USF doctor uses hypnosis to help patient's alleviate pain and control skin conditions

Hynopsis to lose weight. Does it work?

TAMPA, Fla. - Rena Greenberg is putting Barbara Cox, who's struggling with a lifelong battle with obesity, under hypnosis. "I had a traumatic loss," she said. "I lost my husband at a younger age and I just over-ate to compensate for my loss," Cox said.

Greenberg, a hypnotherapist and author, planted different thoughts into Barbara's subconscious, helping her, Cox says, to shed pounds she's never been able to lose before. So why the tears?  "Happiness, joy. Seeing myself some place I never thought I'd see myself before," she said.

Dermatologist Philip Shenefelt uses hypnosis to help patients alleviate pain and anxiety and better control skin disorders. One of his patients had intense pain from shingles. "I taught himself hypnosis and he came back a couple of weeks later and he said that his life was totally changed. He said he still had the pain, but now he could turn the pain down," Shenefelt said.

Dr. Shenefelt believes hypnosis works by affecting certain parts of the brain. "There's scientific evidence that the part of the brain called the anterior cingulate cortex, it's sort of in the middle of the brain,  is associated with regulating emotion. That part, if altered in terms of blood flow, helps to suppress the sensation of the pain. The nerves may still be sending the sensation of the pain but the patient isn't as bothered by it," he said.

He's published papers in medical journals on the subject and believes hypnosis can help people with a variety of skin conditions. "People vary in their degree of hypnotizability, but the people who are high hypnotizable have used this as sole anesthesia for major operations or tooth extractions. Not everyone has the capability to suppress pain that much but some people do," said Dr. Shenefelt.

Hypnosis has also been used to help cancer patients endure grueling chemotherapy and radiation treatments.  Some research shows it can also help with irritable bowel syndrome.

For more information on Rena Greenberg's easy wellness hypnotherapy program go to   or call 1-800-848-2822

USF dermatologist Dr. Philip Shenefelt  can be reached at 813 -974-4744.

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