Life Design


For a long time I thought I was happy with my job, I was doing what I’d set to do in joining the Royal Marines. I worked with like-minded people, got paid to stay exceptionally fit, got fed four times a day and was provided with a roof over my head. The trade-off was that I was expected to do what I was told do whether I liked it or not and, some of the things I was asked to do I really didn’t like. However I was still happy living my dream.

Or so I thought.

Continue reading Life Design

Hypnosis and Auto-Immune Disorders


There are a wide variety of auto-immune disorders with symptoms ranging from minor to severely debilitating and sometime life threatening. The image below gives an overview of what parts of the body can be affected.

autoimmune_attack_graphic

 

I was diagnosed with an auto-immune disorder about 17 years ago, I have Hashimoto’s Disease which is where my immune system attacks my thyroid gland. This has been managed by me asking 200mcg of Levo-Thyroxine since then. It does have a number of additional effects on my body because of the significance of the role of the thyroid gland, in conjunction with the pituitary gland. I understand all too well how an auto-immune disorder can impact your life and health and my own issues are far less than many other peoples so I consider myself very lucky in many respects.

I also personally know friends and family with auto-immune disorders and I work with many patients/clients struggling with the symptoms of a variety of auto-immune disorders, which made this a very relevant piece of research for me.

For those of you interested in the cellular make up of the immune system, here is a quick guide in a cellular organogram.

cellsindefenses75

I hope you find this review interesting, thought provoking and useful.

Study 1: Hypnosis Helps Auto-Immune Disorders – Five Case Studies
Mind-Body Hypnotic Imagery in the Treatment of Auto-Immune Disorders
http://www.redorbit.com/news/health/1174128/mindbody_hypnotic_imagery_in_the_treatment_of_autoimmune_disorders/

Results: The author describes five cases where hypnosis was successfully used to help people suffering from auto-immune disorders.

Case One – Multiple Sclerosis
This client had a remitting/relapsing form of multiple sclerosis. She loved the sensation of cold water on her skin and chose the imagery of immersing her body in the cold water of a inland lake formed by the melting snows of surrounding mountains. Following the immersion in the cool and pure waters of the lake, she experienced herself (in the imagery) in a spa whereby she was receiving a healing and invigorating massage. Following the massage, she fell asleep and woke up feeling rejuvenated and much better. She practiced this exercise with self-hypnosis at home. It was suggested to re-label her immune system from being too aggressive to being confused and misguided. She liked that idea and set the goal of helping her immune system to learn how to tell the difference between cells and tissues that were part of her own body and those that were representing foreign pathogenic invaders (bacteria, viruses, fungi, etc.) Imagery was used whereby all the cells and tissues in her body were tagged with the letters J. P. (the client’s initials), which meant that they were safe from being attacked by her immune system and that they were part of the organism in which the immune system resides. Only those organisms that were not tagged where fair game. In addition, she also learned to communicate with her own immune system cells letting them know they are part of a larger organism that is made up of many cells and tissues designed to keep the organism alive and in good health. J. P. was asked to write down the following phrase: “All for one and one for all, united we stand together in peaceful co-existence with respect and dignity for the sake of the whole”. She was asked to repeat it in her own mind in a state of formal hypnosis and also when she was out of formal hypnosis. Several months later, she reported continuing to stay in a remission, functioning well at home and at work.

Case Two – Rheumatoid Arthritis
R. J. was a 25 year-old single woman who had been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis as a teenager. By the age of 25, she already had several relapses followed by spontaneous remissions. She learned to use self-hypnosis quickly and effectively focusing on the ocean beach scene imagery to achieve a state of calmness and activate me relaxation response. She loved to swim and went into detail describing her skills of floating in the waters of the ocean and swimming pool. She then described how much she enjoyed her brief sessions in the whirlpool right after a lap in the swimming pool of her gym. In hypnotic trance, she was asked to focus on the ocean beach scene imagery experiencing it with all five senses. This was done using interactive imagery whereby she verbalized her experiences on the ocean beach of her choice. Future focused imagery was then used. The focus was not only in achieving the experience of returning to optimal functioning of her physical mobility and other activities, but also on gaining a new sense of healthy balance in her life on a mind-body-spirit continuum. She was then asked to internalize these experiences with members of her family and friends, integrating the experience with all five senses (visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, and gustatory) as well as internalizing feelings of joy, love and mastery, having achieved a healthy balance of activities in day-to-day living. When she was guided out of the hypnotic state, she reported with a smile that she already felt better and that her joints felt more flexible, free and limber. She reported that she had to consciously think about the pain and focus on it to recognize if it was still present. Four weeks later, she came to the office for a follow up visit and stated with a smile on her face that she was now back in remission as pronounced by her rheumatologist. Her goal now was to stay in remission for “the rest of my life”. She was instructed to continue and practice self-hypnosis with guided imagery focused on activating the relaxation response on a daily basis. Follow up visits at 3 months, 6 months and 9 months later found her in a stable healthy remission, continuing to practice self hypnosis and guided imagery.

Case Three – Polymyositis / Dermatomyositis
V. C. wanted to reduce the pain, improve his functioning and help him to achieve remission since he was in an acute relapse. He was able to easily and quickly apply the skill of self-hypnosis using guided imagery of the ocean beach scene experiencing it with all five senses, incorporating and integrating it with his meditation-prayer practice. He expressed a strong desire to visit the Holy Land and specifically, immerse himself in the waters of the Jordan River as a way of renewing his overall health and faith on a mind-body-spirit dimension. It was decided to employ future focused guided imagery as a way of allowing him to experience and internalize his own prescription for healing and achieving a remission. In a state of self-hypnotic trance and meditation and with the use of guided imagery suggestions on all five senses, he experienced himself traveling to the Holy Land and visiting the sea of Galilee and the Jordan River. He then described his experience of immersing himself in the cool clear waters of the Jordan River. He described how his skin felt cool and calm, how the red blotches of swelling disappeared and his skin looked clean and healthy. When he came out of the water, he recited a special prayer of gratitude for allowing him to heal from his acute illness. He reported feeling a jolt of energy and strength going through his whole body and was able to walk with vigor, feeling renewed and reinvigorated with a sense of purpose and enthusiasm, seeing himself giving a presentation in his church (after he returned to his community in the USA) regarding his experiences of healing during his trip to the Holy Land. When he came out of his self-hypnotic trance, he reported feeling calm and relaxed. He was asked to write an essay about his experiences on his imaginary trip to the Holy Land and bring his written essay with him to the following session. A week later, as he read from the essay, he described his trip using the past tense implying that in his mind, this already happened. He also reported feeling an overall improvement in his physical health associated with a significant reduction of the skin rash and a decrease in his muscle and joint pain. Two months later, he reported with great satisfaction that he was pronounced by his rheumatologist to have achieved a full remission.

Case Four – Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
E. J. was suffering from a remitting-relapsing form of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). She requested help to reduce the acute symptoms of general muscle and joint pain, tiredness, and skin rash. She wanted to achieve a remission as soon as possible and learn to meditate on a regular basis so she could better effectively cope with the daily stresses in her life. She believed that stress in general was a factor in precipitating the acute relapse of her chronic disease – SLE. She quickly learned the use of self-hypnosis utilizing the ocean beach scene and activating the relaxation response. She stated that she knew exactly how the lupus had happened and brought in drawings with her, illustrating her immune system attacking the connective tissues in her body. The aggressive immune system antibodies were drawn as wild dogs that had transformed into wolf like creatures. She described them as wild animals that have gone astray, they have lost their discipline, they don’t listen anymore to orders from the immune system headquarters. She also had in her drawings white horses that were described as gentle but powerful. The horses represented the healthy side of her immune system. These horses had the ability to produce a powerful kick to any invading enemies in the form of bacteria or viruses but these horses would never hurt their own kind. They were able to identify what cells in the body were part of the self and should not be hurt, but rather protected. In a state of self-hypnotic trance, she said that she consulted with the chief horse about the situation and was told that the dog like aggressive creatures of the immune system were confused and actually unhealthy and that is why they were mistakenly attacking cells and tissues of the body. The alpha chief horse suggested a solution that would transform these wild dogs into healthy white horses and that the alpha horse knew exactly how this could be done. The suggestion was made to round up the herd of wild dogs into a special compound, at the end of the compound there was a gate which led to a river. The wild dogs would then be guided through the white rushing, cool waters of the river that ended up in a waterfall leading to an inland lake. In the process of swimming through the river and coming down the waterfall into the lake, these wild dogs would be transformed into white horses as the alpha horse was leading them through the process. As she was describing this she suddenly opened her eyes, took out her drawing papers and sat on the floor drawing out this process. She was drawing with crayons using color to depict the process of how this was about to happen. She later stated that she did not do the drawings, it was the alpha white horse that did it all. When asked if she believed if one of her hands did the drawing and that hand is part of her body, she stated that “I know this logically, but it doesn’t feel like I did it and I don’t fully remember drawing it…the alpha white horse did it”. She was then instructed to go home and practice her self-hypnosis integrating guided imagery for healing and recovery. The following session she came in reporting that the alpha white horse did it, but it got help from its mate and they did it as a team. However, she believed that not all the “wild and confused aggressive dogs” of her immune system were rounded up in this first attempt. Some of them were still running around doing their damaging aggressive acts. She stated that she was convinced that additional round ups would be necessary to complete the transformation of all the confused, aggressive “wild dogs” into “white and powerful horses”. She reported some improvement in her overall health and a significant reduction in the redness on her skin. This was specifically noticeable on her face. A month later in a follow up visit, she reported the successful completion of the transformation of her immune system now knowing to identify the difference between cells and tissues of her own body and those of invading pathogenic organisms (bacteria, viruses, fungi, etc.). This was accompanied by a significant improvement in her clinical state. Two months later, she was declared by her rheumatologist as having achieved a full remission.

Case Five – Autoimmune Pericarditis
M.G, had idiopathic pericarditis associated with chest pain and inflammation in the pericardial space with fluid accumulation that had to be aspirated. Since then she had two remissions and two relapses. About a year ago, she had additional laboratory tests and was told that her pericarditis was of autoimmune origin. Following a comprehensive interview and mental status examination, she communicated her desire to learn better ways to control stress, anxiety and worry in her life believing that they are responsible for precipitating her relapse symptoms. She learned the use of self- hypnosis quickly and was instructed to practice at home focused on guided imagery using the ocean beach scene and internalizing it with all five senses. She was able to experience an immediate relief of her anxieties and a reduction in her chest pain from a self-rated scale of 8 to 2 (on a scale of 1 to 10). This later allowed her to reduce the medications prescribed for pain control (Tylenol with codeine). In addition, her heart rate was also reduced from an average of a resting 96 beats per minute to a resting 72 per minute. In later sessions, she learned to internalize new images of healing her pericardium by changing (in imagery) the colors of inflammation from hot red to soft pink, which was associated in her mind with healthy normal tissues. In addition she also used imagery to reduce the inflammation in the pericardial space by visualizing the reduction of all the inflammation fluids. In later sessions, she learned how to “educate” her immune system to identify her body’s cells and tissues as “one of us” and therefore the immune system is to protect them and never attack them. Eight weeks after the beginning of her treatment with hypnotic imagery she was examined by her cardiologist and told that she again entered a remission. Six months later she was examined in a follow up visit and declared that she continued to do well and had no relapse symptoms. Nine months after the beginning of her treatment, she continued to be off prednisone and reported being free of pericarditis symptoms.

Notes: The immune system is designed to, among other functions, identify and destroy foreign invading organisms. However, when the immune system identifies the antigens on our own cells as antigens of foreign agents such as bacteria, viruses, or fungi, the immune system attacks these cells in attempt to destroy them with the purpose of protecting the integrity of our own living organism. The authors note that there are two types of T cells: T helper cells that help the B cells in producing antibodies that attack and destroy the invading padiogenic organisms (bacteria, viruses, fungi, etc.) and T suppresser cells that are designed to reign in the B cells and the T helper cells when they become too aggressive. It is postulated that one mechanism that operates in the development of autoimmune disorders involves an immune system that has lost its natural balance either by weakening of the T suppresser cells response or by an over production of B cells and T helper cells, which may be involved in producing antibodies that mistakenly attack the organism’s own cells and tissues, failing to identify them as part of its own self organism. When the immune system is confused, individuals are predisposed to autoimmune disorders.

The American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 2007, vol. 50, no2, pp.157-170
By: M. S. Torem, Center for Mind-Body Medicine, North East Ohio Universities School of Medicine

Study 2: Alopecia Areata (an auto-immune disease that leads to loss of scalp hairs) and Hypnosis
Hypnotic Approaches for Alopecia Areata
http://www.beforeyoutakethatpill.com/2009/1/hypnosis.pdf

Results: Twelve out of 21 patients treated with hypnosis, including 4 with total loss of scalp hair, presented a significant hair growth. All patients presented a significant decrease in scores for anxiety and depression. Although the exact mechanism of hypnotic interventions has not been elucidated, the authors’ results demonstrate that hypnotic interventions may ameliorate the clinical outcome of patients with Alopecia Areata (AA) and may improve their psychological well-being.

Notes: Alopecia Areata (AA) is an autoimmune disease leading to loss of scalp hairs. The disease seems triggered by stress. Twenty-eight patients with extensive AA, all resistant to previous conventional treatment, were treated with hypnosis at the Academic Hospital UZ Brussel, Brussels, Belgium. This paper describes in detail the authors’ hypnotherapeutic approach combining symptom-oriented suggestions with suggestions to improve self-esteem. Hypnotic sessions were held every 2 or 3 weeks. All patients were asked to practice their self-hypnosis exercises at least twice a week. Hypnosis was introduced with suggestions of relaxation. After this hypnotic induction, patients were invited to imagine a place where they felt safe and secure. The following types of hypnotic suggestions were given. First, participants were offered a possible explanation of the origin of the AA. It was explained to them that in AA the affected hair follicles are mistakenly attacked by lymphocytes of their own immune system, resulting in an arrest of the hair growth. In a second step, different kinds of symptom-oriented suggestions were proposed for correcting this immune deviation. Patients received suggestions to imagine the healing effects of the sun on the skin of the scalp. They were asked to feel the rise in scalp temperature leading to vasodilatation of all blood vessels. A suggestion was given that fresh blood would flow to all hair follicles leading to a reduction of inflammation around the hair follicles. Participants were told that the land must be free from weeds before new plants can grow. New plants need water and sunlight. For this, patients were invited to imagine a garden and to garden in it. Suggestions were given to choose a big old tree and to imagine putting their arms around it and feeling its strength. It was suggested that patients imagine becoming a part of this tree and see or feel how their roots enter deeply in the ground to absorb everything that they need to grow as firmly and as big as the tree. They were invited to explore those ingredients in the ground that could help them (vitamins, minerals, water, but also self-acceptance, self-confidence) to develop such beautiful leaves as those in the big old tree. Patients were encouraged to find an additional personal metaphoric or symbolic image of their growing hairs. Patients were invited to explore all possible resources within their inner minds that could help them to heal their bodies. Next, the patients were asked to visualize, to feel, or to hear this healing energy and to direct it to their scalp. Finally, they were invited to imagine that this healing energy was able to ameliorate the immune deviation. They were asked to imagine the healing energy working on the hair follicles while stimulating the hair growth. It was suggested that patients direct healing energy to their own skin just by breathing in and out and by bringing loving kindness and acceptance to those regions of the skin that were inflamed and stressing them the most, such as their scalp. Many patients reported shame and embarrassment because of their hair loss. Some showed symptoms of social phobia or agoraphobic reactions (such as avoiding public places). In these patients, ego-strengthening suggestions were added to the symptom-oriented approach. They were asked to remember a past peak experience with regard to their self-esteem. Next, this feeling was used as an anchor. Patients were asked to imagine behaving with less shame to a specific stressful event or situation in the future.

Int’l Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, Vol. 56, No. 3, March 2008: pp. 1-31
By: Ria Willemsen, Academic Hospital UZ Brussel, Brussels, Belgium (Dept. of Dermatology), Johan Vanderlinden University Psychiatric Center Kuleuven, Campus Kortenberg, and Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium

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

Hypnosis and Anti-Aging


stress_ball-300x300newV3

This is an interesting topic not just from a hypnosis perspective but also from a nutritional stand point also. My business is about mind-body health and I regularly work with clients to whom I teach the importance of good nutrition and positive mindset. The combination of what goes into and out of our minds is as important as the food we put into our bodies on a daily basis, and these two key areas can have a hugely negative or positive effect on our ability to cope with stress and the effects that stress hormones can have on our skin and our internal systems.

As always I will leave you to read and make your own conclusion based on the findings below.

Study 1: Self-Hypnosis Can Lower Stress-Related Hormones and Increase Anti-Aging Hormone
Stress Reducing Regulative Effects of Integrated Mental Training With Self-Hypnosis on the Secretion of Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate (DHEA-S) and Cortisol in Plasma: A Pilot Study
http://www.foundationforpositivementalhealth.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/contemporary-hypnosis-stress-reducing-DHEA-2006.pdf

Results: At the end of the study it was shown that the hypnosis group had increased their DHEA-S levels by 16% and reduced their cortisol levels by 12.3% when compared to the control group. It was also noted that those in the hypnosis group now had DHEA-S levels equivalent to someone who was 5 to 10 years younger. The authors conclude that frequent application of a self-hypnosis program several days a week was successful in changing the adrenal secretion of DHEA-S and cortisol – and can have a beneficial effect on stress reduction, emotional stability, performance and health outcomes.

Notes: This study looked at whether or not self-hypnosis could be used to lower the stress-related hormone cortisol and raise the anti-aging hormone dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S). Twelve healthy subjects were recruited and randomly assigned to a control and a self-hypnosis group. Those in the self-hypnosis group were brought together and taught self-hypnosis and mental training to reduce cortisol levels and increase DHEA-S. They were then asked to integrate these techniques into their daily life for the next six-months. The study authors note that: (a) the most important and quantitative dominating stress hormone in the body is the adrenal hormone cortisol; (b) DHEA-S has been considered as a marker for biological aging; (c) falling concentrations of DHEA-S have been observed in both mental and psychological stress and physical illness; (d) low concentrations of DHEA-S in blood have been correlated with many age-related diseases; (e) increased plasma DHEA-S has been connected with a reduction in age-related diseases and alleviated chronic stress-load. Participants in the self-hypnosis group were taught basic relaxation and self-hypnosis techniques.

Contemporary Hypnosis, May 2006, Vol. 23(3):101-11024
By: Johansson B, Uneståhl LE. 1 Scandinavian International University, Sweden, 2 Örebro University, Sweden

The Effects of Cortisol On our Mind and Body


Depression

Over the last few months, I have been working more and more with stressed out people. I have been stunned at the age range to be honest as they have ranged from 10 – 80 years old.

I began to notice the increase early this year when many people started being made redundant in the Oil and Gas Industry in Aberdeen, where I am based. The downturn has created a huge amount of uncertainty which has lead to people feeling nervous, anxious, stressed and depressed and the knock on effects are quite significant. Many of my clients this year, on top of the initial stress have become insomniacs, they have either lost or gained large amounts of weight, have unexplained aches and pains, erratic mood swings, failed relationships…the list goes on.

This turns into a vicious circle, because the initial cause of the stress is still there and then the additional physical, mental and emotional symptoms add more stress into the mix and obviously compound the whole situation.

I have also recently started working with schools in Aberdeenshire running Stress Perception Workshops for both staff and pupils. It seems that the Curriculum for Excellence is creating and excellently high level of stress for all concerned and some pupils are becoming more and more stressed, depressed, suicidal and some resorting to self harming.

The self harming has also become something of a trend and there is a certain element of peer pressure to conform, and as you can imagine, this pressure is highly stressful for someone who really has no desire to self harm in the first place, yet in order to fit in they feel they have to run with the herd. This level of stress is extremely detrimental to the pupils ability to focus, concentrate, learn and absorb in formation and to remember it, this then adds more stress because they either feel they can’t pass they exams or they actually fail them. Pressure upon pressure upon pressure, until they break.

So after doing much reading, I have written this post today that I hope will help some of you to some degree or other and/or, perhaps help you help someone else.

STRESS
The stress hormone, cortisol, is a sneaky, insidious little bugger that creeps up on you. Even low levels over a long period of time can have hugely detrimental affects on your entire system of body and mind. Scientists have known for years that increased cortisol levels: interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function and bone density, increase weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease… and the list is significantly longer.

Chronic stress and elevated cortisol levels are also responsible for an increased risk for depression, mental illness, and lower life expectancy. Recently two separate studies were published in Science linking elevated cortisol levels as a potential trigger for mental illness and decreased resilience—especially in adolescence.

You can find research papers here:
http://www.sciencemag.org/search?site_area=sciencejournals&y=0&fulltext=Stress%20and%20mental%20illness&x=0&journalcode=sci&journalcode=sigtrans&journalcode=scitransmed&submit=yes

Our body releases cortisol through the adrenal glands in response to fear or stress as part of our fight-or-flight mechanism. The fight-or-flight mechanism is part of the general adaptation syndrome defined in 1936 by Canadian biochemist Hans Selye of McGill University in Montreal. He published his findings in a short seventy-four line article in Nature, in which he defined two types of “stress”: eustress (good stress) and distress (bad stress).

Both eustress and distress release cortisol as part of this general adaption syndrome. As soon as our fight or flight alarm system signals our body to release cortisol, your body becomes mobilised and ready for action, however, there has to be a physical release of fight or flight. Otherwise, cortisol levels build up in the blood which wreaks havoc on your mind and body.

Eustress creates a “seize-the-day” heightened state of arousal, which is exciting, invigorating and often linked with an achievable goal. Cortisol returns to normal when we’ve completed the task. Distress, or free floating anxiety, doesn’t provide any outlet for the cortisol and causes the fight-or-flight mechanism to backfire. Ironically, our own biology, which was designed to insure our survival as hunters and gatherers, is actually sabotaging our own bodies and minds in this sedentary, technology oriented age. So what can we do to put the pin back in this socially engineered hand grenade?

Fortunately, there are a few simple lifestyle choices you can make that will help you to reduce your stress, anxiety and lower your cortisol levels. Below are some tips to help you reduce your cortisol levels:

1. Regular Exercise: Martial arts and any martial arts based exercise classes, boxing, sparring, or a punching bag are fantastic ways to recreate the “fight” response by letting out aggression (without beating the crap out of anyone) and to reduce cortisol.
Any aerobic activity, like walking, jogging, swimming, biking etc are great ways to recreate the ‘flight’ outlet and burn-up cortisol.  A little bit of cardio goes a long way. Just 20-30 minutes of activity most days of the week pays huge dividends by lowering cortisol every day and in the long term.

I recommend a short burst of HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training. There are an abundance of training methods under this banner and you can find a host of them on Youtube. This gets your heart rate up high, gives minimal rest and puts your body and mind under pressure. The pay off is that your body also releases endorphins which make you feel good, so this is a form of Eustress (good stress) and is highly beneficial for you both physically and mentally.

Fear increases cortisol. Regular physical activity will decrease fear by increasing your self-confidence, resilience, and fortitude, which will reduce your cortisol levels. Yoga will have similar benefits with added benefits of mindfulness training.

If your schedule is too hectic to squeeze in a continuous exercise session, you can build up the same benefits by breaking daily activity into smaller doses. A simple way to guarantee regular activity is to build your normal routine activity into your daily exercise routine. Where possible start riding a bike to work, walking to the shops and walk at lunchtime, this also gets you out of the office and away from your desk and will get you thinking about other things instead of work. Use the stairs instead of the escalator or the lift.If you normally eat your lunch at your desk, maybe you could go to the gym at lunchtime and eat your lunch at your desk afterwards instead. All these things will add up and help you to reduce your cortisol levels throughout the day.

2. Mindfulness and Self Hypnosis: Any type of meditation will reduce anxiety and lower cortisol levels. Simply taking a few deep breaths engages the Vagus nerve which triggers a signal within your nervous system to slow heart rate, lower blood pressure and decreases cortisol. The next time you feel yourself in a stressful situation that activates your ‘Fight-or-Flight’ response take 10 deep breaths and feel your entire body relax, calm down and slow down.

Setting aside 5-15 minutes to practice mindfulness meditation or self hypnosis will develop a sense of calm throughout your nervous system, mind, and brain. There are many different types of meditation. “Meditating” doesn’t have to be a sacred or tree huggey experience. I’m often asked as to specifically what kind of meditation or self hypnosis do I use and how do I do it/use it. There are so many techniques/methods and to be honest it is best to explore and find what works for you and then refine it and make it your own. I suggest that you do more research, and fine-tune a daily meditation/self hypnosis routine that fits your schedule and personality.

3. Social Connectivity: Two studies have been published in the journal Science illustrate that social agression and isolation lead to increased levels of cortisol in mice that trigger a cascade of potential mental health problems—especially in adolescence.

Follow the link here to find theses papers and many more:
http://www.sciencemag.org/search?site_area=sciencejournals&y=0&fulltext=Social%20aggression%20and%20isolation&x=0&journalcode=sci&journalcode=sigtrans&journalcode=scitransmed&submit=yes

A team of researchers at Johns Hopkins established that elevated levels of cortisol in adolescence change the expression of numerous genes linked to mental illness in some people. They discovered that these changes in young adulthood, which is a crucial time for brain development, could cause severe mental illness in those predisposed to it. These findings, reported in the January 2013 journal Science, could have wide-reaching implications in both prevention and treatment of schizophrenia, severe depression and other mental illnesses.

Akira Sawa, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and his team set out to simulate social isolation associated with the difficult years of adolescence in human teens. They found that isolating mice known to have a genetic predisposition for mental illness during their adolescence triggered ‘abnormal behaviours’ that continued even when returned to the group. They found that the effects of adolescent isolation lasted into the equivalent of mouse adulthood.

https://bbrfoundation.org/scientific-council/akira-sawa

“We have discovered a mechanism for how environmental factors, such as stress hormones, can affect the brain’s physiology and bring about mental illness,” says Sawa, the study leader. “We’ve shown in mice that stress in adolescence can affect the expression of a gene that codes for a key neurotransmitter related to mental function and psychiatric illness. While many genes are believed to be involved in the development of mental illness, my gut feeling is environmental factors are critically important to the process.”

To shed light on how and why some mice got better, Sawa and his team studied the link between cortisol and the release of dopamine. Sawa says the new study suggests that we need to think about better preventative care for teenagers who have mental illness in their families, including efforts to protect them from social stressors, such as neglect. Meanwhile, by understanding the flood of events that occurs when cortisol levels are elevated, researchers may be able to develop new compounds to target tough-to-treat psychiatric disorders with fewer side effects.

In another study, published on January 18, 2013 in the journal Science researchers from France revealed that mice who were subjected to aggression, by specific mice bred to be ‘bullies’ released cortisol which triggered a response that led to social aversion to all other mice. The exact cascade of neurobiological changes was complex but also involved dopamine. The researchers found that if they blocked the cortisol receptors that the ‘bullied’ mice became more resilient and no longer avoided their fellow creatures.

Close knit human bonds, whether it be family, friendship or a romantic partner, are vital for your physical and mental health at any age.  Recent studies have shown that the Vagus nerve also responds to human connectivity and physical touch to relax your parasympathetic nervous system.

The “tend-and-befriend” response is the exact opposite to “fight-or-flight”. The “tend-and-befriend” response increases oxytocin and reduces cortisol. Make an effort to spend real face-to-face time with loved ones whenever you can, however, even phone calls and Facebook can reduce cortisol if they foster a feeling of genuine connectivity.

4. Have Fun and Laugh Often: Having fun and laughing reduces cortisol levels. Dr. William Fry is an American psychiatrist who has been studying the benefits of laughter for the past 30 years and has found links to laughter and lowered levels of stress hormones. Many studies have shown the benefits of having a sense of humor, laughter and levity. Try to find ways in your daily life to laugh and joke as much as possible and you’ll lower cortisol levels. Watch your favourite comedy movie, favourite comedian or anything on Youtube for example that makes you laugh, feel good and happy, as this will begin to reduce your cortisol levels.

5. Music: Listening to Music that you love, and fits whatever mood you’re in, has been shown to lower cortisol levels. We all know the power of music to improve mood and reduce stress. Add reducing your cortisol levels as another reason to keep the music playing as a soundtrack of health and happiness in your life.

6. Quality Nutrition: What we eat and the quality of that food is important when life is good and we’re happy and content. When life throws a curve ball at you and you’re stressed, depressed, anxious and nervous, it is even more important to eat high quality nutrition.

Society has change much in recent years and life and work is becoming faster paced, we often look for the quick, easy and convenient option for food which is not necessarily the best option. So, to combat this, it is beneficial for you to look at high quality nutritional supplements that help to keep the physical symptoms of stress and anxiety at bay. When you feel good on the inside it makes you much more capable of dealing with the stresses of the outside world and one of the downsides of eating too much wheat, soft drinks, caffeine, alcohol etc, is that it puts your body’s PH out of balance and leads you into an acidic state. When your body is too acidic it promotes the growth of unhealthy bacteria, virus, fungus etc in your gut and causes joint pain and inflammation of muscles, tendons and ligaments. Also our gut becomes unable to fully and efficiently absorb the nutrients from the food we eat, which further runs down our immune system and metabolism.

When you redress that balance and return it to a slightly alkaline state, as you can see in the image below, our bodies return to a state of equilibrium that allows our gut to absorb nutrients efficiently and effectively which means we get everything we need to stay in the optimum state of health.

PH Range

Conclusion
The ripple effect of a fearful, isolated and stressed out society increases cortisol levels across the board for all of us and this creates a public health crisis and a huge drain on the economy. So, if we all work individually, and together, to reduce cortisol our levels we will all benefit and we will reduce the amount of stress hormones flowing around in our society and in individual lives.

In short, when we feel socially connected, safe, and self-reliant it reduces our cortisol levels. I hope the top tips presented above will help you make lifestyle choices that reduce your own levels of stress hormone and help you to help your friends, family work colleagues and perhaps even some strangers to reduce theirs and feel happier and healthier.

References:
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201301/cortisol-why-the-stress-hormone-is-public-enemy-no-1

http://www.sciencemag.org/search?site_area=sciencejournals&y=0&fulltext=Stress%20and%20mental%20illness&x=0&journalcode=sci&journalcode=sigtrans&journalcode=scitransmed&submit=yes

http://www.sciencemag.org/search?site_area=sciencejournals&y=0&fulltext=Social%20aggression%20and%20isolation&x=0&journalcode=sci&journalcode=sigtrans&journalcode=scitransmed&submit=yes

https://bbrfoundation.org/scientific-council/akira-sawa

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201312/why-is-the-teen-brain-so-vulnerable