when the baby spontaneously converted to the vertex position before delivery or successful cephalic version. The conversion rate of the intervention group was compared with the comparison group who received standard obstetrical care without the opportunity for hypnosis.

Data Analysis: Parametric testing of statistically significant differences in the rate of conversion between the two groups.

Results: Eighty-one percent of the fetuses in the intervention group converted to vertex presentation compared with 48% of those in the comparison group. This difference was statistically significant.

Conclusions: Motivated subjects can be influenced by a skilled hypnotherapist in such a manner that their fetuses have a higher incidence of conversion from breech to vertex presentation. Psychophysiological factors may influence the breech presentation and may explain this increased frequency of conversion to vertex presentation.

Source: Lewis E. Mehl, MD, PhD
Dept. of Psychiatry
Univ. of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington
(Arch Fam Med. 1994;3:881-887)

The Negative Side of C-Sections

While some C-Section surgeries are necessary, the danger of C-Sections are discussed in many journal articles and widely reported by news organizations such as Newsweek (see press page):


1. British Medical Journal
October 30, 2007

Results of the study: Women undergoing caesarean delivery had an increased risk of severe maternal morbidity compared with women undergoing vaginal delivery (odds ratio 2.0 (95% confidence interval 1.6 to 2.5) for intrapartum caesarean and 2.3 (1.7 to 3.1) for elective caesarean). The risk of antibiotic treatment after delivery for women having either type of caesarean was five times that of women having vaginal deliveries. With cephalic presentation, there was a trend towards a reduced odds ratio for fetal death with elective caesarean, after adjustment for possible confounding variables and gestational age (0.7, 0.4 to 1.0). With breech presentation, caesarean delivery had a large protective effect for fetal death. With cephalic presentation, however, independent of possible confounding variables and gestational age, intrapartum and elective caesarean increased the risk for a stay of seven or more days in neonatal intensive care (2.1 (1.8 to 2.6) and 1.9 (1.6 to 2.3), respectively) and the risk of neonatal mortality up to hospital discharge (1.7 (1.3 to 2.2) and 1.9 (1.5 to 2.6), respectively), which remained higher even after exclusion of all caesarean deliveries for fetal distress. Such increased risk was not seen for breech presentation. Lack of labour was a risk factor for a stay of seven or more days in neonatal intensive care and neonatal mortality up to hospital discharge for babies delivered by elective caesarean delivery, but rupturing of membranes may be protective.

Conclusions: Caesarean delivery independently reduces overall risk in breech presentations and risk of intrapartum fetal death in cephalic presentations but increases the risk of severe maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality in cephalic presentations.

2. Is delivery by cesarean section a risk factor for food allergy?
Eggesb� M, Botten G, Stigum H, Nafstad P, Magnus P.

Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Division of Epidemiology, Oslo, Norway.

BACKGROUND: Cesarean delivery might delay the colonization of the newborn intestine. A delayed or aberrant colonization process has been offered as an explanation for the increase in allergic diseases. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to examine whether cesarean delivery and the use of antibiotics were associated with subsequent food allergy.

METHODS: In a population-based birth cohort of 2803 children, information regarding mode of delivery, maternal or infant use of antibiotics, and information on potential confounders was obtained prospectively from parental reports and the Norwegian Birth Registry. Parentally perceived reactions to egg, fish, or nuts, as well as objectively confirmed reactions to egg at the age of 2 1/2 years, were chosen as outcomes. RESULTS: Among children whose mothers were allergic, cesarean section was associated with a 7-fold increased risk of parentally perceived reactions to egg, fish, or nuts (odds ratio, 7.0; CI, 1.8-28; P =.005) and a 4-fold increased risk of confirmed egg allergy (odds ratio, 4.1; CI, 0.9-19; P =.08) in a logistic regression analysis, adjusting for pregnancy complications, birth weight, gestational length, and socioeconomic factors. Among children whose mothers were not allergic, the association was much weaker and not significant. Maternal or infant use of antibiotics was not associated with an increased risk of food allergy. CONCLUSION: The results indicate that in predisposed children cesarean section might increase the risk of development of food allergy, which supports the theory that factors interfering with the colonization process might play a role in the development of food allergy.

PMID: 12897751 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

3. Cesareans tied to strokes
A new study from the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology 2008; 198: 391.e1-391.e7

MedWire News: Cesarean section (CS) delivery is an independent risk factor for stroke, a study of almost a million births has revealed.

Current strategies for preventing stroke rely mainly on controlling inherent risk factors in daily life, such as hypertension, smoking, and obesity, say the Taiwanese researchers.

They examined whether stroke risk could also increase after CS among 987,010 women who had singleton deliveries in their country between 1998 and 2002.

The team from the University of Taipei found that women who delivered by CS had significantly higher stroke rates within 3 months postpartum than those who delivered vaginally, at 0.03 percent versus 0.02 percent, respectively.

The same was true within 6 months after delivery, at 0.05 percent versus 0.03 percent, and at 12 months, at 0.08 versus 0.05 percent, respectively.

Hazard ratios for stroke with CS compared with vaginal delivery were 1.67 within 3 months of delivery, dropping to 1.61 within 6 months, and 1.49 within 12 months.

Shiyng-Yu Lin and co-workers suggest CS delivery could alter hemodynamic and coagulation status, thereby predisposing to stroke.

“Based on the results of this study, a reduction in the CS delivery rate should prove to be beneficial for stroke prevention,” they conclude.

4. Assessing the effects of age, gestation, socioeconomic status, and ethnicity on labor inductions.

Source: Wilson BL. J Nurs Scholarsh 2007;39(3):208- 13. bib1

Inductions of labor have increased substantially- 25% between 1989 and 2002. With increased inductions of labor, cesarean rates, longer hospital stays, iatrogenic prematurity and associated neonatal outcomes such as cord prolapse, sepsis, and neonatal pulmonary insufficiency have followed. This study evaluates the effects of age, gestational age, socioeconomic status, and ethnicity on the likelihood of cesarean births among women receiving induction.

This retrospective, descriptive correlational design investigated 1325 women who were scheduled for induction at a large southwestern US tertiary care hospital during 2005. Because a randomized controlled trial would not have been possible, the author increased the strength of design by using a method known as “natural experiment.” Although all women scheduled for induction (electively or medically) were considered, using the natural experiment enabled the outcomes of those scheduled for induction to be compared with those having vaginal births. This enabled comparisons between women scheduled for induction (who instead went on to labor spontaneously and deliver vaginally) with women who were actually induced. According to the author, this design would make for comparable groups, subject to the same sets of risks. Three comparison groups emerged for primaparous and multiparous women: elective inductions, medically indicated inductions, and vaginal births. Race/ethnicity background of women delivering in the institution shows 75.5% non-Hispanic white, 17% Hispanic, 5% Asian, 2% Native American, and 0.5% black.

Wilson notes that, in some cases, criteria required by institutional policy to document a medical indication for induction was not attained. For example, reasons for some medical indications listed were “possible shoulder dystocia,” “history of rapid labors,” and “advanced maternal age.” Gestations less than 41 weeks were sometimes listed for induction as “post-dates. ” In some cases, charts did not clarify elective versus medically indicated. In these cases, the author met with a team of obstetric providers and nursing personnel from the institution to reach consensus on the appropriate designation. Those inductions scheduled as post-dates, but were less than 41 weeks gestational age, were recategorized as elective for purposes of the study. Once the appropriate category of induction was agreed upon, records were later matched to a hospital database containing information on birth outcomes. In developing her tables, Wilson used a propensity score, a statistic to evaluate how randomization affects observed data according to independent variables. Mean differences by type of delivery were calculated among multiparas, and predictors of cesarean delivery were calculated by type of induction and parity.

Primiparas undergoing elective induction were more likely to have cesarean birth than multiparas. Although multiparas experienced higher rates of medical inductions of labor than primiparas, rates of cesarean in multiparas decreased. Wilson deemed this increase in medically indicated inductions of labor among multiparas logical, because medical complications of pregnancy increase as women become older. When calculating differences for predictors of cesarean delivery, maternal age and gestation were factors showing statistical significance for increasing cesarean delivery. Insurance status and ethnicity did not increase the likelihood of cesarean in either primiparas or multiparas, though the percentage of African American women in this study is low (0.5%) and Hispanic women accounted for only 17% of births. As women age, their chance of cesarean birth increases, whether primipara or multipara and whether labor is spontaneous or induced. In this study, the greatest chance of cesarean birth occurred in older primiparas undergoing elective induction.

Elective induction of labor has become common practice, though, as Wilson elaborates, it is fraught with potential adverse consequences for mothers and newborns, increased cost, and has no evidence base to support it. Strengths of this paper include a concise yet excellent literature review and a team process by which consensus was achieved to clarify, as accurately as possible, reasons for induction. The author does not describe how an N of 1325 was determined or whether a power analysis was done. Inclusion/exclusion criteria are not given, and other variables that could affect delivery, such as type of anesthesia, are not included. Though findings from this study are not generalizable, the author’s efforts to strengthen the design and statistical analyses lend credibility to the paper. Midwives can use this information to effectively counsel women about potential risks and increased likelihood of cesarean delivery, particularly older primiparas seeking elective inductions of labor.

The Risks of Pitocin/Oxytocin
Oxytocin/Pitocin is used to strengthen contractions of a slow moving labor. It is also used now to speed things up when labor isn’t going as fast as we would like. It is worth taking a look at some of the documented risks associated with this kind of intervention:

High doses can lead to fetal distress, an increased chance of a c-section

A 1992 study found that Oxytocin induction was associated with an increase in fetal distress and c-section rate when used in high doses (Obstet Gynecol 1992; 80):

A Ruptured Uterus
According to a 1999 study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (Plaut, M.M. Schwartz, M.L. and Lubarsky, S.L.), with labor induction between one and six percent of women end up with ruptured uteruses:

The Curious Link between Autism and Pitocin
Public health authorities have identified an enormous increase in the incidence of childhood autism.

As reported by Newsweek, Dr. Eric Hollander of New York’s Mount Sinai School of Medicine noticed that 60 percent of the autistic patients in his clinic had been exposed in the womb to pitocin, the synthetic version of a brain chemical oxytocin that helps induce labor.


The British Medical Journal has published many studies on the effectiveness of hypnosis, including research on stress and stress-related illnesses. Below is a clinical review of how hypnosis treats stress through relaxation.

BMJ 1999;319:1346-1349 ( 20 November )
See the entire review:

Hypnosis and relaxation therapies: summary
Andrew Vickers, Catherine Zollman.
A wide variety of complementary therapies claim to improve health by producing relaxation. Some use the relaxed state as a means of promoting psychological change. Others incorporate movement, stretches, and breathing exercises. Relaxation and “stress management” are found to a certain extent within conventional medicine. They are included here because they are generally not well taught in conventional medical curriculums and because of the overlap with other, more clearly complementary, therapies.

Additional studies that detail the positive association between stress and hypnotherapy can be found in our other sections (above and below).


Several studies prove the effectiveness of hypnosis to increase the pregnancy rate in infertile couples. Releasing the stress and creating a calm, peaceful body will help balance the hormones needed to allow the fertilization and implantation of the egg.

Eliahu Levitas and his team from Israel (Soroka Hospital in Beersheva), reports that hypnosis can double the success of IVF treatment. The study of 185 women found that 28% of women in the group who were hypnotized became pregnant, compared with 14% of those who were not: Israeli study proves hypnosis can double IVF success rate:

Selected references on the relationship between stress and fertility:

  1. Domar, A., Clapp, D., Slawsby, E., Dusek, J., Kessel, B., Freizinger, M (2000) Impact of group psychological interventions on pregnancy rates in infertile women. Fertility and Sterility Vol. 73, no.4 April
  2. Domar, A., Zuttermeister, P., Friedman, R (1999) Distress and Conception in Infertile Women: A complementary approach. Journal of the American Medical Women’s Association. Vol. 54, No.4
  3. Demyttenaere K, Bonte L, Gheldof M, Veraeke M, Meuleman C, Vanderschuerem D, et al. (1998) Coping style and depression level influence outcome in vitro fertilization. Fertility and Sterility. 69:1026-1033
  4. Domar, A (1996) Stress and Infertility in Women: Is there a relationship? Division of Behavioral Medicine, Deaconess Hospital Mind/Body Institute, Harvard Medical School. Psychotherapy in Practice 2/2:17-27
  5. Domar, A., Zuttermeister, P., Friedman, R (1993) The Psychological impact of infertility: a comparison with patients with other medical conditions Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetric Gynecology. 14 Special issue 45-52
  6. Wasser, S., Sewal, G., & Soules, M. (1993) Psychosocial stress as a cause of infertility. Fertility & Sterility, 59, 685-689
  7. Domar, A., Seibel, M., & Benson, H (1990) The Mind/Body Program for Infertility: A new treatment program for women with infertility. Fertility and Sterility, 53, 246-249
  8. Pennebaker, J., Kiecolt-Glasser, J & Glasser, R. (1987) Disclosure of traumas and immune function. Health implications for psychotherapy. Journal of consulting and Clinical Psychology, 56, 239-245

Depression and Anxiety

In a comparative study of Behavior Therapy, Psychoanalysis and Hypnotherapy published by American Health Magazine, a 2000 study reveals that hypnotherapy is highly effective in the treatment of people who have mental health issues.

Furthermore, with the use of hypnotherapy patients saw a 93% recovery after 6 sessions.

Link to information on the study:—Research-Study&id=1016070

Another study:
A comparative study of hypnotherapy and psychotherapy in the treatment of methadone addicts. Source: Manganiello AJ. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis 1984; 26(4): 273-9.


Weight Loss

Associated with losing more weight and keeping it off.

Researchers analyzed 18 studies comparing a cognitive behavioral therapy, such as relaxation training, guided imagery, self monitoring or goal setting with the same therapy supplemented by hypnosis. Those who received the hypnosis lost more weight than 90 percent of the non hypnosis, and maintained the weight loss two years after treatment ended (University of Connecticut, Storrs Allison DB, Faith MS. Hypnosis as an adjunct to cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy for obesity: a meta-analytic reappraisal. J Consult Clin Psychol. 1996;64 (3):513-516.)

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. Source: Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 1996.

Here are some additional 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.

Hypnosis for Children

A leading pediatric journal reports that instruction in hypnosis, and insight derived from its use appears to facilitate efficient therapy for insomnia in school-age children as young as 7 years.

Source: Anbar RD. Hypnosis in pediatrics: applications at a pediatric pulmonary center. BMC Pediatr. 2002;2910:11.

Abdominal Pain
A 2003 study shows hypnosis as effective in treating abdominal pain in children. There are so few treatments for recurrent abdominal pain (RAP). Hypnosis and guided imagery has been shown to impact the autonomic nervous system, which is altered in patients with functional gastrointestinal disorders. In this study the children experienced a 67% decrease in pain during the therapy. The authors recommend the use of relaxation along with guided imagery is an effective and safe treatment for childhood RAP.

Behavioral Changes and Disorders
A 1984 review describes clinical applications of hypnotherapy for habit problems, behavioral challenges (e.g. anger management), biobehavioural disorders (e.g. asthma, inflammatory bowel disease), pain (e.g. migraine headaches), anxiety, and the broad applications for children and youth with chronic illness. Rich clinical vignettes reflect the importance of careful attention to language and the significance of the evolution of rapport as essential ingredients in the development of hypnotherapeutic relationships with young people. Source: Kohen DP, Olness KN, Colwell SO, Heimel A. The use of relaxation-mental imagery (self-hypnosis) in the management of 505 pediatric behavioral encounters. J Dev Behav Pediatr. 1984;5(1):21-25.


Many studies have consistently demonstrated a positive effect of hypnosis with asthma. Children in particular appear to respond well to hypnosis as a tool for improving asthma symptoms.

In two studies, hypnosis reduced hyper-responsiveness and increased forced expiratory volume in highly hypnotizable subjects; results were maintained at one year follow up (Ewer, Stewart, 1986). In another study (n=250), 59% of those in the hypnosis group who received positive suggestion were “much better,” compared with 40% of a group who only received relaxation training (Maher-Loughna, Macdonald, Mason, Fry, 1962).

A meta-analysis of previous studies conducted in 2000 showed that hypnosis had definite, long-term effectiveness in asthma. This effectiveness was helped when patients used self-hypnosis (Hackman, Stern, Gershwin, 2000). In one pediatric study (n=303), some patient’s symptoms resolved after one hypnosis session, 80% had measurable improvement, and no children’s symptoms worsened (Anbar, 2002). In another pediatric study of self-hypnosis positive results were recorded in 13 patients in follow-up (mean, 9 months) and two were asymptomatic and able to discontinue medication (Anbar, 2001). Adult asthmatics who listened to imagery tapes had lower levels of depression and anxiety, and were able to reduce their medication (Report, 1997).

According to a 2005 review of the hypnosis literature conducted by Mayo Clinic physician James H. Steward, no fewer than five studies showed positive results for asthma patients using hypnosis; results included a large multicenter trial with hypnosis patients reporting a “significant decrease” in failed treatments and an even larger number deemed “much improved” (Hypnosis for asthma, 1968); in another study, 54% of patients who used hypnosis had “excellent” results and 21% became asymptomatic and were able to discontinue medication (Collison, 1975).

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

In a 1999 study, twenty-three patients each received 12 sessions of hypnotherapy. Significant improvement was seen in the severity and frequency of abdominal pain, bloating and satisfaction with bowel habit. A subset of the treated patients who were found to be unusually pain-sensitive in their intestines prior to treatment (as evidenced by balloon inflation tests) showed normalization of pain sensitivity, and this change correlated with their pain improvement following treatment. Such pain threshold change was not seen for the treated group as a whole.

Source: Houghton LA, Larder S, Lee R, Gonsalcorale WM, Whelan V, Randles J, Cooper P, Cruikshanks P, Miller V, Whorwell PJ. Gut focused hypnotherapy normalises rectal hypersensitivity in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Gastroenterology 1999; 116: A1009.

An early and perhaps the strongest study in this research area to date, as it was thoroughly placebo-controlled and showed dramatic contrast in response to hypnosis treatment above the placebo group. Thirty patients with severe symptoms unresponsive to other treatment were randomly chosen to receive 7 sessions of hypnotherapy (15 patients) or 7 sessions of psychotherapy plus placebo pills (15 patients). The psychotherapy group showed a small but significant improvement in abdominal pain and distension, and in general well-being but not bowel activity pattern. The hypnotherapy patients showed a dramatic improvement in all central symptom. The hypnotherapy group showed no relapses during the 3-month follow-up period.

Source: Whorwell PJ; Prior A; Faragher EB. This is a controlled trial of hypnotherapy in the treatment of severe refractory irritable-bowel syndrome. Source: The Lancet 1984, 2: 1232-4.

Other studies of note:

The Mother/Child Bond

Source: Psychological Science

A new study by Ruth Feldman, psychology professor at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, who conducted the first study demonstrating links between oxytocin and bonding in human mothers, measured plasma oxytocin from sixty-two pregnant women during their first trimester, third trimester, and the first postpartum month, with surprising results:

Initial levels of oxytocin at the first trimester predicted bonding behavior. Mothers with a high level of the hormone at the beginning of the pregnancy engaged in more bonding behaviors after birth. Additionally, mothers who had higher levels of oxytocin across the pregnancy and the postpartum month also reported more behaviors that support the formation of an exclusive relationship (e.g., singing a special song to the infants, or bathing and feeding them in a special way). These mothers were also more preoccupied by thoughts of checking on the infant, the infant’s safety when they are not around, and the infant’s future.


In a clinical trial performed at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York researchers reported in the August 2007 volume of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute that 200 women undergoing surgery for breast cancer were divided into two groups – one group received just fifteen minutes of hypnosis just prior to surgery; the other group spoke with a psychologist.

The results showed that 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.”
Quote from Science Daily:

Study Source: 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

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