Natural Standard Monograph, Copyright © 2014 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified health care professional before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.
Uses based on scientific evidence
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare professional.
Initial research suggests that guided imagery may provide added benefits when used at the same time as standard medical care for migraine or tension headache. Further study is needed before a strong conclusion can be drawn.
Early research suggests that guided imagery may help reduce cancer pain, intravenous needle pain, nerve pain from spinal cord damage, or lower postoperative pain ratings in children. Further research is needed to confirm these results.
Anxiety and wound healing after surgery
Initial evidence suggests that guided imagery relaxation audiotapes may reduce anxiety after surgeries, and may improve healing. More study is needed before a strong recommendation can be made.
Anxiety/depression in multiple sclerosis
Early research suggests that the use of imagery may reduce anxiety but not depression or physical symptoms in patients with multiple sclerosis. Additional research would be helpful in this area.
Evidence from early research suggests that guided imagery may be an effective treatment for bulimia nervosa, at least in the short-term. Further study is needed before firm conclusions can be drawn.
Initial research suggests possible reductions in pain and improvements in functioning.
General health maintenance
Although guided-imagery meditation is popularly used with yoga for general health maintenance, there is not enough scientific evidence in this area.
Early research supports the value of combined pharmacotherapy and relaxation training in the treatment of insomnia. Further research is necessary in order to make a firm recommendation.
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
Cognitive-behavioral interventions for pain may be an effective adjunct to standard pharmacologic interventions for pain in patients with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Further research is needed to confirm these results.
Early research suggests that guided imagery of short duration may improve working memory performance. Further research is needed before a firm conclusion can be drawn.
Early research suggests a reduction in pain and mobility difficulties in patients with osteoarthritis. Further research is needed before a firm conclusion can be drawn.
Quality of life in cancer patients
Preliminary studies suggest that quality of life and sense of comfort may be improved by guided imagery techniques such as relaxation/imagery training tapes. Further research is needed before a firm conclusion can be drawn.
Quality of life in HIV patients
Initial evidence suggests that occasional use of guided imagery techniques may improve quality of life in people with HIV. Additional research is needed in this area before a recommendation can be made.
Relaxation in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
A small study reports increased relaxation outcomes in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (emphysema or chronic bronchitis) who use guided imagery techniques. Additional research is needed to confirm these results.
Based on early study, guided imagery in addition to education and counseling sessions may be helpful for long-term smoking cessation and abstinence in adult smokers. Further study is needed to confirm these results.
Upper respiratory tract infections
Preliminary research in children suggests that stress management and relaxation with guided imagery may reduce the duration of symptoms due to upper respiratory tract infections. Additional research is needed to confirm these results.
Catheterization / percutaneous coronary intervention
Masked prayer, music, imagery, and touch (combined) therapy did not significantly improve clinical outcome after elective catheterization or percutaneous coronary intervention in a recent study.
Congestive heart failure
Preliminary research reports no benefits of guided imagery in congestive heart failure.
*Key to grades:
A: Strong scientific evidence for this use;B: Good scientific evidence for this use; C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use;D: Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work);F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).
For full grading rationale, click here.
Uses based on tradition or theory
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional
Academic performance, addiction, allergies, angina, arthritis, asthma, athletic performance enhancement, bacterial infections, bone and wound healing, cancer, chemotherapy related nausea, chronic bronchitis, controlling blood pressure, creative thinking stimulation, depression, diabetes, dyspnea, eating disorders, emphysema, fungal infections, gastrointestinal motility and secretion, glaucoma, herpes simplex virus, high cholesterol, immune system enhancement, increasing breast milk, lung disease, mood enhancement, nausea/vomiting, nightmares, obesity, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), phobias, postpartum depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), premenstrual syndrome (PMS), psoriasis, psychological disorders, relationship conflicts, relaxation, self-esteem improvement, sexual function/impotence, skin conditions, spastic colon, stress, well-being, viral warts.
Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.
Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
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