Three ways hypnotherapy can help with IBS
Hypnosis encourages blood to return to the digestive system
In treating IBS a hypnotherapist will normally utilise hypnotic tools to engender a relaxing trance state. This trance state is an entirely natural state which we can all enter in to, and after a bit of practice we can do it whenever we want. This state can be very powerful. Afterwards, people will often report that they cannot remember the last time they felt so relaxed.
When we relax in this way we activate what has been nicknamed the Rest and Digest Response (scientifically called the Parasympathetic Nervous System). The opposite to the Fight, Flight, Freeze Response (or Sympathetic Nervous System). When this arm of the Nervous System is activated we will typically experience reduced blood pressure and heart rate, we will sweat less and our muscles will relax. Importantly during this process the blood supply will be redirected away from the skeletal muscles and extremities and will become more available to other functions of the body, crucially the digestive system.
During hypnosis, clients will often experience a gurgling of the tummy which can indicate the muscles that control the gut are being fed a greater supply of oxygen and fuel. This allows the system to start operating more efficiently. Clients will also sometimes report a tingly feeling in their feet and hands when they are coming out of a state of hypnosis as this process is reversed.
Hypnotherapy reduces the levels of stress chemicals in the blood
Whilst some level of stress chemicals such as cortisol and adrenaline are useful to us, too much over a sustained period of time can be damaging in a myriad of different ways. Constant digestive cramps, pain, constipation and/or diarrhoea will inevitably lead to an increase in stress chemicals. These chemicals aggravate the proper functioning of the digestive system making any IBS symptoms worse and more likely. Hypnosis will reduce the level of these chemicals in the blood thereby encouraging a rapid relief in symptoms.
Hypnotherapy helps us change unhelpful patterns of behaviour
Good hypnotherapy will help people identify those patterns of thought, action and interaction which reduce the activation of the Rest and Digest Response and increase the activation of the Fight and Flight Response, and identify more appropriate alternatives.
These patterns of behaviour may be poor food or lifestyle choices which we feel unable to change or they may simply be thought patterns which encourage a negative response. For example, it is not uncommon for an IBS sufferer to assume that once they feel a twinge in their stomach, that the IBS has returned and they are in for hours, if not days or weeks of agony. And who wouldn’t be stressed out at that thought?
However, this increases the level of the stress hormones in the blood and directs that blood to the skeletal muscles which will make a period of discomfort more likely. Arresting these thought processes before they gain momentum can help ensure that a minor discomfort stays that way, rather than leading to another bout of debilitating IBS.