Hypnotherapy for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

What is IBS?


IBS stands for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. It is a long term condition which affects the digestive system. Symptoms include constipation, diarrhoea, stomach cramps, bloating - which can all lead to problem toileting habits. Around twice as many women are affected from IBS than men.


No-one actually knows what causes IBS, though it is thought to be linked with problems of the digestive system, sensitivity of the gut or pyschological factors. (NHS.uk)





Clinical Approach


Peter Whorwell is Professor of Medicine and Gastroenterology at Wythenshaw Hospital in Manchester. In his paper Effective Management of IBS - The Manchester Model he wrote:


"Over the years, researchers have shown that hypnotherapy can be exceptionally helpful in the management of refractory irritable bowel syndrome. However, it is a labor-intensive modality with a finite success rate and is not suitable for everyone. One of the most gratifying aspects of hypnotherapy is that all symptoms, including the extraintestinal manifestations (Gonsalkorale et al.,2002), improve. This is in sharp contrast to pharmacological approaches where often relatively few symptoms are resolved. Even when patients’ symptoms do not respond to therapy, we have found from our follow- up surveys that more than 95% state that the experience has benefited them in other ways and has therefore been worthwhile." Professor Peter Whorwell BSc MB BS MD PhD FRCP



Mind over Matter?


There is certainly a link between body and mind. From a pyschological point of view, stress can have a massive impact upon our bodies. Most people know that driving test nerves or public speaking can send them rushing to the loo. For some people hypnotherapy can be very effective in the treatment of IBS and may be particularly effective if you suspect that your condition is related to stress or worsens during stressful periods of your life.


As with anything, there is no guarantee - but hypnotherapy could certainly be considered in the treatment of the condition.

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