NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — People have turned to hypnosis for help with everything from losing weight to quitting smoking.
Now, as CBS 2’s Maurice DuBois reported, hypnosis may also help relieve pain, including severe headaches and migraines.
“I expected abracadabra,” said Hedi White, a migraine sufferer.
But White said hypnosis is no trick, especially when it came to relieving her pain.
“It has really helped me,” she said.
White said she has tried just about every available treatment, but it’s through hypnosis that she learned to get control of her headaches at the onset, before they debilitate her.
“Do I experience the start of headaches? Yes.” she said. “Am I able to head them off? Yes.”
And she’s not alone.
“Hypnosis has helped many people,” said hypnotist Lisa Ludovici.
“In one session, I will teach them how powerful their mind is and how to lower their experience of pain,” she said.
Ludovici said hypnosis uses a guided relaxation and intense concentration to help a person’s attention become so focused that anything else that might be going on — including severe pain — is temporarily blocked out or ignored.
“The subconscious is open to positive suggestion and direction,” Ludovici said.
Dr. Dara Jamieson, director of the Headache Center at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, said studies show hypnosis can be beneficial in managing headaches, but it’s not a proven cure.
“I think hypnosis does play a role for some patients in managing episodic migraine,” she said.
“If an individual realizes that they are beginning to have a migraine headache, then self-hypnosis, as well as other types of relaxation and calming behaviors, can be used to try and abort the pain, as well as lessen the impact of accompanying symptoms,” Jamieson added.
The National Institute of Health reviewed several studies on hypnosis, concluding that it’s effective with some chronic pain, including tension headaches.
“I say to the skeptics, ‘What do you have to lose?'” White said. “It’s definitely a tool that I found very helpful.”
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