Hypnosis and Asthma


I hope that this review is useful for those in the medical profession that have not considered Hypnosis as a form of treatment for asthmatic patients as yet. It can be highly effective for some patients and the self hypnosis skills learned can be used to manage their emotional state in many other areas of their lives also.

As always I look forward to your feedback, comments, thoughts and opinions.

Asthma Full

Study 1: Hypnosis Superior to Breathing Exercises for Improving Asthma
Hypnosis for Asthma – A Controlled Trial
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1912142/pdf/brmedj02105-0025.pdf

Results: Results were judged by analyses based on the daily “score” of wheezing recorded in patients’ diaries, by the number of times bronchodilators were used, and by independent clinical assessors. The hypnosis group had improved by 59% compared to a 43% improvement among those who had only been taught the breathing exercises. The average number of times a bronchodilator was used diminished more in the hypnosis group than the control group.

Notes: Two hundred and fifty-two participants aged 10 to 60 (with paroxysmal attacks of wheezing or tight chest capable of relief by bronchodilators) were broken into two groups. One hundred and twenty-seven were given monthly hypnosis sessions for a year and taught to practice self-hypnosis every day and 125 (the control group) were taught a series of breathing exercises designed to bring on deep relaxation. When they were independently assessed at the end of the trial there was a statistically significant difference between the two groups. For the hypnosis group, an eye-thumb fixation induction was used. Suggestions were then given that, by daily self-hypnosis, a state of easing of tension would occur, and – as a result – breathing would become and remain free.

Br Med J 1968;4:71-76 (12 October), A Report to the Research Committee of the British Tuberculosis Association
By: Those participating in the field-work were Drs. Crocket, Davies, Kalnowski, MacDonald, Maher-Loughnan, McAllen, Morrison Smith, Bria Shaw, and Stewart. The investigation was coordinated by Dr. G. P. Maher-Loughnan at Colindale Hospital, London.

Study 2: Review of Studies Concludes that Hypnosis Helps Asthma Generally and Especially in Children
Hypnosis and Asthma: Critical Review
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10724294

Results: This report concluded that studies conducted to date have consistently demonstrated an effect of hypnosis with asthma. Existing data suggest that hypnosis efficacy is enhanced in subjects who are susceptible to the treatment modality (hypnosis), with experienced investigators, when administered over several sessions, and when reinforced by patient self-hypnosis. Children in particular appear to respond well to hypnosis as a tool for improving asthma symptoms.

Notes: This report analyzed numerous studies that were conducted on the effect of hypnosis on asthmatic patients.
Journal of Asthma, Volume 37, Issue 1 February 2000, pages 1-15
By: R. M. Hackman, J. S. Stern, M. E. Gershwin, University of California

Study 3: Review of Studies – Hypnosis Can Help Asthma Symptoms and Helps Manage Emotional States the Exacerbate Airway ObstructionEvidence-Based Hypnotherapy for Asthma: A Critical Review
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00207140601177947?journalCode=nhyp20

Results: This review concludes that hypnosis is possibly efficacious for treatment of asthma symptom severity and illness-related behaviors and is efficacious for managing emotional states that exacerbate airway obstruction. Hypnosis is also possibly efficacious for decreasing airway obstruction and stabilizing airway hyper-responsiveness in some individuals.

Notes: This paper reviewed evidence primarily from controlled outcome studies on hypnosis for asthma.

International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis 2007 April.55(2)220-49
By: Daniel Brown, Ph.D., Harvard Medical School

Study 4: Hypnosis Reduces Asthmatics’ Hospital Stays, Drug Side Effects and Need for Drugs; also Improves Condition Generally
Chronic Asthma and Improvement with Relaxation Induced by Hypnotherapy
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1291881/pdf/jrsocmed00155-0023.pdf

Results: Sixteen chronic asthmatic patients inadequately controlled by drugs had, after one year of hypnotherapy, a drop – as a group – in hospital admissions from 44 in the year before starting hypnotherapy to 13 in the year after. Duration of hospital stay was reduced for 13 of the patients by hundreds of days; prednisolone was able to be withdrawn in 6 patients, reduced in 8 patients and increased in none. Adverse side effects of drugs were reduced. 62% of the patients reported improvement in their condition.

Notes: This study followed 16 asthmatics whose condition was not properly controlled by drugs. They were given hypnosis sessions at Southport General Infirmary in England. Instruction in self-hypnosis was given to induce relaxation daily for 5 to 15 minutes; if this was difficult for the participant, a tape recording was made to induce hypnosis. The asthmatics were told to use self-hypnosis/hypnosis at times of mild to moderate wheezing either alone or after use of an inhaler – but never in the event of a severe asthmatic attack.

J R Soc Med. 1988 Dec; 81(12) 701-4
By: J. B. Morrison, MD BSc Southport General Infirmary, Southport, Merseyside

Study 5: Hypnosis Helps Exercise-Induced Asthma
Hypnosis for Exercise-Induced Asthma
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6803633

Results: Exercising after hypnosis resulted in only a 15.9% decrease in forced expiratory volume (FEV1 – volume of air that can be forced out taking a deep breath for one second, an important measure of pulmonary function) compared with a larger 31.8% decrease on the control days when hypnosis was not used prior to exercise (p less than 0.001). Pretreatment with cromolyn along with hypnosis resulted in a 7.6% decrease in FEV1. The study concludes that hypnosis can alter the magnitude of a pathophysiologic process, namely, the bronchospasm after exercise in patients with asthma.

Notes: This study assessed the efficacy of hypnosis in helping exercise-induced asthma (EIA) in 10 stable asthmatics. The subjects ran on a treadmill while mouth breathing for 6 min on 5 different days. Pulmonary mechanics were measured before and after each challenge. Two control exercise challenges resulted in a reproducible decrease in forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1). On 2 other days, saline or cromolyn by nebulization was given in a double-blind manner with the suggestion that these agents would prevent EIA.

Am Rev Respir Dis. 1982 Apr;125(4):392-5
By: Z. Ben-Zvi, W. A. Spohn, S. H. Young, M. Kattan

Study 6: Hypnosis Can Help Mild to Moderate Asthma Symptoms
Improvement in Bronchial Hyper-Responsiveness in Patient with Moderate Asthma after Treatment with a Hypnotic Technique: A Randomised Controlled Trial
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1341848/

Results: The 12 participants with asthma who responded well to hypnosis improved their bronchial hyper-responsiveness (as measured by the methacholine challenge test) by 74.9%. In addition to this, symptoms improved by 41% and as a group they reduced their use of bronchodilators by 26%. In contrast the 17 patient who formed the control group and 10 who were not that hypnotizable had no change. This study concluded that hypnosis was a very effective technique for asthmatics who were moderately to highly hypnotizable. While this technique does not eliminate bronchial hyper-responsiveness, it does provide a clinically useful and nontoxic adjuvant to drug treatment that might benefit about half of the asthmatic population. In subjective terms, the perception of control over the degree of bronchospasm, accompanied by diminished anxiety, often results in an enhanced feeling of health and confidence.

Notes: 39 adults who had mild to moderate asthma were graded on their hypnotizability. 12 who were moderately to highly hypnotizable and 10 who were much less hypnotizable were then enrolled in a 6 week hypnotherapy program. The purpose of the inhaled bronchial challenge test using methacholine is to determine how responsive (or irritable) airways are and to determine the severity of any asthma; in the test, one inhales a mist that contains different concentrations of methacholine. The hypnotic technique used in this study started with an introductory discussion, which combined an outline of the treatment procedures, a general description of hypnosis, and a hypnotic induction. This was followed by suggestions of progressive relaxation, ego enhancement, and a method of self hypnosis. The remaining five sessions began with a similar but shortened induction, followed by a progression of guided imageries. By the final two sessions symptoms of asthma could be rapidly produced and immediately resolved under the subject’s own control. Although hypnotherapy is unlikely to have adverse effects, successful treatment might alter the patient’s appreciation of the severity of the airways obstruction, leading to a delay in seeking appropriate emergency treatment. In the treatment group, care was taken to minimize this possibility by suggestions given during hypnosis of increased awareness of symptoms of asthma, attention to the need for appropriate action, and the avoidance of symptom denial.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed). 1986 Nov 1;293(6555): 1129-32
By: T. C. Ewer, D. E. Stewart, Dept. of Respiratory Medicine and Psychological Medicine, Princess Margaret Hospital, Christchurch, New Zealand

Study 7: Hypnosis Helps Children with Asthma
Hypnotherapy in the treatment of bronchial asthma
http://www.researchgate.net/publication/22018848_Hypnotherapy_in_the_treatment_of_bronchial_asthma

Results: The average improvement for all subjects using hypnosis was greater than 50% above the baseline measurement as documented by spirometry, monitored dyspnea, wheezing and subjective ratings by the subjects. It is suggested that hypnotherapy may be an important tool in ameliorating asthma, improving ventilatory capacity and promoting relaxation without recourse to pharmacologic agents. One explanation offered is that hypnosis affects an automic response, thereby diminishing bronchospasm.

Notes: The efficacy of hypnotherapy in aborting acute asthmatic attacks was studied in 17 children ranging in age from six to 17. All had as their primary diagnosis bronchial asthma. Prior to hypnotic induction pulmonary function was assessed, then monitored in the immediate post hypnotic period and at two intervals thereafter.

Annals of Allergy 07/1975; 34(6):356-62
By: G. M. Aronoff, S. Aronoff, L. W. Peck

One thought on “Hypnosis and Asthma

  1. The vicious circle of asthma drugs. As an asthmatic I got trapped in a vicious circle; bit like a person being trapped in the use of sleeping pills. However an addiction to sleeping pills is relatively easily overcome by force of will. This may apply for asthma medication addiction as well, except that for medical opinion will have it that the disease is incurable. This not true. vigorous nose inhales pressing the lips together releive asthma by a lips-lung reflex. Google for (npf perioral) or try pressing a lip with a finger.

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