I just came across several interesting articles on the melding of acupuncture and hypnosis within a single therapeutic session. One of these articles was authored by Andrew Weill. The other, in Psychology Today, was by Steven Gugevich, Ph.D., who experienced this modality, which I use consistently in my own practice. That they both acknowledged the synergistic effects (synergy: when two modalities combine to create an effect that is greater than the whole) of these two amazing therapies only served to underline what experience tells me is true. In fact, the combination of acupuncture and hypnosis is effective not only in pain management as the article mentions, but also in weight loss, smoking cessation, sexual dysfunction, anxiety and an array of otherwise difficult-to-treat ailments.
The scholarly piece that emerged from all this, is, as are many such tomes, dry but quite readable. Feel free to peruse it. And if you tire along the way, its bottom line was essentially that, while empirical evidence strongly suggests that both of these modalities together are effective, not enough work has been done to officially give this new therapy the thumbs up yet (read: don’t hold your breath, because the AMA hasn’t got their hooks in either one).
I have included excerpts from it:
Both Zeltzer et al. (22) and Waterhouse et al. (23) reported in two separate occasions on the same study that looked at the feasibility and acceptability of a hypno-acupuncture intervention for chronic pain in pediatric patients. They found that the combined package of hypno-acupuncture was highly acceptable and tolerable and that following treatment, there was significant improvement in pain with no side effects.
HYPNOPUNCTURE ON PAIN:
In an interesting study, Moret et al. (47) induced experimental pain by cold pressor test in volunteers in a prospective, cross-over study in order to test whether the mechanisms of analgesia induced by hypnosis and acupuncture are different. They measured the analgesic effect of hypnosis and acupuncture before and after double-blind administration of placebo or naloxone and found that pain intensity was significantly lower with hypnosis as compared with acupuncture, both with naloxone (P < 0.001) and placebo (P < 0.001). During acupuncture, but not during hypnosis however, pain scores were similar to control values when naloxone was given (P = 0.05) but decreased significantly with placebo (P < 0.002). Thus, it is possible that the combination of acupuncture and hypnosis may have superior effectiveness to either one alone due, in part, to complementary mechanisms. (my emphasis)
We believe that if and when definitive clinical trials lend support to the efficacy and effectiveness of hypno-acupuncture this unique package of care might be an important addition to the present armamentarium of care, which many consider suboptimal.
In conclusion, we present a new hypothesis that suggests synergism between two relatively safe and inexpensive modalities—hypnosis and acupuncture. We call for rigorous testing of that hypothesis through a new line of research that will inform clinical practice guidelines and health policy decision-making regarding the potential integration of hypno-acupuncture into healthcare.