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 development of many complications including heart disease, stroke, kidney problems, eye problems, dental problems, and nerve damage. Diabetes affects nearly 10% of Americans, and most of these individuals 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 blood stream into the cells of the body. Type I diabetes often starts in childhood. It is treated with administration of insulin by shots or an infusion pump.
In Type II diabetes the body does not utilize the insulin well, and this also leads to an elevation of blood sugar. This kind of diabetes usually occurs as a result of obesity. It is usually treated with controlling of diet, pills that help lower blood sugar, and sometimes with insulin.
Other kinds of diabetes can occur during pregnancy (gestational diabetes) or as a result of rare genetic conditions.
Hypnosis in the Treatment of Diabetes
Hypnosis can help in the management of diabetes in multiple ways:
- Stress in life often leads to a rise in blood sugar in response to cortisol, which is 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 the sugar well.) Hypnosis can be used to calm the patient, which helps decrease blood sugar levels. Also, through use of hypnosis a patient’s subconscious can help the patient to reduce stress reactions by suggesting constructive ways with which to respond to difficult life events (as opposed to being consumed by sadness or anger.)
- Hypnotic suggestions can promote a lifestyle which 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 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.
Take Home Message
While hypnosis cannot cure diabetes, it can be very helpful in management of this chronic illness.
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