Medical Hypnotherapy

A. What is Medical Hypnosis?

Treating a wide range of health conditions, is there evidence it works?

Is there more to medical hypnosis than people realise?

Hypnotherapy / hypnosis is a combination of trance state known as hypnosis and formality of utilizing specific tools in the form of affirmations, suggestions and self healing. The key is if the individual is prepared to allow themselves the experience through getting into a relaxed state where the therapist can communicate with the individuals subconscious. The sub consciousness mind is part of your mind where the therapist makes suggestions relevant to your symptoms.​

For example, if somebody has tooth ache, if they are unable to have any form of anesthetic or medicine administered, there is an alternative solution, it is called Medical Hypnosis. This is an asset to medicine and those associated to it, paving the way for alternatives where the patient gains peace of mind and confidence.​

The techniques within medical hypnosis are adaptable according to specific needs. Painless surgery, lessening of blood loss, decrease in infection, enhanced healing process, less medication to none required.​

Online, there are many reports and testimonials who have expressed the efficiency and effectiveness of weight loss, how they quit smoking, how they are able to manage their medical conditions such as depression, pre op anxiety.

Are there any facts to support these anecdotes and if there are which of these conditions, if any, is hypnotherapy most effective in treating? Is there the power of the mind science is yet to unravel its mysteries?​

Irritable bowel syndrome

One of the most common health conditions to benefit from hypnotherapy is for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), this condition has become a very common issue affecting people from all parts of the world i.e. one in five Australians.

Those who suffer from IBS experience unpleasant and unhealthy symptoms i.e. abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, food sensitivity, flatulence and even diarrhea. This impacts the quality of their lives professionally and socially.

The fortunate ones find these symptoms may diminish naturally without any treatment, there are those cases where their symptoms become very severe, no treatment is able to assist them in relief.​

There are several studies revealing hypnotherapy brings about profound change and relief of the symptoms, especially to those who have had a resilience to other treatments.

There is a Dutch study in children with abdominal pain and irritable bowel syndrome revealed 68% of children treated with six hypnotherapy sessions over three months revealed to be in remission after a period of 4 years plus. 20% of the group were treated with standard medical treatment with a lack of relief.

A study at The Alfred hospital in Melbourne revealed results to be similar in nature. It was revealed the patient requires about four to six sessions they start to show improvement and then symptom free.

Adolescent health specialist Professor Susan Sawyer stated:

“We do not quite understand how hypnotherapy works in irritable bowel syndrome, but the evidence shows it works better than any other form of conventional therapy for severe, intractable symptoms. If we think firstly about what is hypnotherapy, how does it work, it is defined as the ability to focus narrowly, intensify ones' concentration and perception, while, if you like, you're reciprocally diminishing awareness of all other stimuli."

"During that focused state, therapeutic suggestions can be more readily accepted and incorporated into the subconscious mind with the individual being able to then modulate some of their physiological processes. The process could be changing how people's minds respond to and process pain, or could even be influencing gut function. It could also help by reducing stress”.

Here are other studies conducted to help relieve nausea and vomiting experienced to chemotherapy treatment mostly in teens and children. There is also growing evidence that hypnotherapy can help you manage pain both chronic and acute.​


The continuing research on hypnotherapy indicate, hypnosis may be more effective than other psychological treatments i.e. supportive counselling, life coaching, movement therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, educational programs for pain free cancer, lower back pain, arthritis pain and other chronic pain conditions. There is a combination called hypnosedation where a combination of hypnosis and sedation before or after anesthetic is administered.

Quitting smoking

Many who are serious to quit smoking turn to hypnotherapy as it is becoming a trend to beat their addiction. It requires more than one or two session to end the habit.

 Weight loss

The few studies that have looked at the use of hypnosis with weight loss to reveal weight loss is possible through the correct application of hypnosis, self hypnosis, and suggestion and also following a positive mind set through the hypnosis sessions to achieve significant weight loss.


Women undergoing hypnosis had :

  • a lower intensity of pain
  • shorter labor
  • shorter hospital stays
  • reduced bleeding
  • faster recovery

Compared to women who did not undergo hypnosis. Less pain results in less medication being used. A increase in vaginal child birth would be possible.


Hypnotherapy is a psychological process and therefore effective for conditions related to depression and alike.

A study in Australia combining hypnotherapy with another well-known therapeutic modality cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) revealed hypnotherapy might be more effective.

Medical Author: William C. Shiel, Jr, MD, FACP, FACR
Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

The role of hypnosis in medicine has been evolving over the last 100 years. Currently, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States is funding clinical trials of complementary and alternative medicine. Hypnosis in medicine has been one of the focuses of this funding effort.

Hypnosis in contemporary medicine was reviewed by James H. Stewart, M. D., of the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, (Mayo Clin. Proc 105; 80 (4): 511-524). In this review, Dr. Stewart highlighted basic concepts of hypnosis and reviewed the results of many clinical trials of hypnosis in treating a variety of medical conditions.

Dr. Stewart noted that hypnosis does not involve a process of simply following instructions. Rather, it is an actual change in the perception of the brain as demonstrated by brain tests while people are undergoing hypnosis. Studies have shown that hypnosis does not act as a placebo and is not a state of sleep.

Dr. Stewart also noted that modern hypnotism was introduced by the Austrian physician, Franz Anton Mesmer, who is said to have brought what was referred to as "animal magnetism" to France in 1778. Hypnotism came to be called "Mesmerism" and was soon discredited as fraudulent. Hypnosis as a method of psychoanalysis evolved in the 20th century. Over the past 50 years, many studies have demonstrated the potential of hypnosis as an disjunctive treatment for a variety of conditions.

While hypnosis is generally considered to be a relatively harmless procedure, Dr. Stewart notes that it can be associated with the risk of side effects including headaches, dizziness, nausea, anxiety and even panic.

In reviewing studies of hypnosis treatments by using a Medline database, Dr. Stewart found that hypnosis has had reported benefits in treating:

  • allergies,
  • anesthesia for pain relief and surgery,
  • treatment of resistant eczema,
  • irritable bowel syndrome,
  • peptic ulcer disease,
  • high blood pressure (hypertension),
  • obesity,
  • healing of wounds,
  • smoking cessation,
  • chronic tinnitus,
  • fibromyalgia, and
  • Impotence (erectile dysfunction, ED).

Hypnosis has also been reported as being successful in the treatment of pain associated with bone marrow transplantation, nausea and vomiting as a result of chemotherapy for cancer treatment, and anesthesia for liver biopsy, upper GI endoscopy, and colonoscopy.​

It should be noted, as mentioned in Dr. Stewart's review, that many of the diseases and conditions for which hypnosis has been reported to be beneficial can only be partially treated by the therapies and medicines currently available. It therefore seems that since hypnosis affords a relatively harmless treatment option, its use as a complementary treatment should be further explored by doctors and other health care providers.

Hypnosis is used in medical procedures to:

  • Increase comfort
  • Reduce chronic pain
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Reduce side effects i.e. nausea, soreness, inflammation, reduce bleeding and sleeplessness
  • Speed healing of surgery
  • Speed healing of injuries
  • Increase quality of life
  • Increase immune system response
  • Increase digestive functioning
  • Increase quality of life
  • Improve cognitive functioning
  • Increase sleep quality
  • Lower blood pressure

Medical hypnosis is fast gaining recognition among society, those open to alternative modalities that are safe and specific to its purpose, advancing health with the least amount of discomfort.

Dr John Souglides Ph.D. is always motivated and pioneers new thought processes and procedures in developing ground breaking techniques, he is a specialist within this vast field.

Science has in the last few years only now proven what many eastern schools of thought and their philosophies have known for centuries. When something starts in the mind it is where we need to go back to, as this is where the initial dis-ease was created.

When it comes to health, the true answers reside within the body-mind-sub conscious mind. When you is facing a specific health related issue, you able to through hypnosis, learn specific tools to elevate your own healing, reduce pain, change your life for positive outcomes, manage symptoms, activate a healthy body-mind-spirit resulting in living your authentic self daily.

If you are in the medical field i.e. a doctor, nurse, paramedic, other medical professional, or alternative health practice read onward to find out how hypnosis can help your patients.

Stress the robbing effects on the body

Today's high-paced society keeps pushing the barriers in emotional-mental demands, increasing in life threatening levels of stress and hormonal responses in our body. This impact you are subjected to today was experienced only when your body underwent a survival process to protect yourself from harm, a life threatening situation that could endanger your life. This is known as the fight/flight response, it triggers a portion of your brain known as the hypothalamus to respond in signaling  a release of adrenalin and cortisol from your adrenal glands.

When these two chemicals are stimulated for a short period it increases these two chemicals and the outcome helps you to survive a life and death encounter. In today's society almost every person is living in constant stress, emotional and mental over drive leaves you in chemically out of balance and your bodies system can go haywire.

Ongoing experience of being mostly or completely in this state paves the way to becoming experiencing physical-emotion-mental-spiritual short circuitry. This process traps you into becoming misaligned with your authentic self. States of depression, aggression, resentment, fear, recurring illness i.e. flu a symptom, nervous disorders, fight/flight, reliant on stimulants i.e. caffeine, narcotics, substance abuse and the possibility of a nervous breakdown are all indicators you might be suffering from a specific level of fatigue which may result in burnout.

Surgery just got better, the patient and surgical team benefits

There are many various styles and ways hypnosis assists not only the patient have a profound positive experience throughout their operation and recovery.

The added benefit is the surgeon and all medical staff during and after the procedure also benefit. Here is a short overview on the uses and benefits.

Hypnosis and pre-surgery: 

Used for a variety of things.

  • Simple uses as helping a nervous / anxious patient relax about an upcoming operation.
  • Teaching pain control techniques to their patient
  • Limiting or even eliminating the need for traditional drug anesthetics/analgesics.
  • Assist the patient experience a enjoyable procedure through techniques in conditioning their sub conscious mind  There various techniques and types of ways when working with a person's subconscious mind, this allows the individual to experience and benefit from their own unique process in a way that will have a much more enjoyable and successful recovery and stay at the hospital.

During surgery:

The doctor gives specific suggestions to the patient prior and during the procedure, this makes things easier and better for the patient. This can be enhanced and compounded during the operation for maximum benefits, for the patient to experience a wonderful process during the procedure. The sub conscious mind is the master key holder and manifests to precision when delivering what it has been asked to do and instructed to perform through suggestions and even affirmations given to it. The doctor is able to design a process for specific outcomes, achieving the results before, during and after the procedure i.e. limit bleeding, reduce involuntary muscle guarding, delayed healing.​


Surgery is usually a traumatic experience.

Trauma for body and emotionally-mentally levels, will the surgery is a success.

Post-surgery hypnosis has the benefit to assist manage symptoms of anxiety, nausea, pain, fainting, PTSD, soreness, and any other ailments arising from the procedure and to recovery.

Assists if here is any emotional overdrive from the journey of pre entering the operating room, prior to being on the operating table.​

Hypnotic pain control

The physical body and all its levels (body-emotion-mind-spirit) is a very carefully orchestrated and powerful creation. It is a system that has more potential than many realised. It is a design that complexities that only stem from the emotional- mental level, these control the fears and successes humanity is capable of.

Pain is a system that arises from fear. Pain is fluid, this is advantages to you as you are able to experience pain and as it is subjected to change from moment to moment you are able to change its intensity. By using specific imagery, NLP, waking hypnosis techniques and mindfulness, you are able to be taught to change your mind set, and perception of the experience of pain. This is powerful as to are able to understand you have the power and ability to change not only pain, to change your life to ways that benefit you for your positive outcomes.

Here is Professor Cathy Sikes Bristol University researching Dental Hypnosis illustrating a tooth extraction followed by implants being added without the aid of any chemical analgesics.

The facts indicate how powerful hypnosis is when applied correctly by means of professionalism of the individual to the patient. Here you realise how successful hypnosis is and how it should be part of your life in more ways than just medicine.

Hypnosis can help if a person is facing chronic related issues such as pain. This is possible from past experiences of painful surgery or specific diseases leading to lifelong pain. A person can take enough pain killers to assist them temporarily, eventually there will be resistance to the strength and may also be detrimental to their health.

Through the correct use of hypnosis a person can be taught to manage their pain in ways that allows them to live a more meaningful life and a stress free one. By taking less to no medication there is no stress on certain vital organs like the kidneys and liver, the body’s systems are able to function on the healing process.

Hypnosis is believed to date back to 1955 due to The British Medical Association endorsement the use of hypnosis in somatic medicine. The American Medical Association followed suit in 1958. Hypnosis goes back thousands of years and was evident in the ancient civilizations which were very advanced at the time as they understood much that science is still discovering today. Medical hypnosis was utilised in ancient times for healing purposes on body-mind-spirit from a medical perspective. Hypnosis techniques attracted the attention of both orthodox physicians and scientists. The scientific basis of hypnotic procedures was investigated as early as the 18th century, some research has indicated thousands of years earlier.


The efficacy and safety of hypnotic techniques in somatic medicine, known as medical hypnosis, have not been supported to date by adequate scientific evidence.​


We systematically reviewed meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of medical hypnosis. Relevant publications (January 2005 to June 2015) were sought in the Cochrane databases CDSR and DARE, and in PubMed. Meta-analyses involving at least 400 patients were included in the present analysis. Their methodological quality was assessed with AMSTAR (A Measurement Tool to Assess Systematic Reviews). An additional search was carried out in the CENTRAL and PubMed databases for RCTs of waking suggestion (therapeutic suggestion without formal trance induction) in somatic medicine.​


Out of the 391 publications retrieved, five were reports of meta-analyses that met our inclusion criteria. One of these meta-analyses was of high methodological quality; three were of moderate quality, and one was of poor quality. Hypnosis was superior to controls with respect to the reduction of pain and emotional stress during medical interventions (34 RCTs, 2597 patients) as well as the reduction of irritable bowel symptoms (8 RCTs, 464 patients). Two meta-analyses revealed no differences between hypnosis and control treatment with respect to the side effects and safety of treatment. The effect size of hypnosis on emotional stress during medical interventions was low in one meta-analysis, moderate in one, and high in one. The effect size on pain during medical interventions was low. Five RCTs indicated that waking suggestion is effective in medical procedures.


Medical hypnosis is a safe and effective complementary technique for use in medical procedures and in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. Waking suggestions can be a component of effective doctor–patient communication in routine clinical situations.

The aims of this document :

  • Defining various forms of hypnosis
  • Requirements before therapeutic hypnosis can be carried out
  • Historical overview, uses and efficiency of hypnosis in medicine and assessment and efficacy
  • Identify indications for medical hypnosis supported by evidence
  • Evidence for competency of effective doctor– patient communication.

Definition of hypnosis :

Indicates both an altered state of consciousness (synonym: hypnotic trance) and the procedure by which this state is induced.

In a hypnotic trance :

Modification of physiological, cognitive, and affective processes and behavior are possible.

Hypnotic phenomena

A hypnotic state can be induced by another person known as the therapist or alone by means of self-hypnosis.

High degree of authenticity :

The subjective experience of hypnosis is characterized experienced as real and involuntariness / happens by itself.

Hypnosis – states on consciousness :

  • Wakefulness
  • Sleep
  • Deep relaxation
  • Electroencephalgraphy (EEG)
  • Imaging modalities

 Characteristics of hypnotic trance

Catagorised by a number of physiological and mental reactions such as altered perception of time, regressing to an earlier time or stage to retrieve forgotten memories, selective amnesia, marked inward focus and the various heightened suggestibility i.e. have profound reaction to a suggestion/s. The response of the patient may occur spontaneously of heightened phenomena, communication of a serious diagnosis and diagnostic and therapeutic interventions.

Suggestibility of suggestions may be non verbal and verbal that corresponds to internal expectations, having a powerful effect on mental and involuntary somatic processes. The increasing flow of saliva may be activated by a simple suggestion i.e. description, photo, conversation of the same food and ingredients, repeated over and over within a conversation. This suggestion implies a manipulation of the taste buds, stimulating a desire to enhanced senses.

Hypnosis merely suggests something, there is still a misconception that hypnosis is authoritarian, this is not the true representation of hypnosis. It is centered around the client / patient, to make changes to their own life for a better life, peace, joy, harmony, love and life with positive outcomes. The therapist facilitates, the client patient is in control. Hypnosis is a resource- and solution-oriented method, the focus being on the patient’s own potentials.

Application for hypnosis depends on goals, there are various techniques that can be utilised:

Medical hypnosis

  • Alleviating somatic symptoms
  • Reducing states of emotional and mental stress during procedures / treatment
  • Amelioration of disordered physiological/biochemical parameters
  • Facilitating in the healing processes of physiological or biochemical in nature

 Hypnotic communication

  • Waking suggestions – to suggest in an awakened state / no trance induction
  • Suggestions under general anesthesia
  • Utilising of diagnosis  from hypnotherapy for effective communication doctor–patient

Hypnotherapy (psychotherapy with patient in trance)

  • Problem management improved by patient having access to their own resources
  • Facilitation of changes in behavior
  • Restructuring (minimization, compounding, new conditioning, new life) birthing positive patterns
  • Restructuring of emotional and mental imbalances, stressful events and sensations
  • Reintegration of positive life giving feelings and experiences

 Experimental hypnosis

  • Research on somatic sensations (e.g., pain) body-emotion-mind and states of consciousness

 Stage hypnosis

  • Demonstration of hypnotic phenomena for the pleasure of entertainment and to demonstrate how suggestible one can become

Phrases of medical hypnosis

A medical hypnosis session generally lasts between 30 – 90 minutes, this depends on the level required to be worked on and achieved i.e. a basic tooth repair is less than a procedure taking 4 hours. The sessions may include part of all of the following depending on the goals to be achieved :

  • Induction
  • Conditioning
  • Consolidation
  • Therapeutic suggestions
  • Trigger action, posture, motion / movement
  • Reorientation, posthypnotic suggestions
  • Discussion
  • Integration into daily routine: use of an mp3, specific exercises, trigger actions, trigger words, specific action, possibly learning of self-hypnosis techniques.

Ref : Mayo Clinic    To view full report for personal use click here

​Hypnosis has been used as the sole agent of anesthesia for both major and minor surgical procedures. In the 19th century, John Elliotson and James Esdaile reported their successful use of mesmerism for anesthesia in hundreds of operations, with decreased mortality compared with other methods. Nonetheless, they were censored by the medical community at the time for unacceptable techniques. Instead, chloroform, nitrous oxide, and ether won acceptance for general anesthesia.​

The use of hypnosis as the sole agent for anesthesia has been virtually abandoned because of the availability and dependability of pharmacological agents; nevertheless, a few such cases have been described in contemporary medical literature. Hypnoanalgesia was described for repair of atrial septal defects in 3 patients and for mitral commissurotomy in 4 patients, with hypnosis as the sole method of anesthesia for 1 of the patients.50 The patients were able to open and close their eyes on command during surgery and to extubate themselves postoperatively. An oral surgeon documented his own cholecystectomy performed with use of only self-hypnosis for anesthesia.51 He walked back to his room after surgery and returned to work on the 10th postoperative day.​

A 1999 review of more than 1650 surgical cases using hypnosis combined with other methods for conscious sedation promoted the safety and patient comfort afforded by hypnosis.49 This form of anesthesia was used instead of general anesthesia for a broad range of surgical procedures, including thyroidectomy, cervicotomy for hyperparathyroidism, breast augmentation, neck lift, correction of mammary ptosis, nasal septorhinoplasty, débridement with skin grafting, maxillofacial reconstruction, and tubal ligation. The authors concluded that hypnosis prevents pharmacological unconsciousness, allows patient participation, and may allow a faster recovery and a shorter hospital stay but requires some changes in the atmosphere of the operating room because of the conscious state of the patient. Other studies support the multiple benefits of hypnosis as an adjunct to conscious sedation for many types of surgery 4