Professor David Spiegel, of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences at Stanford University in the US, has called on the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) to add hypnotherapy to its official list of therapeutic techniques for the treatment of conditions ranging from allergies and high blood pressure to the pain associated with bone marrow transplantation, cancer treatment and anaesthesia for liver biopsy. Nice has already approved the technique for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome.
Professor Marie-Elisabeth Faymonville, head of the Pain Clinic at Liege University Hospital in Belgium, has operated on more than 6,000 patients using hypnosis combined with a light local anaesthetic and promotes this alternative therapy as one with little to no side effects. It lessons the time for operations as the patient is able to converse with the surgeon during the procedure. It is cheaper than conventional pain relief and also offers speedier recovery times for patients.
The reason Hypnosis is successful in these situations is down to the fact that the body’s brain and nervous system can’t always distinguish an imagined situation from a real occurrence. This means the brain can act on any image or verbal suggestion as if it were reality. Hypnosis puts patients into a state of deep relaxation that is very susceptible to imagery. The more vivid this imagery, the greater the effect on the body.
Dr Martin Wall, president of the Section Hypnosis and Psychosomatic Medicine at the Royal Society of Medicine, said hypnosis fundamentally alters a subject’s state of mind. Hypnosis is not, he said, simply a matter of suggestibility and relaxation.
Nice said that if the hypnotherapy technique could prove to be cost effective and consistent, they would welcome it as an approved therapeutic technique on the NHS.