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Hypnosis and Asthma

Asthma is a serious disease that affects over 3 million Canadians. Not only can it leave you struggling just to breathe, but it can overwhelm you with feelings of terror and panic. And while there are various drugs that can help to relieve and even stop an attack, most of them have negative side-effects, especially when used too much.

This is where hypnosis can really help, because there has been a tremendous amount of research that proves hypnosis can play a vital role in the management of asthma.

First, it is one of the most effective ways to gain control over negative emotions such as stress, anxiety and panic. And while these emotions have been proven to trigger an attack, their real destructive power lies in the fact that once an attack starts, these feelings can quickly overwhelm you and make things far worse.

Second, there has been some exciting research that shows hypnosis can be used to retrain the immune system. This means it can be used to lower your sensitivity to various allergens such as dust and pollen. It has also been proven to reduce the inflammation and swelling caused by such an attack, which is good news for your airways.

Thirdly, if the asthma was initially triggered by some traumatic event in your life, even if this event happened when you were just an infant, hypnosis can be used to alter your perception of this event and dramatically reduce the hold it has has over your life, possibly even helping to eliminate this disease from your life.

Call Allan Clews at 416-556-6238 today to find out more.

Asthma Fact Sheet

This is a potentially deadly condition where the lungs and airways are far too sensitive and are easily inflamed by harmless substances such as dust and pollen. During an asthma attack, the body's immune system thinks it is under attack and it goes into overdrive in order to repell what it believes to be a deadly invader. This causes the smooth muscles in the airways to constrict and for the airways themselves to grow inflamed and swollen; making it harder and harder to breath.

It can affect people of all ages, however;

  • half of the cases involve children under the age of ten;

  • it is more common in boys than girls (under the age of ten);

  • it is more common in women than men (adults).

How Hypnosis Can Help You

Studies have shown that those who are prone to asthma tend to be fairly hypnotizable. As a result, hypnosis is ideally suited to help you manage your asthma better because;

  • allergies (dust, molds, spores, pets);

  • environmental irritants (smoke, chemicals, air pollution);

  • lung infections (colds, bronchitis);

  • certain types of exercise;

  • a possible aspirin intolerance;

  • emotions such as anger, stress, and anxiety.


  • a shortness of breath;

  • a tightness in the chest;

  • wheezing (especially on the out-breath);

  • coughing;

  • a tightness in the neck;

  • trouble speaking;

  • a bluish colour to the skin (because of lack of oxygen);

  • fear and anxiety;

  • mental restlessness and possible confusion;

  • sleeplessness and fatigue.

Some Research That Proves These Claims...

The scientific research is conclusive. If you are capable of entering into a moderately deep state of hypnosis (something 70% of the population can achieve), then hypnosis can help you to reduce the number and intensity of your asthma attacks. It can also help you to control any emotions that might make it worse. And it might even be able to help you to grow out of it by pin-pointing the emotional event that first triggered your astham. Here is a summation of some of these studies...

Hypnosis for Asthma - A Controlled Trial. Br Med J 1968;4:71-76 (12 October), doi:10.1136/bmj.4.5623.71. A Report to the Research Committee of the British Tuberculosis Association

This study involved 250 patients aged 10 to 60 who were suffering from asthma. They were randomly placed into two groups: 127 were given monthly hypnosis sessions for a year and taught to practice self-hypnosis at home every day, and 125 (the control group) were taught a series of breathing exercises designed to induce a deep level of relaxation. When they were independently assessed at the end of the trial there was a statistically significant difference between the health of two groups. The group that had been given hypnosis had improved by 59% compared to a 43% improvement among those who had only been taught the breathing exercises.

Evidence-Based Hypnotherapy for Asthma: A Critical Review. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis 2007 April.55(2)220-49. Brown D.

This paper reviewed various research studies involving the use of hypnosis with asthmatics and it determined that while hypnosis has been shown to help treat some of the physical symptoms associated with asthma such as the obstruction of airways and the inflammatory process, it has been proven to help improve the emotional well-being of asthmatic and help them to reduce the emotional triggers that can lead to asthma attacks. It also concludes that in spite of the numerous promising studies, there are some problems with the methodology and that larger, better designed studies are really needed.

Hypnotic Susceptibility and Its Relationship To Outcome In The Behavioral Treatment Of Asthma: Some Preliminary Data. Psychological Reports. 1989 Oct; 65(2): 691-8. Murphy AI, Lehrer PM, Karlin R, Swartzman L, Hochron S, McCann B.

This study involved 12 subjects who were assessed on their hypnotizability using the Harvard Group Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility and it was found that those who were the most hypnotizable improved the most when subjected to a methacholine test to measure the severity of their asthma. Those who were the most hypnotizable also reported a greater improvement in their symptoms.

Chronic Asthma and Improvement With Relaxation Induced By Hypnotherapy. J R Soc Med. 1988 Dec; 81(12) 701-4. Morrison JB.

This study followed 16 asthmatics whose condition was not properly controlled by drugs. They were given hypnosis sessions Southport General Infirmary in England. As a group their admissions to the hospital dropped from 44 (the year before the use hypnosis) to 13 (the year following their hypnosis sessions). Furthermore, 13 of these asthamatics reduced the total number of days they spent in hospital by 249 when these two periods were compared. 8 of them reduced their use of prednisolonee, 6 stopped taking prednisolone all together, and the other 2 did not increase their dosage. Adverse side-effects from their medication was also reduced. And 62% of them reported that their condition had improved.

Improvement In Bronchial Hyper-Responsiveness In Patient With Moderate Asthma After Treatment With A Hypnotic Technique: A Randomised Controlled Trial. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed). 1986 Nov 1;293(6555): 1129-32. Ewer TC, Stewart DE

39 adults who had mild to moderate asthma were graded on their hypnotizability. 12 who moderately to highly hypnotizable and 10 who were much less hypnotizable were then enrolled in a 6 week hypnotherapy program. The 12 who responded well to hypnosis improved their bronchial hyper-responsiveness (as measured by the methacholine challenge test) by 79%. In addition to this 41% of them reported an improvement in their symptoms 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.

Hypnosis for Exercise-Induced Asthma.American review of respiratory disease. 1982 Apr;125(4):392-5. Ben-Zvi Z, Spohn WA, Young SH, Kattan M.

This study explored the effectiveness on 10 stable asthmatics who were required to run on a treadmill for 6 minutes a day on 5 separate days. They received hypnosis on 2 of those days, and either saline or cromolyn mist (randomly given in a double-blind fashion with the suggestion that they were going to have a positive effect) on 2 other days and no treatment on 1 day. The study concluded that hypnosis can alter the magnitude of the response to exercise-induced asthma and help reduce the bronchospasms that occurred after exercise.

Hypnosis and Asthma: Critical Review. Journal of Asthma, Volume 37, Issue 1 February 2000 , pages 1 - 15. Hackman RM, Stern JS, Gershwin ME.

This report analyzed numerous studies that were conducted on the effect of hypnosis on asthmatic patients. It concluded that there was sufficient significant data to conclude that hypnosis can be used to effectively help treat asthma. It found that the effectiveness of hypnosis was enhanced when it involved multiple sessions and then reinforced with self-hypnosis. It found that children responded particular well to hypnosis.

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