University of Iowa Health Science Relations and
Nicole Nisly, MD
Associate Professor of Internal Medicine
First Published: September 2003
Peer Review Status: Internally Peer Reviewed
You're getting sleepy
very sleepy. In the past, Hollywood has
given hypnosis an entertaining reputation, but today, the health
benefits are hard to ignore.
"Hypnosis has been primarily targeted to relieve symptoms of
illness and has been effective in everything from relieving pain
during childbirth to controlling smoking and drug addictions," says
Nicole Nisly, MD, UI Hospitals and Clinics Complementary and
Alternative Medicine Clinic.
It is believed that hypnosis puts a person in a hypnotic state,
known as a trance, where the body is in a state of deep relaxation.
During this state of focused concentration, people are more likely to
accept suggestions to change their behavior.
Hypnotherapy uses hypnosis to treat physical or psychological
conditions. Since 1958, it has been recognized by the American
Medical Association as a valid medical treatment for certain
A hypnotherapist can either lead hypnosis, or people can be taught
to hypnotize themselves from their hypnotherapist or from books.
Studies show that when used properly hypnosis can reduce anxiety,
phobias, insomnia, obesity, and irritable bowel syndrome symptoms.
The deep state of relaxation also helps reduce stress, especially
when adding positive suggestions, and eliminating negative ideas.
"But not everyone is able to feel the benefits of hypnosis. A
person must be willing to follow the suggestions of the therapist,"
Nisly says. "If you are feeling unsure of how you will act once you
are hypnotized, just relax. Once hypnotized, a person will not follow
directions against his or her own wishes and will not lose control of
their actions or choices."
If you are interested in giving hypnosis a try, talk to your
doctor to determine whether it is appropriate for your specific