As a condition which affects between 10 to 15% of the UK’s population, often leaving those affected in severe discomfort and unable to work or socialise, this alternative therapy for an age old problem is a step in the right direction.
Hypnotherapists at a unique centre in Withington Hospital, Manchester have been helping people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), by getting them to visualise their digestive system as a river. This may not seem like the most obvious way of treating the illness but Dr Peter Whorwell, the gastroenterologist who founded the centre and devised the “river” concept, explains that the aim is to make the river flow smoothly. If there is a blockage or a flood the patient is asked to visualise a way the problem can be solved.
Sessions with a therapist, interspersed with home practice using a CD, are aimed at “retraining” a patient’s gut and eradicating their problems and since IBS affects everyone differently, the therapy is tailored to each patient.
The centre is the only one of its kind in the UK and treats around 160 patients from across the country each year with a success rate of 71% of patients for up to five years after their course of treatment.
Dr Whorwell is trying to promote this treatment to other doctors around the country. But he says many are still reluctant to use the technique. While many doctors may still be skeptical about using hypnotherapy, Dr Whorwell says patients have no such qualms. “They are falling over themselves to have the therapy, particularly the younger ones”.