IBS - how hypnotherapy can help

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common affliction in westernised societies. It has been recognised for decades – however a complete understanding of the underlying causes remains elusive. And yet, recent progress has been made.

The term “syndrome” is another way of saying “pattern of symptoms”. Abdominal pain, bloating and either constipation or diarrhoea are amongst the commonest complaints. These symptoms arise from the colon. Other features (backache, fatigue, urinary symptoms etc.) appear at first sight to be unrelated - but are, in fact, part of the overall syndrome.

In the past, all we could offer was dietary modification, laxatives and antispasmodic drugs. Nowadays, experts are beginning to understand the importance of the “mind-body connection” in causing abnormalities of colon function. In particular, we recognise the role of poorly coordinated gut motility and nerve oversensitivity. 

Professor Whorwell’s pioneering team in Manchester first demonstrated the benefits of gut-directed hypnotherapy back in 1984. Subsequently, after much further research, hypnotherapy was added to the UK government’s NICE recommendations (2008) for chronic IBS. Experts in both the US and Sweden have also enthusiastically adopted hypnotherapy programmes.

In summary, it is becoming clear that diet, drugs and hypnotherapy are all important components for effective symptom control. Whilst we are some distance from an actual “cure for IBS”, relief really is at hand.

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