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Is Hypnosis a Placebo?What is a placebo? That is an insightful question. The answer is equally interesting. A placebo is a positive suggestion that creates a belief or expectation for positive change

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What is a placebo? That is an insightful question. The answer is equally interesting. A placebo is a positive suggestion that creates a belief or expectation for positive change. The opposite effect of a placebo is a nocebo. A nocebo effect occurs when someone is given a negative suggestion, such as when a co-worker says you don't look well and you start feeling sick.  "How placebos work is still not quite understood," according to Professor Ted Kaptchuk of Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. "It involves a complex neurobiological reaction that includes everything from increases in feel-good neurotransmitters, like endorphins and dopamine, to greater activity in certain brain regions linked to moods, emotional reactions, and self-awareness." "The placebo effect is a way for your brain to tell the body what it needs to feel better," Kaptchuk explains. "[Placebos] have been shown to be most effective for conditions like pain management, stress-related insomnia, and cancer treatment side effects like fatigue and nausea."As hypnotists we tell clients that hypnosis doesn't "cure" cancer or "fix" arthritis, however, hypnosis can help with the side effects of those conditions. Hypnosis can also help with the stress and judgement of pain or a diagnosis. "Negative emotions are like gasoline thrown on the fire of pain not only making chronic pain much worse, but even causing it in some cases," says Beth Darnall, PhD, a pain psychologist and associate professor at Stanford University.Scientists are learning more about how powerful the mind really is in what we experience physically in our bodies. For our clients, that can mean improvement when they no longer perceive their body image as "fat". It can also help when clients no longer see themselves as powerless or hopeless."A sense of powerlessness helps shape a patients’ perceptions of pain," says Dr. April Vallerand, pain researcher and professor at Wayne State University in Detroit. She recommends non-pharmacological therapies like visualization, distraction and relaxation techniques as well as integrative treatments.


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