Susan Wheeler Hall is the host of The Living Well Today Podcast, a place for heartfelt conversations with people who are coming to terms with their new normal of living. In this episode, she invited me on to talk about hypnotherapy for IBS, and in particular gut-directed hypnotherapy.
I also share my own journey of struggling and eventually overcoming IBS as a young adult.
It’s estimated that between 10-15% of the population suffer from IBS, which is significant.
And although gut directed hypnotherapy has been around for nearly 40 years, many people are not aware of it. Instead, they go on to struggle with IBS symptoms for decades.
But they don’t have to.
Ready to learn more? Take a listen to the episode.
Traditionally hypnosis has been used to help with weight loss, phobia’s and smoking, but medical hypnosis has become a growing field. In fact, since 1984 it has been used to manage IBS with research studies showing improvements in symptoms on average by 70-80%.
(You can read more about these research studies in my post: Hypnotherapy for IBS? 5 Research Studies You Must See)
Overcoming IBS after a decade of crippling gut pain
“I remember the first time I suffered from the crippling gut spasms that are so typical of IBS. I was on my way to a friend’s birthday party, a party that I had been looking forward to for a long time. But after just half an hour of arriving, I was in complete agony and had to go home. I spent the rest of that evening in bed.
The next morning, I felt like someone had literally punched me in the stomach. I was incredibly sore and tender.”
After that initial flare up, it was a few months until I experienced another one. But it wasn’t long before those IBS flare ups became a regular occurrence in my life.
“My parents were getting pretty worried so they took me to the doctors. Unfortunately, they didn’t know what was wrong with me. They sent me for blood tests, and everything came back normal. In the end after several appointments, my family doctor gave his verdict – you have IBS.”
At that time in my life, I was going through exam stress and my parents were going through a pretty ugly divorce. Looking back, I believe all that emotional stress was my trigger.
As I chatted with Susan, we talked about the frustration many people feel when their doctors don’t have the answers. And in the case of IBS, often you get told ‘’there is nothing you can do about it, you just have to live with it.’’
Searching for Answers and understanding IBS
In my case, a lack of answers and clear understanding of what was happening inside of my body sparked a 10-year journey of overcoming IBS.
I had refused to accept the label of IBS, and that there was nothing I could do about it.
Over those 10 years, I learned everything I could about IBS and the gut.
I learned about stress, and connected the dots between my emotional stress and the symptoms I would feel in my gut. I also discovered whole foods and changed the way I was eating.
All these changes made a huge difference to my gut symptoms.
“I woke up one day and realised that it had been six months between flare ups.”
Changing to a WHOLE FOOD DIET AND IBS
As we talked, Susan asked me about the pattern I noticed when I ate a whole food diet, and the positive impact on my symptoms. Many people aren’t aware of what we mean by this, so I explained;
“Whole foods in simple terms is food in its most natural state. This means the least number of steps involved from its raw natural state to when you eat it. For example, compare a heavily processed burger or sausage with lots of preservatives and additional fillers in it, to eating vegetables or preparing food at home.”
But I understand that for a lot of people, eating this way can feel overwhelming and hard.
“I know many people have a belief that they are too busy to cook, and it’s just easier to grab the ready meals from the supermarket. But all I will say is that there is a way to eat simply and healthily. It comes down to understanding your own demands in your life, understanding your lifestyle, and then fitting it into that – not the other way around. Because I think that’s when it becomes too hard for people.”
IBS SYMPTOMS, FOOD INTOLERANCES AND GLUTEN
Susan follows the AIP diet, which is an autoimmune protocol and involves no sugar, no gluten, no dairy.
At first, she thought, ‘Oh my God, this is huge. What’s left to eat?’ But when she shifted her mindset, she realised that she could make it work. “It’s about simplifying and getting back down to basics,’’ she said.
Next, our conversation moved on to gluten.
Gluten can often be a big issue for many, including myself. Too much gluten and I find myself so fatigued I struggle to even get out of bed.
In fact, my extreme reaction to gluten led me to see one of the top specialists in Sydney about 10 years ago.
I was convinced that there must be something else going on such as celiac.
But despite feeling absolutely awful after eating gluten prior to the endoscopy (this is necessary for the tests to show how you react to it), all tests came back as normal.
And I think my experience is the same for many people. They are aware that gluten doesn’t sit right with them, but test results come back negative.
But the reality is that despite what the best medical experts tell you, it’s how you feel and what works for you and your body. And that’s what you must go with and trust.
THE BRAIN GUT CONNECTION and HYPNOtherapy for IBS
My conversation with Susan then turned back to gut directed hypnotherapy for IBS.
Hypnotherapy is such an effective approach to managing IBS because IBS is what we call a brain-gut dysfunction. This means that instead of something being physically ‘’wrong’’ with your gut, IBS symptoms are caused by a miscommunication between your gut and brain.
Simply speaking, your brain and the gut aren’t talking to each other as they should.
“So you’ve got the brain giving incorrect instructions to the gut. And then you’ve got the gut giving incorrect information to the brain such as increased pain signals.’’
‘’With gut directed hypnotherapy, we can actually work to enhance this brain-gut connection, so that the communication between the brain and gut gets back on track.”
Why people turn to hypnotherapy for IBS
If you’ve been struggling with IBS for any length of time, you get to a point where you’ve been to the doctor, and you’re not getting any answers.
‘’People get told they just have to live with their IBS symptoms and find ways to manage it. Many people end up on medication for however long, which of course comes with side effects, and after a while they just can’t handle it anymore. And then of course, there are those people who are on a low FODMAP diet which is heavily restricted and can be very stressful and confusing.”
We also need to address anxiety, which is a big trigger for many, and can create some real challenges.
‘’Your social life becomes non-existent, and you become too anxious to even leave the house because of symptoms. Careers are put on hold and you just get to a point when enough is enough.”
This is often the point when people reach out to me and learn more about the work I do. Not only can gut directed hypnotherapy help resolve your IBS symptoms, it also addresses the anxiety you may have so you can start living your life again!
If you’d like to explore whether my program will be the right fit for you, then book your free 30-minute discovery call here, and let’s talk.
For more information on this episode:
Susan Wheeler Hall can be found online at her website www.susanwheelerhall.com
And for more information on how we can work together, you can read all about my gut-directed hypnotherapy programs here.