Ep. 8 - Science of hypnosis: what the studies on weight loss hypnosis reveal

April 2nd, 2022

Science of Weight Loss Hypnosis

Welcome back to the Weight Loss with Hypnosis Podcast!

This blog post includes the transcript of an episode of the Weight Loss with Hypnosis podcast. To listen to the full episode, click here.

This episode references several studies. To read the studies for yourself, follow the links below:

Links to Studies:

Leo Wollman: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00029157.1962.10401892?journalCode=ujhy20

Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology:


Psychology of Consciousness:


Psychological Issues: 


Psychology: Theory, Research, and Practice


Aversion Therapy:


Self Conditioning Techniques:




Want to watch the interviews happen? Check out the Weight Loss with Hypnosis podcast on YouTube! Whether on a solo show or a guest interview, you can view everything that’s happening behind the scenes.

Want to know more about weight loss and Hypnosis? Check out Doug’s website! Here, you can learn more about how Doug helps people with losing weight, changing their body image, and overcoming compulsive eating. You can also get your Binge Blocker Hypnosis, to help you overcome uncontrollable eating whenever it strikes!

Finally, if you’d like even more of the Weight Loss with Hypnosis podcast, check out the show on Instagram and TikTok!


To your journey towards better health,




P.S. If you’d like to see what Doug’s better half is up to, check out her travel site here!










[00:00:00] If you feel you often lose control of your eating and your hunger, if you feel anxious or even afraid to enter your kitchen or go out to eat with friends. If you feel you can’t stop eating once you start, or you no longer want to be controlled by food and the emotions that surround it, lean in my friend and get inspired.

This is your wake up call to a life where food doesn’t control you. Where you’re comfortable with what you eat and where you can easily stop whenever you want to. This isn’t science fiction and it’s not another empty weight loss promise. This is hypnosis. And if you like this show, you’ll love my powerful hypnosis audio, The Binge Blocker Protocol. This hypnosis helps you stop out of control eating the moment you feel that urge. It’s a 15 minute audio that deals with the emotions behind compulsive eating. Once those emotions are out of the way, the urge to overeat goes [00:01:00] away with it. Once you get your binge blocker protocol, you can download it to your phone to carry with you whenever you might feel that urge. Whether in a restaurant, in your home or even at your workplace when those breakroom donuts are calling your name. Whether you call it a binge, overeating or simply losing control for a moment, this audio will help you resolve it. You can get your Binge Blocker Protocol by going to anywherehypnosis.com.

That’s anywherehypnosis.com. Right on the homepage, you’ll see where you can get your copy of the Binge Blocker Protocol right now. And I’m serious about that, right now. Pause this podcast to go get your hypnosis today. Don’t worry. I’ll still be here when you get back. Go to anywherehypnosis.com and sign up.

It’s completely free. And if you’re even thinking about getting this hypnosis, trust me, get this hypnosis today. Try it out because you’ll never know just [00:02:00] how effective this can be until you test it out in your own life. Again, that’s anywherehypnosis.com. One more time, anywherehypnosis.com. Now on with the show. 

 This is the weight loss with hypnosis podcast, where we share the why and the how of losing weight, eating right, and overcoming compulsive eating. Even better, we’re doing it with the minimum of lost time and wasted effort. My name is Doug Sands and I’m your weight loss and compulsive eating hypnotist. On this show you’re going to learn about more than hypnosis alone. You’re also going to get cutting edge interviews with industry leading health experts from dieticians and nutritionists to fitness experts, psychologists, and more. We’re also diving deep into the emotions that cause us to overeat and retain extra weight, or even explore the unconscious patterns that cause compulsive eating, body image issues and even eating disorders. [00:03:00] Get ready my friend, because this show may change your life forever. Let’s get started. 


Welcome back to the weight loss with hypnosis podcast. My name is Doug Sands and I’m the hypnotist and the host of this show. And I’m so excited to share this episode with you. This is going to talk a lot about the science of weight loss hypnosis. We’re talking about the studies that have proven this as an effective tool for making that change. And there are still a lot of misconceptions floating around about hypnosis. And that’s partly why I created this episode to share with you. I understand those misconceptions. Hypnosis is still a growing field and there are a lot of misunderstandings about what it actually is.

In fact, there are only about 17,000 hypnotists worldwide. That’s smaller than the average small town here in the US. Now there are a lot of scientific studies done on hypnosis, but there [00:04:00] just aren’t that many hypnotists out there to spread this information and share it and say, hey, this is actually a legitimate thing and why aren’t you guys using this more often? So in this episode, we’re breaking down the hard science of hypnosis for weight loss. This is perfect if you’re someone who’s looking for the numbers behind all of this. If you want the hard data and you want it now. Now I’m going to link to all of the research studies that I mentioned in this episode, in the show notes or in the description of this video, if you’re watching this on YouTube. This is such a great resource because there’s a lot of information that is stuffed into boring, dry material that most of us don’t want to actually sort through.

And so I’ve done the legwork for you and look through all of this material to say, what is interesting enough for the audience and what actually shows what’s hypnosis can do and what is just fluff and what is just talking about hypnosis in general. So I really encourage you to listen into these studies and find out what hypnosis has actually been [00:05:00] proven to do. While researching for this episode, I came across such a cornucopia of studies that I decided to divide this episode into two distinct episodes.

 This first episode is dedicated solely to weight loss. There’s also an impressive body of research on hypnosis for disordered eating and body image, two areas that I also worked with extensively using hypnosis. And I’ve compiled all of those studies into a separate episode coming shortly.

And to make sure you get that episode, click subscribe. Click the subscribe button on whatever podcasting app you are using or on YouTube, because you’re not going to want to miss out on what’s coming next. So with that, let’s dive right into the content. First, I want to share info from a study that breaks down one of the most common myths of hypnosis, and that is, is hypnosis dangerous.

The short answer is, no. Hypnosis is not dangerous. There’s no psychological consequences that could be malicious, that could come from hypnosis. It’s simply a tool that you [00:06:00] can use to manage things in your life that might seem out of control with other methods. And hypnosis is actually extremely effective in making these changes.

So let’s talk about this myth. The information that runs counter to this comes from an article in a scientific journal by Leo Wollman, MD. Leo wrote this, “hypnosis is an adjunct to therapy with practically no danger”. He also wrote, “it is particularly effective with those obese persons who are characteristically nocturnal hyperphagic or insomniac and who exhibit matutinal anorexia. And for those of you who had to Google, what nocturnal hyperphagic means, it simply refers to night eating syndrome. Whether it’s conscious or unconscious. Whether you’re eating in the middle of the night, waking up and stuffing yourself, for whatever reason that may be, or you’re waking up in the morning with plates around you, not realizing that you’ve been eating all night. Wollman also conducted a study on both overweight [00:07:00] and underweight subjects. In his study group, he had 381 overweight women and 69 overweight men for the overweight group. For the underweight group, he had 63 underweight women and 12 underweight men. And looking at the overweight group using hypnosis, they lost 4,939 pounds. Wollman writes that on average, they overall lost 30 pounds over the full three month study period. The greatest weight loss in a single person was 47 pounds in two months. Now, looking at the underweight group, because hypnosis can also work on that area of our health as well. The underweight group gained 712 pounds.

That’s an average of nine and a half pounds per person. And if you know someone who is struggling with gaining weight, that is very significant. Those nine and a half pounds may be the difference between severely underweight and someone who is approaching their [00:08:00] better health. So looking at weight loss specifically, I often get asked how much do people lose when using weight loss hypnosis?

And I give varying numbers. It generally depends on how willing a person is to make these changes and actually follow through on what they committed to do. Hypnosis is not a magic wand. It’s not me saying you’re going to lose 50 pounds by next weekend. It doesn’t work that way, it simply works by changing your habits and your motivation and your will to actually make this change.

 When those are all working towards your goal, the actual amount of weight you can lose is pretty significant, especially if you’ve got a lot of weight to lose. 50 pounds, a hundred pounds, 200 pounds. The more weight you have, the more drastic results you’re going to see in those first couple of weeks.

So let’s look at a study published in the journal of consulting and clinical psychology. And here’s what that study found. To quote, in a third meta analysis of the effect of adding [00:09:00] hypnosis to cognitive behavioral treatments for weight reduction, meaning changing your thoughts and your actions, the mean weight loss was 6.00 pounds without hypnosis and 11.83 pounds with hypnosis.

What this study is saying, is that hypnosis, almost double the amounts that subjects lost. And the gap actually grew even more, the longer these results took hole. To quote again at the last assessment period, the mean weight loss was 6.03 pounds without hypnosis and 14.88 pounds with hypnosis. Correlational analysis indicate that the benefits of hypnosis increased substantially over time. Even though my clients often see results after the very first session, the real results take time to take effect. That’s where you’re going to notice the most drastic weight loss and the easy ability to maintain your goal, weight, whatever that may be. Looking at another study, [00:10:00] this one published in the journal, Psychology Of Consciousness, Theory, Research And Practice, they have found out just what percentage of people lost more weight with hypnosis than without. To quote them, the average participant receiving some form of hypnosis, lost more weight than about 94% of control participants at the end of treatment, and about 81% of controls at follow up.

They also studied those receiving both hypnosis and cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT. And to quote them again, the average participant receiving CBT plus hypnosis, lost more weight than about 60% of participants receiving only CBT at the end of their treatment, and about 79% of participants receiving only CBT at followup. Meaning that even though that is very effective, those who used hypnosis on top of that, lost more weight, 60% of the time and at some cases, 79% of the time. Their conclusion was to [00:11:00] quote, clinicians should view hypnosis as a promising treatment option for obesity, especially when use in conjunction with CBT techniques for weight loss.

So looking at one more research study on this specific topic, a report done by six researchers for the journal of psychological issues, reports that both hypnosis and mindfulness provide a promising therapeutic option by improving weight loss, food awareness, self acceptance of body image and by limiting food cravings and emotional eating. This is so powerful. Emotional eating is one of the top things that I work with when talking with clients. That emotional eating is often uncontrolled eating, eating that they feel is so out of control that they can’t stop it.

That is to the point that it’s compulsive eating. That they feel that even though they’re not hungry, their body’s still driving them to eat. And what this study is saying, is that hypnosis is very effective in helping resolve [00:12:00] that issue. So let’s look at one more on this topic. A study done by The Publication Psychology, Theory, Research And Practice, quotes as proportion weight loss measures indicated significantly greater weight loss only for the covert modeling hypnosis group as compared to the no model controls. Meaning that those with hypnosis received significantly greater weight loss than those without it. So let’s look at another question that I get quite a bit when looking at hypnosis for weight loss. That question is, does it have to be aversion based?

There’s a myth around hypnosis that it’s all about making you hate your favorite foods. It’s the idea that a hypnotist might make chocolate cake taste like dirt or your favorite dessert taste like worms or something disgusting like that. And while it can do that, that’s not exactly the most effective way.

I want to give the example of a colleague who helped one of their clients make soda, tastes like battery acid. Now, that seems pretty disgusting to you and [00:13:00] me perhaps, but that’s what the client wanted. And so the hypnotist did what they wanted. They help them create that aversion to that soda. And if that’s what you want out of hypnosis, you can certainly get it.

If you want to be averse to chocolate, if you want it to taste like dirt or something else so that you stop eating, hypnosis can certainly help with that, or if you simply want to remove the good flavor of something. If you want to make chocolate cake tastes like nothing at all.

Well, you can kind of do that. A lot of us have experienced how we lose our sense of taste and smell when we have a cold. And this is often what is the case when we are changing our sense of taste with hypnosis. And if you do want to do aversion based hypnosis, it is effective.

However, I do want to stress, it’s not the only effective way to change your health. I do want to touch on a research study by David L. Johnson and Richard T. Karkut who put this aversion to the test. And in fact, here’s what they found. To quote them, a total of [00:14:00] 172 overweight adult women retreaded 86 in a hypnosis only and 86 in an avert aversion and hypnosis program. Both programs achieved significant weight losses, although subjects who received overt aversion attained somewhat more desired goals and lost more weight than subjects receiving only hypnosis, the differences were not significant. Meaning that those who got hypnosis to make their favorite food tastes like, I dunno, dirt or something and all of a sudden they’re not eating that anymore. Yeah. They lost perhaps a little more weight, but the changes were not significant. We don’t want this to be too difficult for you. We don’t want it to be disgusting for you. And that’s why we’ve developed as hypnotist, as a group of people, we have developed new tools that don’t rely so heavily on aversion that help you lose that weight while still enjoying the process of eating and enjoying your new health.

So moving away from [00:15:00] aversion, let’s talk about another question I get quite a bit, and that is, can you use self hypnosis to get the same results? And the answer is yes. Self-hypnosis is very powerful. In fact, I often use self-hypnosis on myself. It’s one of my morning routines that I often go through to help me clear out any issues that I might be facing or just to get me in the zone for whatever it is that I’m going to be doing in that particular day. But the reason that self-hypnosis can be tricky is that it’s not as effective often as hypnosis with a hypnotist. Because in self-hypnosis, you have to be two roles. You have to be both the hypnotist and the subject. And some who do self-hypnosis claim there’s actually a third role, the role of the observer who sees both the hypnotist and the subject.

And so you’re trying to split your mind into three ways. And so if you really want this to be very effective, I would recommend going with the hypnotist. But if you want to know about the [00:16:00] self-hypnosis route, I’ve got a study that talks about that as well. This study has 15 authors to back it up, and it is called the -Effects of Self-Conditioning Techniques (Self-Hypnosis) in Promoting Weight Loss in Patients with Severe Obesity: A Randomized Control Trial. On a side note, I love how specific titles get in scientific journals. And here’s what this study found. To quote them, habitual hypnosis users lost more weights and greatly reduced their caloric intake in linear regression models.

Meaning when they ran the numbers back, they actually lost a significant amount of weight using this technique. And here’s another quote, self-hypnosis was associated with improved society, QOL and inflammation. Indeed, habitual hypnosis users showed a greater weight loss over all.

This can also be used for uncommon issues around weight and around our health. I’d like to take, for example, the study of Phagophobia published in [00:17:00] 2016 by David B. Reid. The definition of Phagophobia is the avoidance of swallowing foods, liquids or pills, usually based on a fear of choking, this often happens after a childhood trauma or another significant life event that causes our brain to believe that this issue is life or death. And here’s what rediscovered, this is a long quote so stay with me here. In this case study, the author reviews the benefit of hypnosis for a 13 year old female suffering from a specific phobia involving a fear of choking and generalized fear of swallowing that resulted in an episode of restricted food intake disorder, with associated significant weight loss. At the time of initial consultation, three weeks after her choking episode, the patient weighed 93 pounds. Standing at five two, her body mass index was 17. Meaning she was in the 15th percentile indicative of healthy weight for a child her age and weight. She continued to lose weight over the course [00:18:00] of two months and at her worst, weighed 85 pounds, a BMI of 15.5 third percentile classified as underweight. Prior to the incident, she weighed 105 pounds with a BMI of 19.2 putting her in the 46th percentile. Treatment initially consisted of 12 hypnosis sessions over a five month period conducted on a weekly and eventually biweekly basis. A scheduled one month follow-up visit was conducted following the 12th session, at which time the patient was consuming solid foods without fear of choking.

Her BMI at that time was 18.7, putting her in the 39th percentile, almost to her original weight. Two months after terminating treatment, the patient experienced mild relapse triggered by conflicts with some female peers. After additional hypnosis sessions, the patient’s symptoms again, remit it.

During her last session, we shared a pizza, providing clear and convincing evidence that she had overcome her fear of swallowing. [00:19:00] And I just want to mention one thing in that last paragraph, that the patient experience a mild relapse. Sometimes this happens. Hypnosis is not 100% effective, 100% of the time. Nothing is.

And so I do have people who come back to me saying, Doug, I don’t get it like 10 years down the road. Like I’ve had this issue come up again. The reason for that is that our mind is storing that solution as a potential tool it could use in the future. The mind is built to be adaptable, because when it’s adaptable, it is more likely to survive and pass on its genes to the future.

And being adaptable means not throwing away that tool if it’s going to help you in the future. And when a person relapses, it’s often because their life has been shaken up. As for this example, the girl had conflicts with female peers. When the fabric of our life is shaken and perhaps even torn, that’s when our entire social structure, the ideas that we have about the world tend to be thrown up in the air.[00:20:00] And in those moments we need stability. And so that’s when your mind might reach for that old solution. And that’s why I still encourage people to look at their health over the long-term even if they have that relapse. Six months, two years, five years down the road, this is something that is gradually progressing out of your system. The more that you use that new habit that you’ve replaced that old habit with the more that your mind is going to choose that as your default option. Again, I want you to know that all of these links are in the show notes. I didn’t put these into APA or MLA citation because you know, who really needs that. I’m giving this to you as a consumer so you can look at these links and actually dissect them without all the mumble jumble that is associated with the bibliography.

All of these links are going to be in the show notes if you’d like to check these out, for yourself. And again, these are just a brief sample of the scientific literature on hypnosis. I wanted to share specifically that there is research done on [00:21:00] hypnosis. Lots of it. And if you’d like to do your own research, go to Google scholar.com and type in weight loss hypnosis.

If you’re like me, you’re going to find quite a few research studies that really gets you interested in this topic. And touching on that last study that we talked about, there are a lot of studies about disordered eating and compulsive eating and body image issues. And we’re going to touch on that in upcoming episode.

Again, I encourage you to click that subscribe button, wherever you’re listening to this podcast. And finally, my name is Doug Sands and I help compulsive and emotional eaters to end the obsession with food and make peace with it in as little as two sessions. Thank you so much for listening into this episode and I’m look forward to seeing you in the next one.



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