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                                                             A New Health Tool for Diabetes: Hypnosis

By C. Devin Hastings








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"If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves."
Thomas A. Edison

This article is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Before making any changes to your current health care program, consult with your doctor.

The purpose of this article is to present compelling evidence for why hypnosis is an up and coming new health tool for those with diabetes (primarily type 2 but not exclusively).

In order for a new idea, concept or method to gain popularity, the established idea, concept or method must lose its popularity. In this case, oral medications for type 2 diabetics are the established method losing their popularity.

An increasing number of type 2 diabetics are unwilling to take oral medications because of the increasing number of serious side effects and the availability of alternatives.

In an October 2002 Diabetes Health article titled: Use of Alternative Medicine High in People With Type 2 Diabetes it states that "Forty percent of those using complementary and alternative medicine indicate that they do so to prevent complications."

Type 2 diabetics are becoming increasingly concerned about complications because of stories like the following: In February of 2007, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) posted an announcement (1) on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) website about a letter they wrote to doctors explaining how certain, commonly used diabetes drugs can significantly increase the risk of bone fractures in women.

And the above incident is only one of a number of significant cases. In November of 2007, European and U.S. diabetologists called for greater caution in prescribing oral diabetes pills like Avandia which has been linked to a disturbing increase in heart attack risk.(2)

This warning by the world’s two leading diabetes organizations came two weeks after the USFDA recommended black box warnings for Avandia. The USFDA requires a drug to carry a black box warning if the drug has an above average occurrence of serious or even life-threatening side-effects.

This chain of recent events concerning widely used diabetes drugs is very alarming to many diabetics because they are eerily reminiscent of what happened to a very popular diabetes drug not long ago.

In 1998, warnings(3) about using the widely prescribed drug Rezulin started appearing from the manufacturer and by 2000, Parke-Davis voluntarily pulled their drug off the market because of an alarming number of very serious side-effects including death.

And, of further concern to diabetics is the fact that the drugs now receiving usage warnings are in the same drug class as Rezulin.

The point here is that more and more diabetics are beginning to see a disturbing trend concerning widely prescribed diabetes drugs. The drugs are released with great fanfare and then there are some very serious problems. For example, Byetta is a new diabetes drug that has now been linked with causing acute pancreatitis(4)

So, as a result of this trend, more and more type 2 diabetics are now actively searching for healthier alternatives to controlling their diabetes and perhaps even eliminating it.

At this same time, hypnosis is becoming more and more recognized as a powerful tool for health. One example among many is an amazing article published by the Mayo Clinic. The article is titled Hypnosis In Contemporary Medicine.(5)

The conclusion of the Mayo article should make any person and especially those with diabetes, take notice:

"The acceptance of hypnosis as a mode of treatment in medicine is increasing as a result of ‘careful, methodical, empirical work of many research pioneers.’"

"Many important trials reviewed here have helped to establish the role of hypnosis in contemporary medicine. These trials have established the utility and efficacy of hypnosis for several medical conditions, either alone or as part of the treatment regimen."(6)

What is interesting is that the Mayo Clinic is basically agreeing with the title of a November 3rd, 1958 Life Magazine cover article: "Hypnosis: Old ‘Black Art’ Is Now Accepted Medical Tool".

50 very quiet years have passed since hypnosis was recognized by the main stream press as a legitimate and powerful tool for health. It’s almost like everyone was in a trance and couldn’t see what was right in front of them.

But now, consumers are far more motivated to take of themselves and so they are becoming more educated largely through the internet where they are looking for and finding, huge amounts of quality information.

For example, if a person were to search for quality information about hypnosis for children, they would eventually find a University of Minnesota Children's Hospital webpage (7) with some amazing statements by doctors. Following is an excerpt from that webpage:

"Children and adolescents with chronic medical or emotional conditions often benefit from medical self-hypnosis, which is taught at University of Minnesota Children’s Hospital, Fairview. This therapeutic approach, based upon the intimate relationship between mind and body, has been recognized in the medical community since the 1950s.

Medical self-hypnosis teaches patients how to focus and concentrate, leading to a state of inner relaxation and increased self-control. It is a useful tool for managing mental and physical functions in a variety of situations, from tolerating pain to regulating behavior. Most children and adolescents can learn self-hypnosis – even the very young."

(Ed. Note: Adults can also learn to successfully use hypnosis as well.)

Now, with respect to people with diabetes but especially children, let’s look at the above excerpt and pick out 3 critical phrases: "chronic medical condition", "self-control" and "regulating behavior".

Diabetes is a chronic medical condition. And, self-control is certainly crucial in those with diabetes. Regulating behavior is also critical to anybody with diabetes but especially children because poor childhood behavioral decisions carry devastating early adult consequences.

When will more medical practitioners start realizing the enormous benefits of hypnosis? Just as importantly, how come they don’t understand the huge savings – emotional, physical and financial that can be realized by the applications of hypnosis?

Well, more medical practitioners will begin realizing the benefits of hypnosis when their patients bring articles like this into them. It is very hard (but not impossible) to ignore well-documented evidence.

Doctor’s and nurses are over-worked and they certainly don’t have time to sit down and search for safe, proven, non-pharmaceutical remedies for their patients. This is why they don’t understand the potential comprehensive savings that hypnosis can bring. And, frankly, most physicians will tell you that their day-to-day education comes out of the mouths of drug sales representatives.

Don’t get me wrong please. I am NOT against pharmaceutical drugs. I am for them with this caveat: I am very much against the inappropriate prescription of medicines and that is epidemic in our country.

By the way, did you know that hypnosis has been shown to decrease the need for certain drugs? Pain medication reduction is one example. (8), (9)

So since hypnosis (the power of the mind) has a long and clearly demonstrated history of helping to reduce certain medication needs, then isn’t it at least worthwhile looking at to see if it can help reduce other medication needs?

Well, it appears that someone has been wondering about the influence of the mind on the body as it relates to diabetes.

Dr. Richard Surwit of Duke University makes the following 3 enlightening points: (10), (11)

1) Stress management techniques, when added to standard care, help reduce glucose levels.

2) The change is nearly as large as you would expect to see from some diabetes-control drugs.

3) Stress management techniques are simple, quick to learn, and have been shown to work for multiple conditions, including coronary syndromes.

One point of this article has been to bring to light well-researched information which proves not only that the power of the mind can help persons with diabetes but that it must be utilized sooner rather than later.

Hypnosis must be used in conjunction with standard health care sooner rather than later to help those with diabetes (as well as other challenges) because although drugs can be life saving, their negative side-effects are numerous, often unnecessary and costly in many ways. And, the lack of patient compliance is making their usefulness questionable.

And keep in mind that there are things hypnosis can do that drugs cannot. A few moments ago you read statements by doctors at the University of Minnesota telling how, among many things, hypnosis can help increase self-control as well as positively regulate behavior. There is not a drug in the world that can increase a person’s self-control.

Hypnosis is a decade’s long, recognized healing tool. The question that must be asked is this: If another well-researched and verified remedy can work just as well, if not better than a drug, then shouldn’t that remedy be considered first or at least in conjunction with other remedies?

The point is this: "First do no harm."

With the above idea in mind, let’s do a quick summary of what has been talked about so far:

--Many widely prescribed diabetes medications have had significant problems leading first to warnings and then removal from the market.

--More and more type 2 diabetics are looking for information that can help them to better manage their health without having to use drugs.

--Diabetics are primarily using the internet to get information that can help them improve their health in some way. And yes, they have to be discriminating because as well as a lot of high quality information, there is also a lot of bunk.

--Coinciding with this trend is the increasing investigation and recognition of hypnosis as a legitimate and effective healing tool. In fact, the American Medical Association recognized the value of hypnosis in 1958. (12)

The above summary and facts leads to the following major point of this article:

Diabetes is a perfect condition for the applications of mind-power (hypnosis) in many ways. Following are just a few of the many possible applications of hypnosis to diabetes:

Enhanced self-control and behavioral regulation which will lead to better food choices, exercise and other habits that can stabilize and improve a diabetic’s condition and can sometimes lead to a remission of diabetes symptoms (if enough weight is lost for example).

Physiologically, the power of the mind is already demonstrated to have a blood sugar lowering effect for people with diabetes (type 2 so far). In light of this evidence, the following reasonable questions need to be considered: (a) Why isn’t hypnosis used more for this purpose? (b) What else is possible in this area and shouldn’t it be investigated?

Pain increases blood sugar levels. If a diabetic is experiencing pain (not uncommon), then chances are quite likely that their sugar levels are being adversely affected. While pain medications are one alternative, hypnosis should be the first choice because it is the safest and least costly.

Hypnosis is not a panacea. While a great deal of compelling evidence has been presented in favor of the application of hypnosis to diabetes (and other challenges), it must be kept in mind that it is not being presented as a cure-all; only as an valuable and highly effective adjunct to standard care.

Thank you for taking your time to read this article.

C. Devin Hastings

President, MN. Institute of Advanced Communication Skills

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(1) http://www.fda.gov/Medwatch/SAFETY/2007/safety07.htm#rosiglitazone

(2) http://www.reuters.com/articlePrint?articleId=USCOL75581020071127

(3) http://www.diabetesmonitor.com/rezulin.htm

(4) http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/85857.php.

(5) http://www.mayoclinicproceedings.com/inside.asp?AID=888&UID

(6) Ibid 5.

(7) http://www.uofmchildrenshospital.org/Services/Services/c_195845.asp

(8) Preoperative Hypnotic Techniques Reduce Consumption of Analgesics after Surgical Removal of Third Mandibular Molars: A Brief CommunicationInternational Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, Volume 45, Issue 2 April 1997, pages 102 - 108

(9) The Use of Hypnosis In Controlling Cancer Pain by David Spiegel M.D.


(10) The MindBody Diabetes Revolution: A Proven New Program for Better Blood Sugar Control by Richard S. Surwit

(11) Diabetes Care January 2002

(12) "The use of hypnosis has a recognized place in the medical armamentarium and is a useful technique..."
- Journal of the American Medical Association
Council on Mental Health Report, Sept. 13, 1958




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