Hypnotherapy for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Hypnotherapy can help treat IBS

The cause of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is frustratingly unclear. Common symptoms of IBS include the following:
  • Bloating and gasIBS treatment cheshire
  • Mucus in the stool
  • Diarrhoea, particularly in the morning, or just after eating
  • Constipation
  • Feeling the urge to have a bowel movement just after you have had one
  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Alongside the physical symptoms many people feel depression, anxiety and tiredness.

IBS is a medical condition that requires diagnosis by your GP. Guidelines will be given by the NHS on nutrition, diet and medication.

If you then consider that hypnotherapy is a further avenue to consider then I would happy to discuss how hypnosis may help you.

Hypnotherapy for treating IBS

Treating IBS with hypnotherapy is an accepted approach, encouraged not only by those who have experienced and benefited from the treatment, but by doctors and specialists too.

It is a uniquely comfortable form of treatment; relaxing, easy and generally very enjoyable.

It is effective as it helps to eliminate the associated anxiety around IBS. It does this by re-programming your unconscious mind to no longer feel the symptoms of IBS.

You will begin to break the old habits of worrying about symptoms, finding where the nearest toilet is or being nervous about the consequences of eating.

The beneficial effects of the treatment last long after the end of the course of treatment. According to research, individuals who improve from hypnosis treatment for IBS can generally look forward to years of reduced irritable bowel symptoms.

Research into the effectiveness of hypnosis and IBS

Many trials have been conducted and here are two key pieces of research:

Whorwell PJ; Prior A; Faragher EB. Controlled trial of hypnotherapy in the treatment of severe refractory irritable-bowel syndrome.The Lancet 1984, 2: 1232-4.
This study is the earliest and perhaps the best study in this research area to date, as it was thoroughly placebo-controlled and showed dramatic contrast in response to hypnosis treatment above the placebo group. Thirty patients with severe symptoms unresponsive to other treatment were randomly chosen to receive 7 sessions of hypnotherapy (15 patients) or 7 sessions of psychotherapy plus placebo pills (15 patients). The psychotherapy group showed a small but significant improvement in abdominal pain and distension, and in general well-being but not bowel activity pattern. The hypnotherapy patients showed a dramatic improvement in all central symptoms. The hypnotherapy group showed no relapses during the 3-month follow-up period.

Gonsalkorale WM, Houghton LA, Whorwell PJ. Hypnotherapy in irritable bowel syndrome: a large-scale audit of a clinical service with examination of factors influencing responsiveness. Am J Gastroenterol 2002 Apr;97(4):954-61.
This study is notable as the largest case series of IBS patients treated with hypnosis and reported on to date. 250 unselected IBS patients were treated in a clinic in Manchester using 12 sessions of hypnotherapy over a 3-month period, plus home practice between sessions. Marked improvement was seen in all IBS symptoms (overall IBS severity was reduced by more than half on the average after treatment), quality of life, levels of anxiety and depression.

National Institute of Clinical Excellence(NICE)

In February 2008 NICE created a reference guide for the NHS on Irritable Bowel Syndrome in adults.

This quick reference guide is for GPs and other staff in primary care for people with IBS and recommended that: ‘For those people whose symptoms do not respond to pharmacological treatments after 12 months and who develop a continuing profile, consider referring for hypnotherapy.’

Adults undertaking hypnotherapy to treat IBS usually require 3 to 5 Hypnosis sessions


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