Virtual Gastric Band
This is a procedure of hypnosis intended to make the brain believe that the stomach is smaller than it really is, with the purpose of limiting the amount of food ingested.
The virtual gastric band is based on the idea of the surgical gastric band. There is no certainty of its origins as the concept has been constructed in a number of ways by various hypnotherapists the first of which were Martin & Marion Shirran at the Elite Clinic in Spain, after world wide media attention they registered the trade mark for the Gastric Mind Band in North America and Europe. The Shirran’s were invited to the USA to appear on various TV networks at the time of the publishing of the book, Shirran’s Solution – The Gastric Mind Band (Author House 2010) Armando Scharovsky from Argentina and Sheila Granger from the UK also claim to be the first to use the process. Granger’s interpretation of the Virtual Gastric Band garnered interest from the media and the BBC when she began working alongside a National Health Service (NHS) general practitioner (GP) and ran a trial that proved 95% successful. Sheila claims to have trained hypnotherapists in USA, Canada, Europe and Australia. Scharovsky claims the same for several countries in Latin America.
The virtual gastric band is a concept used by many companies under a range of alternate guises including Slim-Think, Hypno-Band and Gastric Mind Band. No individual can claim ownership over the name “virtual gastric band” as it is a concept open to interpretation by any hypnotherapist. However, some interpretations are more successful than others.
The procedure used more often consists in making a session of hypnosis followed by sessions of re-hypnosis. During the hypnosis session the brain is ordered to believe the stomach is smaller than it really is and the hypnopedia sessions are used to reinforce improvements in alimentary habits. As a consequence, the ingestion of food is limited in a virtual way, which produces as a result loss of weight. After the process, some reinforcements are made via psychological treatment for the management of anxiety.
Hypnosis as therapy
One of the most common areas of controversy of is the use of hypnosis as a tool for an effective therapy. In a study made in 1996 in which hypnosis was combined with a cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) it was found that people who used both treatments lost more weight than people that only used CBT.
The gastric virtual band procedure does not require surgery, and hence, there is no physical trauma or need for hospitalization. It is also believed that loss of weight can be experienced from the beginning of treatment. Hypnosis also has reduced costs compared with surgery at around US$772 on average.
The treatment is not particularly well known and hence the results are not yet widely confirmed. Hypnotherapy is, however, included in the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK as part of its complementary and alternative medicines for obesity. Some of those who have tried VGB express it requires great discipline in the hypnopedia sessions, such that the changes in alimentary habits really happen. It is possible that for some people this is a limitation.
Effects or results
As opposed to other procedures requiring surgery, the VGB could represent meaningful losses of weight permanently since it focuses directly in the alimentary habits. UK clinical hypnotherapist Sheila Granger claims 95% success rate, however research or clinical trials supporting this have not yet been published.
Kirsch, Irving. “Hypnotic enhancement of cognitive-behavioural weight loss treatments:- Another meta-reanalysis.” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.
The Sun: Fat Patients Hypnotised to think thin.
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