Dr David Lemmon Interviews John McGrail PhD. on the Power of Hypnotherapy To Diminish Cancer-Treatment Side Effects and Pain

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Dr David Lemmon- Hello, welcome to this episode of the Cancer Support Channel. I’m Dr. David Lemmon, and I’m excited to introduce our guest today, Dr. John McGrail. and Dr. John McGrail, PhD, is a clinical hypnotherapist and self improvement expert, the author of The Synthesis Effect. And he’s worked with several cancer patients with hypnotherapy to help with side effects and improvement of outcomes. And he’s a cancer survivor himself. So I’m really excited to hear his story. Dr. John, welcome to the show.  


John McGrail- Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be with you, David. I really appreciate it. And this is a really special subject to me. As you mentioned, I am a cancer survivor. So I’ve got firsthand experience in relation to what it does when you finally, when you hear that word associated with yourself, that’s pretty scary.


And I’ve been working with cancer patients. Well, I suppose I should go back. You asked me to introduce myself a little bit. I am a clinical hypnotherapist and I’ve been in full time practice for just under 25 years. I have had a wonderful life in terms of careers. I was a military and commercial pilot for many years, I got into film and TV and did that for quite a long time, which led me down several paths and I reached the crossroad of my life where I was laid off from a job because of a merger that didn’t go well. There was a phenomenon back in 2000, 2001 called the dot com boom. And it’s when the internet exploded and all these. dot-com companies were spending millions and millions and millions of venture capital dollars and often not producing anything. And our little profitable media production company got bought by a. com and they took us with them when they went out of business. So I was suddenly at 40 something unemployed and I just decided that I didn’t want to be somebody’s VP of anything anymore in TV and film.


I wanted to do something more substantive. So I looked at all the jobs I’d ever had, and I realized that throughout all of my careers, I always ended up being an instructor. I was a military flight instructor. I was a commercial flight instructor when I was with the airlines. I did a lot of training. And what I, in my corporate life, I realized that what I enjoyed most was not really the work. It was coaching and mentoring the people that work for me. So I started looking for something that would allow me to use that urge to serve with my own personal experience. And I looked at medical school. I looked at naturopathy as the path you went down. I looked at classical conventional psychology. I looked at divinity school and through that search.


I discovered a hypnotherapy college in Los Angeles, where I lived at the time, that had an incredible reputation. They were the first, at the time, the only federally accredited school of hypnotherapy. And I had used hypnotherapy myself to quit smoking and to make some really big personal changes, so I knew it worked.


Anyway, long story short, I contacted them, went to meet them, signed up the next day, and a year later opened my practice. And that was not quite 25 years ago. And I like to say I’ve never worked a day since. It’s been a joyful experience. I’ve worked with thousands and thousands of clients now and many, many cancer patients.


And I’m just really excited about it to this day. I just look forward to going to work every day. So, here I am. And as I said, I am a cancer survivor myself. I had prostate cancer a few years back. So that feeling you get when you’re in an oncology ward and it’s you that’s the patient is hard to describe.


And it, it really is. It is really life changing and mind wracking. So there’s a lot of stuff that goes into it, as you know. And to be able to help people through that experience, and I used my own experience to help myself, is really very gratifying. 


Dr David Lemmon- So were you able to use hypnotherapy on yourself through the prostate cancer diagnosis?


John McGrail- Well, I use a form of self hypnosis in meditation every day. I’ve been a Meditation practitioner for probably 30 years, and it is an incredibly powerful tool. Once you learn how to do it. And you know that in our culture, there’s a sort of a stigma around meditating. Oh, I can’t do that.


It’s too hard. Western culture doesn’t really embrace it. The more holistic methodologies as much as they might for many reasons, but I’ve been a meditator and I use self hypnosis literally every day. And yes, I used it to help my attitude to help mitigate the stress. And fortunately, I didn’t have to go through chemo or radiation.


I had, I had surgery and I had a very great outcome with that so far. So I escaped that part of it, but the mind and your mindset and your attitude has a huge effect on your physiology. I mean, that’s scientifically proven. That’s one of the things that we have to work on. First is the mindset.


If you have a positive aggressive mindset, I’m not going to let this beat me. I’m going to get well. I’m going to do what I have to do. Your body responds at a cellular level. So it is a very powerful process. Long answer to a short question. Yes, I did. 


Dr David Lemmon- Yeah, it’s exciting. Like Deepak Chopra talks about your cells are listening to your, to your moods. So I love that. So how, what’s the process that you go through when you’re working with a cancer patient? They’re in fear, they’re nervous, they’re looking for cures, researching things. What is your process to educate them and to work with them? 


John McGrail- Well, when people reach me or find me it’s often a last resort and usually there’s a specific reason they come in. The most specific reasons are stress management and to help ease the anxiety. And then to mitigate as much as possible the side effects of the treatments, because the treatments for cancer, as you well know, and anybody out there who’s listening who’s gone through it knows, are pretty grueling. So we can, you know, and because hypnosis is such a powerful tool for pain management and stress management.


And we can really reduce and sometimes even eliminate the side effects of chemo and radiation. Not completely always, but I’ve seen some amazing outcomes. So people are going to go through a chemo protocol and they’re afraid because they know that they’re likely to have some severe side effects and they’re not, they don’t feel good.


And what I do first with everybody, regardless of why they come in, is educate them As to how the mind and body work together, because again, in modern Western culture, we are all about the allopathic model. Most of us, if you have a symptom, take a pill, and we’ll hopefully cure it or we’ll cut it out of your body.


And we don’t think about the power of the mind and the spirit and whether we like it or not, we are all more than just the mind and the body. We are mind-body. And this. Ethereal energy, this substrate that runs through all living things called spirit. You can call it whatever you want, but it’s there.


We’ve got the science behind it. When we balance our energies correctly, it’s amazing what we can do. So we can use hypnosis for pain management. We can use it to reduce side effects. We can use it to ease the stress and anxiety involved with the diagnosis. And the treatment because it’s pretty scary. And we can even use it as an anesthesia.


Believe it or not. There are people who have to have surgery who are allergic to chemical anesthetics. And we can condition the mind to literally numb that part of the body. And I have seen amazing things. Not everybody can do it, but those who can, can have major abdominal surgery or major surgery anywhere and not feel a thing with no drugs.


And to watch that happen, it’s just mind boggling. So it’s a very powerful protocol, a natural state of consciousness. We all experience it every day, but when it’s used correctly as a tool, it can help us create exceptional outcomes. 


Dr David Lemmon- Have you had experience with those surgeries yourself? 


John McGrail- No, I do not do anesthesia. It is a specialty and it takes a lot of conditioning. So that’s not an area that I get into. But I do often work with pain management, not just with cancer patients, but with Any kind of analgesic. The mind controls most of our perception of pain. Most of our perception of pain is emotional. About 80 percent of a human being’s perception of pain is emotional.


That gives us a big range that we can learn to control. And it’s astounding to watch it. Maybe even more astounding to experience it. People with low back pain, for instance, come in level 10. They can’t even bend over. And in 10 minutes, they feel nothing.  Now, you have to practice that and you have to work on it and it’s not forever always, but it is a very powerful thing.


Our mind controls our body. It is as simple as that. Once we accept that, we can use the power of the mind to gain a lot more control over our physical status. Yeah, I love the, 


the power of the placebo effect and the power of suggestion to create physical, like, I think a lot of people have the misconception that it’s just it’s separate that it’s just in your mind.


And then it’s just, this mind over matter concept, but, but it is mind creating matter when you change your beliefs that really does create new molecules inside your body and inside your cells that create new messengers and it actually through neuroplasticity, you’re actually creating new brain connections and rewiring your brain in a lot of different ways.


So that’s just exciting the brain science behind it all. It is. 


It’s amazing. And for those who are interested, there’s a fellow, I’m sure you’ve heard of him. Dr. Joe Dispenza. who wrote an incredible book called you are the placebo and the studies and the experiments that he describes. He himself is a miracle.


He was injured in a motorcycle accident and was paralyzed. And they told him, you’re never going to walk again, and he’s laying on his interaction with his face down. And they said, this is it. This is how you’re going to spend the rest of your life. And he said, no, I don’t think so,  and literally meditated himself into wellness.


He healed his body, which allopathic medicine said could not be healed. He’s now 1 of the world’s leading experts on this whole mind body dynamic. And the power of the mind, neuroplasticity, etc. Bruce Lipton is another fellow. I don’t know if you’ve heard of him, but he wrote a great book called the biology of belief.


And I highly recommend anybody that’s going through any of these kinds of experiences. Take a look at those books and you’ll see. And the people in those books are no different than you and me. We’re all the same. When we learn how to marshal that incredible power, it’s amazing what can happen. So, yes, absolutely.


Mind creates matter. There’s no question about it there. We have the science behind it. It’s not some woo woo new age thing. And we know we’re talking about gongs and crystals. That’s all just sort of superfluous to it or analogous to it. But the biology behind it. The whole field of epigenetics, for instance, we may have the gene for a certain condition, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it has to express the environmental impact has a lot to do with that.


And that includes cancer. Exactly. 


Dr David Lemmon- That’s exciting. So  you wrote your book called the synthesis effect. What other modalities have you brought into hypnotherapy to make it even more powerful for people?  


John McGrail- Well, one of the biggest ones, of course, and I’ve already mentioned it is meditation, which, you know, for whatever reason, gets short shrift in our society.


But meditation has been used for Since the dawn of civilization, 7000 years as has hypnosis. They are very complimentary. Hypnosis is a state of consciousness that helps us create change very quickly. And meditation is a very similar feeling state of consciousness that actually affects a different part of the brain that helps maintain that change systematically.


So if you think about bringing those two modalities together, harnessing the power of the mind to create change quickly and harnessing the power of the mind to maintain it systemically. It’s a wonderful combination. There’s also a technique called neuro linguistic programming, which taps into so many different disciplines and essentially is a way as much as you can of codifying how and why we behave the way we do.


And if you can form it, formulate how and why a certain person behaves or feels the way they do, and you understand it, then  It gives you the opportunity to make changes. So that’s a big part of the synthesis process. And just the whole concept of the fact that mind creates matter, as you mentioned, we, the synthesis process, as we were discussing before we got on the air, is about taking different Methods, traditions and models.


Some of them are cutting edge science. Some of them are as old as civilization itself. Some holistic practices from indigenous cultures, which are usually meditative in some way. When you bring them together, you change the entire energy of your mind and your body. We are nothing more than energy processing machines.


We don’t think of ourselves that way, but that’s really what we are. And the entire universe that we live in is And our part of and connected to is nothing more than energy moving one way or another. It takes different forms, different wavelengths, and so we see and feel different things, but at the base of it all, energy is energy and is energy.


So synthesis is about learning to use your energies to create a better you, which is the name of my company. 


It’s beautiful. Thank you.  


Dr David Lemmon- So as far as cancer patients you’ve worked with, obviously you can’t make any claims or promises about cancer outcomes, but have you observed any powerful or miraculous outcomes as a result of your work?


John McGrail- Well, I haven’t seen anybody with cancer who didn’t undergo treatment to cure themselves. I know it’s happened. I’ve read about it. I see the studies. I have not been engaged in anything like that because usually if someone is diagnosed with 1st of all, hypnotherapists are not licensed in most states.  And around the world, it is not a licensed profession.


So we are not legally allowed to work on any kind of medical or psychogenic condition without referral from a licensed physician like yourself. That’s number one, at least if you are ethical, that’s so nobody’s going to come to me and say, I have cancer, help me cure it. The people who come to me have been diagnosed are usually undergoing traditional treatments, whatever they may be.


And are looking for help to manage the side effects. The side effects being the stress and the fear in and of itself is devastating to the body. Stress is devastating to the body. The chemicals that we have our endocrine system injected to our body when we’re feeling stress, fear or anxiety.


Like cortisol and adrenaline are very powerful, but they’re also very corrosive. So that’s the last thing you want. You want healing. So I help people deal with the diagnosis, deal with the stress, create a mindset, because our mind can create our reality, so that they are in the best place to be to heal and get well, and benefit from it.


From the treatments that are undergoing, whether it’s surgery and or chemo and or radiation or all three.  And I have seen some incredible outcomes. I had a patient not to about 2 years ago, who had stage 4 pancreatic cancer, which is 1 of the worst, as, you know, very aggressive and he had the Whipple procedure and was looking at a very, very rigorous, noxious chemo regimen and he was pretty weak. And so I had the opportunity to work with him for about a month before he started the process. And believe it or not, he went through that entire chemo protocol with no side effects and basically helped him program his body so that  the chemicals would affect only the disease tissue and bypass the rest.


And he sailed through it. It’s just, that’s probably one of the biggest success stories I can tell you right off the top of my head. And I was just blown away by his attitude and his ability to do that. I’m working with a stage four pancreatic cancer patient now who went through the Whipple procedure and is working to get his appetite back.


Now, this gentleman is different. He’s a type A personality. He was very robust and active before his diagnosis, and he’s pushing the limits too far. He gets down on himself if he’s not progressing as fast as he wants to. And that doesn’t help his recovery. So we’re helping him maintain a balance between being aggressive, which you want to be and doing as much as you can, but not pushing the envelope and we’re helping him understand that it’s going to maybe take a little bit longer than he’d like it to, which was the same case with me. I had to pull back my enthusiasm for getting well. So these are all the kinds of things it’s about establishing the correct mindset. That’s going to help a given person get through whatever it is they have to go through.


Dr David Lemmon- Amazing. Was that post a surgery or before surgery or? 


It was post surgery. 


Dr David Lemmon- So he did the Whipple procedure and then worked with you and then started chemo and no hair loss or nausea or anything from the chemo? 


John McGrail- I don’t know about hair loss. I don’t remember, but no nausea and no vomiting from the first client.


And this gentleman has gone through the Whipple chemo and radiation and has then had a secondary surgery at 5 surgeries, no, 3 surgeries in 5 days, just about 8 weeks ago, and they removed the remainder of the pancreas.  Which apparently I’m, you know, I’m not really well versed in this, but apparently that’s very rare that you can actually live without a pancreas.


And I’ve only been working with him for about 3 weeks now, but the difference in his color in his energy and his attitude between when we started 3 weeks ago, and I just had a session with him yesterday. It’s incredible. It’s just incredible what the mind can do when it’s given the right assistance.


Dr David Lemmon- Yeah, it must be really rewarding to be in that field where you can see that with your own eyes. 


John McGrail- It really is. And it’s one of the reasons I don’t really take credit for.  I am a firm believer in some of the indigenous philosophies, that is profound that any healer, regardless of how they do what they do, is only working through a higher power.


And, and I’m not getting religious here, but if we accept the fact that there is this underlying energy that seems to be at work. And again, we have the scientific evidence, the experimentation that says there’s got to be something going on here. It is, it’s incredibly gratifying. It is not an ego trip, but it is very satisfying to know that I’m doing something that’s helping other people transform themselves. And you know, if it’s something that we all need to do, not just in times of disease, we need to create a more energetic balance in our culture. If we’re going to survive, we are so energetically imbalanced. And that’s why some diseases like cancer run so rampant because our mind, our body and our spirits are just out of balance.


And again, there’s nothing woo woo about this. It is simply the nature of energy and how we function. 


Dr David Lemmon- Yeah, when a society is sick of the individuals in the society, the increase in sickness as well. So we need to heal on a personal level, and a family level, and society level. And you’re doing your part to help with that healing 


John McGrail- as are you and, I’m sure you would say the same thing.


I’m sure your work is incredibly satisfying because you’re, you’re right there in the front lines and you can see, you know, not all stories are success stories, but More are than not, and that’s, that’s always good. 


Dr David Lemmon- Yes, I need to find more people like you to refer patients to. I work with a lot of chronic pain patients as well. So they have, they come in with that belief of, I will see him at the next visit. And I ask, has your pain gotten better or worse? And they’re like, well, it’s obviously never going to get better. And it’s like, well, if you have that belief, then you’re blocking your healing process from helping you get better. That body is designed to heal. So let’s get you healing and not be stuck on this belief of it’s never going to get better. So I struggle with changing that belief and in some of my patients. And so someone with a little bit more expertise like yourself would be great to, to refer to as well, to, to work with that chronic pain picture to, to shift those beliefs into the body can heal. The body can renew itself. Every time you cut your finger, it’s going to stop. It’s going to heal on the body has a healing system and it’s designed to correct itself with if you give it the right raw materials 


John McGrail- and the body has the ability of controlling the neural pathways and if you think about cutting your finger. I’m sure everybody that’s listening to us can identify with this. You cut your finger. You don’t even know it.  And then you look at it and you see the blood and then it starts to hurt. And before that, you hadn’t noticed the thing. Well, that’s a neural pathway. And when you see it, you say, oh, this is supposed to hurt when the brain says, okay.


And we can control that sometimes to an incredible extent, sometimes bypassing that pathway completely. And again, that’s, you know, that’s what happens when hypnosis, for instance, is used as anesthesia. We condition the mind. And To be able to numb that part of the body that’s affected and not everybody can do it, but many, many people can and it’s, it’s quite a process, but it can be done.


And so we can manage our pain to a great extent and people can gain a lot of mobility. I’ve worked with arthritis patients. I’ve worked with back patients, fibroneuralgia and all of these, you know, a lot of the sort of pain producing conditions that we suffer from in our society are, have a huge stress and emotional component to them anyway.


And it’s amazing how with the right mindset and the right training, your mind can literally eradicate it. Again, not always I’ve had patients or clients. We call them clients in my parlance. I’ve had clients that have come to me and and just couldn’t get through that mindset of it’s never going to get better.


No matter what I did and or what we did and they didn’t get better. But then I have other ones that have come to me and, suddenly they’re, they’re living their life again. And what was a level eight or nine level pain is now a one or two. It’s just incredible what the mind can do. We can take pain in the back and move it to the little finger where it’s a little bit more tolerable.


And the brain is happy to do that. The brain is just our processor. The mind controls it all. 


Dr David Lemmon- Are you familiar with Dr. John Sarno’s work and mind body medicine for pain? 


John McGrail- Absolutely. Yeah, I’ve, I’ve read a lot of his stuff and I’ve seen some of his videos and there is proof positive right there. You know, people are listening to this and saying, oh, this can’t be real. It is real. It’s absolutely real. And he’s, you know, boy, one of the leaders in the whole area of the mind body dynamic. 


Dr David Lemmon- Do you use any emotional freedom technique EFT tapping type of modalities with the synthesis? 


Yes. I do. EFT, you know, the beauty of synthesis is that it’s ever expanding and ever growing.  It’s about taking different models and techniques, bringing them together in just the right way. That’s the art of it. That’s the fun of it. You know, taking the science and finding a way, the art of it to help. And I’ve been certified in EFT for Probably 20 years now.


I don’t use it as much as I used to because I found other techniques or developed things on my own or learned from other people that it’s just maybe not necessary, but it’s there. And for some folks, it’s an amazing, powerful, powerful tool. 


Dr David Lemmon- What about the emotion code? Dr. Bradley Nelson, are you familiar with that one?


John McGrail- I’m not,  I haven’t heard of Dr. Nelson. 


Dr David Lemmon- Yeah, the Emotion Code. It’s a really interesting one. It’s a lot simpler than EFT, so it might be one to look into.


John McGrail- I will. Thank you for the tip. 


Dr David Lemmon- Yeah, it’s been an amazing conversation. If there are any listeners that want to work with you personally or want to learn more about you, where can they go? How do they work with you?  


John McGrail- Well, thank you for that opportunity. And first and foremost, you can Google me, Dr. John McGrail.  And you’ll find my Google page and on it is all the information you need to reach me. You can email me. You can call me. My phone number is published and I answer all inquiries personally.


I don’t have my people do it. So, if somebody reaches out and has questions, I always offer. Complimentary consultations. So I have a YouTube channel, Dr. John McGrail. There’s tons of content on all of this that we’re talking about, not just specifically cancer related, but the mind body dynamic and how it all works.


I have a series called Better you in a minute or two on the YouTube channel. It’s also my new book, which is in process now. And I can be reached through email. I can be reached via telephone and I will give you a personal response. My website is Hypnotherapy Los Angeles, which is where I used to be based in Los Angeles, all one big word is www.HypnotherapyLosAngeles.com tons of content about hypnosis and how it works.


drjohnmcgrail.com is my other site that’s more geared toward my group work with keynotes and motivational seminars and whatnot. And I’m always willing if anybody wants to have an audience addressed about the mind body dynamic, I’d love to go out and do that. So yes, I’m easily reachable and I invite anybody who’s curious to reach out and we can have a chat and I’ll tell you what I know.


Dr David Lemmon- Dr. John McGrail, thank you so much for coming and it’s been an amazing conversation and great to get to know you better and look forward to working with you in the future.  


John McGrail- Well, Dr. Lemmon, thank you very much. It’s been a delight to join you today and I look forward to working with you in the future. It seems to me we can probably cross refer beautifully.


Dr David Lemmon- Thank you so much.