If only it were that simple; a trance, a few words and a gazing at a swinging silver watch. Well maybe it is. There’s scientific evidence that hypnosis can improve migraines to the same extent as some medication treatment.
In 1975 two researchers, T. Andreychuk and C. Skriver, assigned thirty-three migraine sufferers to one of three treatment groups. One group were given EEG biofeedback, one temperature biofeedback, and the third were trained in self-hypnosis. For ten weeks each group was given a forty-five minute session of their respective experimental treatments and asked to practice the treatment at home twice daily in addition to this. Every group found that they had an improvement in their migraines as compared to those they experienced before the research.
However hopeful these results were, it has to be said that the effectiveness of the treatment correlated with each participants relative hypnotic susceptibility as assessed by Andreychuk and Skriver prior to testing. So it would seem that for the treatment to work you have to first leave your mind open to believing it will work.
There is more good evidence that hypnosis may be an effective treatment. In a double-blind placebo controlled study and in further research studies undertaken by a range of different researchers hypnosis has proven to be highly effective.
In one research study hypnosis was also compared with the prescription medication prochlorperazine. Participants reported far fewer migraines if they had been in the hypnosis group as opposed to the medication group. Out of the twenty-three who received hypnosis, ten of them found their migraines stopped. In the medication group this number was only three.
The recommended techniques for hypnosis can include regularly seeing a professional hypnotherapist but also being taught self-hypnosis. This involves self-hypnosis tapes at bedtime, hypnosis facilitated relaxation and imagery modification. Another recommended technique is to use hand warming where the patient visualises transferring warmth to where the pain is in their head.
Either way, whether it ends up working for you or not, it has to be work a shot right? With no side effects, a proven track record of success in scientific research and the convenience of home treatment we’re certainly game for trying it. How about you?
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