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Can Hypnotherapy help stress-related illnesses?

Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) sounds complicated but the principle behind it is quite simple. PNI is the study of the interaction between psychological processes, and the nervous and immune systems of the body. It is often just referred to as the mind-body connection as it's basically about how a person's mental state influences disease and healing.

PNI studies have looked at how stress, hostility and depression impact on the immune system. Many conditions such as heart disease, osteoporosis, IBS and arthritis are related to stress and negative emotions. So PNI gives credibility to the view held by many people that the mind is somehow able to influence disease and healing.

Stress in small doses is not harmful to the body. In fact it can be quite beneficial as it can help motivate us to get tasks done. It's when the “fight or flight” response is switched on for long periods of time that problems start to occur. We have all experienced this response at some time, accompanied with an increase in heart rate, rapid breathing, a dry mouth and so on. Back in caveman times this was necessary to prepare the body to run away from predators or deal with other life threatening situations. However if it happens to us now in modern times, we are left with a cocktail of stress hormones streaming through our body and this can affect the way the body functions. e.g. most of us have experienced times of stress when we seem to come down with more colds. If this stress goes on for extended periods it can lead to more serious illness, in some cases life threatening or disabling conditions.

It follows on from this that a positive state of mind can have the opposite effect and have a beneficial role in healing. PNI studies have shown that a range of complementary therapies, including Hypnotherapy and Mindfulness, combined with good nutrition and exercise can help to reverse the stress response and boost the immune system.

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