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Brain Res Bull. 2003 Dec 30;62(3):241-53.

The impact of self-hypnosis and Johrei on lymphocyte subpopulations at exam time: a controlled study.

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Department of Cognitive Neuroscience and Behaviour, Imperial College London, Charing Cross Campus, St Dunstan's Road, London W6 8RF, UK.


In a prospective randomised controlled trial, 48 students were randomly assigned to stress reduction training before exams with self-hypnosis, Johrei or a mock neurofeedback relaxation control. Peripheral blood lymphocyte subpopulations and self-reported stress (Perceived Stress Scale) were measured before training and 1-2 months later as exams approached. Absolute number and percentages of CD3(+)CD4(+) and CD3(+)CD8(+) T lymphocytes, CD3(-)CD56(+) Natural Killer cells (NK cells) and NK cell cytotoxic activity was measured from venous blood. Stressed participants showed small but significant declines in both CD3(-)CD56(+) NK cell percentages and NK cell cytotoxic activity levels while CD3(+)CD4(+) T cell percentages increased, changes supported by correlations with perceived stress. The effects of stress were moderated in those who learned Johrei at exam time; 11/12 showed increases in CD3(-)CD56(+) NK cell percentages with decreased percentages of CD3(+)CD4(+) T cells, effects not seen in the relaxation control group. Stress was also buffered in those who learned and practised self-hypnosis in whom CD3(-)CD56(+) NK cell and CD3(+)CD4(+) T cell levels were maintained, and whose CD3(+)CD8(+) T cell percentages, shown previously to decline with exams, increased. The results compliment beneficial effects on mood of self-hypnosis and Johrei. The results are in keeping with beneficial influences of self-hypnosis and provide the first evidence of the suggestive value of the Japanese Johrei procedure for stress reduction, which clearly warrants further investigation.

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