ARCATA, Calif., November 5, 2013 – Medical hypnotists experienced with successfully helping fibromyalgia sufferers have responded to the currently ongoing series of articles published by the Washington Times Communities. Those articles characterize the syndrome of fibromyalgia (FMS) as a pathology not caused in the mind but rather by defective temperature regulation in the hypothalamus area of the brain as well as a lack of restorative sleep and abnormally functioning pain receptors.
Michael Ellner, CHT, MSH is a highly respected expert in hypnotic pain relief based in Pompano Beach, Fla. He agrees that fibromyalgia is not a psychiatric condition but disagrees with the conclusions drawn from the evidence presented.
Ellner believes that “people who suffer from chronic FMS-related pain have developed automatic reactions to their painful signals that actually increase their painful experiences. This vicious cycle becomes more powerful over time and the hypersensitivity is caused by a series of automatic reactions to the painful signals and not the signals themselves. Hypnosis can help people change those automatic reactions and reduce and in some cases eliminate the subjective pain.”
Based in Boulder, Colo., Melissa Roth, CHT, PhD has been researching fibromyalgia since the 1980’s when she was first diagnosed with the condition, which she healed using hypnosis. She has since become a leading expert in this and other medical applications of hypnosis, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), headaches and chronic sleep disorders, all of which are cited as “related issues” to FMS in the most recent Communities article.
Roth agrees better sleep will help people suffering from FMS, but this alone will not resolve the syndrome. She says the causes, temperature regulation and vasoconstriction, are functions of the autonomic nervous system (ANS). “These are always under unconscious control, and sometimes under conscious control. Yogis have done it forever.”
Some of Roth’s inspiration came from realizing humans are not born with complete unconscious control of the ANS. She says that develops over the first few weeks of life. “Later, we hit potholes in the road of life, which can knock the ANS out of alignment the same as a car. When your car is out of alignment, you don’t take it back to find the offending pothole, you take it to the mechanic for an alignment. This suggests using hypnosis to modify the function of the ANS.”
Ultimately, says Roth, “it is not essential to distinguish fibromyalgia as being primarily a sleep disorder or a problem with the hypothalamus or a circulatory issue. It all comes down to the autonomic nervous system and how we can influence it, which hypnosis is great at.”
FMS has often been discussed as an autoimmune disease. According to Roth, there are components of FMS that are related to the autoimmune system but this too is irrelevant, she says, “because this can be regulated via the unconscious mind. As far as patients are concerned, the source cause becomes irrelevant when they can learn to eliminate their symptoms.”
Certified counselor and registered hypnotherapist Roger Moore has been providing various forms of counseling for 40 years and practicing hypnosis since 1996 in Seattle and Bainbridge Island, Wash. He credits Roth for much of what he’s learned about how to help people suffering from FMS, including teaching them autogenic training in the first session or two. This involves learning to use the mind to control automatic body functions. For example, while holding a thermometer, using the mind to cause the hand’s temperature to increase.
After reviewing the series of Communities articles on FMS, Moore says what really caught his attention was the references to diet. “I was excited to see 500 calories being noted as too low and unhealthy. From what I’ve seen, this has only exaggerated symptoms of FMS or IBS. I’ve always emphasized plant-based diets for my clients. Animal proteins lead to inflammation. The more my clients cut these out, the more success I’ve seen them have. Not only do they have less pain, but they also report not being cold all the time or having hot flashes all the time.”
Moore says FM sufferers deal with serious “mental and emotional anguish. People come to hypnotherapy after living with their symptoms for years and not getting a clear diagnosis. At this point they experience a lot of stress, often depression, and damaged relationships. The mental/emotional peace achievable with hypnosis can seem miraculous. Hypnosis also helps with diet compliance, pain relief and regaining ability to move and exercise.”
Rather than being an “alternative” modality, medical hypnosis is gaining acceptance as a complementary or adjunct approach to traditional medical treatment. In fact, most medical hypnotists require a written doctor’s referral to address conditions such as FMS. However, Ellner says people have often given up on doctors by the time they seek his help because they feel doctors have given up on them.
Further, despite claims that symptoms will permanently vanish, hypnosis should not be thought of as curative. Medical hypnotists typically teach clients self-hypnosis, techniques to be practiced for self-regulation of the previously malfunctioning body parts, often rendering unnecessary both ongoing medications and further hypnotherapy sessions.
Hypnosis is a versatile approach with a long history of resolving medically unexplained or untreatable issues, proving that even problems not caused by the mind can often still be solved there.
Dave Berman, C.Ht. is a clinical/medical hypnotherapist and life coach practicing in northern California and globally via Skype.
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