Hypnosis for aller­gies and hist­amine-mediated symptoms

An inter­ac­tion of psyche and espe­cially atopic dise­ases or allergic dise­ases is often suspected. The disci­pline of psycho­neu­ro­im­mu­no­logy picks up on this and shows how a change in stress hormone secre­tion or pain inter­feres with the immune system. This can create an unfa­vor­able cycle, as in turn, the inflamma­tory messen­gers produced by stress and immune dysre­gu­la­tion can nega­tively affect emotional balance.1

Hypnosis has been shown in small studies to have a posi­tive effect on the following symptoms and diseases:

  • Hay fever
  • Neuro­der­ma­titis / atopic dermatitis
  • Urti­caria
  • Itchung

Psoriasis, an auto­im­mune disease, was posi­tively influ­enced by hypno­the­rapy in smaller studues, which is why it is discussed in detail in the article on hypnosis in auto­im­mune dise­ases.

This article does not want to present atopic, allergic or mast cell mediated dise­ases as psycho­so­matic dise­ases that can be reme­died by hypnosis only. Nevertheless, in this review, biolo­gical corre­la­tions between a stress response and the immune system are to be pointed out, and studies are to be compiled in which hypno­the­rapy posi­tively affects allergy symptoms or the course of the disease.

This article is about a health issue. It is important that you have your symptoms examined and treated by medical profes­sio­nals. This article is not intended to be, and cannot be, a substi­tute for the care and advice of medical profes­sio­nals that may be avail­able to you.

Hypnosis for hay fever and allergies

In a study of 66 hay fever pati­ents, half of whom learned self-hypnosis tech­ni­ques in the first year and the other half served as a control group, there was a signi­fi­cant impro­ve­ment in allergic symptoms.2

The control group, which had not previously expe­ri­enced hypno­the­rapy, was invited to learn self-hypnosis tech­ni­ques in the second year: this also resulted in symptom relief in this group.

Like­wise, nasal breat­hing improved under self-hypnosis, although the effect did not always reach statis­tical signi­fi­cance. The rese­ar­chers saw the most signi­fi­cant impro­ve­ment when pati­ents hypno­tized them­selves after being exposed to grass pollen in a provo­ca­tion test. The nose remained signi­fi­cantly clearer in some subjects under self-hypnosis than without.

Thus, under self-hypnosis, some of the parti­ci­pants were able to alter or influ­ence their immune response. According to the authors, hypnosis and trance ability did not play a role in this study.2

Reduced hist­amine wheals during hypnosis

Another inte­res­ting study was conducted with 10 well-hypno­tiz­able subjects, exami­ning the skin response to a hist­amine prick test under pain stimuli and hypnosis.3

In a prick test, aller­gens are usually intro­duced into the top layer of the skin. Hist­amine is consi­dered a control field, since a reac­tion to this tissue hormone is usually expected in the form of a wheal or redness

In the inves­ti­ga­tion set-up, the rese­ar­chers wanted to examine the connec­tions between pain stress stimuli and inflamma­tory processes and whether these can be influ­enced by hypnosis. Pain stimuli were applied by utili­zing a laser.

The hist­amine wheal under hypnotic anal­gesia, i.e., pain relief by hypnosis, was signi­fi­cantly smaller than without hypnosis. This study also showed that pain/stress stimuli appear to play a role in skin inflamma­tory processes.3

Diffe­rent skin responses to hist­amine when expe­ri­en­cing emotions such as anger, sadness, and joy

Diffe­rent skin responses to hist­amine when expe­ri­en­cing emotions such as anger, sadness, and joy

Simi­larly, another expe­ri­ment examined how emotions elicited under hypnosis affect skin responses in the hist­amine prick test. It showed that under the sugges­tion of joy, the response to hist­amine reached its peak after two minutes but took four minutes to its peak under sadness. Anger was also asso­ciated with a more prolonged and signi­fi­cant skin response than joy.4

Stress influ­ences allergic diseases

People with aller­gies and mast cell dise­ases often also have the personal expe­ri­ence that strong anger or sadness nega­tively influ­ences the condi­tion. These afore­men­tioned studies confirm inter­ac­tions between the nervous system and the immune system.

For example, states of tension result in acti­va­tion of the sympa­thetic nervous system, which is also known as the “fight and flight” state. Stressful stimuli also cause more stress hormones, inclu­ding cortisol, to be released because our central hub for hormone regu­la­tion — the hypo­tha­lamus with pitui­tary gland — stimu­lates the adrenal gland to do so.

Nervous and hormonal systems interact with each other, and there is also a release of diffe­rent nerve growth factors, which can increase inflamma­tion. In general, this leads to a shift of the immune system towards an allergic immune response (TH2).

effects of stress on immune system

Subjects with a strong reac­tion to hist­amine seem to be parti­cu­larly well hypnotizable

In addi­tion to the already expected reac­tion that persons in a happy state had less severe skin reac­tions, another striking feature was found in the above mentioned study: subjects who were parti­cu­larly well hypno­tiz­able had stronger reac­tions to hist­amine in the skin prick test compared to persons who were not as recep­tive to hypnosis.4

However, it is still unclear why such a corre­la­tion might exist, and in addi­tion to studies that have found this effect, there have again been those that have failed to demons­trate this corre­la­tion.1,3,4

Inte­res­tingly rese­ar­chers found clus­ters of gene muta­tions affec­ting hist­amine degra­dation more frequently in people with atopic dise­ases, asthma, and migraine.5–8 hese so-called poly­mor­phisms affect the hist­amine balance, which could affect the psyche and the suscep­ti­bi­lity to hypnosis.

Hypnosis and hives (urti­caria)

Urti­caria is a skin disease charac­te­rized by wheal forma­tion and the appearance of swel­lings, so-called angio­e­dema. Often hist­amine, as one of the main trig­ge­ring media­tors, plays a major role in the forma­tion of the symptoms of urticaria.

Suppose hypnosis affects the skin’s response under hist­amine provo­ca­tion, as it did in the expe­ri­ments mentioned above. In that case, it is at least likely that hypno­the­rapy could also be helpful in a propor­tion of pati­ents with hives. In fact, there is a small study of 15 subjects with hives in which hypnosis was found to be effec­tive. It had a parti­cu­larly good effect on itching.9,10

Here, however, in contrast to the hay fever study, there was a diffe­rence between hypno­tiz­able and rather non-hypno­tiz­able subjects. But both groups bene­fited from the inter­ven­tion. Hypno­the­rapy helped the people who were some­what more suscep­tible to hypnosis slightly more in this setting.9

Use of hypnosis for atopic eczema

Atopic derma­titis, also known as atopic eczema or neuro­der­ma­titis, is a common chronic skin condi­tion often asso­ciated with severely itchy skin.

In a study published as recently as 2020, the authors showed that 26 out of 27 suffe­rers with atopic derma­titis bene­fited from hypno­the­rapy. The symptom scale decre­ased from 12 at base­line to an average of 2.8 points at the last appointment.

On average, six hypnosis sessions were performed with each patient, with an indi­vi­dual range of 2 to 16 sessions. However, there was no control group.11


Hypnosis seems to have posi­tive effects on allergic and atopic dise­ases. How signi­fi­cant the impact is and in whom hypno­the­rapy works parti­cu­larly well is diffi­cult to say since the studies often consisted of few parti­ci­pants and did not always include a control group.

In addi­tion, as with almost all chronic illnesses, one has the problem that these usually fluc­tuate throughout a person’s life. For this reason alone, there can be impro­ve­ments and dete­rio­ra­tions that have nothing to do with the intervention.

Also, not every person can be hypno­tized equally well, and in the case of self-hypnosis, it depends greatly on how often pati­ents use and prac­tice the tech­nique. Nevertheless, I consider hypno­the­rapy to be an exci­ting oppor­tu­nity with prac­ti­cally nonexis­tent side effects if used correctly. It even gives the affected person the possi­bi­lity, for example, in the context of self-hypnosis, to take action against their illness themselves.

My personal expe­ri­ence with hypnosis with hist­amine-mediated problems

As a hypno­the­ra­pist and sufferer of recur­rent allergic reac­tions and angio­e­dema, self-hypnosis can provide me with some relief with regard to distres­sing symptoms such as itching.

I am curr­ently expe­ri­men­ting with forms of hypnosis that suggest to the patient what physical processes he/she should influ­ence to improve their symptoms. Derzeit expe­ri­men­tiere ich mit Hypno­se­formen, die dem Pati­enten bzw. der Pati­entin sugge­rieren, welche körper­li­chen Vorgänge er/sie beein­flussen soll, um seine Symptome zu verbessern.

I was inspired by a study of children with IgA defi­ci­ency. IgA defi­ci­ency is a compa­ra­tively common immun­ode­fi­ci­ency. In this study, children were allowed to use self-hypnosis with sugges­tions of their choice to try to increase their IgA produc­tion. However, this was only successful in the group in which medi­cally correct and specific sugges­tions were given. In this group, IgA levels incre­ased signi­fi­cantly.12

Accord­ingly, in hypnotic inter­ven­tions, I try to work with the bioche­mical processes in the body and give concrete sugges­tions. I am curious to see how this plays out and will report back.😊


1. Liez­mann C, Klapp B, Peters EM. Stress, atopy and allergy: A re-evalua­tion from a psycho­neu­ro­im­mu­no­logic perse­pec­tive. Dermato­en­docrinol. 2011;3(1):37–40. doi:10.4161/derm.3.1.14618

2. Lange­witz W, Izakovic J, Wyler J, Schindler C, Kiss A, Bircher AJ. Effect of self-hypnosis on hay fever symptoms — a rando­mised controlled inter­ven­tion study. Psycho­ther Psychosom. 2005;74(3):165–172. doi:10.1159/000084001

3. Zacha­riae R, Bjer­ring P. The effect of hypno­ti­cally induced anal­gesia on flare reac­tion of the cuta­neous hist­amine prick test. Arch Dermatol Res. 1990;282(8):539–543. doi:10.1007/BF00371950

4. Zacha­riae R, Jørgensen MM, Egek­vist H, Bjer­ring P. Skin reac­tions to hist­amine of healthy subjects after hypno­ti­cally induced emotions of sadness, anger, and happi­ness. Allergy. 2001;56(8):734–740. doi:10.1034/j.1398–9995.2001.056008734.x

5. Petersen J, Drasche A, Raithel M, Schwel­berger HG. Analysis of genetic poly­mor­phisms of enzymes involved in hist­amine meta­bo­lism. Inflamm res. 2003;52(1):s69-s70. doi:10.1007/s000110300059

6. Agúndez JAG, Ayuso P, Cornejo-García JA, et al. The Diamine Oxidase Gene Is Asso­ciated with Hyper­sen­si­ti­vity Response to Non-Stero­idal Anti-Inflamma­tory Drugs. PLoS One. 2012;7(11). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0047571

7. García-Martín E, Martínez C, Serrador M, et al. Diamine Oxidase rs10156191 and rs2052129 Vari­ants Are Asso­ciated With the Risk for Migraine. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain. 2015;55(2):276–286. doi:https://doi.org/10.1111/head.12493

8. Agúndez JAG, Luengo A, Herráez O, et al. Nonsyn­ony­mous poly­mor­phisms of hist­amine-meta­bo­li­sing enzymes in pati­ents with Parkinson’s disease. Neuro­mole­cular Med. 2008;10(1):10–16. doi:10.1007/s12017-007‑8017‑7

9. Shertzer CL, Looking­bill DP. Effects of rela­xa­tion therapy and hypno­tiza­bi­lity in chronic urti­caria. Arch Dermatol. 1987;123(7):913–916.

10. Shene­felt PD. Mind­ful­ness-Based Cogni­tive Hypno­the­rapy and Skin Disor­ders. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis. 2018;61(1):34–44. doi:10.1080/00029157.2017.1419457

11. Delaitre L, Denis J, Mail­lard H. Hypnosis in Treat­ment of Atopic Derma­titis: A Clinical Study. Inter­na­tional Journal of Clinical and Expe­ri­mental Hypnosis. 2020;68(4):412–418. doi:10.1080/00207144.2020.1788391

12. Olness K, Culbert T, Uden D. Self-regu­la­tion of sali­vary immu­no­glo­bulin A by children. Pediatrics. 1989;83(1):66–71.

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Natur­o­path, hypno­the­ra­pist, owner of an immune system gone crazy with various auto­im­mune special effects. She likes reading through medical papers and is an avid learner of all things regar­ding the human immune system. When her joints and body allow it: enthu­si­astic do-it-your­selfer around the house.

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