Meditation & Hypnosis

In Part 1 we presented the general parameters of brain waves a person might experience throughout their day, evening, and during sleep. We also took a look at the “Aha! moments” of insight, electrically stimulated lucid dreaming, naturally occurring lucidity in dreams, Ayahuasca administration, and phasic REM sleep measurements.

What other kind of Gamma waves or “Aha! moments” are humans susceptible to induce?

The general consensus of the benefits and/or reasons for employing the practice of meditation is in order to “quiet the mind” which leads to a de-stressing of the body. It’s interesting to note that while many people report the generally relaxing effects of meditating on a consistent basis, some practitioners will report transcendental states in which they experience deeply profound insights of a “spiritual” nature. These experiences are currently not easily assimilated in terms of how traditional scientific minds tend to view measurable reality. However, it’d seem important to put these “transcendental states” into context with what we currently can measure.

In 2004, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published a paper outlining the EEG states of long-term meditators during their meditative practices. The conclusions of the study were as follows: “The ratio of gamma-band activity (25-42 Hz) to slow oscillatory activity (4-13 Hz) is initially higher in the resting baseline before meditation for the practitioners than the controls over medial frontoparietal electrodes. This difference increases sharply during meditation over most of the scalp electrodes and remains higher than the initial baseline in the postmeditation baseline.”

In 2010, in the journal Cognitive Processes a paper was published studying the EEG readings during long-term “Vipassana” meditators vs. non-meditators. The results were as follows: “Relative increase in frontal theta (4–8 Hz) power was observed during meditation, as well as significantly increased parieto-occipital gamma (35–45 Hz) power, but no other state effects were found for the theta (4–8 Hz), alpha (8–12 Hz), or beta (12–25 Hz) bands. The findings suggest that long-term Vipassana meditation contributes to increased occipital gamma power related to long-term meditational expertise and enhanced sensory awareness.”

In 2004, Neuroscientist Dr. Richard Davidson’s would study the EEG waves emitted by Tibetan meditating monks and found some of the monks produced Gamma wave activity more powerful and of higher amplitude than any documented case in history. In 2008, Dr. Davidson would conduct another study with Buddhist Monk, Matthie Richard nicknamed “The Happiest Man in the World.” The EEG waves that Richard would showcase were considered to be literally “off the charts” in terms of significant strength.

monk

Much like the numerous physiological and neurological benefits of deep sleep have been extensively reviewed, the general physical mechanics of meditation appear rather similar to those of sleep (EEG state & rhythm of breathing) and provide very similar benefits it appears. The key difference between meditation and sleep is that in meditation, a person can consciously influence the general intent of the brain/mind whereas in sleep… it just goes crazy! (Just kidding… it goes wherever it goes.)

Another intriguing aspect of meditation is in regards to neuroplasticity. This refers to the ability for a person to literally change the physical structure of their brain. Being that we’ve outlined the fact that Gamma waves correlate with new neuronal connections actively taking place for the first time and the fact that Gamma waves are created in abundance for the long-term meditation practitioners, it should come as no surprise as to the positive emotional benefits of this practice. It shouldn’t be a surprise that “The Happiest Man in the World” is a long-time, dedicated meditator. When people tend to think of a natural “happiness” chemical inside the body, they’re generally familiar with the term “Dopamine”. In the brain, Dopamine functions as a neurotransmitter transmitting signals from one neuron to another neuron. Logic tells us that the “Happiest Man in the World” who generates sky high Gamma waves creating massive new neuronal connections is most likely simultaneously generating sky high dopamine surges.

(A 1977 study published in the journal Life Sciences showcases increased production of striatal dopamine due to exogenous DMT administration in lab rats.)

But what about the transcendental experiences these long-time meditators seem to have?

Remember? The Gamma bursts of insights in the “Aha! moments” that occured at the 40 Hz range?

Just because we can quantify those moments by utilizing “real-world” examples of insights based on scientific testing, it doesn’t necessarily equate to the Buddhist monk’s experience at 80 or even 200 Hz as being “unreal”. There has to be a consistency in terms of hypothesis and analysis. Perhaps modern science lacks the wide lens, deep scope framework needed to assimilate these experiences into potentially a “greater” reality of truths? Or perhaps it’s simply a lack of futuristic equipment that would allow us to peer into the world of higher level Gamma Waves?

Dr. Rick Strassman hypothesized that there might be a correlation between bursts of endogenous DMT during deep meditative states which coincides with the “mystical” experiences. Based on studying the general projected mechanics for DMT synthesis and the physical aspects of meditative practice, the hypothesis doesn’t seem far fetched whatsoever.

On to the next piece of the puzzle…

Hypnosis is a much maligned and misunderstood aspect of mind “tinkering”. Many people think of hypnosis as a person clucking around like a chicken on stage after having a pocket watch dangled in front of their eyes. While there are such occurrences as this, there just might be a little more to this field of study.

watch

In 2000, Brain Research Bulletin published a paper in regards to the EEG patterns of hypnotized volunteers. The findings were as follows: EEG activity showed a significant increase in the gamma band with a left fronto-central prevalence.

In 2004, a study published in the journal Pain outlined the differences of pain perception between waking and hypnotized volunteers. The results were as follows: “High hypnotizables, compared to medium and low ones, experienced significant pain and distress reductions for Focused Analgesia (visualization) during hypnosis and, to a greater extent, during post-hypnosis condition. Correlational analysis of EEG sweeps of each individual revealed brief intervals of phase ordering of gamma patterns, preceding and following stimulus onset, lasting approximately six periods.”

In 2002, a study in the International Journal of Psychophysiology was published in regards to pain perception in regards to hypnosis and 40 Hz Gamma waves. The results were as follows: “Gamma activity (32-100 Hz) over prefrontal scalp sites predicted subject pain ratings in the control condition (r=0.50, P=0.004), and no other frequency/topography combination did.”

It appears as though these mysterious Gamma waves have once again reared themselves during hypnosis. The question is whether the hypnotized volunteers are merely thinking they feel less pain or if they are in actuality feeling less pain.

At some point the question will be… does it really matter?

Let’s take a look at some of the more “externalized” cases…

The human mouth is considered one of the most sensitive parts of the body. The concentration of nerve endings in the mouth appear to be quite vast.

teeth

Generally speaking, the process of removing a fully embedded molar from a person’s mouth requires force and without the use of local or general anesthesia would be considered quite painful. The removal of a person’s wisdom tooth/teeth is considered to be surgical by nature sometimes requiring general anesthesia (putting a person to “sleep” via sedatives) as well as local anesthesia (numbing in the area of the tooth removal).

In 2013, the Journal of Cranio-maxillofacial Surgery published a study in which 24 volunteers had two wisdom teeth removed. In each patient, one tooth would be removed utilizing hypnosis as a means of pain prevention while the other tooth would be removed utilizing local anesthesia. The results of the study were as follows:

“Of the subjects who underwent hypnosis, only two subjects (8.3%) reported pain after induction of hypnosis. In the local anaesthetic group, 8 subjects (33.3%) reported pain. The results of the study showed that patients in the hypnosis group had less pain during the first few hours post-operatively.”

“Pain intensity in the two groups at 5- and 12-hours post-operatively exhibited significant differences. In the hypnosis group, 10 patients (41.7%) took analgesic medication; in the local anaesthesia group, 22 patients (91.7%) took the analgesic medication (P = 0.0001). In other words, patients reported less pain when they were under hypnosis.”

This is rather intriguing based on the undeniable sensitivity of the mouth and the potential pain involved in extraction of the largest molars which was nullified by utilizing hypnosis (while likely inducing Gamma waves) moreso than chemical anesthesia .

In 1999, Acta Chirurgica Belgica the official journal of the Royal Belgian Society for Surgery published a study regarding hypnosis and it’s effects on thyroidectomy (thyroid removal) and cervicotomy (incision into the cervix of the uterus) in place of general anesthesia (complete sedation). The results of this study were as follows:

“All surgeons reported better operating conditions for cervicotomy using hypnosis. All patients having hypnosis reported a very pleasant experience and had significantly less postoperative pain while analgesic use was significantly reduced in this group.”

There are other studies showcasing very similar positive effects in terms of hypnosis being effectively utilized in place of anesthesia. Here are a few others we’ve compiled:

Hypnosis as sole anesthesia for skin tumor removal

Hypnosis and dental anesthesia in children: a prospective controlled study

Hypnosis instead of general anesthesia in pediatric radiotherapy

Bilateral neck exploration under hypnosedation: a new standard of care in primary hyperparathyroidism?

Randomized clinical trial of local anesthetic versus a combination of local anesthetic with self-hypnosis in the management of pediatric procedure-related pain

It would appear pertinent to note that 5-Meo-DMT has been acknowledged to have analgesic effect within the mammalian body. A 1985 study in the journal Brain Research, observes that the analgesic effects of 5-Meo-DMT were reversed when noradrenaline (also known as norepinephrine) was depleted. This finding was corroborated in a 1987 study in the journal Physiology and Behavior. This would appear valuable to note as it pertains to significantly elevated norepinephrine (also known as noradrenaline) levels observed in hypnotized volunteers (but not control volunteers) as showcased in a 1991 study in the American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis.

It’d generally appear that amongst certain people that are more susceptible to being deeply hypnotized (possible somnambulists) that this form of mind alteration method can be tangibly useful in an externalized fashion. While the precise, measurable physiological mechanisms of what is taking place throughout the brain and body during hypnosis and pain perception have yet to be fully deciphered, there are some interesting notes from Dr. Robert O. Becker’s book “The Body Electric”. “The Body Electric” showcases extensive details of Dr. Becker’s studies on the limb regeneration capabilities of salamanders.

The Body Electric:
(Charlie, Howard, and I decided to find out how the brain’s DC (direct current) potentials behaved in humans. The electrodes we’d been using on salamanders couldn’t be scaled up for people, but within a week Charlie invented some that would give us equally precise readings from the human head. We immediately found that the back-to-front current varied with changes in consciousness just as in the salamanders. It was strongest during heightened physical or mental activity, it declined during rest, and it reversed direction in both normal sleep and anesthesia. This knowledge led directly to the experiments, described in Chapter 13, that taught us much about how hypnosis and pain perception work.

One of the most exciting results of my collaboration with Dr. Friedman was proof that one’s state of waking consciousness could change the perception of pain. Friedman, who already used hypnosis to control chronic pain in his patients, gave several of his best subjects hypnotic suggestions of arm numbness deep enough that they couldn’t feel the prick of a needle. In each case, I found that the frontal negative potential of the head became less negative, often reaching zero, as the client attained deep trance. The reading changed in the same direction as in anesthesia, only not as far. Then, when the suggestion for pain control was given, the arm potential reversed just as it had in response to procaine. Conversely, when a control subject was asked in normal waking consciousness to concentrate forcefully on one arm, its sensitivity to pain increased, and the hand potential became more negative. We found we could use this difference to determine whether a person was really hypnotized or just cooperating.

Some doubters (including myself, I’m afraid) had believed hypnoanalgesia was merely a state in which the patient still felt pain but didn’t respond to it, but these experiments proved it was a real blockage of pain perception. It seems that the brain can shut off pain by altering the direct-current potentials in the rest of the body “at will”. There’s every reason to suppose that pain control through biofeedback or yoga likewise works by using an innate circuit for attenuating the pain signal, which releases a shot of the body’s own pain-killers. When the signal is appropriately modulated, it releases endorphins (internally produced opiates), as shown by experiments in which an injection of the opiate-antagonist naloxone negates the anesthesia of acupuncture. I predict that research on this system will eventually let us learn to control pain, healing, and growth our minds alone, substantially reducing the need for physicians.)

Much like we’ve noted in past pieces on Q4LT that it appears as though altered EEG waves (slowing down) appears to lead to an increase in Melatonin production, we now find that these slower EEG waves also appear to coincide with elevated Gamma waves (new neuronal network development) bursts.

Knowing the immense complexity of the human body, there are likely other factors playing out during these states that has yet to be fully discussed.

HGH (Human Growth Hormone) is a natural hormone secreted by the Pituitary Gland. Throughout our lifetime, the production of this hormone speeds up during puberty which leads to our growth spurts. Once we reach our general adult age (18-20), the production levels decrease drastically. Generally speaking, our genetic code appears to read the internal hormonal environment that correlates with the ability to reproduce, and once certain parameters are met, the purpose of growth is complete.

However, the administration of exogenous HGH appears to be able to physically alter a person’s ability to grow well past their perceived natural age limit. Some of the most well noted observations of the effects of HGH on a person’s physique is amongst professional athletes (ex. baseball player Barry Bonds). These athletes have ingested this hormone in order to enhance their physique and subsequently their physical performance. Some of the most visible side effects have been the increase in cranial circumference as well as the significant increase in the size of the hands and feet.

bonds

Naturally speaking… this isn’t supposed to be possible without the outside forces of externally ingested synthetic substances.

Somatostatin is a growth hormone–inhibiting hormone (GHIH). It is produced in the hypothalamus region of the brain, small intestines, stomach, & pancreas. This hormone suppresses the release of HGH (human growth hormone) amongst numerous other hormones.

In 1993, a study was published in the journal Clinical Endocrinology outlining the effects of Melatonin and it’s effect on the stimulation of Human Growth Hormone secretion. The study found: “it is likely that melatonin plays this facilitatory role at the hypothalamic level by inhibiting endogenous somatostatin release.”

In 2004, a study in the journal Pineal Research showcased the effects of externally administered melatonin on somatostatin-binding sites. The study found: “The present results demonstrate that melatonin decreases the activity of the SRIF (somatotropin release-inhibiting factor) receptor-effector system in the rat hippocampus, an effect which is apparently not mediated by melatonin receptors.”

Where are we going with this?

In 1999, in the journal Alternative Therapies in Health in Medicine a study was published outlining the effects of hypnosis for the healing of bone fractures. Utilizing a small sample size of 12 patients, 6 were subjected to hypnotherapy and 6 were not subjected to hypnotherapy. The results were as follows: “Results showed trends toward faster healing for the hypnosis group through week 9 following injury. Objective radiographic outcome data revealed a notable difference in fracture edge healing at 6 weeks. These data suggest that hypnosis may be capable of enhancing both anatomical and functional fracture healing, and that further investigation of hypnosis to accelerate healing is warranted.”

A few scientific papers imply externally administered Growth Hormone as accelerating bone fracture healing: Bone (2003), Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research (2006), and Expert Opinion on Investigational Drugs (2009).

In 2006, in the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology a study was published in regards to balding (hair loss) and the potential use of hypnosis for treatment. The study encompassed a total of 28 patients who had previously failed to receive any benefit from conventional treatments. The results were as follows: “Scalp hair growth of 75% to 100% was seen in 12 patients after 3 to 8 sessions of hypnotherapy. Total growth occurred in 9 of these 12 patients, including 4 patients with alopecia universalis and 2 with ophiasis. In 5 patients, a significant relapse occurred.”

In 2008, International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis published a separate study in regards to hypnosis as a means to address balding (hair loss). The results were as follows: “Twelve out of 21 patients, including 4 with total loss of scalp hair, presented a significant hair growth. All patients presented a significant decrease in scores for anxiety and depression. Although the exact mechanism of hypnotic interventions has not been elucidated, the authors’ results demonstrate that hypnotic interventions may ameliorate the clinical outcome of patients with AA and may improve their psychological well-being.”

In 1999, in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics a study was published in regards to hypnosis as a method to treat the skin condition known as psoriasis. The results were as follows: “Highly hypnotizable subjects showed significantly greater improvement than did moderately hypnotizable subjects, independent of treatment group assignment (active suggestion or neutral hypnosis).”

While these are just a handful of studies in which hypnosis was utilized to successfully address physiological conditions, it appears rather intriguing to consider the potential hormonal fluctuations that occur from inducing these “altered states” of being. It appears as though the effectiveness of hypnosis is largely predicated on the hypnotizability of a person. While many people might naively postulate “gullibility” as a factor of hypnotizability, it instead appears as though there might be distinct physical factors that play a key role.

The Corpus Callosum is a wide, flat bundle of neural fibers in the brain connecting the left and right hemispheres. It is the largest white matter structure in the brain and facilitates interhemispheric communication. In 2007, in the journal Neuroimage a study was published in regards to the positive correlation between the thickness of Corpus Callosum and increased intelligence.

corpus

In 2013, the publication Brain the Journal of Neurology outlined the distinct, measurable differences in Albert Einstein’s brain compared to the average population. While Einstein’s overall brain mass was quite average, his Corpus Callosum was markedly much thicker in all areas.

Here is the summary of the study of Einstein’s brain: “In summary, to the best of our knowledge, this study is the first to investigate the connectivity of Einstein’s cerebral hemispheres by comparing the morphology of his corpus callosum with that of 15 elderly healthy males and 52 young healthy males. We found that Einstein’s corpus callosum was thicker in the vast majority of subregions than their corresponding parts in the corpus callosum of elderly controls, and that Einstein’s corpus callosum was thicker in the rostrum, genu, midbody, isthmus, and (especially) the splenium compared with younger controls. These findings show that the connectivity between the two hemispheres was generally enhanced in Einstein compared with controls. The results of our study suggest that Einstein’s intellectual gifts were not only related to specializations of cortical folding and cytoarchitecture in certain brain regions, but also involved coordinated communication between the cerebral hemispheres. Last but not the least, the improved approach for corpus callosum measurement used in this study may have more general applications in corpus callosum studies.”

Interestingly enough, in 2004 a study published in the journal Brain outlined the fact that increased anterior Corpus Callosum is associated with hypnotizability and the ability to control pain. It’s also interesting to note that studies published in 2010 in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences and 2011 in the journal NeuroImage observe that meditation leads to developing a thicker corpus callosum.

There are also studies showcasing what appears to be a correlation between Corpus Callosum atrophy and aging/Alzheimers disease: Neurobiology of Aging (1994), Archives of Neurology (2002), Journal of Neurology (2004), Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry (2005), and Public Library of Science (2012).

This goes back to the neuroplastic effects of meditation and other forms of mind altering states such as Ayahuasca, hypnosis, and possibly others. Unfortunately neuroplasticity goes both ways as the degradation of Corpus Callosum appears to coincide with lesser cognitive function.

We’re beginning to digress again… somewhat.

Thus far we’ve cited studies in which hypnosis appears capable of effectively nullifying pain, regrowing hair, and speeding up bone fractures. We’ve also outlined the apparent correlation between Melatonin production, Somatostatin suppression which subsequently correlates with increased HGH (human growth hormone) production. We’ve identified that Gamma Waves signify new neuronal connections throughout the brain which would appear to signify greater brain power during these moments. We’ve touched upon Corpus Callosum thickness playing a key role in the interconnectivity of both the left and right hemispheres of the brain. The question now becomes… what are the possibly most extreme potentials when utilizing the presented information?

Let us continue the journey in Part 3!

(A hard copy version of the articles on this site have been compiled in a book titled “Questions for the Lion Tamer”. It’s for sale on Amazon for $19.99)

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