Hypnosis (also called hypnotherapy) has been studied for a number of conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), state anxiety (e.g., before medical procedures or surgeries), menopausal symptoms, hot flashes in breast cancer survivors, headaches, and post-traumatic stress disorder. It has also been studied for pain control and smoking cessation.

  • Some studies have suggested that hypnosis may be helpful for gastrointestinal symptoms, anxiety, depression, disability, and health-related quality of life in people with IBS. A 2018 recommendation from the American College of Gastroenterology, however, said that the evidence for using psychological therapies, including hypnosis, for IBS is “weak,” with a “very low” quality of evidence.
  • A growing body of evidence suggests that hypnosis may help to manage some painful conditions.
  • Some studies have shown promising results on hypnosis for anxiety related to medical or dental procedures, but the overall evidence is not conclusive.
  • Studies of hypnosis to help with quitting smoking have had conflicting results.
  • There is some evidence suggesting that hypnosis may help improve certain menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes. A 2015 position paper from the North American Menopause Society recommended hypnosis for managing hot flashes but acknowledged that favorable evidence is limited.

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NCCIH has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your health care provider(s). We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by NCCIH.

Last Updated: January 2020