We know how effective hypnotherapy is in changing unwanted habits like smoking, overeating and reducing anxiety, fears phobias. Could Hypnosis boost our psychoneuroimmunology? Hypnotherapy has been recognised as an effective tool in helping with conditions such as IBS, anxiety, stress reduction and panic attacks, but could the process of hypnosis benefit the body as a whole?
Psychoneuroimmunology is an impressive name for the science of the mind/body link and its effects on our immune system function. Yet for something that sounds so impressive, it is a basic principle, and it has been around for literally thousands of years. It’s the study of the relationship between the Brain – its thoughts, actions and beliefs – and our immune system function, the link between mental processes – beliefs or perceptions – and our physiology.
Doctors have been aware for decades of the link between stress and lowered or impaired immunity, but it is only recently with the advances in technology, that they have been able to access information from various immunological cells and molecules in the human body. Stress is a naturally occurring response and in normal circumstances is not harmful to the human body; in fact, we know it can be beneficial.
At some time, we have all experienced the “fight or flight” response, the sudden increase in heart and respiration rate, dry mouth, sweaty palms, what is happening is that hormones are being released to prepare the body for fight or flight. Catecholamine hormones, including adrenaline, and noradrenaline are flooding in, releasing glucose into the muscles to increase energy levels, the heart is pumping harder, respiration rate increases, to get more blood and oxygen into the muscles to allow us to flee. Our ancient ancestors needed this physiological response to escape danger or predators, real life-threatening situations. It is an autonomic response, something we don’t have conscious control over, when we are startled or frightened the body triggers this reaction without conscious thought.
The problem comes when busy lives and modern stresses, negative thinking, or perceptions cause low levels of stress hormone production on a regular basis, this then becomes a chronic, insidious process releasing a continuous stream of the damaging hormones into the bloodstream, causing an inflammatory response within the body. This negatively affects our psychoneuroimmunology.
In today’s world, chronic stress can trigger low levels of the fight or flight response. The brain can’t tell whether a threat is real or imagined, so negative thoughts can switch on the damaging hormone release. You may at some time have experienced ongoing stressful period when you been stressed for long periods; and then get “run down” feel under par and seem to catch more colds and other opportunistic viruses. If stress levels remain high for long periods without respite, studies have shown that this can depress the immune system, and cause inflammation within the body, this can, over a prolonged time, lead to serious conditions like, some cancers, heart disease, dementia’s, diabetes and a host of other conditions.
It’s not all gloom and doom, because we now know there are things we can do about it. Exercise is probably one of the most effective ways of controlling and lowering stress levels. It is a stress response so “using up” those stress hormones in the way nature intended by moderate exercising will prevent build up.
Studies have shown that optimistic thinking, meditation, prayer, effective hypnotherapy lead relaxation techniques and mindfulness, good nutrition and moderate exercise, promotes the release of beneficial hormones this in turn reduces stress hormone levels, which boosts the immune system, and negates the damaging effect of long term stress on the body.
In these days when acute medical care services are struggling to cope. It is up to us, the individual to take responsibility and control of our own health? All that is really needed for noticeable health benefit, is a 20-30 brisk minute walk, every day if possible, preferably in a natural environment, eating a wide variety of fruit and vegetables. Maybe some beans and lentils. Good sources of protein, lean meat or fish. Drink alcohol in sensible quantities.
Now we know there is something else to add to the list. Optimistic thinking! Not thinking about what we don’t want to happen but what we do! A good Hypnotherapist can help you reduce those negative thoughts and behaviours, and change to a more positive and beneficial way of thinking, feeling and believing, improving our psychoneuroimmunology. As I said at the beginning, it’s nothing new, it just confirms what was known and promoted even as far back as 300 BC in the healing temples of ancient Greece.