It may seem futuristic, but what if you could improve your health by using your mind? Two ancient therapies can help you do just that!
Hypnotherapy and biofeedback have been around for thousands of years, with evidence of early Egyptians and Chinese using hypnosis-like methods as early as 3000 BC. Though once thought to be radical and experimental, today both hypnotherapy and biofeedback are considered mainstream treatments that, with the added benefit of modern technology, have helped patients find a safe way to reduce or eliminate the need for medication and experience relief for a range of illnesses from migraine headaches to cancer.
How do these therapies work? Both are considered mind-body medicine that use the power of your thoughts and emotions to help self-regulate and take control of physiological responses such as blood pressure, skin temperature and muscle tension. When you are sick your body releases stress hormones that can affect those physiological responses which negatively affect your health and cause you to become susceptible to disease and illness. Hypnotherapy and biofeedback teaches you to train your mind to relax your body, release stress, and control those reactions to allow your body’s natural immune system to take over.
When you think of hypnosis, what comes to mind is “stage hypnosis” where the subject is put under and the hypnotist has total control over their body. Medical hypnosis is far from this. The patient is always in control. A licensed or certified mental health professional uses guided relaxation to focus your attention on thoughts or images to bring you to a heightened state of awareness. Hypnotherapy can help direct your imagination to make positive changes in sensations, perceptions, feeling, thoughts and behavior.
Hypnotherapy may improve immune function, increase relaxation, improve coping skills, decrease stress and ease pain and anxiety. It can change negative behaviors, such as smoking or over-eating and be useful when treating phobias or grief and managing chronic illnesses. It has even been reported to control nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy and ease symptoms of asthma, all with no damaging side effects.
Biofeedback uses state-of-the-art equipment to monitor your body’s physiological responses and train you to control them with deep breathing, visualization and meditation. A trained biofeedback specialist will attach electrical sensors to your body to feedback to you with audio and visual cues. These cues teach you how to recognize your body’s response to pain or stress and indicate what needs to be corrected. Biofeedback is an effective tool in treating high blood pressure, tension and migraine headaches, chronic pain, anxiety, asthma and a host of other illnesses. It has also been effective for symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autistic spectrum disorders.
Both of these techniques can be done at home. Biofeedback devices the size of your cell phone are readily available on-line. Protect and promote your health by taking control and using the power that is within you.
By Michelle Fouchi Esneault