Effect of self-hypnosis on hay fever symptoms .
Researchers from the Division of Psychosomatic Medicine at The University Hospital of Basel, Switzerland, find that hypnosis is a useful adjunct in the treatment of allergies, hay fever and mild asthma
In a randomised parallel group study over an observation period of two consecutive pollen seasons, 79 patients with a mean age of 34 years (range 19-54 years; 41 males), with moderate to severe allergic rhinitis to grass or birch pollen of at least 2 years duration and mild allergic asthma, were assigned to an average of 2.4 sessions of hypnosis, along with continuation of standard anti-allergic pharmacological treatment. The controls, who received standard anti-allergic pharmacological treatment alone, were added to the study in season two. Outcome measures consisted of nasal flow under hypnosis, pollinosis symptoms from diaries and retrospective assessments, restrictions in well-being and use of anti-allergic medication.
Of 79 randomised patients, 66 completed one, and 52 completed two seasons. Retrospective VAS scores yielded significant improvements in year 1 in patients who had learned self-hypnosis: pollinosis symptoms -29.2 (VAS score, range 0-100; SD 25.4; p < 0.001), restriction of well-being -26.2 (VAS score, range 0-100; SD 28.7; p < 0.001.
In year 2, the control group improved significantly, having learned self-hypnosis as well: pollinosis symptoms -24.8 (SD 29.1; p < 0.001), restriction of well-being -23.7 (SD 30.0; p < 0.001). Daily self-reports of subjects who learnt self-hypnosis do not show a significant improvement. The hazard ratio of reaching a critical flow of 70% in nasal provocation tests was 0.333 (95% CI 0.157-0.741) after having learnt and applied self-hypnosis.
The randomized, controlled clinical trial concludes that hypnosis is indeed a useful adjunct to the treatment of hay fever symptoms, allergies and mild asthma.
Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award