Hypnosis for Asthma

Asthma is one of the most common chronic childhood disorders, affecting over seven million children under 18 years.[1] Over 30 years of medical research has shown that the mind and therapies like relaxation and hypnosis can have a profound effect on the severity of asthma, with no side effects.[2]

Many of the recent studies on mind-body therapies for asthma focus on hypnotic relaxation techniques and self hypnosis. When asthma has a physiological cause, simple relaxation training can be very helpful to get the breathing to relax.

Sometimes asthma is not only physiological, but has a psychosomatic component. One indication that there might be a psychosomatic cause is if stress precedes severe attacks. Common characteristics noted among some children who suffer from asthma are high anxiety, high dependence on others, low confidence, and they may suppress emotions. Exhaling has deep unconscious meaning related to self expression. We express ourselves while exhaling, as infants by crying and yawning, and later by speaking on the exhale. Emotional conflict can manifest itself in the smooth muscles of the bronchi.[3]

Often, the psychosomatic component to asthma is fear or anxiety over the asthma itself. The sufferer fears he or she is choking to death. Doctors, nurses, and especially overly protective or highly anxious parents can be trained to avoid language that can triggers or worsens this thought (calling it an asthma “attack” is an example). Instead of calling attention to breathing, suggestions should be given to reinforce a sense of being protected, and to give positive reassurance that relaxation can occur.

One should always see a doctor before using hypnosis or any other alternative therapy for asthma. And though some people object to them, inhalers can save lives.

[1] Asthma & Children Fact Sheet - American Lung Association (American Lung Association)

[2] Hypnosis therapy can affect childhood asthma (Daily Herald)

[3] Kroger, W. (1977). Clinical and experimental hypnosis in medicine, dentistry, and psychology (2d ed.). Philadelphia: Lippincott.


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