Hypnosis is used on a young patient at the Montreal Children’s Hospital

Hypnosis is used on a young patient at the Montreal Children’s Hospital

MONTREAL — A Quebec hospital is touting the use of medical hypnosis after the results of a pilot project suggested it can reduce pain and anxiety in patients.

The trial conducted at the Montreal Children’s Hospital also resulted in a reduction in the amount of medication administered to perform medical imaging procedures.

“Patients don’t move. It works perfectly. It’s amazing,” said Johanne L’Ecuyer, a medical imaging technologist at the hospital.

The pilot project originated when L’Ecuyer and colleague Maryanne Fortin travelled to France to meet with teams from Rouen University Hospital Centre and Hopital Femme Mere Enfant in Lyon.

“What we saw there floored us,” L’Ecuyer said. “Examinations that we do under general anesthesia here are done there under hypnosis — it was very impressive.”

A French medical imaging technologist — also a hypnotherapist — was invited to train a few members the hospital’s medical imaging department.

In all, 80 examinations were conducted for the project between January and September 2019, focusing on two imaging procedures known to trigger anxiety — the insertion of a central catheter and a procedure used to examine a child’s urinary tract and bladder.

Ultimately, the success of the procedure comes down to trust.

“The most important thing is that the patient feels confident with the person who will do the procedure,” L’Ecuyer said. “The hypnosis procedure starts as soon as the patient is in the waiting room.”

Crucial to the success are the technologist’s verbal and non-verbal cues — to smile and to show empathy, which lays the foundation for a bond of trust with the patient.

Hypnosis is not a state of sleep: it is rather a modified state of consciousness of which anyone is capable, young or old. It’s to this altered state that the technologist will guide the patient — an imaginary world that will dissociate itself more and more from the procedure that awaits.

“The technologist must establish a story with the patient,” L’Ecuyer said. “The patient is left with the power to choose what he wants to talk about. Do you play sports? Do you like going to the beach? We establish a subject that we will discuss throughout the procedure. The technologist is completely dedicated to the patient during this examination.”

Everything that happens next during the procedure must be related to this story — an injection becomes the bite of a mosquito; a product that heats the skin becomes the sensation of the sun and a machine that rings becomes a police car that passes nearby.

“The important thing is that the technologist associates what is happening outside the patient’s body with what they see in their head,” L’Ecuyer said. “It requires creativity on the part of the technologist, imagination, a lot of patience, a lot of empathy and a lot of kindness. It’s a different way of doing things.”

After each procedure, young patients were asked to rate their discomfort and pain on a scale of 0 to 10. To date, the average score is 5.1 without medical hypnosis and 1.7 with hypnosis.

The procedure intrigued staff when it was introduced, but L’Ecuyer said she asked everyone to wait until the results of the pilot project were in.

“It spread like wildfire (in January) that someone from France was here to train the technologists,” L’Ecuyer said. She said she had a line of staff at her door wanting to take the training.

Given the success, she expects it will grow beyond medical imaging.

“There are plenty of departments to benefit from this,” she said.

 – This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Dec. 5, 2019. Courtesy: Montreal Children’s Hospital

Hypnosis, a promising treatment for sleep problems.

Hypnosis, a promising treatment for sleep problems.

Do you experience stress, anxiety, worries and suffer the negative consequences of sleep deprivation? If that is the case, this article could be of interest to you.

Sleep is an altered state or consciousness or partial unconsciousness from which a person can be woken. Normal sleep comprises two components: Non-Rapid Eye Movement [NREM] and Rapid Eye Movement [REM] sleep. NREM and REM sleep alternate throughout the night.

NREM sleep consists of four gradual merging stages, each characterised by different EEG activity.  Typically, a person goes from Stage 1-4 in less than 1 hour with increasingly deep sleep. Body temperature drops, muscles relax, heart rate and breathing slow down. The deepest stage of NREM sleep produces physiological changes that help boost immune system functioning.

In REM sleep, the eyes move rapidly back and forth under the closed eyelids. REM sleep occurs approximately every 90 minutes and in a 7or 8-hour sleep period a person experiences three to five episodes of REM sleep. There is a lengthening of REM sleep with each episode; with the final episode lasting approximately 50 minutes.

In adults, REM sleep totals 90 – 120 minutes during a sleep period.  As a person ages, the average time spent sleeping decreases [the percentage of REM sleep] declines. As much as 50% of an infant’s sleep is REM sleep, whilst 35% for a 2-year-old and 25% for adults. Although REM sleep is not fully understood, the high percentage of REM sleep in children is thought to be important for brain maturation.

Neuronal activity is high during REM sleep – brain blood flow and oxygen is higher during REM sleep than during intense mental or physical activity while awake. Body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing increase to levels measured when people are awake. Studies report that REM sleep enhances learning, memory and contributes to emotional health.

Several physiological changes occur during sleep. Most dreaming occurs during REM sleep and the EEG readings are like those of a person who is awake.  

Sleep deprivation has been shown to impair attention, learning and performance.

Hence, psychological state and mental health is affected. Studies in both adults and children suggest that sleep problems may raise risk for, and even directly contribute to the development of some psychiatric disorders. This research has clinical application, because treating a sleep disorder may also help alleviate symptoms of a co-occurring mental health problem.

Many areas about the relationship between sleep and mental health is not yet completely understood. However, neuroimaging and neurochemistry studies suggest that a good night’s sleep helps foster both mental and emotional resilience, while chronic sleep deprivation contributes to negative thinking and emotional vulnerability.

Lifestyle changes for better sleep, mental health and wellbeing!

Lifestyle changes. Avoiding certain stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol and nicotine. Caffeine acts as a central nervous system stimulant. When it reaches the brain, the most noticeable effect is alertness. Alcohol initially depresses the nervous system and may help an individual to fall asleep. However, its’ effect wears off after several hours and the individual wakes up. Nicotine is a stimulant and enhances alertness. The best recommendation is to avoid these substances before bedtime.

Physical activity:  Being physically active [incidental or focused exercise] helps a person sleep sooner, spend more time in deep sleep, and awaken less often during the night.

Sleep hygiene: It is worth thinking about “sleep hygiene”. This term is used to check a tick list of things to ensure an individual has regular sleep. For instance, the bedroom is dark, no electronics are operating, bed linen is not too heavy or light, air ventilation is not too warm or cold and using the bedroom only for sleeping or sex.

Conventional methods for treating sleep problems include pharmacological and nonpharmacological approaches. Sedative medications are commonly prescribed for sleep problems; however, their long-term effects remain unclear.  Other approaches are the nonpharmacological, which include Meditation, Hypnotherapy, CBT-I, Deep breathing exercises, and Progressive muscle relaxation (alternately tensing and releasing muscles) can help an individual fall asleep sooner.

One approach – hypnosis, is the state of consciousness that involves focused attention and reduced peripheral awareness and that brings about an enhanced capacity for response to suggestion. Hypnosis is appealing to clinicians and patients because it is typically brief and can provide long-term symptom relief.

If you or someone else you know has difficulties with falling and staying asleep, please contact us for a chat: Satori Self Development (02) 4647 4868 or 0407 906 999.

In the Journal of Sleep Medicine (2018), Hypnosis Intervention Effects on Sleep Outcomes: A Systematic Review was presented.

In this article, quoted as follows:

Study Objectives: Sleep improvement is a promising target for preventing and modifying many health problems. Hypnosis is considered a cost-effective and safe intervention with reported benefits for multiple health conditions. There is a growing body of research assessing the efficacy of hypnosis for various health conditions in which sleep was targeted as a primary or secondary outcome. This review aimed to investigate the effects of hypnosis interventions on sleep, to describe the hypnotic procedures, and to evaluate potential adverse effects of hypnosis.

Methods: We reviewed studies (prior to January 2017) using hypnosis in adults for sleep problems and other conditions comorbid with sleep problems, with at least one sleep outcome measure. Randomized controlled trials and other prospective studies were included.

Results: One hundred thirty-nine nonduplicate abstracts were screened, and 24 of the reviewed papers were included for qualitative analysis. Overall, 58.3% of the included studies reported hypnosis benefit on sleep outcomes, with 12.5% reporting mixed results, and 29.2% reporting no hypnosis benefit; when only studies with lower risk of bias were reviewed the patterns were similar. Hypnosis intervention procedures were summarized, and incidence of adverse experiences assessed.

Conclusions: Hypnosis for sleep problems is a promising treatment that merits further investigation. Available evidence suggests low incidence of adverse events. The current evidence is limited because of few studies assessing populations with sleep complaints, small samples, and low methodological quality of the included studies. Our review points out some beneficial hypnosis effects on sleep but more high-quality studies on this topic are warranted.

J Clin Sleep Med. 2018 Feb 15; 14(2): 271–283.

Published online 2018 Feb 15. doi: 10.5664/jcsm.6952

PMCID: PMC5786848 PMID: 29198290

Health Funds that offer rebates for Hypnotherapy.

Health Funds that offer rebates for Hypnotherapy.

If you are thinking to address concerns/ issues or wish to enhance performance and wondering if your health fund offers rebates for hypnotherapy, check the list below. The list is subject to changes because the health fund providers regularly update their policies. You are encouraged to contact your health provider to check if any changes have been made to rebates for hypnotherapy.

List is adopted from the ASCH website.

  • hm Health Insurance
    registered psychologists only
  • Australian Unity Health Limited
  • CBHS Health Fund
  • CDH Benefits Fund
    CUA Health quit smoking only
  • GMHBA
    registered psychologists only
  • Grand United Corporate Health
  • HBF Health
  • Health Care Insurance
    quit smoking and weight loss only
  • Health Partners
  • health.com.au
    limited cover and only if signed off by a GP
  • Medibank Private only if you have bonus extras
  • MO My Own Health Insurance registered psychologists only
  • National Health Benefits Australia
    registered psychologists only
  • Navy Health
  • Peoplecare Health Insurance
    registered psychologists only
  • Phoenix Health Fund
  • Police Health
    registered psychologists only
  • Queensland Country Health Fund quit smoking and weight loss only
  • Railway and Transport Health Fund
  • Teachers Health Fund
  • TUH registered psychologists only
  • Westfund

Preliminary evidence that vagus nerve stimulation is a promising treatment for refractory depression, post traumatic stress disorder, and inflammatory bowel disease – an opportunity for mindfulness approach, meditation and hypnotherapy.

The vagus nerve represents the main component of the parasympathetic nervous system, which oversees bodily functions. It establishes one of the connections between the brain and the gastrointestinal tract and sends information about the state of the inner organs to the brain via afferent fibers. It is the tenth cranial nerve, extending from its origin in the brainstem through the neck and the thorax down to the abdomen. Due to its long path through the human body, it has also been described as the “wanderer nerve”.

The vagus nerve has several different functions.

The four key functions of the vagus nerve are:

  • Sensory: From the throat, heart, lungs, and abdomen.
  • Special sensory: Provides taste sensation behind the tongue.
  • Motor: Provides movement functions for the muscles in the neck responsible for swallowing and speech.
  • Parasympathetic: Responsible for the digestive tract, respiration, and heart rate functioning.

Vagus nerve functions can be broken down into seven categories.

One of these categories is balancing the nervous system.

The nervous system can be divided into two areas: sympathetic and parasympathetic. The sympathetic side increases alertness, energy, blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing rate. The parasympathetic side, which the vagus nerve is heavily involved in, decreases alertness, blood pressure, and heart rate, and helps with calmness, relaxation, and digestion. As a result, the vagus nerve also helps with defecation, urination, and sexual arousal.

Other vagus nerve effects include:

  • Communication between the brain and the gut: The vagus nerve delivers information from the gut to the brain.
  • Relaxation with deep breathing: The vagus nerve communicates with the diaphragm. With deep breaths, a person feels more relaxed.
  • Decreasing inflammation: The vagus nerve sends an anti-inflammatory signal to other parts of the body.
  • Lowering the heart rate and blood pressure: If the vagus nerve is overactive, it can lead to the heart being unable to pump enough blood around the body. In some cases, excessive vagus nerve activity can cause loss of consciousness and organ damage.
  • Fear management: The vagus nerve sends information from the gut to the brain, which is linked to dealing with stress, anxiety and fear. These signals help a person to recover from stressful and anxious situations.

There is preliminary evidence that vagus nerve stimulation is a promising treatment for refractory depression, post traumatic stress disorder, and inflammatory bowel disease. Treatments that target the vagus nerve increase the vagal tone and inhibit cytokine production. The stimulation of vagal afferent fibers in the gut influences monoaminergic brain systems in the brain stem that play crucial roles in major psychiatric conditions, such as mood and anxiety disorders.

Furthermore, there is preliminary evidence for gut bacteria to have beneficial effect on mood and anxiety, partly by affecting the activity of the vagus nerve. Since, the vagal tone is correlated with capacity to regulate stress responses and can be influenced by breathing, its increase through meditation and other modalities likely contribute to resilience and the decrease in mood and anxiety symptoms.

An increasing number of studies have shown benefits with relaxation-related treatment of Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD). For example, a randomized controlled trial of a relaxation-training intervention compared to a control group has shown decrease in pain as well as decreased anxiety levels and improvements in quality of life (206). Also, mindfulness-based therapy (207), a comprehensive mind-body program (208), meditation (209), mind-body alternative approaches (210), yoga (211), and relaxation response-based mind-body interventions (212) have shown to be beneficial for IBD patients. In addition, hypnotherapy, which increases vagal tone (213), has been effective in the treatment of IBD (12).

Read in depth:

Front. Psychiatry, 13 March 2018 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00044

Vagus Nerve as Modulator of the Brain–Gut Axis in Psychiatric and Inflammatory Disorders

Sigrid Breit1†, Aleksandra Kupferberg1†, Gerhard Rogler2 and Gregor Hasler1*

  • 1Division of Molecular Psychiatry, Translational Research Center, University Hospital of Psychiatry, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
  • 2Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University Hospital Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland