What is Medical Hypnosis?

Simply put, medical hypnosis is the use of hypnosis to assist physical healing. The mind and body are not separate. The mind, through thoughts, beliefs, emotions, habits, memories and more is directly connected through nerves and hormones to the entire body. The American Medical Association has acknowledged that 70% of illness starts in the mind. Some physicians estimate this figure should be at least 90%!

Medical hypnosis is an accepted form of medical treatment that has been used for thousands of years. Hypnosis is one of the oldest forms of medical therapy dating back to ancient Egypt. Writings dating as far back as 3000 BC describe the use of hypnosis in the treatment of human illness. In the ancient temples of Aesculapius, the Greek god of medicine, advice and reassurance were uttered by priests to sleeping patients. The patients interpreted this as the gods speaking to them in their dreams.

Anthropologists and archaeologists have documented numerous cases of primitive civilizations using hypnotic phenomena to cure illness, to incite energy for warfare and ecstasy for religious celebrations. It made its appearance in the Native American coming-of-age ritual of vision quest.

A complete history of hypnosis is easy to find but too exhaustive for this particular article. Just search on the internet for “History of Hypnosis” for fascinating accounts of the checkered past of hypnosis!

Recent History of Medical Hypnosis

  • In 1955, the British Medical Association (BMA) formally endorsed the practice of teaching hypnosis in medical schools. They approved it as a recognized form of medical practice.
  • 1958 by the American Psychological Association forming a specialty in hypnosis. This professional association established a certifying board of examiners in both clinical and experimental hypnosis.
  • At a formal meeting of the American Medical Association (AMA) in 1959, hypnosis was granted “official status” of an “adjunctive tool” in medicine. As such, it completed the professional acceptance of hypnosis and raised it to a new level. Adding to this, in 1961, the AMA recommended that medical professionals receive 144 hours of training in hypnotherapy.

How Can Medical Hypnotherapy help Physical Conditions?

  • The unconscious mind directly affects the autonomic nervous system and hormones. Suggestions given under hypnosis directly affect intestinal activity, blood flow and immune system responses. The developing field of psycho-neuro-immunology is documenting that thoughts and moods can cause changes in hormone and neurotransmitter levels (Neurotransmitters are chemicals that communicate between cells, controlling many of the body’s processes). Using the mind and the tool of hypnosis can play an important role in the body’s susceptibility to illness as well as the healing process
  • The relaxation of hypnosis is healing by itself. It is well documented that the relaxed state of hypnosis alone lowers pulse and blood pressure, muscles relax, pain is perceived as lessened, elevated blood sugar decreases, the immune system is enhanced, and more. Clients feel calmer and more positive aiding in the healing process.
  • Hypnosis improves motivation and aids in following through with habits that are healthy. By enhanced desire for healthy eating, consistent exercise, better sleeping habits and cessation of smoking, the body is better equipped to heal and remain healthy.

Conditions That Can be helped with Medical Hypnosis

There are thousands of scientific articles showing that medical hypnosis can be beneficial in the following areas. These will be documented further in additional articles on my website. The one cited below indicates merit for the following areas:

  • Pain
  • Childbirth and Obstetrics
  • Headaches, migraines
  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Atopic dermatitis/warts
  • Burns
  • Cancer/chemotherapy
  • Fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Pre and post surgery
  • Hypertension
  • Insomnia
  • Impotence
  • Peptic ulcer
  • Tinnitus
  • TMJ
  • Cardiac rehabilitation
  • And More

In my 19 years of experience as a medical hypnotherapist, I have worked successfully with all of the above (and more), with the exclusion of burns. I incorporate imagery which will be explained in a future article. In short, the powerful tool of imagery affects the autonomic nervous system that governs physiologic functions that normally operate without conscious control. Cognitive tools and self-hypnosis skills are always taught in my sessions.

Working with Your Health Care Professionals

It is important you consult with your health care professionals to determine if hypnotherapy can be useful to you. Using hypnosis and other self-healing approaches for illness without making a careful assessment of your condition can be dangerous and even life threatening. Hypnosis is a powerful tool and can even affect your current medications. Avoid postponing medical treatment in favor of alternative care. Keep your medical care providers informed of what you are doing. Think of your hypnotherapist as part of your medical team.

Make Sure You Find a Trained Medical Hypnotherapist

Since hypnotherapy training and requirements can vary from state to state, make sure you do your research. See if licensure, registration or certification is required. Check their training and experience especially experience with your issue. Look for specific training in medical hypnotherapy as most hypnotherapists only have clinical training. Most importantly, you should feel comfortable with your hypnotherapist.

If you are ready to make an appointment to receive medical hypnosis, and you live near Portland Oregon or Newport, Oregon, call Nancy at 503-684-4112.


The following scientific article is one of the best summaries of medical hypnotherapy research as of 2005:
Stewart, James, MD. Hypnosis in Contemporary Medicine. Mayo Clin Proc. April 2005: 80(4):511-524.