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Can Guided Imagery & Hypnosis Help with Epilepsy?

26 Apr

Question:

I am mentoring a young woman who has epilepsy. Her seizures increase (of course) when she is stressed. Are there any of your CD's that more directly address seizures?  Or any that would be best for dealing with stress?

Thanks for all you do.
Nellie

Dear Nellie,
We have nothing that specifically addresses seizures, but it's true that just about anything that will help her relax at will (self-regulate is the jargon term) will be useful to her.  

A few years back, there was an unsubstantiated myth going around that hypnosis and imagery might worsen the symptoms of epilepsy by adversely affecting brain wave activity. This has since been disproved by subsequent research, which showed that this may have been the case with non-epileptic "pseudo-seizures" but not with the real thing – and in fact, the reverse is true. As you’ve said, reducing stress is a big help.

I'm attaching some citations from studies that show (1) that a combination of aromatherapy and hypnosis was effective in helping reduce the symptoms of intractable or hard-to-treat epilepsy; and (2) that yoga can help as well.  I was surprised to find that a recent review of the literature by Cochrane showed that acupuncture was not particularly effective.

She might want to try any of our stress reducing resources.  Of mine, I’d suggest one of these:  Stress Hardiness, General Wellness or Relieve Stress. I also recommend the beautiful work of hypnosis virtuoso David Illig, meditation teacher Bodhipaksa, Andy Weil’s breathwork, and much more.  We have an awful lot of really good stuff for stress - and it mostly depends on what suits her best.  I'd start with one of these and see how it goes first.  Once you have a response, you can take it from there.  And you can always call the staff or email for further direction on what we carry.

All best,
Belleruth

Research Citations:  

Betts TUse of aromatherapy (with or without hypnosis) in the treatment of intractable epilepsy--a two-year follow-up study. Seizure. 2003 Dec;12 (8): pages 534-8. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Rajesh B, Jayachandran D, Mohandas G, Radhakrishnan K. A pilot study of a yoga meditation protocol for patients with medically refractory epilepsy. J Altern Complement Med. 2006 May;12 (4): pages 367-71.

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Belleruth Naparstek

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