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5 Study Summaries on the Benefits of Hypnosis for Headache Pain

hypnosis headache pain research studiesHypnosis is one of the oldest healing modalities. From ancient Egyptian “sleep temples” to the Mesmerism of the 1700’s, trance phenomena have claimed to cure all manner of ills.

In modern times – in spite of stage hypnotism, fear of covert hypnosis and other suspicious practices – hypnotherapy appears to be a solid choice for pain management.

Hypnotherapy has been put to the test with scientific research around headache and migraine pain. Does it work?

With all research, you should view the results with some skepticism. The motivation behind the study and the reliability of the methodology used should always be considered. Still, hypnotherapy appears to be worth investigation for pain management.

Here are five research studies about healing headache pain with hypnosis.

Hypnosis and Headaches and Migraines Research Studies

There are thousands of books and courses that promote hypnotherapy training. It should be noted that effective use of hypnosis for pain management is conducted by a professional who has been trained at an accredited institute. Pain management with hypnosis should be delivered as a complement to medical treatment, which is overseen by a qualified healthcare professional.

1) Hypnosis and Migraine Recovery

The International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis published a study with 47 patients suffering from chronic migraine headaches. Researchers administered hypnosis to 23 participants and medication to 24 of them. They found that 10 of the hypnosis patients eliminated episodes of migraines after hypnotherapy, while three of the medication-consuming patients stopped having migraines.


2) Headache Relief Discovered During Hypnosis and Cancer Pain Trial

The International Journal of Clinical Experimental Hypnosis published a study in 2007 that reviewed the findings of several hypnosis and cancer pain trials. Within those findings they found evidence of hypnosis helping patients with both headaches and migraines. The findings suggest that it is an effective approach to pain relief with no side effects.


3) Pediatric Doctors Test Self-Hypnosis for Headache Pain

In 1987, a group of pediatric doctors conducted a study with 28 patients between the ages of 6 and 12, giving them medication as a treatment for three months. During the next three months, patients took a placebo. For an additional three months, the children learned self-hypnosis for pain control. The findings favored self-hypnosis, with the children reporting an average of 5.1 headaches per month. They reported an average of 13.3 when taking the placebo, and 14.9 during the period in which they used medication.


• Recommended self-hypnosis book.

4) An Encouraging Hypnosis and Migraine Pain Case Study

This is a 2010 case study conducted by Edward F. Mackey and published by The American Psychotherapy Association. Mackey had a patient that had suffered from debilitating migraine headaches for 15 years. After trying several conventional treatments for her migraines to no avail, she tried hypnosis. After eight sessions, her condition improved greatly. Ten months after her last office visit, she is still practicing self-hypnosis and is migraine free.


5) Treatment Resistant Chronic Headaches and Hypnotherapy

In 1992, a study was conducted and published by Prevention. Researchers gathered 42 patients whose chronic headaches were unaffected by conventional approaches to pain management. Half of them were administered hypnotherapy as a treatment, while the other half were used as a ground for comparison. The group receiving hypnotherapy experienced reduced frequency and intensity of headaches by 30%. According to the researchers, this is substantial considering their unresponsiveness to other treatments.

Source: Gutfeld, G. and Rao, L. (1992). “Use of Hypnosis with Patients Suffering from Chronic Headaches, Seriously Resistant to Other Treatment,” As reported in Prevention, 44, 24-25.

5 Study Summaries on the Benefits of Hypnosis for Headache Pain

Mike Bundrant

Mike Bundrant is the author of Your Achilles Eel: Discover and Overcome the Hidden Cause of Negative Emotions, Bad Decisions and Self-Sabotage and co-founder at The iNLP Center which offers online certification in Neuro-Linguistic Programming and life coaching.

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APA Reference
Bundrant, M. (2019). 5 Study Summaries on the Benefits of Hypnosis for Headache Pain. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 23, 2020, from


Last updated: 27 Mar 2019
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