Hypnosis for Chest Pain
Republished with permission of Natural Standards Research Collaboration ©2006

Hypnosis may help relieve chest pain that is not caused by a heart condition or heartburn, according to British researchers.

The causes of non-cardiac chest pain are unknown, and it can often lead to severe anxiety. Many patients still have symptoms after treatment with gastric acid-lowering drugs and antidepressants.

Dr. Peter J. Whorwell and colleagues at Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester have conducted several studies that found that hypnotherapy could effectively treat gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome.

In his latest study, Whorwell tested the effects of hypnotherapy on 28 patients with non-cardiac chest pain. Patients were randomly assigned to either hypnotherapy or supportive listening, and both methods were given in twelve 30-minute sessions over 17 weeks.

During the therapy sessions, patients in the hypnosis group were first told during therapy that their symptoms could be due to visceral sensation, stress and motility disturbances. Later patients were asked to focus on muscular relaxation and normal function of the heart and esophagus. Patients were encouraged to practice the technique daily.

Eight percent of the patients who received hypnotherapy experienced moderate to complete improvements in chest pain, compared with 23 percent in the supportive listening group. In addition 73 percent of the patients in the hypnosis group reported improvements in general well-being compared with 23 percent in the non-hypnosis group.

However, both reported similar level of depression and anxiety.

Reference: Helen Jones, Patricia Cooper, Vivien Miller, Nicholas Brooks and Peter J Whorwell "Treatment of non cardiac chest pain: a controlled trial of hypnotherapy" Gut. 2006 April 20.