If you are suffering with Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you’ll know first-hand the pain, discomfort and anxiety it can bring. IBS affects 15-20% of people, causing symptoms like abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation. Symptoms can severely discomfort and lower your quality of life, eroding trust and confidence in your body.

Some people with IBS try dietary changes or medication, but these methods don’t offer sufficient or enduring relief for all. Perhaps you have experienced this yourself? If diets and medications aren’t effective, or you’re tired of food restrictions, what alternatives remain? Well with close to 40 years of research behind it, gut directed hypnotherapy for IBS may just be the answer. With an average success rate of 70% (and surpassing this with my clients), hypnotherapy can empower you to regain control of your gut, reduce anxiety, and restore lost confidence and self-esteem.

So in this blog post, I’m going to break down what gut directed hypnotherapy is for IBS and how it may help you. If you’re considering this approach, I would encourage you to learn more about my Calm Gut IBS Hypnotherapy program here.

You can also book a free 30 minute online consultation to discuss whether this approach is the right one for you. You can book a time to chat here.

Why use gut directed hypnotherapy for IBS?

Unlike medication or restrictive diets, gut directed hypnotherapy is a behavioural approach to managing IBS symptoms. It is a special type of hypnotherapy designed to treat disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, and can also help to reduce the symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). Despite research being more limited in these two other areas, the results are impressive to say the least.

Many people wonder why hypnotherapy, a behavioral approach, is used to help manage IBS. To understand this, it’s helpful to first learn about the role of the brain-gut axis.

The brain-gut axis connects your gut and brain through nerves that directly link the two. A good example of this connection is the fact that we feel ‘butterflies’ in our stomach when we are nervous. For us to feel this sensation, there must be a very strong connection between the brain (the central nervous system) and the gut (the enteric nervous system).  And there is. The sensation of ‘butterflies’ in your stomach occurs because nerves connect the gut to the brain, and hormones released from the brain act on the gut.

Whilst the brain and gut are always in communication with one another, the enteric nervous system (the gut brain) allows the gut to function on its own most of the time. However, the brain can override the enteric nervous system under certain circumstances in a positive or negative way. For example, we can delay going to the toilet to empty our bowels if it is inconvenient, or our stomach can become upset when we are nervous.

And it is this connection between the gut and gut (the gut-brain axis) that allows us to target the central nervous system and the enteric nervous system with behavioural therapies for IBS. Other behavioural therapies commonly used for IBS include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and mindfulness.

What is gut directed hypnotherapy for IBS?

Many people misunderstand hypnosis. Let me reassure you that hypnosis does not involve any loss of control, and it cannot make you do anything against your will. In fact the best way to think about hypnosis, is being in a deep state of relaxation where you can learn to control various functions of your body though the ‘power of your mind’.

For example, research has shown that hypnotherapy can enable a person to alter the amount of acid their stomach produces, adjust the sensitivity of their gut, and even change the way the brain processes signals from the gut. Hypnosis also has the added benefit of helping to reduce stress and anxiety.

So, while hypnotherapy can achieve various outcomes, when it comes to IBS, gut-directed hypnotherapy involves using hypnotic suggestions aimed at calming the digestive tract. For example, once a person relaxes and enters hypnosis, a gut-directed hypnotherapist such as myself will then assist them in visualizing their digestive system working properly. This can include helping them to reduce gut pain, sensitivity and discomfort. The gut directed hypnotherapist may also use other techniques such as positive affirmations to help the person create new, healthier beliefs about their gut and IBS.

An example of a suggestion used in hypnosis for IBS could be the following. If someone experiences a lot of bloating, I can ask them to imagine a ‘balloon inside their stomach’, followed by ‘you are now steadily deflating that balloon and your bloating is getting better and better.’

Metaphors play a crucial role in hypnosis. They activate the brain’s necessary systems to induce changes without the individual needing to consciously know how to make it happen.

How does gut directed hypnotherapy for IBS work?

Though the precise mechanism of gut-directed hypnosis remains unknown, while in hypnosis, you gain access to processes typically beyond your conscious control. This includes subconscious processes such as your digestive system

Is there research to support its use?

Yes, there are many research studies showing the effectiveness of gut directed hypnotherapy for IBS. One study found that gut directed hypnotherapy was able to significantly improve IBS symptoms in a group of people who had not responded to other treatments. Another study found that gut directed hypnotherapy was more effective than a control therapy in reducing IBS symptoms.

On average, studies have shown that gut-directed hypnotherapy reduces IBS symptoms by over 70%.

In fact, recent studies show that gut directed hypnotherapy is as effective as the low FODMAP diet in managing symptoms. Which means you can get the relief from IBS symptoms without having to follow strict diets.

What are the benefits of hypnotherapy for IBS?

There are many potential benefits of this approach in managing IBS symptoms.

The first major benefit is that you can perform this type of therapy in the comfort of your own home. I see clients from all around the world using telehealth, which removes the need to leave your home and travel.

Secondly, hypnotherapy’s safety and lack of uncomfortable side effects contrast with the potential drawbacks of medications. It also has the added advantage of reducing your stress levels which is often a key trigger for flare ups.

And perhaps lastly and most importantly, research has shown that it provides long-lasting relief from symptoms. Follow up studies show that treatment success is maintained for up to five years. This does not mean it will reappear after 5 years, the study only followed the patients for 5 years.

Here’s how I can help you with your IBS:

1. THE CALM GUT PROGRAM

Work with me 1:1 online and finally take back control of your IBS using gut directed hypnotherapy and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Working together over 6 sessions I’ll help you restore regular gut function, relieve pain and discomfort, and you enjoy life again. With a personalised, supportive and caring approach, The Calm Gut Program is evidence based and backed by science. Learn more here.

2. THE CALM GUT APP

Get instant access to an evidence-based audio ‘toolkit’ to help reduce the symptoms of IBS. Fix the miscommunication between your brain and your gut. Access gut directed hypnotherapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), mindfulness techniques & breathing exercises at your fingertips. Try 7 days for FREE here.

3. DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO IBS GUIDE

Discover what’s really causing your IBS flare ups, and how to calm your gut naturally. (Chances are that not even your doctor has told you about these). Get your FREE copy here.

Lady in blue dress holding mug of tea

A 'toolkit in your pocket' for long-term IBS relief

An evidence-based audio ‘toolkit’ to help reduce the symptoms of IBS and ‘fix’ the miscommunication between your brain and your gut. Access gut directed hypnotherapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), mindfulness techniques & breathing exercises at your fingertips.

download the app

Download the calm gut app