Cancer is an illness that affects millions of Americans, whether they are currently being treated or in remission. Two of the most common symptoms of cancer and cancer treatments are pain and nausea. Hypnotherapy has been proven to help cancer patients reduce the severity of their cancer symptoms including pain and nausea. It is important that alternative methods are explored in order to help people naturally improve their symptoms.
According to the American Cancer Society, about 560,000 Americans will die from cancer in 2009. Cancer is the number two cause of death in the United States behind heart disease. Men have a 1 in 2 chance of developing cancer in their lifetime and women have a 1 in 3 chance of developing cancer in their lifetime.
A clinical trial tested the effectiveness of hypnosis and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) on treating pain and nausea in cancer patients. The researchers evaluated whether hypnosis or CBT were effective in treating the symptoms of 67 cancer patients. The patients that participated in the clinical trial were recipients of a bone marrow transplant (Syrjala, Cummings, & Donaldson, 1992).
A bone marrow transplant is needed when a patient's bone marrow has been destroyed or is not functioning properly. Cancers that often require bone marrow transplants include leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma. A transplant occurs when bone marrow is taken from a healthy individual and implanted into the cancer patient. This process involves many symptoms including pain and nausea (Medline Plus).
The clinical trial randomly divided the participants into 4 groups. Group one received hypnosis. Group two received CBT. Groups three and four served as control groups where group three had access to a therapist and group four received normal treatment. All patients participated in psychological and physical testing. Groups one, two, and three received their respective forms of therapy twice before their transplant operation. While in the hospital for their transplant, they also received 10 sessions.
At the end of the trial, 45 patients were still involved in the study. Results of the trial showed that hypnosis was effective at reducing pain experienced by bone marrow transplant patients. There was no difference between the hypnosis and the CBT groups in relation to reducing nausea. CBT was found to be ineffective at reducing pain with the participants (Syrjala et al., 1992).
This trial shows that hypnosis is an effective treatment in reducing pain. More research needs to be performed to find out all the potential benefits of hypnosis and pain. Treating pain with hypnosis is a natural and safe form of treatment.
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