OBJECTIVES: The effects of hypnosis on physiological (gastrointestinal) functions are incompletely understood, and it is unknown whether they are hypnosis-specific and gut-specific, or simply unspecific effects of relaxation. DESIGN: Sixty-two healthy female volunteers were randomly assigned to either a single session of hypnotic suggestion of ingesting an appetizing meal and an unappetizing meal, or to relax and concentrate on having an appetizing or unappetizing meal, while the electrogastrogram (EGG) was recorded. At the end of the session, participants drank water until they felt full, in order to detect EGG-signal changes after ingestion of a true gastric load. During both conditions participants reported their subjective well-being, hunger and disgust at several time points. RESULTS: Imagining eating food induced subjective feelings of hunger and disgust as well as changes in the EGG similar to, but more pronounced than those seen with a real gastric water load during both hypnosis and relaxation conditions. These effects were more pronounced when imagining an appetizing meal than with an unappetizing meal. There was no significant difference between the hypnosis and relaxation conditions. CONCLUSION: Imagination with and without hypnosis exhibits similar changes in subjective and objective measures in response to imagining an appetizing and an unappetizing food, indicating high sensitivity but low specificity.
PLoS One. 2013 Dec 16;8(12):e83486. Enck P(1), Hefner J(2), Herbert BM(3), Mazurak N(4), Weimer K(1), Muth ER(5), Zipfel S(1), Martens U(1). (1)Department of Psychosomatic Medicine, University Hospital, Tübingen, Germany. (2)Department of Internal Medicine II, University Hospital, Würzburg, Germany. (3)Department of Health Psychology, Institute of Psychology and Education, University of Ulm, Ulm, Germany. (4)Central Research Department, Ivano-Frankivsk National Medical University, Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine. (5)Department of Psychology, Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina, United States of America.