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Clinical Summaries


Mind-body approaches can be helpful in alcoholism and other addictions. One study showed that psycho education is effective, but that combining it with visualization seems to make it more effective.

In a study of more than 250 intravenous drug users who used relaxation, meditation or prayer as rating a 4 on a 1 to 5 scale of effectiveness in helping them kick their habit. Substance abusers who worked with guided imagery tapes reported the highest levels of self-esteem and serenity and the least anger and impulsivity when compared with others in treatment who did not use these.

Pekala RJ, Maurer R, Kumar VK, Elliott NC, Masten E, Moon E, Salinger M. Self-Hypnosis relapse prevention training with chronic drug/alcohol users: effects on self esteem, affect, and relapse. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis. 2004 April; 46 (4): pp. 281-97.

Anxieties & Phobias

A review of research by investigators from the Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders at Boston University concluded that a growing body of research demonstrates that cognitive behavioral therapy is well-tolerated, cost-effective, and produces substantial treatment gains for individuals with panic disorder both in short term and the long term.

Landon TM, Barlow DH. Cognitive-behavioral treatment for panic disorder: current status. Journal of Psychiatric Practice. 2004 July;10 (4) : pages 211-226

Researchers at the University of Minnesota studied patients who received kidney, lung or pancreas transplants. Those who took their class in meditative self-management technique showed significant improvement in sleep disturbance and anxiety.

Gross CR, Kreitzer MJ, Russas V, Treesak C, Frazier PA, Hertz MI. Mindfulness meditation to reduce symptoms after an organ transplant: a pilot study. Advances in Mind-Body Medicine. 2004 Summer; 20 (2): pages 20-9

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Coronary Artery Disease

Authors of a review of 23 major heart disease studies concluded that one psychosocial approaches were added to standard medical treatments, not only survival but further cardiac event rates improved significantly (Linden). Relaxation training is so effective that it is now used routinely at major medical facilities such as Columbia Presbyterian, Stanford, etc.

Linden W, Stossel C Maurice J. Psychosocial interventions for patients with coronary artery disease: a meta-analysis. Arch Intern Med, 1996 Apr 8;156(7):745-52

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Eating Disorders - Bulimia Nervosa

One randomized control trial compared six weeks of individual guided imagery therapy with the control group who received none. The imagery group had a reduction of binges of 74% and of vomiting 73%. The imagery treatment also demonstrated an improvement on measures of attitudes concerning eating, dieting and body rate in comparison to the control group. In addition the guided imagery group showed improvement on psychological measures of aloneness and the ability for self-comforting.

Esplen MJ, Garfinkel PE, Olmsted M, Gallop RM, Kennedy S. Department of Psychiatry/Samuel Lunefeld Research Institute, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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Fracture Healing of Bones

At Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Orthopedists studying fracture healing, the healing of bone fractures treated in the emergency room, showed trends toward faster healing for the hypnosis group through week nine following in the injury. X-rays showed a notable difference in fracture healing at six weeks. Subjects, themselves, also reported improved ankle mobility, creative functional ability to descend stairs, less use of pain medication and less pain overall.

Surgery on the heart and the brain represent some of the most delicate and dangerous procedures a patient can undergo. Clinical research has demonstrated that deep relaxation and guided imagery can reduce pre-operative anxiety and post-operative pain. Patients having surgery who were exposed to deep relaxation and guided imagery had a shorter average length of stay, a decrease in average direct pharmacy costs, and a decrease in average direct pain medication costs while maintaining high overall patient satisfaction.

Ginandes CS, Rosenthal DI. Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, USA

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Hypertension and Serum Cholesterol

Stress management, with techniques such as deep relaxation and guided imagery, as shown, in studies, do be effective in reducing three of the risk factors for coronary heart disease: type A behavior, raised serum cholesterol and hypertension. Evidence also indicates that not only are individual risk factors reduced, mortality and morbidity due to coronary heart disease is reduced.

(Bennett P., Carroll D. Health Promotion Authority for Wales, Cardiff, UK)

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Immune System Healing

Many studies have demonstrated that imagery targeted at the immune system can produce changes in the immune system accompanied by reports of enhanced mood and well-being. In two studies hypnosis buffered the effects of stress on immune function in medical students at exam time. Comparison of self-hypnosis with and without imagery targeted at the immune system confirmed advantages to targeted imagery for both immune function and mood, and even fewer winter viral infections. In another study patients with virulent and chronic herpes simplex virus 2—six weeks of training almost have the recurrence rate, improved moods and reduced levels of clinical depression and anxiety. Immune functions improved, including increased functional natural killer cell activity.

Gruzelier JH. Department of Cognitive Neuroscience and Behaviour, Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, London, UK

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Improvements in Fertility

184 women who had been trying to get pregnant for one to two years were studied. Some received a ten-session cognitive-behavioral change group. At the end of the year there was statistically significant differences between those who participated in the psychological intervention group.

Domar AD, Clapp D, Slawsby EA, Dusek J, Kessel B, Freizinger M. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

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Improvements in Mood

Although anyone working with effective mind-body techniques can easily see the improvement in symptoms of anxiety, depression and mood instability. The University of Miami studied the use of imagery and music on patients by studying changes in their blood chemistry before and after a 13-week exposure to guided imagery and music and re-evaluated them again at the end of a 6-week follow-up. Those [?] in imagery and music reported significant decreases in depression, fatigue and total mood disturbance. Blood tests indicated significant decreases in Cortisol level which correlated significantly with the improvement in mood.

McKinney CH, Antoni MH, Kumar M, Tims FC, McCabe PM, Department of Music Education/Music Therapy, University of Miami, USA.

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Irritable Bowel Syndrome

One study (Guthrie) on patients who had not responded to medication alone found that the addition of relaxation and therapy produced a 66% success rate. In another study, a program of progressive muscle relaxation, biofeedback, cognitive therapy and education had a 50% success rate that was maintained for at least four years.

Guthrie E; Creed F; Dawson D; Tomenson B; A randomized Controlled trial of psychotherapy in patients with refractory Irritable Bowel Syndrome. British Journal of Psychiatry, 1993 Sep, 163:315-21

Another study showed that many mind-body interventions, such as relaxation techniques, behavioral therapy or biofeedback can lower elevated blood pressure by an average of ten and mmHg (systolic) and 5 mmHg (diastolic). It has also been found that such measures as these often prompt patients to adopt a more health-conscious lifestyle.

Herrmann JM.Reha-Klinik Glotterbad, Gehrenstrasse 10. D-79268 Glottertal

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Prison Rehab

Studies on prisoners released from jail show that those who were taught meditation while in jail showed significant reductions in alcohol, marijuana and crack cocaine use after release. They also showed decreases in alcohol-related problems and psychiatric symptoms, as well as increases in positive psychosocial outcomes.

Bowen S, Witkiewitz K, Dillworth TM, Chawla N, Simpson TL, Ostafin BD, Larimer ME, Blume AW, Parks GA, Marlatt GA. Mindfulness meditation and substance use in an incarcerated population. Psychology of Addictive Behavior. 2006 Sep;20 (3): pages 343-7.

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Recovery From Stroke

One to twelve months following a stroke. At this point these patients were exhibiting stable motor deficits in their affected upper limbs. They received therapy three times a week for six weeks. Some of the patients received, in addition, a ten-minute guided imagery session after each therapy session and practiced imagery at home twice weekly. The improvement of the imagery group was significantly increased.

Page SL, Levine P, Sistos S, Johnston MV Kessler Medical Rehabilitation Research and Education Corporation (KMRREC), West Orange, New Jersey 07052, USA.

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Researchers at the University of Wisconsin concluded that providing mind-body strategies help people deal with pain, decrease the amount of opiod medication needed.

Pellino TA, Gordon DB, Engelke ZK. Busse KL, Collins MA, Silver CE, Norcross NJ.Use of nonpharmacologic interventions for pain and anxiety after total hip and total knee arthroplasty. Orthopedic Nursing. 2005 May-Jun; 24;(3): pages 182-90; quiz 191-2

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Wound Healing

Numerous studies indicate that wounds heal more quickly, and that patients can cut their post-operative hospital stay by as much as 25% or more through use of mind-body techniques. In a randomized controlled trial three approaches were compared: the use of hypnosis, general supportive attention, and “usual care only” on early post-surgical wound healing. The study was done on the women receiving medically-recommended reduction mammoplasty. In a double blind procedure, wounds were examined at one and seven weeks post-operatively. The group treated with hypnosis experienced significantly greater wound healing (p-.001) through the seven post-operative weeks. “Usual care” controls showed the smallest degree of healing. In addition, the hypnotically-treated group reported less pain and more rapid recovery of function.

Ginandes C, Brooks P, Sando W, Jones C, Aker J Department of Psychology, Harvard Medical School, McLean Hospital, 115 Mill Street Belmont, MA 02478, USA.


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