Hypnotherapy for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a particularly distressing dysfunction of the gastrointestinal tract with primary symptoms including: diarrhoea, constipation (or alternating between the two) and abdominal pain. There are secondary symptoms too including abnormal passage of stool, abnormal form of stool (soft, watery, stringy, hard or pellet-like), increased amount of mucus in stool (and rectum), feeling of bowel not empty after opening, feeling of bloating (abdominal distension). With any condition like this it is important that the client has been diagnosed by a GP with the condition and not just self-diagnosing as the symptoms are shared by other conditions that may require medical treatment.
NICE Recommends Hypnotherapy
Hypnotherapy is one of the recommended treatments for IBS according to NICE ([National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) and the effectiveness of hypnotherapy in the treatment of IBS has been well documented. Professor Whorwell, who has probably published the most studies says in his audit of IBS hypnotherapy:
"the benefits of treatment by drugs were lost shortly after the treatment stopped which contrasted sharply to hypnotherapy where they were found to be long lasting. This study was of the treatment of a statistically important 250 patients. The therapeutic gains were shown in the same study to have lasted for 5 years".
Stress is a Trigger
Stress is believed to be a major trigger for IBS attacks and the development of the condition. It is believed that in those suffering from IBS symptoms the sympathetic nervous system, which is a component of the autonomic nervous system, is dominant and over active in controlling the enteric nervous system, which is embedded in the lining of the gastrointestinal tract and controls your intestines and colon. The sympathetic nervous system is the one that takes over during fear, anxiety and anger etc and there are associations between its 'over activity' and IBS.
It would appear that for some of us our fears, anxieties and stresses are being passed straight to our colons that are then expressed as spasms.
During hypnotherapy control of the enteric nervous system is passed back to the parasympathetic nervous system, (another component of the autonomic nervous system) reducing the frequency of the spasms and 're-training' the nervous systems.
Hypnotic Protocols for IBS
There are several well known protocols that have been extensively used to help a client overcome IBS. Although on the basis that all sessions should involve the client accessing a relaxed state where the parasympathetic nervous system should become dominate it maybe down to personal choice on which protocol is used.
Many people live with IBS because they do not know of any alternatives that help their condition. However, extensive studies by those such as Peter Whorwell, Professor of Medicine and Gastroenterology in the School of Medicine and Director of the South Manchester Functional Bowel Service show conclusively that hypnotherapy can help everyone overcome their symptoms and work towards returning their bowels to a more normal functioning.
 W.M Gonsalkorale PhD, L.A. Houghton PhD and Peter Whorwell MD FRCP ‘Hypnotherapy in Irritable Bowel Syndrome: a Large-Scale Audit of a Clinical Service With Examination of Factors Influencing Responsiveness’. The American Journal of Gastroenterology Vol 97 No 4 2002.
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