IBS and Hypnotherapy

Let’s talk about Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). You may be surprised to learn that many people suffering from IBS seek out hypnotherapy. IBS is a chronic condition that affects the large intestine resulting in abdominal pain, gas, bloating, diarrhea, cramping and/or constipation. Many who struggle with IBS, find it can be managed by altering their diet and stress relieving practices. Hypnotherapy can assist clients with stress relief, relaxation and habit change. 

While there is not one single explanation for IBS, the condition is often traced back to stress and subconscious issues which end up manifesting as physical afflictions. IBS seems to worsen when a person is under a lot of pressure in life, or when a particular food is triggering to the gut such as dairy or wheat products. Research shows that 80% of people with IBS also deal with other issues like chronic fatigue, anxiety or depression.

A hypnotherapist will be able to address blocks in communication between the brain and the digestive system with guided visualization, suggestive imagery and hypnotic suggestion. The hypnotherapist will also use hypnosis allowing clients to enter a deeper state of relaxation. The hypnotherapist will begin to assist clients in creating a parasympathetic response in their bodies, also known as the ‘rest and digest’ system. Anchoring techniques and positive future pacing in hypnosis will reduce symptoms over time and allow clients to feel more in control of their IBS condition.

Here is an example of the relief that hypnotherapy can offer, recalled by Megan Riehl, PsyD: 

“Recently I had a patient who has been suffering with abdominal pain for years,” Riehl says. “She had to quit her job, her family was affected, she was feeling completely hopeless. At the end of her first gut-directed hypnosis session, she was in tears, saying she had experienced relief from abdominal pain which she hadn’t felt in 2½ years. She was feeling hopeful about this intervention.” 

– Reported by Margarita Bauzá | Michigan Health

Studies involving a total of 346 patients conducted by researchers at The Sahlgrenska Academy of the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, showed that hypnotherapy alleviated symptoms in more than 40% of those affected – and the improvement was found to be long-term.

Another study published in the journal of Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics documented 1,000 people with IBS who were treated with 12 sessions of hypnotherapy. 76% of the treated people showed major improvements in not only bowel-related issues, but also overall quality of life. 

If you are someone who struggles with IBS, you are not alone and there is a way through it.  Feel free to reach out to me with questions you might have surrounding this topic.