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Impact of hypnosis, relaxation, guided imagery and individual differences on immunity and health.

15 Aug

A review of three pilot studies by J.H. Gruzelier examines the effect of relaxation, self-hypnosis and guided imagery on basic immune functions, and offers a wide range of exciting findings. The author and his colleagues investigated self-hypnosis training that incorporated imagery of the immune system. In two of his studies, hypnosis was found to buffer the effects of stress on immune functions in medical students at exam time. When he compared self-hypnosis with and without immune system imagery, the data confirmed that there were advantages to the targeted imagery. Results in the imagery group showed heightened immune function, improvements in mood, and fewer winter viral infections. A third study looked at patients with virulent and chronic herpes simplex virus-2 HSV-2. Six weeks of training almost halved recurrence, improved mood and reduced levels of clinical depression and anxiety in the intervention group. Immune functions were up-regulated, notably functional natural killer cell activity to HSV-1. The review concludes that these preliminary studies show that hypnosis with targeted imagery provides immune control along with enhanced mood and well-being, and that larger studies with controls are warranted.

Citation: Gruzelier JH. A review of the impact of hypnosis, relaxation, guided imagery and individual differences on aspects of immunity and health. Stress 2002 Jun;5(2):147-63.

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