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Hypnotherapy for IBS: A Promising Treatment for Alleviating Digestive Symptoms

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic digestive disorder that affects the large intestine. It is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide, with symptoms ranging from bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, and gas. Although IBS can be debilitating and distressing, it is not a life-threatening condition. However, it can significantly impact a person’s quality of life, causing anxiety, depression, and social isolation.

IBS is a complex condition that has no known cure. However, there are several treatments that can help alleviate the symptoms, including lifestyle changes, medication, and psychological therapies. One such therapy is hypnotherapy, a form of psychotherapy that uses guided relaxation techniques to help a person achieve a heightened state of awareness and focus.

Hypnotherapy for IBS is also known as gut-directed hypnotherapy. It aims to reduce the intensity and frequency of IBS symptoms by addressing the root cause of the condition, which is often related to stress and anxiety. Stress and anxiety can trigger IBS symptoms, leading to a vicious cycle of symptoms and stress. Gut-directed hypnotherapy aims to break this cycle by reducing stress and anxiety and promoting relaxation and positive thinking.

During a hypnotherapy session, the hypnotherapist will guide the patient into a state of deep relaxation. The hypnotherapist will then use suggestions and imagery to help the patient focus on their gut and imagine it functioning normally. The patient is encouraged to visualize their gut working smoothly and efficiently, without pain or discomfort.

Research has shown that hypnotherapy can be an effective treatment for IBS. In a review of 14 randomized controlled trials, gut-directed hypnotherapy was found to be more effective than standard medical care or supportive therapy in reducing IBS symptoms, including abdominal pain, bloating, and diarrhea.

Aside from hypnotherapy, there are other treatments that can help alleviate IBS symptoms. These include:

  1. Lifestyle changes: Eating a healthy diet, avoiding trigger foods, and regular exercise can help reduce IBS symptoms.
  2. Medication: Antispasmodics, laxatives, and anti-diarrhea medication can help relieve IBS symptoms.
  3. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT is a form of talk therapy that can help a person identify and change negative thoughts and behaviors that can trigger IBS symptoms.
  4. Relaxation techniques: Deep breathing exercises, yoga, and meditation can help reduce stress and promote relaxation.

IBS is a common condition that can significantly impact a person’s quality of life. Although there is no known cure, several treatments can help alleviate symptoms, including hypnotherapy. Hypnotherapy for IBS aims to reduce stress and anxiety, promote relaxation, and improve gut function. If you are struggling with IBS, speak to your doctor or a qualified hypnotherapist to find out if hypnotherapy or other treatments may be suitable for you.

How Long Do The Benefits of Hypnotherapy For IBS Last?

Research suggests that IBS symptom relief can last for several years. One study found that 73% of IBS patients who underwent hypnotherapy experienced a significant improvement in IBS symptoms that lasted, on average, four years, but in some patients, as long as seven years. (Lindfors et al, 2012)

In another study, 81% of patients who initially responded to hypnotherapy were still better five years later, and the remaining 19% experienced only a slight reduction in the improvement of symptoms. (Gonsalkorale et al, 2003)

So, the benefits of hypnotherapy for IBS last for years. In the small minority of patients, when IBS flares again, the symptoms are very mild.

Is Hypnotherapy a Formally Recognised Treatment For IBS?

IBS hypnotherapy is recognized and recommended by many authoritative international medical bodies, including:

The British Society of Gastroenterology

The UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)

The American Gastroenterological Association

The American College of Gastroenterology

The Canadian Association of Gastroenterology

The Japanese Society of Gastroenterology

World Gastroenterology Organisation

Who Can Benefit From IBS Hypnotherapy?

Hypnotherapy is a suitable treatment option for a diverse range of IBS patients, regardless of their symptom severity or the duration of their condition. Its effectiveness has been demonstrated across various demographics and circumstances, including:

Adults and children

Individuals experiencing severe IBS symptoms

Patients who haven’t responded to other IBS treatments

Those with low hypnotisability (that is, people who do not enter a full trance-like state and who are only able to experience a partial level of being hypnotized)

This versatile approach offers a therapeutic solution for individuals struggling with IBS, catering to their unique needs and situations.

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References & Further Reading

Donnet, A.-S., Hasan, S.S., Whorwell, P.J., 2022. Hypnotherapy for irritable bowel syndrome: patient expectations and perceptions. Therap Adv Gastroenterol 15, 175628482210742. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/17562848221074208

Flik, C.E., Laan, W., Zuithoff, N.P.A., van Rood, Y.R., Smout, A.J.P.M., Weusten, B.L.A.M., Whorwell, P.J., de Wit, N.J., 2019. Efficacy of individual and group hypnotherapy in irritable bowel syndrome (IMAGINE): a multicentre randomized controlled trial. The Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology 4, 20–31. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/langas/article/PIIS2468-1253(18)30310-8/fulltext

Gonsalkorale, W.M., Miller, V., Afzal, A., Whorwell, P.J., 2003. Long-term benefits of hypnotherapy for irritable bowel syndrome. Gut 52, 1623–1629. https://gut.bmj.com/content/52/11/1623

Hasan, S.S., Pearson, J.S., Morris, J., Whorwell, P.J., 2019. SKYPE HYPNOTHERAPY FOR IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME: Effectiveness and Comparison with Face-to-Face Treatment. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis 67, 69–80. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00207144.2019.1553766

Lindfors, P., Unge, P., Nyhlin, H., Ljótsson, B., Björnsson, E.S., Abrahamsson, H., Simrén, M., 2012. Long-term effects of hypnotherapy in patients with refractory irritable bowel syndrome. Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology 47, 414–421. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.3109/00365521.2012.658858

Lindfors, P., Unge, P., Arvidsson, P., Nyhlin, H., Björnsson, E., Abrahamsson, H., Simrén, M., 2012. Effects of Gut-Directed Hypnotherapy on IBS in Different Clinical Settings—Results From Two Randomized, Controlled Trials. American Journal of Gastroenterology 107, 276–285. https://journals.lww.com/ajg/Abstract/2012/02000/Effects_of_Gut_Directed_Hypnotherapy_on_IBS_in.22.aspx

Palsson, O.S., 2006. Standardized Hypnosis Treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome: The North Carolina Protocol. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis 54, 51–64. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00207140500322933

To book your free consultation just call 07586755862 or click the contact me button here.

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