Hypnosis — many of us view it as a stage act rather than a credible treatment. Hypnotists can make people behave like farm animals or remember their past lives, right? However, hypnosis could get people to do much more than that, as a new study shows.
Hypnosis, or hypnotherapy, could actually reverse hair loss. We’re not talking the usual, inevitable balding that comes with aging, but rather sudden hair loss. It might sound unbelievable to you that a form of “mental magic” could actually affect a physical condition, but let’s take a closer look at the concept.
In a study out of Belgium, researchers looked at a group of 21 patients with “alopecia areata” (AA) who had not responded to standard drug therapy. AA is a loss of hair that occurs suddenly, usually around the face and head. The hair often comes out in chunks, leaving bald patches. It is still unknown what exactly causes this condition to occur, but it’s been suggested that stress or psychological trauma could be the culprit.
So, in the study, the Belgian researchers wanted to see if hypnosis, which is actually considered a form of psychotherapy, had any effect on the hair loss or the emotional well-being of AA sufferers. Nine of the patients had “alopecia totalis” (total loss of hair on the head) or “alopecia universalis” (total loss of all body hair), and the rest had regular AA. They were treated and analyzed for five years, receiving regular hypnotherapy sessions, plus other medical treatment, in most cases.
At the end of their treatment, all patients had improved anxiety and depression levels, and scored better when it came to other psychological factors. Moreover, after only three or four hypnosis sessions, 12 of the AA patients experienced regrowth of at least 75% of their lost scalp hair. Nine of these 12 individuals also experienced hair- growth renewal on their entire bodies. There were no side effects reported. However, when treatment ended, five of the people whose hair had grown back had a relapse of their AA.
Now, since there were other forms of treatment provided to the patients during this study, it’s hard to say if it was actually the hypnotic suggestions that reversed the AA and, if it was, the researchers haven’t pinpointed exactly why it works.
Nevertheless, it’s quite possible that hypnotherapy could have a couple of effects on a person: 1) it could improve their mental and emotional state, thus putting a stop to any physical repercussions, such as hair loss (we all know the effects that stress can have on the body); 2) it could somehow affect the immune system (AA is frequently referred to as an autoimmune disorder, such as arthritis or lupus).
If you are experiencing this distressing type of hair loss, it can’t hurt to try hypnotherapy, as it seems that there are no side effects. Just remember that more studies are required before it can be definitively said that hypnosis treats AA.