Hypnosis eases symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome

Examiner - 5 April 2012

If you are no stranger to the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) but the idea of treating them effectively with hypnosis seems unbelievable, the results of two new studies may change your mind.

In one study, 40% of patients with IBS said they had satisfactory reduction in symptoms after learning hypnosis, and in the other, 85% of patients who had learned hypnosis were still benefiting from the training up to seven years later.

Irritable bowel syndrome Irritable bowel syndrome is a disorder characterized by abdominal pain and cramping, changes in bowel movements (e.g., alternative diarrhea and constipation), gas, and bloating. IBS can develop at any age, but it usually begins during adolescence or early adulthood. Approximately one in six people in the United States suffer with symptoms of IBS, and it is twice as likely to affect women as men.

Unlike inflammatory bowel disease, which includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, IBS does not involve changes in the structure of the bowel. Causes of IBS are unknown, but stress has been named as a significant risk factor. That’s because there is an intimate connection between the brain and the intestinal tract, two sites in the body where the neurotransmitter called serotonin can be found.

Serotonin is a chemical involved with stress, mood, and appetite. During times of stress, the intestinal tract can become sensitized and contract more, resulting in pain and changes in bowel function (e.g., diarrhea and/or constipation). Symptoms can range from mild to severe, and individuals who experience severe symptoms have no effective treatment options.

Results of the new studies show, however, that hypnosis was effective even in patients who had the worst symptoms. Both studies were conducted by researchers at The Sahlgrenska Academy of the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. In one study, 138 individuals with IBS received either hypnotherapy treatment for one hour per week for 12 weeks or acted as controls (either supportive therapy or on a waiting list).

During hypnotherapy sessions, individuals learned how to control their symptoms using deep relaxation and individual hypnotic suggestions they could use in everyday life. The researchers evaluated severity of gastrointestinal symptoms and quality of life at a three-month follow-up and after one year.

Forty percent of patients who underwent hypnotherapy had an improvement in symptoms compared with 12% in the control group. In the second study, 208 patients who had learned hypnosis previously were evaluated. The investigators found that 85% of the patients who had been helped by hypnosis still enjoyed the benefits of the treatment up to seven years after their initial therapy, and that most of them still used hypnosis in their everyday lives.

Hypnosis helps relieve stress in IBS At Coastal Hypnotherapy, Nancy Rothner, a clinical and medical hypnotherapist in Lewes, Delaware, who treats people with IBS, explained that “Stress is always involved in IBS.” Although IBS is usually not the only condition for which people seek her help, it is “typically one of several things going on” in the lives of clients who are experiencing symptoms.

During a recent interview, Rothner noted that hypnosis allows clients to “deepen the mind/body connection. It helps get patients more in touch and connect with their emotions,” which in turn helps them get relief from IBS symptoms. When asked how patients with IBS respond to hypnosis, she explained that “every single client processes in his or her own unique way. I’ve seen some miraculous changes, while others take a slower, steadier way to healing.”

The bottom line is, “the more someone is committed to practicing [hypnosis], typically the better they will do,” she said. According to Magnus Simren, who headed the Swedish studies, “Our studies show that hypnotherapy is an effective method of treating IBS…[that] hypnotherapy could reduce both the consumption of healthcare and the cost to society, and that hypnosis therefore belongs in the arsenal of treatments for IBS.”

Hypnosis has been shown to be a very effective method of curing IBS by enabling them to both deal with stress and also improve their mind/body connection.  Clients are taught self hypnosis that they are then able to use in their every day life.  Our hypnotherapists provide real solutions to IBS sufferers.  Hypnosis for Irritable Bowel Syndrome gives the client back control of their daily functions enanling them to live a more fulfilling life.  IBS Hypnotherapy London at the Harley Street Hypnotherapy Clinic provides IBS Hypnosis that is achieving great results.  Speak to one of our fully trained IBS Hypnotherapists at our London Hypnotherapy Clinic on Harley Street. Call Hypnotherapy London at our London clinic for hypnosis to treat IBS. 

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