Hypnotherapy can help with Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome

There is  some evidence to suggest that psychological factors play an important role in Irritable Bowel Syndrome. However, this does not mean that Irritable Bowel Syndrome is “all in the mind”, because symptoms are very real. Intense emotional states such as stress and anxiety can trigger chemical changes that interfere with the normal workings of the digestive system.

This does not just happen in people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Many people who have never had Irritable Bowel Syndrome before can have a sudden change in bowel habits when faced with a stressful situation. Some people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome have experienced a traumatic event, usually during their childhood, such as abuse, neglect, a serious childhood illness or bereavement. It is possible that these types of difficult experiences in your past may make you more sensitive to stress and the symptoms of pain and discomfort.

Hypnosis has been by approved by the American Medical Association as a valid medical treatment since 1958, though the concept of using a state of hypnosis to alleviate both physical and mental ills has recurred throughout the history of medicine from ancient times.

Hypnosis is often thought to be therapy that only affects the mind, but as mind and body are inseparably joined (particularly with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, given the brain-gut dysfunction current research has pinpointed), hypnosis can also help physical ailments. In fact, researchers have called gut-directed Irritable Bowel Syndrome hypnosis a “cure” for the brain-gut dysfunction that underlies Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Hypnotherapy has in fact been proven successful at reducing or even eliminating all Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms.[1] Over 15 years of solid scientific research has demonstrated hypnosis to be an effective, safe and inexpensive choice for IBS alleviation.[2] It has been so overwhelmingly successful in this regard that Adriane Fugh-Berman, MD, chair of the National Women’s Health Network in Washington, DC, has said that hypnosis should be the treatment of choice for Irritable Bowel Syndrome cases which have not responded to conventional therapy.

If you or a friend are suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome then I would advise seeing a Hypno – analyst who will show you effective tools to manage your Irritable Bowel Syndrome  and also will be able to get to the root cause of the symptom and help you alleviate the problem.


[1] In one recent study, Dr. Olafur S. Palsson and colleagues at the Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Virginia provided 24 IBS patients, 15 women and 9 men, with seven sessions of hypnosis treatment. In addition, the patients used hypnosis audiotapes at home. At the end of the 14-week study period, 21 of the 24 patients “rated themselves improved in all central IBS symptoms after treatment,” the researchers report. Significant improvement was found in abdominal pain, bloating, stool consistency and bowel movement frequency. Palsson’s group also measured the autonomic nervous system, which regulates the digestive system and other involuntary body activities. After the course of hypnotherapy, the autonomic nervous system was less easily stimulated. The researchers propose that this calming effect “may plausibly contribute to the symptom improvement”. (Palsson O, Turner M, Johnson D. Hypnotherapy for irritable bowel syndrome: symptom improvement and autonomic nervous system effects. Program and abstracts of Digestive Disease Week 2000; May 21-24, 2000; San Diego, California. Abstract 997). 

[2] One of the earliest studies of hypnotherapy in IBS patients tracked 50 patients, all of whom had been diagnosed with severe intractable irritable bowel syndrome, for a mean duration of 18 months. Of these patients, divided into 3 categories of classical cases, atypical cases and cases exhibiting significant psychopathology, the response rates were 95%, 43%, and 60% respectively. Patients over the age of 50 years responded very poorly (25%) whereas those below the age of 50 with classical irritable bowel syndrome exhibited a 100% response rate. This study confirmed the successful effect of hypnotherapy. (Gut 1987 Apr;28(4):423-5. Hypnotherapy in severe irritable bowel syndrome: further experience. Whorwell PJ, Prior A, Colgan SM) 

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