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  • Writer's pictureKate Roberts

Hypnotherapy In Treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Key Takeaways -

  • Symptoms such as bloating, diarrhea, and constipation are common in individuals who suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), a gastrointestinal disorder.

  • Conventional IBS treatments often include medications, dietary changes, and stress management techniques.

  • Hypnotherapy is another way to treat IBS that focuses on dealing with the mental and emotional factors of the condition.

  • Gut-directed hypnotherapy is a specialised form that focuses on the gut-brain connection and aims to improve IBS symptoms for IBS patients.



Have you ever experienced recurring abdominal pain, bloating, and changes in bowel habits that seem to have no obvious cause? If so, you're not alone.


In the UK, it's estimated that around 10-20% of the population suffers from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), a common gastrointestinal disorder that affects the large intestine.


With such a significant portion of the population affected, exploring various treatment options for managing this often-debilitating condition is essential.


You may have tried conventional IBS treatments, such as medications, dietary changes, or stress management techniques, with varying degrees of success. However, there's an alternative approach you might still need to consider: hypnotherapy.


This blog post will discuss using hypnotherapy to relieve IBS symptoms and improve the quality of life for those who suffer from it.


So, sit back, relax, and explore how this intriguing mind-body technique could offer you a new path toward better gut health.



What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?


So, what exactly is this pesky condition we call Irritable Bowel Syndrome? IBS is a common gastrointestinal disorder that primarily AFFECTS the large intestine, causing various unpleasant symptoms.


Some of the symptoms you may experience are abdominal pain, bloating, and changes in bowel habits, including diarrhoea and constipation.


The SEVERITY of symptoms varies for each IBS sufferers, and they can come and go, sometimes lasting for days or weeks. It's a right bother, to say the least.


Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Symptoms


Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) presents itself through various SYMPTOMS that can significantly impact an individual's daily life. Some common IBS symptoms include:


  • Functional Abdominal pain or cramping

  • Bloating and gas

  • Diarrhoea

  • Constipation

  • Alternating bouts of diarrhoea and constipation

  • Mucus in the stool

  • Urgency to use the toilet

  • Feeling of incomplete bowel movements

  • Fatigue

  • Nausea

  • Changes in bowel appearance or frequency


Pro Tip: You likely will only experience a handful of these symptoms; IBS can also present differently between people.


What Causes IBS?


Although the exact cause of IBS is not fully understood, researchers suggest that it could be associated with abnormal muscle movements in the digestive tract, increased pain sensitivity, an imbalance of gut bacteria, and possibly stress.


While there is no known cure for IBS, there are methods to MINIMIZE symptoms and enhance the quality of life for individuals with the condition.


And that's where hypnotherapy comes into play, offering a UNIQUE and promising significant improvement to help you take control of your gut function.


Pro Tip: Consider discussing your symptoms with your GP if you think you may have IBS.


How Hypnotherapy Can Help With IBS


Now, let's explore how hypnotherapy can be crucial in MANAGING your IBS symptoms. As a therapeutic approach, hypnotherapy goes beyond the surface to address IBS's psychological and emotional aspects.


It works by guiding you into a deeply relaxed state, known as a trance, which allows the hypnotherapist to COMMUNICATE with your subconscious mind.


This is important because the subconscious mind plays a significant role in INFLUENCING your thoughts, emotions, and physical responses.


Reducing Stress and Anxiety


Clinical hypnosis can help you in several ways. Firstly, it can help to REDUCE STRESS and anxiety levels, which have been linked to exacerbating IBS symptoms.


By teaching relaxation techniques and providing suggestions for stress management, hypnotherapy can foster a sense of calm and well-being that may alleviate your IBS-related discomfort.


Addressing the Gut-Brain Connection


Hypnotherapy can address the gut-brain connection, the complex INTERACTION between the gastrointestinal and central nervous systems.


Gut-directed hypnotherapy, a specialised form of hypnotherapy, specifically targets this connection and aims to regulate digestive tract functioning.


Modifying Negative Thought Patterns and Beliefs


Additionally, hypnotherapy can help modify negative thought patterns and beliefs related to IBS. By identifying and REFRAMING these thoughts, you can develop a more positive mindset (and maybe even crack a smile), which may, in turn, improve your overall gut health.


Learning Self-Hypnosis Techniques


Lastly, hypnotherapy can help you learn and apply self-hypnosis techniques, empowering you to manage your symptoms independently over time. This can result in a more sustainable approach to IBS treatment for symptom management and improved QUALITY of life.


What Is Gut-directed Hypnotherapy?


Gut-directed hypnotherapy is a specialised form of hypnotherapy that focuses specifically on the gut-brain connection, the COMPLEX interaction between the gastrointestinal system and the central nervous system [1].


This targeted approach aims to ALLEVIATE your IBS symptoms by addressing the condition's physical and psychological aspects.


During gut-directed hypnotherapy sessions, the hypnotherapist uses tailored suggestions and visualisations to help regulate your digestive system's functioning, reduce stress, and promote relaxation.


By honing in on the gut-brain axis, gut-directed hypnosis treatment can offer a comprehensive and HOLISTIC approach to managing your IBS symptoms.


Benefits of Hypnotherapy for IBS


Hypnotherapy offers various benefits for individuals struggling with IBS symptoms. Let's explore some advantages that make hypnotherapy appealing for IBS management.


A Non-Invasive and Drug-Free Treatment


One of the key benefits of hypnotherapy for IBS is that it's a NON-INVASIVE and drug-free treatment [2]. This means you can avoid the potential side effects of medications and invasive procedures, making it a more appealing and natural choice for many people.


Reduction in IBS Symptoms


Hypnotherapy has been shown to help reduce COMMON IBS symptoms such as pain, bloating, diarrhoea, and constipation. By addressing the psychological aspects of IBS and promoting relaxation, hypnotherapy can lead to an improvement in your overall gut health and comfort.


Improved Psychological Well-Being


Hypnotherapy can also improve psychological well-being by reducing ANXIETY and stress levels. As stress and anxiety are known to exacerbate IBS symptoms, this improvement in mental health can have a positive knock-on effect on your gut health too.


Enhanced Self-Awareness and Coping Skills


Hypnotherapy can enhance your SELF-AWARENESS and equip you with effective coping skills. By understanding your thought patterns, emotions, and triggers related to IBS, you can better manage your symptoms and develop a more proactive approach to your gut health.


Conclusion


In conclusion, hypnotherapy offers a range of potential benefits for individuals suffering from IBS, including being a non-invasive and drug-free treatment, reducing symptoms, improving psychological well-being, and enhancing self-awareness and coping skills.


Exploring hypnotherapy could be a valuable option if you're considering a complementary or alternative approach to managing your IBS. Don't hesitate to contact us for professional advice tailored to your specific needs and begin your journey towards better gut health.



Sources -

  1. Vasant DH, Whorwell PJ. Gut‐focused hypnotherapy for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders: Evidence‐base, practical aspects, and the Manchester Protocol. Neurogastroenterology and Motility. 2019;31(8). doi:https://doi.org/10.1111/nmo.13573

  2. Gonsalkorale WM, Miller VA, Afzal A, Whorwell PJ. Long term benefits of hypnotherapy for irritable bowel syndrome. Gut. 2003;52(11):1623-1629. doi:https://doi.org/10.1136/gut.52.11.1623

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