Hypnosis and Migraines
If you suffer from migraines then you know just how incapacitating it is when your head begins to pound with a throbbing pain that can last for hours and even days.
Perhaps you've been given pain-killers, but they don't always work. So you need to crawl away somewhere dark and hide from lights, noise and anything else that just makes it worse.
Fortunately, clinical studies have shown that hypnosis can really help you.
This is because hypnosis has an amazing ability to block pain and help you make deep, internal changes by utilizing the mind/body connection. It has even been proven to change the way blood flows in your brain.
In fact, there are studies that show hypnosis is more effective then medication when treating migraines. And what is even more important, is that the effects of hypnosis last much longer than drugs and there are no side-effects or bad reactions.
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Migraine Fact Sheet
These are intense, throbbing, painful, vascular (i.e. related to blood-vessels and the flow of blood) headaches. They are sometimes preceded by an aura (usually flashes of light, blurred vision, numbness and problems with talking). They are also often linked to the menstrual cycle in women.
there is likely a genetic basis because it runs in families;
probably connected to a problem in the Central Nervous System;
possibly related to the neuro-chemicals dopamine and serotonin.
physical, emotional and mental stress;
too much or too little sleep;
low blood sugar (hypoglycemia);
bright and flickering lights;
loud and startling noises;
changes in the weather;
too much stimulation (such as being stuck in a crowd);
various allergens (such as dust and ragweed);
preserved meats (especially hot dogs and bacon);
certain fruits (such as plums and oranges);
chocolate and other caffeinated products (such as coffee, tea and colas);
yogurt and certain types of aged cheese;
alcohol (particularly red wine).
most common form has no 'aura';
the classic form is preceded by an aura (usually flashes of light, blurred vision, numbness and problems with talking);
a severe, throbbing headache usually confined to one side of the head;
the pain can be so severe it leads to nausea and vomiting;
can last for hours and even days;
made worse by lights and noise;
made worse by people and too much stimulation in the environment;
made worse by physical activity (particularly climbing up and down stairs);
can involve double-vision, loss of balance and partial numbness on one side of the body.
How Hypnosis Can Help You
If you suffer from migraines, then hypnosis is ideally suited to helping you deal with this condition because:
it has an analgesic effect and can help block pain and discomfort;
it can help reduce the amount of medication you require to manage your symptoms;
it can banish those destructive feelings of despair, anxiety and depression that just make things worse;
it can give you a greater sense of control over your life;
it can enhance your innate capacity to heal yourself;
it can help you eat better and begin a healthy exercise program;
it can improve your ability to follow sound medical advice and work with your physicians;
it can help you to deal with the emotional aspect of your migraines;
it can help by allowing you to dissociate yourself (focus your mind and attention elsewhere) from the pain so you don't dwell in it as much;
it can help if there is a link between a specific emotional trauma and the onset of your migraines;
it can help if it involves any subconscious and state-dependent processes.
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. Here is a summation of some of these studies...
Migraine and Hypnotherapy. International Journal of Clinical & Experimental Hypnosis 1975; 23(1): 48-58. Anderson JA, Basker MA, Dalton R.
Forty-seven subjects were recruited and asked to report the number and severity of migraines they had each month for one year. Twenty-three subjects were treated with hypnosis (and taught self-hypnosis) and 24 were treated with the drug prochlorperazine (Stemetil). At the end of the study it was found that those who had been treated with hypnosis experienced significantly fewer blinding migraine attacks than did the medicated group. Furthermore, 10 of those who had been treated with hypnosis no longer experienced any migraines at all, compared to only 3 in the other group.
Review of the Efficacy of Clinical Hypnosis with Headaches and Migraines. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, Vol. 55(2) April 2007;207-219. Corydon Hammond.
A 12-member assessment team from National Institute of Health Technology (in the US) reviewed numerous studies on hypnosis and concluded that it met the criteria to be considered a well-established, effective treatment for headaches and migraines. Furthermore, they concluded that it had no side-effects and that it did not carry any risk of causing an adverse reaction.
Comparison of Self-Hypnosis and Propranolol in The Treatment of Juvenile Classic Migraine. Pediatrics. 1987 Apr;79(4):593-7. Olness K, MacDonald JT, Uden DL.
This study focused on children, 6 to 12 years of age, who were suffering from juvenile classic migraines. They were randomly placed into two groups. One group received a placebo for the first three months, while the other received propranolol. At the end of the three months they switched, so the group who had been receiving propranolol were then given the placebo, while those who had been given the placebo were switched to propranolol (for a further three months). At the end of this initial 6-month period both groups were then taught self-hypnosis. The study found that the mean number of headaches experienced was 13.3 while taking the placebo, 14.9 while taking propranolol, and 5.8 when doing self-hypnosis.
Treatment of Chronic Tension-Type Headache With Hypnotherapy: A Single-Blind Time Controlled Study. Headache. 1991 Nov;31(10):686-9. Melis PM, Rooimans W, Spierings EL, Hoogduin CA.
This paper reports on a study where a special hypnotic technique was used to help patients cope with chronic-tension type headaches. When compared to a control group, the results showed that this hypnotic technique significantly reduced the intensity of the headaches. It also led to a significant reduction in the frequency of the headaches and a reduction in the general level of anxiety.
Other Relevant Research on Hypnosis and Pain-Control
fMRI Study of Hypnosis-Induced Analgesia. A paper presented to the 17th Meeting of the European Neurological Society, 2007. May TS.
This paper reports on a study involving 13 healthy subjects who underwent 'functional magnetic resonance imaging' (fMRI) of their brain while their left hand was subjected to a painful laser beam. The researchers found that there was a significant difference in the way their brains responded to pain while they were in a normal state, compared to when they were in a state of hypnosis. In both the normal and the hypnotic state the primary somasensory cortex (the area in the brain that first receives the pain signals) had a noticeable reaction to the pain. When the subjects were in a normal state, this had a cascading effect on other parts of the brain involved in the perception of, and reaction to, pain (such as "the anterior cingulated gyrus"). However, when they were in a state of hypnosis this cascading effect did not occur. This means that while in a state of hypnoanalgesia the brain registers the pain, however it does not pass these signals onto the other areas of the brain involved in perceiving, feeling and reacting to the pain.
Functional Anatomy of Hypnotic Analgesia: A PET Study of Patients with Fibromyalgia. European Journal of Pain. Vol. 3(1) 1999; 7-12. Wik G, Fischer H, Bragée B, Finer B, Fredrikson M.
In an attempt to understand what happens in the brain when a person is hypnotized and then given suggestions for pain relief, subjects were recruited who were suffering from the painful condition of fibromyalgia. PET (positron emission tomography) scans were then taken of their brains when they were resting and then when they were in a state of hypnotically-induced analgesia. The subjects all reported experiencing less pain when they were in the state of hypnosis, then they did when they were in a state of rest. The researchers also found that there were significant differences in the way the blood flowed through the brain in these two states. They found that during hypnotically-induced analgesia the blood flow "was bilaterally increased in the orbitofrontal and subcallosial cingulate cortices, the right thalamus, and the left inferior parietal cortex, and was decreased bilaterally in the cingulate cortex." This study proved that hypnosis leads to real physical changes in the brain.
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