Hypnotherapy and IBS
IBS can be an extremely debilitating problem affecting around 15% of the population of the UK, with symptoms including diarrhoea, pain and bloating. The condition can seriously affect sufferers' quality of life and finding
treatment can be difficult, leading many doctors to feel they can do little to help as there are no pharmaceutical treatments available that seem to effectively treat IBS.
Because of that, patients will often continue to experience the problem for life whilst constantly costing the NHS money, a reported £50 million per annum, with patients only ending their treatment when becoming disenchanted with it. But over the last 20 years there has been much research into the treatment and relapse prevention of IBS using Hypnotherapy.
In the UK the instigator of much of this research has been Professor Peter Whorwell, Professor of Medicine and Gastroenterology in the University of Manchester's Medical School and Director of the South Manchester Functional Bowel Service.
Most recently, two hundred and fifty patients who have suffered from IBS for over two years and had failed to receive benefit from other treatments, were given twelve one-hour sessions, during which they were given an explanation
of how the gut works and what causes their symptoms. Patients scored themselves on such issues as presence and severity of IBS symptoms, quality of life, and level of anxiety and depression. Almost all mentioned that their sense of overall well-being increased enormously. Any anxiety and depression eased considerably. The only participants that did not improve particularly well to hypnotherapy were males with diarrhoea.
This large-scale review confirms the knowledge of the benefits of treating IBS with Hypnotherapy. Symptoms such as pain and distension, as well as the level of so-called "disease interference" with life, changed intensely for most participants, with just three months of weekly Hypnotherapy treatment.
The findings also indicate that treating IBS patients with Hypnotherapy can be very cost-effective, in particular due to the fact that relief from this notoriously hard-to-treat condition can be sustainable as improvements are usually permanent.
"IBS is ideal for treatment with hypnosis, as there is no structural damage to
the body," explained Professor Whorwell. "During the hypnotherapy, sufferers learn how to influence and gain control of their gut function, and then seem to be able to change the way the brain modulates their gut activity." With 78% success from his most recent study Professor Whorwell believes that hypnotherapy could be an extremely effective treatment for the condition; and a less expensive alternative to new, costly drugs coming onto the market. "We've found it to help all the symptoms, whereas some of the drugs available reduce only a few," he goes on to explain. "As IBS can be a life-long condition it could clearly be a very valuable option for patients”
Whorwell PJ, Prior A, Faragher EB. Controlled trial of hypnotherapy in the treatment of severe refractory irritable bowel syndrome. The Lance 1984, 2:1232-4.
Whorwell PJ, Prior A, Colgan SM. Hypnotherapy in severe irritable bowel syndrome: further experience. GUT 1987 Apr, 28:4, 423-5.
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, 97:954-961.
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