Hypnosis in the Treatment of Diabetes
Improvement in stress-management, diet, and anxiety can help in diabetes.
Posted March 26, 2022 | Reviewed by Vanessa Lancaster
- Diabetes occurs when the body cannot regulate blood sugar well, which causes an elevated level of sugar in the blood.
- Stress often leads to a rise in blood sugar to help improve energy, but in diabetes, the sugar cannot be used well.
- Hypnosis can be used to calm the patient, which helps decrease blood sugar levels.
Treatment of diabetes, a relatively common illness, can be aided with hypnosis. Diabetes is a disease that occurs when the body cannot regulate blood sugar (glucose) well, which causes an elevated level of sugar in the blood. This elevation can lead to the development of complications including heart disease, stroke, kidney problems, eye problems, dental problems, and nerve damage.
Diabetes affects nearly 10 percent of Americans, most of whom suffer from Type II diabetes.
Different Types of Diabetes
In Type I diabetes, the body does not manufacture insulin, which is a hormone that helps move sugar from the bloodstream into the body's cells. Type I diabetes often starts in childhood. It is treated with insulin administration by shots or an infusion pump.
In Type II diabetes, the body does not utilize insulin well, leading to an elevation of blood sugar. This kind of diabetes usually occurs because of obesity. It is usually treated with controlling the diet, pills that help lower blood sugar, and sometimes with insulin.
Other kinds of diabetes can occur during pregnancy (gestational diabetes) or due to rare genetic conditions.
Hypnosis can help in the management of diabetes
- Stress in life often leads to a rise in blood sugar in response to cortisol, a hormone that increases during stressful times. As sugar is the body’s main source of immediate energy, cortisol raises sugar levels is to give the body more energy during such times. Unfortunately, in a person with diabetes, the body cannot utilize sugar well. Hypnosis can calm the patient, which helps decrease blood sugar levels. Also, through hypnosis, a patient’s subconscious can help the patient reduce stress reactions by suggesting constructive ways with which to respond to difficult life events, as opposed to being consumed by sadness, anger, or anxiety.
- Hypnotic suggestions can promote a lifestyle that improves control of blood sugars, including maintaining a healthy diet, increased exercise, and getting plenty of sleep.
- Some patients are afraid of administering insulin or checking their blood sugar levels because this involves piercing the skin with a needle or lancet. Patients can be taught to use hypnosis to help themselves feel more comfortable with these procedures. Some patients learn to distract themselves with relaxing hypnotic imagery, while others can use the hypnotic state to dissociate from discomfort and report that they can feel minimal or no pain when their skin is penetrated.
- For Type II diabetes, weight loss can lead to improvement or even a cure of the condition. Hypnotic suggestions that can help reduce weight include telling oneself, “I would like to right-size my body.” This is a better suggestion than expressing a desire to lose weight because who likes to lose something? Using imagery of a thinner, healthier self can help propel people towards that goal. Finally, the subconscious can help identify and address life stressors that might be contributing to an unhealthy eating pattern.
Hypnosis can be beneficial in the management of diabetes, including through its promotion of improved stress management, diet, exercise, and control of anxiety.
Copyright Ran D. Anbar
More information about hypnosis and how it can be used to promote healthy behavior is available in my 2021 book, "Changing Children’s Lives with Hypnosis: A Journey to the Center." Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.