Hypnotherapy To Help Alleviate Hayfever

  • Posted on: 29 April 2019
  • By: Dr Emma
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I recently worked with a client who came to see me in my Chester Hypnotherapy Practice for a matter unrelated to hay fever, but during our initial discussion it became very clear that this woman suffered terribly with severe hay fever. This hay fever was so severe as to affect her almost daily. Having already seen an allergy specialist doctor in the past she had a confirmed diagnosis and was aware of the several allergens she was allergic to, which included house dust mite and several species of tree pollen. 

Despite a regular routine of early morning coughing, wheezing and sneezing spasms, often to the point of retching, My client had settled into the fact that nothing more could be done to help this condition as they were already taking maximum doses of anti-histamine medications, sometimes over the max, which did help but with significant breakthrough symptoms on high pollen days. Like many clients, they become resigned and learn to tolerate the symptoms that they have believing nothing else can help them.

They had been told by the allergy specialist that other medications and treatments could be available, but these medications were strong and not without significant side effects as is often the case. They really didn't wish to embark upon this kind of drug treatment despite significant debility and impact on daily life. As I have seen time and time again in my years of medical practice, it is remarkable what the human spirit can tolerate if we believe we have no choice or alternative. Human beings are incredibly resilient and will cope in all manner of circumstances and adversity. 

Although we were using our session to focus on another more pressing matter, one of the beauties of holistic hypnotherapy is that we are essentially working overall of a person all at the same time. Unlike conventional medicine that tends to carve clients up into separate parts as body and mind and then classify symptoms into diagnoses and conditions, in hypnotherapy we work much more broadly and holistically than this. We view the person as a whole and consider the separate entities of body mind and spirit etc as a rudimentary and somewhat false classification. In truth, as person is so much more than the sum of their parts and everything within them and within their wider field affects every other aspect of them. Taken to its full conclusion, even as individuals we could argue that we are all in fact connected, but we don’t need to go that far for this discussion here. What I do know in my practice is that even if the basic aim of a hypnotherapy session has a planned focus, hypnosis promotes wholeness and healing broadly and the benefits can often far reach throughout several body systems or areas of life for a person.

During our pre-hypnosis chat, I explained to my client that I felt, given they were suffering with their hay fever very acutely, I could happily adapt our planned session also to begin some internal work in hypnosis on this area. It was not our intention or plan to really bring full focus onto the hayfever problem today, just to touch upon it and direct the subconscious mind to begin to address this issue and bring in healing. Generally speaking I don’t like to mix up unrelated symptoms or problems into one hypnosis session, it can weaken its power and confuse the client, but in truth, I suspected they weren’t that separate and anyway, one of the beauties of hypnosis is that the subconscious mind will prioritise the changes it feels are in your best interests. It’s going to begin to implement positive healing change where it feels it’s needed as a priority.

Neither myself nor my client expected the kind or results that unfolded quite so quickly, especially without a fully focused and complete session on hay fever treatment. Not only did we achieve in session the piece of work we had planned the session around (self-development goals), hay fever symptoms were dramatically reduced. Having taken 8 antihistamine tablets daily for several days, they only took 2 the day following hypnosis and forgot to take any entirely the following day. There was substantial reduction in coughing with no coughing spasms or retching and I’m glad to say that that result remained without any antihistamines. Having checked in 10 days later the change remains. In a sense nothing surprises me anymore working with hypnosis, yet at the same time I am always awe inspired by its effectiveness for many people. Like all approaches, nothing works for every person so many varies and complex reasons because we are so multi-faceted and complex. In the particular single session we worked, I used only briefly guided imagery, direct suggestion and a variation of a specific technique called Cell command therapy to direct the mind to restore positive healing changes to the body. After all every thought we think has a direct effect on the physiology of the body and, of course, the body knows how to function normally even in the presence of pollen just as it did before this problem ever got in at all. Directing the body in a highly suggestible person in hypnosis to return to its original function and patterning can be all that is required at times, although myself and my client may find we need to do deeper work on this matter to put it to bed completely. A symptom such as hay fever will often arise for a person and serve some underlying psychological function which sometimes needs to be uncovered and resolved, but sometimes not. Time will tell whether her improvement will flourish with self-hypnosis alone.

I was aware prior to our session of some research evidence that hypnosis helps hay fever, and I have worked with clients this issue and other allergic type problems many times with others and they can do very well. There is good theoretical evidence that it should help also. 

A swiss team of researchers at Basle University lead by Andreas Bircher, worked with sixty-six people who had hay. Some of the volunteers with hay fever were taught and asked to regularly practice hypnosis (self-hypnosis) as well as take their usual allergy medications. The remaining volunteers had no other treatment apart from their normal allergy medication and a doctor consult. A year into the study the volunteers who had been using self-hypnosis reported fewer symptoms related to hayfever than the control group.

The improvement in symptoms was not statistically significant (numbers in the study are small) which means they could have been due to chance alone but researchers also found that the participants who practiced self-hypnosis had cut down their use of allergy medications and also research showed that the hypnotherapy participants had improved nasal airflow compared to control group even in the presence of their allergy triggers (e.g. pollen).

The mechanism by which hypnosis aids improvement in hay fever is not understood but is possible that it is due to changes in blood flow to the nasal passages. 

Severe hay fever (allergic rhinitis) can be crippling to daily living for those severely affected. Whilst there is no guarantee that hypnosis will work for you, there is certainly enough anecdotal, theoretical and suggestive research evidence to give it a go and see if it can help you take control and  learn to alleviate your own symptoms and reduce your reliance on medication. Generally, I will work 1-3 sessions on an issue such as this as client learn to use and manage their symptoms with their own bespoke hypnosis audio and self-hypnosis.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me (Dr Emma Rae Rhead, Chester Hypnotherapist) at my Chester Hypnotherapy Practice for further information about how hypnosis and hypnotherapy may be able to help you if you are interested in how natural alternative treatment my help.

Journal reference: Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics (DOI: 10.1159/00084001)

New Scientist /article/dn7313   Self-hypnosis may help hay fever sufferers

* Results may vary from person to person


Dr Emma Rae Rhead
Medical Hypnotherapist Chester, Cheshire UK

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