Background: Many people suffer from hay fever symptoms. Hypnosis has proved to be a useful adjunct in the treatment of conditions where allergic phenomena have an important role.
Methods: Randomised parallel group study over an observation period of two consecutive pollen seasons. Outcome data include nasal flow under hypnosis, pollinosis symptoms from diaries and retrospective assessments, restrictions in well-being and use of anti-allergic medication. We investigated 79 patients with a mean age of 34 years (range 19-54 years; 41 males), with moderate to severe allergic rhinitis to grass or birch pollen of at least 2 years duration and mild allergic asthma. The intervention consisted of teaching self-hypnosis during a mean of 2.4 sessions (SD 1.7; range 2-5 sessions) and continuation of standard anti-allergic pharmacological treatment.
Results: Of 79 randomised patients, 66 completed one, and 52 completed two seasons. Retrospective VAS scores yielded significant improvements in year 1 in patients who had learned self-hypnosis: pollinosis symptoms -29.2 (VAS score, range 0-100; SD 25.4; p < 0.001), restriction of well-being -26.2 (VAS score, range 0-100; SD 28.7; p < 0.001. In year 2, the control group improved significantly having learned self-hypnosis as well: pollinosis symptoms -24.8 (SD 29.1; p < 0.001), restriction of well-being -23.7 (SD 30.0; p < 0.001). Daily self-reports of subjects who learnt self-hypnosis do not show a significant improvement. The hazard ratio of reaching a critical flow of 70% in nasal provocation tests was 0.333 (95% CI 0.157-0.741) after having learnt and applied self-hypnosis.