The Guide To Hypnosis

Research On Hypnosis

Over the years there have been many research studies completed that show that hypnosis does indeed work. There have also been many that show how effective hypnosis is for a wide variety of specific treatments. Here are just a few examples of some of these studies.

Real Brain Effect

Recently (2009) Hull University researchers found that hypnosis has a ‘real brain effect’ when analysed doing certain activities on brain scans under hypnosis. One psychologist, Dr. Michael Heap concluded that the study backed the theory that hypnosis "primes" the brain to be open to suggestion. The study leader Dr. William McGeown reflected that "This shows that the changes were due to hypnosis and not just simple relaxation. Our study shows hypnosis is real."

Hay Fever

In 2005 a Swiss team at Basle University taught 66 people how to do self hypnosis to treat hay fever. This largely consisted of visualising being on cool snowy mountainous terrains. After a year the researchers found that the volunteers who had been using self hypnosis reported far fewer symptoms related to hay fever than their fellow volunteers. Hypnosis significantly helped them alleviate symptoms such as a runny nose.

Professor Langewitz reasoned that hypnosis might work by altering blood flow and helping alleviate congestion in the nose that can occur with hay fever. He said: "It is known that you can alter blood flow with hypnosis”.

Medical journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics.

Weight Loss

A study showed that, when comparing the results of adding hypnosis to other weight loss treatments across many different methods, adding hypnosis increased weight loss by an average of 97% during treatment. It also showed that hypnosis increased the effectiveness after the treatment by a whopping 146%. This shows that hypnosis works even better over a period of time.

Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 1996

A study of 60 women divided into hypnosis and non hypnosis control groups, found that the groups using hypnosis lost an average of 17 pounds, while the non-hypnosis group lost an average of only 0.5 pounds.

Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 1986


In a recent review of available controlled studies in the field of gastroenterology conducted at the University Hospital of South Manchester, scientists discovered that hypnotherapy is clearly beneficial for patients suffering from gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome and peptic ulceration.

Whorwell PJ.Use of hypnotherapy in gastrointestinal disease. Br J Hosp Med (ENGLAND) Jan 1991, 45 (1) pg.27-9

Scientists at the Gastroenterology Unit, Frenchay Hospital, Bristol came up with similar results. 33 patients with irritable bowel syndrome were treated with four 40 minute sessions of hypnotherapy over 7 weeks. Twenty of the group improved, and eleven of these were shown to be completely free from all symptoms. The researchers concluded that hypnotherapy in groups of up to 8 patients was as effective as individual therapy in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. Meaning that sessions did not need to be specifically tailored to each individual – giving more credibility to effectiveness of pre recorded sessions.

Harvey RF et al. Lancet (England) Feb 25 1989, 1 (8635) pg.424-5

Skin Disorders

Dermatitis and many other skin complaints such as psoriasis and eczema are widely considered to be stress related diseases. Hypnotherapy is well known to be very effective at treating emotional stress. Psychological tests have revealed that dermatitis sufferers are usually more anxious people, and as their levels of anxiety are reduced, their skin condition improves. Most clinicians and researchers agree that stress affects the course of dermatitis and eczema, and reducing stress levels has a positive effect on the course of the disease. Several documented case studies have directly revealed that hypnosis can offer a successful treatment for sufferers.

Kantor SD Psoriasis Research Institute, Palo Alto, California 94301. Cutis (US) Oct 1990, 46 (4) pg.321-2


There have been many studies on hypnosis being used to treat warts. Often they have seen success rates as high as 80%. For some reason success rates seem even higher for children. There was a particularly interesting report of hypnosis being used to treat a 7 year old girl who had 82 warts. These warts had been present for about 18 months and would not respond to regular medical treatments. After 2 weeks, 8 of 16 facial warts were gone. After three more fortnightly sessions, all 82 warts were gone. The researchers concluded that the hypnotherapy was very successful, and that there must be an intimate relationship between psychological mechanisms and the immune system.

Department of Pediatrics and Human Development, Michigan State University, East Lansing 48824. J Dev Behav Pediatr Apr 1988, 9 (2) pg.89-91

Healing Wounds

Research at the Harvard Medical School showed that hypnosis increased the rate of recovery on patients who had undergone surgery. The research was compared to patients who had received the same surgery but without hypnosis.

Cromie, W.J. (2003) Hypnosis Helps Healing. Harvard University Gazette, May 8th 2003

Pain Control

Researchers at the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to find out if hypnosis alters brain activity in a way that might explain pain reduction.

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 hypnotised and experienced the painful heat. The changes in the brain activity suggest that hypnosis somehow blocks the pain signal from getting to the parts of the brain that perceive pain. These results were reported in the November 2004 issue of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine.

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

Immune System

In a study of medical students under exam stress, researchers found that those who received self hypnosis training did not show the same reduction in key immune system components that the untrained group did.

The researchers also found that during exam time, the students launched stronger immune responses compared with students who did not learn self hypnosis. It was also noted that the more often students practiced self hypnosis, the stronger their immune response became.

Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 2001;69


A research team from the Soroka University in Israel found that 28% of women in a group of 185 who were hypnotised became pregnant, compared with just 14% of those who were not. Hypnotherapy was used to relax the spontaneous womb contractions which can hamper the embryo transfer stage of IVF treatment. Dr Levitas commented that “Performing embryo transfer under hypnosis may significantly contribute to an increased clinical pregnancy rate”.

Ryan, C. BBC News Online. 29th June 2004

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