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Medical Applications of Hypnotherapy

Having one foot in the medical world and the other in the world of 'alternative therapies' can be a very interesting experience at times. I often have times during my medical working life that I think to myself, "I could really help this person with hypnotherapy or regression therapies" but ethically, promoting my business whilst working in emergency medicine is a big no no.

One such moment occurred this week when I was seeing a patient who presented with high blood pressure. Contrary to popular belief, having high blood pressure alone is rarely a medical emergency but is something that needs to be dealt with (usually by the GP) as high blood pressure over a period of time is far more dangerous. This lovely lady was under a huge amount of stress at home and this was clearly feeding into her high blood pressure (you would be surprised how big an impact stress has on blood pressure). I examined her and did a few tests to make sure she wasn't in any imminent danger and considered how to bring her blood pressure down. As a rule, we don't start blood pressure medication in A&E or in Ambulatory Emergency Care (which is my department) but occasionally we will give a one off dose just to try and bring it down from insanely high levels to a more manageable level to make the patient feel better. So this lady had a one off dose of a blood pressure medication and I was considering other ways of lowering her blood pressure in terms of advice going forward (a visit to the GP being one of them). We give lifestyle advice about stopping smoking, eating a healthier diet, exercising more etc but if stress is elevating the blood pressure, then surely techniques to reduce that stress would be a good way of bringing it under control too.

Although using hypnotherapy on a patient during an emergency medical consultation is not something I would be able to do, it did make me think that the NHS are missing a trick here. Some more forward-thinking GPs have been known to refer patients to hypnotherapists for smoking cessation and even weight loss, but referrals for stress relief to try and lower blood pressure would be a great idea too. I have seen many clients with my hypnotherapy hat on that feel so much more relaxed after a session that I would be very surprised if this didn't have a positive effect on lowering their blood pressure. In the next few months I'm going to be releasing a hypnotherapy stress relief recording that people can listen to at home whenever they need to, and I would be interested to hear whether that helps lower blood pressure too. I'm going to be writing an article about it in the coming months and may even consider some research on the subject so watch this space!

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