Hypnosis as a modulator of cellular immune dysregulation during acute stress

Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Marucha PT, Atkinson C, Glaser R.
Department of Psychiatry, Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus 43210, USA.  


To assess the influence of a hypnotic intervention on cellular immune function during a commonplace stressful event, the authors selected 33 medical and dental students on the basis of hypnotic susceptibility. Initial blood samples were obtained during a lower stress period, and a second sample was drawn 3 days before the first major exam of the term. Half of the participants were randomly assigned to hypnotic-relaxation training in the interval between samples. Participants in the hypnotic group were, on average, protected from the stress-related decrements that were observed in control participants' proliferative responses to 2 mitogens, percentages of CD3+ and CD4+ T-lymphocytes, and interleukin 1 production by peripheral blood leukocytes. More frequent hypnotic-relaxation practice was associated with higher percentages of CD3+ and CD4+ T-lymphocytes. These data provide encouraging evidence that interventions may reduce the immunological dysregulation associated with acute stressors.