Irish dentist Frank Dillion on his unique approach to tackling hayfever
Dentist Frank Dillon has devised an innovative method for overcoming hay fever. He tells our reporter that the inspiration came from a TV documentary, and that he has been using the system successfully for decades
Frank Dillon runs a busy dental practice in south Dublin. His rooms have a state-of-the-art, yet orderly feel to them, while he provides the warm-hearted, human touch that softens the edges of the clinical, angular environment. The sleek equipment reflects Frank's interest in technology. "I always enjoyed the idea of playing with gadgets," he admits. So much so, he even invented a system for the delivery of local anaesthetic.
And true to the old adage that the acorn doesn't fall far from the tree, he was drawn to medicine because of the influences of his father, a consultant physician in Cork for over 50 years. And thanks to his interest in gadgetry, dentistry particularly appealed to him; so he studied at University College Cork (UCC) and has been "happily" registered for 40 years. He and his wife, Niamh, live in Dublin, and they have three grown-up children.
Meeting Frank, it becomes evident that the social aspects of his profession appeal to his outgoing, ebullient nature, resulting in a comfortable working relationship between patient and dentist. The patient can also rest easy, knowing Frank uses the latest techniques in his practice.
That, then, begs the question; how can this committed man of science have written a guide that explains how to eliminate the symptoms of a physical condition, using a system that involves a form of self-hypnosis? "In the early 1980s, I saw a programme on the BBC about a haemophiliac who had a tooth extracted while clinically hypnotised, to prevent him bleeding," explains Frank. "I was gobsmacked by what I saw. If a haemophiliac came in here, asking for an extraction, I'd turn him around and send him off to the nearest hospital to have it done in an appropriate setting. If I removed his tooth in the conventional way, he would literally empty [his blood] on to the floor. So I was amazed by what I saw in this programme."
At the time, Frank suffered from hay fever -known medically as allergic rhinitis - which affected his work, quite badly, on occasions. "As a dentist, it was particularly annoying, because my runny nose, streaming eyes and blocked-up sinuses made my work difficult. I couldn't take antihistamine tablets because the drowsiness they caused affected my concentration. Finally, I resorted to a cortisone-based injection to control the symptoms."
When Frank researched the long-term ramifications of taking cortisone (and similar drugs), he didn't like what he discovered. "Basically, [in the long term] it dissolves your bones," he says. "I thought there had to be a better way."
So, following the TV documentary, he decided to find out more about hay fever. What he learned surprised him, but made sense, too. "When an allergen, such as pollen, hits your body, that sends a signal to your brain - which is wrongly interpreted as a threat. The brain then triggers mast cells to release histamines - the bad boys that cause secretions in your nose and your eyes."
Frank wondered if it would be possible to influence unconscious thought; to change its responses to stimuli, to programme it differently? He came to the conclusion that it was eminently possible, and so he began to experiment with ways in which this might be done. Eventually, he devised a very simple method that induces a hypnotic state, before instructing the body to respond differently to certain stimuli. But first it must be said that Frank baulks at the use of the word "hypnosis"; as he feels it suggests someone else is in control, and because the term is sometimes associated with show business.
So he has labelled his technique personal mind programming (PMP). In his free, user-friendly guide, which he has posted online, he illustrates the power of the mind by offering the example of someone who blushes when something vulgar is said to them. Frank says this occurs because the shy person's unconscious brain - reacting to the remark - is able to cause a substantial physiological change to occur very quickly in the face. "And this tells us that the unconscious mind does have the power to alter functions of the body," says Frank.
His technique is simple and very, very easy to learn. He says everyone has practised PMP at some point in their lives, whether it be learning the complex movements of walking, or riding a bike. "Don't be in any doubt - you can control processes in the body," he says. "There's a raft of evidence about the benefits of techniques such as PMP." Frank gives clear instructions on how to use his method in his guide. He suggests messages you might incorporate into your own recorded guided meditation; or if you prefer, for a small fee, you can download one he has made.
Once you are deeply relaxed, you repeatedly tell your unconscious mind that pollen is not dangerous, and that no alarm signals need to be sent to the mast cells in your brain to produce histamine. You then instruct it to turn off your "histamine switch", while reminding your secretion cells, that they too can relax; there will be no more need for their services.
Frank explains the process: "The objective of PMP is to shut down the activity of the conscious brain to an absolute minimum, and then to make suggestions to the unconscious brain. You want the messages to pass straight through the conscious brain and into the unconscious, without stopping off in the conscious mind for analysis, checking and verification."
Frank has been practising this process for decades. "It may sound like super-quackery," he says, "but it's simply the practical application of knowledge that has been known for centuries, and about which more and more is being learned every year, as neuroscience advances at an accelerating pace." He says it's an exciting field, with great potential for further development. He has been using the technique for 30 years and says it has never failed him. His hay fever does return every year, but once he has reprogrammed himself, he is then free of it again. "I do it for a couple of weeks at the beginning of the pollen season, and then I'm fine," he says.
Frank says he also uses PMP to improve sleep, concentration, professional performance and so on.
"Before we get carried away here, let me say this: PMP is not a magic power, nor is it the answer to all our problems," Frank emphasises. "But it is an awareness of the importance of your unconscious and an awareness that you can influence your unconscious if you want to."
For more information and to get Frank Dillon's guide, see nomorehayfever.com
Sunday Indo Life Magazine