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Hypnosis and Immune Function

Below are research articles on hypnosis and immune function with the key points highlighted in blue for your ease of reading.

Brain Res Bull. 2003 Dec 30;62(3):241-53. The impact of self-hypnosis and Johrei on lymphocyte subpopulations at exam time: a controlled study. Naito A, Laidlaw TM, Henderson DC, Farahani L, Dwivedi P, Gruzelier JH. Department of Cognitive Neuroscience and Behaviour, Imperial College London, Charing Cross Campus, St Dunstan's Road, London W6 8RF, UK.

In a prospective randomised controlled trial, 48 students were randomly assigned to stress reduction training before exams with self-hypnosis, Johrei or a mock neurofeedback relaxation control. Peripheral blood lymphocyte subpopulations and self-reported stress (Perceived Stress Scale) were measured before training and 1-2 months later as exams approached. Absolute number and percentages of CD3(+)CD4(+) and CD3(+)CD8(+) T lymphocytes, CD3(-)CD56(+) Natural Killer cells (NK cells) and NK cell cytotoxic activity was measured from venous blood. Stressed participants showed small but significant declines in both CD3(-)CD56(+) NK cell percentages and NK cell cytotoxic activity levels while CD3(+)CD4(+) T cell percentages increased, changes supported by correlations with perceived stress. The effects of stress were moderated in those who learned Johrei at exam time; 11/12 showed increases in CD3(-)CD56(+) NK cell percentages with decreased percentages of CD3(+)CD4(+) T cells, effects not seen in the relaxation control group. Stress was also buffered in those who learned and practised self-hypnosis in whom CD3(-)CD56(+) NK cell and CD3(+)CD4(+) T cell levels were maintained, and whose CD3(+)CD8(+) T cell percentages, shown previously to decline with exams, increased. The results compliment beneficial effects on mood of self-hypnosis and Johrei. The results are in keeping with beneficial influences of self-hypnosis and provide the first evidence of the suggestive value of the Japanese Johrei procedure for stress reduction, which clearly warrants further investigation.

J Psychosom Res. 2002 Dec;53(6):1131-7. The effect of hypnotic-guided imagery on psychological well-being and immune function in patients with prior breast cancer. Bakke AC, Purtzer MZ, Newton P. Department of Pathology, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, OR 97201, USA.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the effect of hypnotic-guided imagery on immune function and psychological parameters in patients being treated for Stage I or II breast cancer. METHODS: To determine the effects of hypnotic-guided imagery on immune function and psychological parameters, the following study was undertaken. Psychological profiles, natural killer (NK) cell number and activity were measured at baseline, after the 8-week imagery training program and at the 3-month follow-up. RESULTS: There were significant increases in improvement in depression (P<.04) and increase in absolute number of NK cells, but these were not maintained at the 3-month follow-up. Hypnotic-guided imagery did cause some transient changes in psychological well-being and immune parameters. However, these changes were not retained after the treatment ended. CONCLUSIONS: Many studies during the last 15 years have demonstrated interactions between the central nervous and the immune systems. While a negative effect of stress on immune responses has been demonstrated, there have also been published reports that psychological treatments can positively alter the immune system. However, given the complexities of immune system kinetics, the transient nature of any psychological effect and the insensitivity of immune assays, our study indicates that there is a role for hypnotic-guided imagery as an adjuvant therapy.


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