Hay fever suffering continues
The sun has been shining in the UK and we have been enjoying such wonderful weather that for many the thoughts of the bad winter have been banished into the distant past.
There is one blot on the landscape though and that is the prospect of hay fever and the itchy eyes and runny noses that it causes for millions of people. As a child I didn't suffer any of these effects but like many they seem to have come on in bounds over the years. I am lucky in that I do not suffer badly from hay fever but I do find myself with those itchy eyes that no one really wants and blowing my nose into more tissues than normal.
You may be surprised to hear that hypnosis has been used to help people overcome these problems in a clinical trial. A Swiss team at Basle University worked with sixty six people who have hay-fever and using hypnosis they found it helped them alleviate symptoms such as runny nose.
A control group of the volunteers also took their regular anti-hay-fever drugs, but the effect of hypnosis appeared to be additive and reduced the doses they needed to take.
The findings of the study have been published in the medical journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics.
This was a two year study and during the first year, some of the volunteers with hay-fever were taught and asked to regularly practise hypnosis as well as take their usual allergy medicine. They were then given a training course which consisted of one two-hour session with an experienced hypnotherapy trainer.
The remaining volunteers had no other treatment apart from their normal allergy medication. A year into the study, the researchers found that the volunteers who had been using self-hypnosis reported fewer symptoms related to hay-fever than their fellow volunteers.
The study then continued for a second year, during which the researchers taught the remaining volunteers how to use hypnosis to help cope with the symptoms. By the end of this second year, these volunteers also reported a marked improvement in their hay-fever symptoms.
Although the improvement in symptoms was not statistically significant and, therefore, could have been down to chance alone, the researchers also found that the volunteers had cut down on the amount of hay-fever medication they used after learning self-hypnosis.
Using a machine that measured how forcefully a person could exhale through their nose, Professor Wolf Langewitz and his team found that the hypnotherapy sessions were helping to improve participants nasal airflow, even when the volunteers were exposed to things that triggered their hay-fever, such as pollen and grass.
Professor Langewitz reported: "While our findings are not a definite answer, this simple intervention is worth investigating further. It is cheap and only takes a couple of hours to teach."
One well known Doctor who is working hard on studies to show how effective hypnotherapy can be is Dr Peter Whorwell from Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester. He uses hypnotherapy to help treat people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, with a great success rate. He said that some of his own patients who also had hay-fever had commented to him that their noses were less runny after hypnotherapy sessions.
"It is known that you can alter blood flow with hypnosis. Hypnosis has been used for a variety of medical conditions, including asthma, eczema and migraines. It's definitely an area that is worth researching."
We know well that we can alter physical properties with hypnosis and hypnotherapy so I certainly think that this warrants more study.
In the future perhaps we can all wave goodbye to the seasonal horror of hay fever.