May 19th, 2015 Multiple Sclerosis News, News
At age 24, Kristen noticed that her vision started to become blurry, leading her to do a check-up at the optometrist. The doctor thought at first she had optic neuritis, a nerve disorder widely known as the first sign of MS. “I said, ‘Oh my God,’” Kristen explained in a recent news release about the case study. “That’s when I started to freak out.”
MS affects about 350,000 people in the United States and can cause loss of hearing, blindness, and paralysis. Unfortunately, the only available medications currently for MS only treat symptoms and not the underlying cause.
In her efforts to learn more about treatment options, Kristen began researching Mind Body Medicine (MBM). MBM therapies like hypnosis, yoga, and acupuncture have been acknowledged as potential treatment resources, with NIH-funded studies showing that MBM therapies are successful in improving patients’ pain intensity, quality of life and anxiety for many diseases.
Kristen eventually met Cynthia Chauvin, a hypnotherapist in Northern Virginia who has been using hypnosis as a therapy for over ten years, and who wanted to assess the efficacy of the technique. “I’ve been interested in seeing if hypnosis could be used to help someone literally heal themselves,” explained Chauvin in the news release. “But it needed to be the right person.”
Chauvin felt that for her to explore hypnosis to treat medical conditions, she had to find a patient who would truly believe in the potential of the technique, and Kristen was the ideal candidate.
Kristen suffers from relapsing remitting MS, however, doctors told her that she will likely reach progressive MS. To delay her symptoms’ progression, she wanted to try hypnosis.
The therapist also helps the patient to un-learn negative behaviors, such as a smoking habit. Chauvin calls her technique “trance-based learning.”
In the first session, Kristen’s MS symptoms included a sandpapery feel in her hands and numbness. Over six sessions, Chauvin put Kristen in a trance, and then “suggested” that her body repair the connections that MS has destroyed.
“We’re visualizing building bridges and getting the body and nerves talking again, something that multiple sclerosis literally interferes with,” explained Chauvin. “I don’t think this is just about changing her body to a relaxed state; I suspect we’re actually re-wiring her system on some level.”
“I don’t talk about the malady at all,” said Chauvin. “The entire session is about connectivity, working with Kristen’s deepest innate abilities and letting her body do the rest. I never use the words healing, it infers disease. I only refer to the body establishing a healthy balance on a cellular level.”
Chauvin clarified in the news release that the sessions are quite simple: “I put her into a deep relaxed state and using a basic structure I have developed, I improvise the session from that point.”
Mind-body medicine techniques are now recognized to have a positive effect on some diseases, with prestigious research centers such as Georgetown University and Harvard University launching programs on the mind-body connection. The National Institutes for Health is also actively supporting complementary medicine investigations.
“Since its establishment 16 years ago, the center has funded thousands of important research projects. Without this work, the American public would lack vital information on the safety and effectiveness of many practices and products that are widely used and readily available,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. in the news release.
After two sessions of hypnotherapy, Kristen noted that the sandpapery feel in her hands had vanished, with an MRI performed after 12 weeks showing the lesions in her brain had gone from severe to a stable state.
Kristen attributes the positive symptoms’ delay to Chauvin’s work. “I’m a lot more grounded, not as much mind chatter,” she said. “Things don’t bother me as much as they used to. I’ve reduced my stress level, and I don’t react the same way to things, my body doesn’t react the same way.”
Chauvin is now using hypnosis on other patients with chronic conditions, and according to her, the results so far have been impressive. Although there is no scientific evidence, which would require large randomized trials, the fact that Kristen’s symptoms went from a daily frequency to absent is evidence of the potential of the therapy’s effectiveness. “I would recommend Cynthia for any physical ailment you’re trying to move past,” said Kristen in the news release. “Especially if you’ve been told you have something chronic and incurable. Before you get stuck in that mindset, I would definitely recommend Cynthia’s work with hypnotherapy because I think it will make a big difference.”