Hypnotherapy for IBS, also known as gut-directed hypnotherapy is a specific type of psychotherapy used to reduce IBS symptoms and treat IBS naturally without medication or using restrictive diets.
With close to 40 years of research behind it, it is a well-tested therapeutic approach, and has been shown in many clinical research studies to reduce the symptoms of IBS by as much as 70-80%. This includes not just reducing gut symptoms such as constipation, diarrhoea, bloating and gas, but also non-gut issues such as anxiety.
What’s more, the improvements achieved by undertaking a program of gut directed hypnotherapy have been found to be long lasting, with the longest current study showing improvements lasting for 5 years.
Both gut directed hypnotherapy and cognitive behavioural therapy are the two leading psychological treatments with the greatest amount of evidence of effectiveness in treating IBS. This is why these two approaches are combined in the work I do with my clients.
Most people are unaware that gut directed hypnotherapy has been used for almost 40 years in the management of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. And not only has it been around for this length of time, it has also been shown to reduce the symptoms of IBS symptoms by 70% in patients. This is true even for moderate to severe cases of IBS.
This puts gut directed hypnotherapy at the same level of effectiveness as the low fodmap diet, which if you have previously struggled with this highly restrictive and confusing approach to managing IBS is very good news indeed. Gut directed hypnotherapy also provides an alternative approach to gaining long term relief when dietary changes only provide small improvements or no improvements at all. When you feel as though you have tried everything, and you just have to live with your symptoms, the work I do with clients offers a new path to getting your life back.
Gut directed hypnotherapy is a safe and effective way to gain long term relief from IBS symptoms, helping to not only reduce your gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating, pain, constipation and diarrohea, but also helping to improve anxiety and depression which are unfortunately all too common with IBS.
If you are currently suffering with the debilitating symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, I'm guessing you have tried just about everything to get relief. From peppermint capsules, over the counter medication, prescription medication, fibre supplements and the low fodmap diet. And maybe you’ve been able to gain some relief? But if you are like many of my clients, you’ve been searching for years to resolve your IBS symptoms, and you’re getting sick and tired of being told there is nothing that can be done to help you.
But here’s the thing, your IBS symptoms are actually being driven by faulty communication between your brain and your gut. And unless you address this faulty communication directly, you may struggle to ever gain long term relief without using restrictive diets or life long medications. And that’s where gut-directed hypnotherapy comes in because it addresses this “miscommunication” between the brain and gut directly.
In a recent randomized controlled trial, Australian researchers showed that hypnotherapy is an effective treatment for irritable bowel syndrome. The team from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, showed hypnotherapy was equal in effectiveness to the low FODMAP diet for relieving symptoms of IBS such as bloating and abdominal pain.
In both treatment groups, 70% of patients improved in quality of life and a range of individual symptoms of IBS such as bloating, diarrhea, constipation cramping, and abdominal pain.
The results showed that hypnotherapy is an effective treatment for IBS. The study also demonstrates that this effect is clinically significant, equal to that of the low FODMAP diet.
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30 patients with severe refractory irritable-bowel syndrome were randomly allocated to treatment with either hypnotherapy or psychotherapy and placebo. The psychotherapy patients showed a small but significant improvement in abdominal pain, abdominal distension, and general well-being but not in bowel habit.
THE HYPNOTHERAPY PATIENTS SHOWED A DRAMATIC IMPROVEMENT IN ALL FEATURES, THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO GROUPS BEING HIGHLY SIGNIFICANT.
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In the hypnotherapy group no relapses were recorded during the 3-month follow-up period, and no substitution symptoms were observed.
This study compared 25 severe IBS patients treated with hypnosis to 25 patients with similar symptom severity treated with other methods, and demonstrated that in addition to significant improvement in all central IBS symptoms, hypnotherapy recipients had fewer visits to doctors, lost less time from work than the control group, and rated their quality of life more improved.
THOSE PATIENTS WHO HAD BEEN UNABLE TO WORK PRIOR TO TREATMENT RESUMED EMPLOYMENT IN THE HYPNOTHERAPY GROUP BUT NOT IN THE CONTROL GROUP.
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The study is notable in that it quantified the substantial economic benefits and improvement in health-related quality of life which results from hypnotherapy for IBS on top of clinical symptom improvement.
In this study, 204 IBS patients treated with a course of hypnotherapy completed questionnaires about symptoms, quality of life, anxiety, and depression before, immediately after, and up to six years following the treatment.
OF ALL THE TREATED PATIENTS, 71% SHOWED IMPROVEMENT IN RESPONSE TO TREATMENT INITIALLY, AND OF THOSE, 81% WERE STILL FULLY IMPROVED WHEN RE-CONTACTED UP TO FIVE YEARS LATER.
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Quality of life and anxiety or depression scores were also still significantly improved at follow-up but showed some deterioration. Patients also reported fewer doctor visits rates and less medication use long-term after hypnosis treatment. These results indicate that for most patients the benefits from hypnotherapy last at least five years.
This was the first-ever study to examine whether the composition of gut bacteria (intestinal microbiota) in the bowels of IBS patients changes after hypnotherapy. 38 IBS patients (by Rome-III diagnostic criteria) of all IBS subtypes were treated with 10 weekly group sessions of GHT, and stool samples were collected before and after treatment for microbiota analysis.
THE BOWEL SYMPTOMS OF IBS WERE SIGNIFICANTLY REDUCED ON AVERAGE AFTER HYPNOSIS TREATMENT, AND PSYCHOLOGICAL DISTRESS AND WELL-BEING ALSO IMPROVED SIGNIFICANTLY.
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Adequate relief of IBS symptoms was reported by 84% of the patients after the hypnosis treatment. However, no significant changes were found in intestinal gut microbiota composition. The findings of this novel study suggest, perhaps not surprisingly, that hypnosis improves IBS mostly via effects that are relatively independent of microbiota composition -- most likely, through alterations in the central nervous system's control of the gut.