Can hypnotherapy help alleviate intolerances and allergies?

Millions of people suffer from allergies and intolerances and that number is rising every year. Reactions can vary from mild intolerance – causing watery eyes, skin rashes, itching and asthma to severe – causing vomiting, anaphylaxis and even death. Each person is completely different; what triggers a reaction in one will be different to the next. Serious reactions require fast treatment with an EpiPen and immediate medical attention, whilst a mild reaction can be alleviated with anti-histamines. It is important to distinguish between intolerance and serious allergies. Intolerances can come and go, and give the sufferer a mild reaction. Severe allergies are due to the body reacting to the offending food as it would to disease or infection, so in effect the body begins to fight itself, causing anaphylaxis, as the actual food is not a danger to the body at all.

Avoiding your triggers is the best way to stay allergy free, but quite often this is impractical and even impossible. Allergens can be hidden in foods and advice can be unhelpful e.g. suggesting a hay fever sufferer should stay indoors with windows shut is not really constructive for a healthy lifestyle. Even with the most careful planning you may still become exposed to the things which set-off your allergic reactions. It makes sense to make use of all the treatments out there to help you live a happy and comfortable life, doesn’t it? Hypnotherapy could help allergy sufferers to cope better during an attack and also to reduce their symptoms.

So how could hypnotherapy help with allergies?

“Although hypnosis cannot ‘cure’ an allergy, it can help manage the allergic reaction. Some people believe these heightened sensitivities are the result of a traumatic past experience. Hypnotherapy can identify this and remove the behaviour associated with the emotion; this is known as regression therapy. Some allergies can be worsened by high stress levels; a hypnotherapist will be able to introduce relaxation techniques to reduce the stress an individual is feeling. Hypnotherapy can identify this and remove the behaviour associated with the emotion.” This is from the Hypnotherapy Directory. Visit their website at for ways of controlling your allergy and for a nationwide directory of hypnotherapists. To ensure professionalism each therapist listed on the site has submitted a copy of their insurance and qualifications or is a member of a recognised body.

Preconceived ideas about hynotherapy

I tried to find someone who had tried hypnotherapy to alleviate their intolerant or allergic symptoms but nobody I knew has had the treatment. I have never had any hypnotherapy treatment myself but I do know a little bit about it. People have the treatment for any number of reasons, for example; to help them give up smoking, lose weight or to overcome serious trauma in their life. I have always been a little sceptical myself and imagined images of brain washing and a hypnotist on the stage making his willing subjects perform weird and wonderful tasks with no knowledge of what they are doing. This impression is troubling and would put anyone off, but this is very far from the treatment that professional qualified hypnotists would provide. The treatment won’t work unless you are open to it and trust in the person who is hypnotising you. You shouldn’t feel out of control at any stage, just in a heightened state of suggestion and relaxation.

Think yourself healthier

Positive thinking can play a huge part in recovery from illness and response to treatment. The placebo effect proves this; some people feel better just because they feel someone cares, they think they are getting the right medicine or treatment and are being taken seriously so they start to feel, and actually get, better. The power of positive thinking must never be underestimated. Is this why hypnotherapy works? Does it give people an overwhelming sense that they are not alone and that they can and will conquer whatever condition has prompted them to seek treatment?

Control your stress levels and lessen reactions

Stress is commonly known to be a major culprit in allergic reactions. The body becomes run down which can affect your immune system and cause your body to react to unknown things, with flare-ups of eczema, cold sores and sensitivities to foods and allergens. It is widely thought that allergies can be triggered by stress or traumatic experiences, so can we reverse or reduce these reactions? By learning to control our stress levels and our natural reactions to stress could our symptoms decrease of even disappear? Feeling calm, in control and confident rather than panicky, completely out of control and maudlin; sounds tempting to me.

Is there any proof that it works?

A study in 2005 claims to have helped hay fever sufferers to reduce their symptoms dramatically through hypnosis; a Swiss team at Basle University taught 66 people with hay fever the art of hypnosis and found it helped them alleviate symptoms such as runny nose and itchy eyes. The volunteers also took their regular anti-hay fever drugs, but the effect of hypnosis appeared to be additive and reduce the doses they needed to take. To find out more visit the BBC website.

Try these resources if you want to learn more…

Despite the fact that hypnotherapy is a brief therapeutic approach it is not a magical panacea. However, its proven record shows that it is effective in the treatment of food intolerance and can be used either as a ‘stand alone’ intervention or in conjunction with other integrative and medical approaches.
To learn more about hypnotherapy and find a qualified hypnotherapist in your area you could also contact the British Society of Clinical Hypnosis.

I found a very interesting article on the Foods Matter website, “Hypnosis and food intolerance” – by Peter Mabbutt, Director of Studies at the London College of Clinical Hypnosis, dated 2003. He explains in detail how hypnotherapy works and why. To read more click here.

Have you tried it?

Will I be trying out hypnotherapy myself? Not just yet. I haven’t had a response from any of the local therapists I’ve contacted nor met anyone who has tried the treatment and found success. If anyone is thinking of trying it I would suggest always using a reputable therapist who is qualified or someone who has been recommended to you. Check out the Hypnotherapy Directory and British Society of Clinical Hypnosis to find a reputable therapist in your area. I do think there could be something in it, the Basle research study above seems to indicate there could be a connection that’s worth looking into. I’m definitely interested and will continue with my research into the subject. If I find anyone who has tried it and found success I will let you know.

I’d love to hear from anyone who has tried hypnotherapy to alleviate their food intolerances or any hypnotists who have treated people for allergies. Did it work? How did you feel? Would you recommend others to give it a go?

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About Ruth

Ruth works freelance as a copywriter and writes the What Allergy blog to share information with people who have allergies, eczema, asthma and food intolerances. was voted in the top 5 allergy blogs and Ruth also judges regularly for the FreeFrom Food Awards and FreeFrom Skincare Awards. She also won the Foods You Can People's choice Best FreeFrom blogger award 2014.

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