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Reading Materials

Top Studies and Other Evidence

Author: Bruce Bonnett


Date Published: Mon, May 1, 2017
Last Revised: Sun, Feb 28, 2021
Publisher: American Hypnosis Association

Compiled and written for the American Hypnosis Association by Bruce Bonnett:

  • Senior Staff Instructor at HMI College of Hypnotherapy

  • Harvard Law School Graduate

  • President of the Hypnotherapists Union Local 472



As more and more studies show that hypnosis helps patients with many common medical problems, interest in hypnotherapy for medical issues is greater than ever before.

The use of hypnosis for medical issues is not exactly new. Back in 1958, the American Medical Association (AMA) recognized that hypnosis is a useful technique in the treatment of certain illnesses and a valid medical procedure.[1] In fact, the Wall Street Journal reported in 2003 that hypnosis “is increasingly being employed in mainstream medicine”[2] and in 2012 that “scientific evidence is mounting that hypnosis can be effective in a variety of medical situations.”[3]

A 2016 study done by researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine confirms that hypnosis is indeed a real thing. The study was conducted with functional magnetic resonance imaging, a scanning method that measures blood flow in the brain. It found changes in activity in brain areas of hypnotized persons that are thought to be involved in focused attention, the monitoring and control of the body’s functioning, and the awareness and evaluation of a person’s internal and external environments.[4]

Yet, hypnosis is still underutilized for medical issues. In 2016, Pierre-Yves Rodondi, a doctor at the University Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine at the Lausanne University Hospital in Lausanne, Switzerland, said: "If hypnosis were a medication it would already be in all hospitals, but it is an approach, and thus it must overcome cultural barriers."[5]

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 References (See Below)

  1. University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) 

  2. Altered States: Hypnosis In Mainstream Medicine

  3. Medical Hypnosis: You Are Getting Very Healthy

  4. Study Identifies Brain Areas Altered During Hypnotic Trances and
    Is Hypnosis All in Your Head? Brain Scans Suggest Otherwise

  5. Impact Journalism Day: Healing Powers of Hypnosis Promoted by Swiss and
    Switzerland Hospital Promotes the Healing Powers of Hypnosis

Top Studies: Most Common Issues

Here are brief descriptions of just some of the top studies done at universities and hospitals that show how hypnosis helps with some of the most common issues that hypnotherapists address. (See References if you are interested in more details about any of these studies).

  1. Smoking Cessation

  2. Weight Loss

  3. Sleep Issues

  4. Stress

  5. IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) / Gastrointestinal Disorders

In 2007, researchers from North Shore Medical Center in Salem, Massachusetts compared 67 people who wanted to quit smoking and were divided into 4 groups based on their method of smoking cessation treatment: (a) hypnotherapy; (b) nicotine replacement therapy; (c) nicotine replacement therapy plus hypnotherapy; and (d) quitting “cold turkey.” They concluded that a person may be more likely to quit smoking through the use of hypnotherapy than by using other smoking cessation methods. This study shows that smokers who participated in one hypnotherapy session were more likely to be nonsmokers after 6 months compared with patients using nicotine replacement therapy alone or patients who quit "cold turkey.”[1.1]

In 1979, researchers from Guy's Hospital Medical School in London studied 18 patients who had suffered from insomnia for at least 3 months. They concluded that patients slept significantly longer with hypnosis alone than when they received a placebo. Also, significantly more patients had a normal night’s sleep when using self-hypnosis alone than when they received a placebo or Mogadon/Nitrazepam – a benzodiazepine drug.[3.1]

In 2015, a researcher from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill reviewed 35 studies on the use of hypnosis for gastrointestinal disorders including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The conclusion was that research shows unequivocally that for both adults and children with IBS, hypnosis treatment is highly efficacious in reducing bowel symptoms and can offer lasting and substantial symptom relief for a large proportion of patients who do not respond adequately to usual medical treatment approaches.[5.1]

In 1986, researchers from the University of British Columbia studied 60 overweight women, which were divided into a group who received hypnosis and another group who did not receive hypnosis. They found that those women who received hypnosis lost an average of 17 pounds while the women who did not receive hypnosis lost an average of 0.5 pounds.[2.1]

In 2013, researchers from the Department of Psychology at Lund University in Sweden studied the effect of participants’ use of hypnosis for two weeks (via audio recording). They found the hypnotic intervention had a medium-to-large beneficial effect on the participants’ experience of stress, burnout and wellbeing.[4.1]

Here are brief descriptions of just some of the top studies done at universities and hospitals that show how hypnosis helps with various other medical issues.

See  References if you are interested in more details about any of these studies.


  1. Dementia / Alzheimer’s Disease

  2. Arthritis

  3. Asthma

  4. Blood Pressure

  5. Cancer

  6. Diabetes

  7. Headaches

  8. Healing

  9. HPV

  10. Medical Tests

  11. Pain

  12. Strokes

Other Studies of Hypnotherapy Currently Underway

Because of the increased interest in hypnosis for medical issues, many new studies on this topic are currently in progress or recruiting participants. Here is a list of some of those



  1. Hypnosis to Perform Awake Intubation

  2. Hypnosis to Improve Sleep In Menopause

  3. Hypnosis, Self-hypnosis and Weight Loss in Obese Patients

  4. Assessment of the Contribution of Hypnosis in the Tolerance of the Bronchoscopy

  5. DVD-Based Training Program in Self-Hypnosis for Children (program for parents to use with their children to teach self-hypnosis techniques for inducing relaxation and hypnotic analgesia; these relaxation techniques can be employed to manage anticipatory anxiety, distress, and pain during an invasive medical procedure)

  6. Hypnosis as a Potentiation Technique for the Interventional Treatment of Chronic Lumbar Pain

  7. Hypnosis for Pain and Itch Following Burn Injuries

  8. Conversational Hypnosis in Women Undergoing Imaging for Breast Cancer

  9. Hypnotherapy in Treating Chronic Pain in Cancer Survivors

  10. Effect of Hypnosis on Dyspnea (shortness of breath)

  11. Self-hypnosis in Patients Awaiting Lung Transplantation

  12. Pediatric Emergency Suture Care: a Trial Comparing the Analgesic Efficacy of Hypnosis Versus MEOPA

  13. Improving Sleep Quality in People With Insomnia Using Hypnosis

  14. Brain-Centered Therapy Versus Medication for Urgency Urinary Incontinence: Hypnotherapy Or Pharmacotherapy

  15. Hypnosis Efficacy for the Prevention of Anxiety During a Coronary Angiography

  16. Randomized Controlled Study of the Efficacy of Hypnosis Versus Relaxation and Control in Neuropathic Pain

  17. Hypnotherapy vs. Probiotics in Children With IBS and Functional Abdominal Pain

  18. Complementary Therapies (including hypnosis) in Spinal Fusion Patients

  19. A Brief Laboratory-Based Hypnosis Session for Pain in Sickle Cell Disease

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