IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) affects between 10-15% of the population, causing issues within the digestive system. Symptoms often include constipation, diarrhoea, stomach cramps and bloating, all of which impede on everyday life. While the cause of IBS is unknown, lifestyle changes and medication can help reduce symptoms.
A recent study looked at hypnotherapy as a treatment, and came back with impressive results. The study took place at Manchester University and found that three-quarters of the IBS patients taking part experienced improvements in symptoms after hypnotherapy. Perhaps even more impressive was that the effects of the hypnotherapy treatment appear to be long lasting.
The researchers who lead the study say sufferers are being denied this form of treatment on the NHS because doctors are ‘sceptical’. The hypnotherapy treatment involved sessions every week for three months. During these sessions, hypnotherapists would give patients suggestions about regaining control of their digestive system.
Professor Peter Whorwell pioneered the treatment and explains a visualisation technique commonly used:
“They might be imagining their gut as a river, for example, and modifying its flow according to their needs – a fast-flowing stream being slowed down to a gently meandering river, or the reverse for someone suffering from constipation.”
One patient who is happy with the results of this treatment is Joanna Cowdrey, 31, from Southampton. After trying various medications she was invited to take part of the hypnotherapy study at Manchester University.
Joanna received 12 sessions, but says she felt the benefits after three. She says her symptoms are far less intrusive and that overall she feels great.
To find out more about hypnotherapy as a treatment for IBS, please see our Irritable Bowel Syndrome page.
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