Hypnosis and Healing

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."

In orthopedics:

Patients who were healthy, but had a broken bone in their foot, were recruited from an orthopedic emergency room. They all received regular orthopedic care, but half of them were given hypnosis, too. The hypnosis consisted of individual sessions and a hypnosis audio tape to be played at home. After 9 weeks, x-rays and clinical assessments of the foot showed that the patients who were hypnotized were healing faster. The hypnotized patients had improved ankle mobility, an easier time walking down stairs, and had a decreased need for painkillers.

Hypnosis can be used to enhance fracture healing.

This study is from C.S. Ginandes Harvard Medical School

Copyright (c) 2007 Seth-Deborah Roth
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