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gut-directed hypnotherapy

Rated 3.8/5 based on 5 reviews

Gut-directed hypnotherapy is a special form of hypnotherapy developed for IBS and digestive disorder sufferers. It uses the therapeutic qualities of hypnotherapy, such as deep relaxation, and adds gut-specific treatments and suggestions. This form of hypnotherapy is designed to treat all symptoms of IBS.

Hypnotherapy is a well-established treatment for IBS and there are many scientific studies which show that it can improve IBS symptoms. This kind of hypnotherapy should not be confused with the stage hypnosis used for entertainment, as the hypnotherapist will not be able to make a patient do anything they do not wish to - you remain in control of your actions during treatment. The exact mechanism of how hypnotherapy works is still poorly understood.

During a hypnotherapy session, the therapist will take some background details about your IBS experiences and symptoms. Then they will coax you into a state of extreme relaxation, and take you through a program of suggestion. For example, you may be asked to imagine that when you hold your hand over your stomach a healing warmth is flowing into your abdomen, or you may be asked to visualize a fully working digestive system.

Patients remain in complete control of their actions at all times. A therapist may record each session onto audio cassette to allow the patient to maintain their therapy between sessions and use the tape when they feel they need it. If you are unable to attend regular sessions with a hypnotherapist or cannot afford the sessions, the IBS Audio Program 100 offers an alternative, as it is a self-hypnosis program designed to be used in the home.

How successful is hypnotherapy in clinical studies?

There have been a range of clinical studies which show that hypnotherapy can help IBS. The pioneer for this kind of treatment was Dr Peter Whorwell, a UK doctor who published his first study in the journal The Lancet in 1984. The placebo-controlled study consisted of 15 IBS patients who received seven hypnotherapy sessions, and 15 patients who received seven sessions of psychotherapy and placebo pills.

The patients who received psychotherapy showed a small improvement in their abdominal pain and general well-being, but not in their typical IBS symptoms such as diarrhea and constipation. The patients who had received hypnotherapy showed a major improvement in all main symptoms, and remained well during the three-month period of follow-up research.

Conclusion: Hypnotherapy can significantly improve all main symptoms of IBS. Pubmed article: Whorwell PJ, Prior A, Faragher EB

A follow-up study, published in the journal Gut in 1987 added an extra 35 patients to the original 15 patients who had received hypnotherapy. For the entire 50 patient group, 95% of patients with typical IBS symptoms reported significant improvements (improvements were less marked where there were unusual symptoms or major psychological problems).

Conclusion: Hypnotherapy can significantly improve typical symptoms of IBS. Pubmed article: Whorwell PJ, Prior A, Colgan SM


Review by Priscilla

I was incredibly lucky a few years ago to have received some great treatment and I have not looked back since. I consider myself to be one of the lucky ones. I was lucky enough to have found biofeedback and hypnotherapy and these are the best treatments I have ever had. I cannot explain how the hypnotherapy at the hospital worked, but after a few sessions I saw a great improvement.

Whilst I had to go back a few times I have not looked back since and I am happy to say I can go some months without an attack at all. It was the best treatment of all. I am no longer under any kind of medical intervention for my IBS and whilst I can occasionally balloon to a huge size with my stomach I am really happy to say that I am overcoming some of the demons that plagued me with IBS, including public toilets and panic when staying over at friends' houses etc.

Biofeedback was really helpful in helping me to re-engage with how the muscles in my stomach worked, and there were a number of exercises that I had to do for 10 minutes every morning in the toilet which helped me re-learn things about my body. After all you learn about your bowel when you are a baby, and as the nurse told me you don't think again about how your body works until you face a problem like IBS. I recommend this to anyone and I have found that the routine my body developed from doing the exercises has continued even today. I even sometimes do the exercises when I do have a slight attack of IBS.

I also take Holland and Barrett colon cleansing tablets at night and one magnesium tablet. In the morning I take one magnesium tablet and also some probiotic tablets. They all help with the symptoms that I sometimes get and I like that they are not medically prescribed.

I am about to celebrate my 30th birthday and this will mark my 10th year as an IBS sufferer. Whilst I suffered pretty terribly for the first seven years, in the last three years with the biofeedback and hypnotherapy I have found that I have regained my life. As a result I have been able to embark on my masters degree part-time. It has been incredibly stressful as I also work full-time, but I couldn't have faced doing it with the IBS as it was previously.

One of my biggest milestones and the one thing that will always stay with me is the ability to enjoy Christmas dinner. That was the most wonderful thing the first year I saw improvements. To be able to sit with my family and enjoy food was a joy that I cannot explain to anyone other than a fellow IBS sufferer. I had a real battle with food for a long time with IBS as I saw it very much as the enemy that caused me undue pain and suffering, but since receiving treatment I have a renewed love of food, which is very apparent on my waistline during winter!

I am looking forward to marking my 30th birthday the way I was unable to do in my early twenties, and I look forward to a future where IBS does not dominate my life. I have to say that your website was a saving grace for me when I was at my lowest point with IBS, and to know that there were other people out there suffering like me and offering help and advice was a Godsend. I can't thank you enough for setting it up.

I know that it will be helping others everywhere who feel so alone and are suffering whilst others can't or won't understand. Reading the stories gave me the strength and conviction to fight until I got the help that I needed through the NHS and I never gave up. I am hugely grateful to the GP and the gastroenterologist who after years of doctors and so-called experts put me in touch with the people that finally helped me.

I hope this story can give your readers the strength to continue their fight to get the help they need and to never give up hope. I am a testament to things getting better and whilst I sit here now suffering a slight attack today I know that it won't last long and I can feel confident in knowing that.

Review by Jo

Last night I tried the Here to Listen IBS Hypnotherapy CD, and wow! Don't know what was on it but this morning I feel calmer and my tummy feels more settled! I am going to listen to it every day and hopefully it will work, as like most of you I am at the end of my tether with my irritated bowel! Hope it helps somebody else too. Much love and peace to you all.

Review by Karen

I am writing from England and I am sorry to say that I have still not found anything to help me with my IBS-D which I have suffered from for over 20 years. I can't work, go shopping or have normal days out because I am constantly running to the loo as many of you will identify with. Last year I tried hypnotherapy and went to a woman recommended by a friend of mine whom she had helped. I felt really optimistic, but after five sessions absolutely nothing had changed so I gave up. Anyway, good luck to all of you, let's hope one day we all find a suitable cure.

Review by Rachel

I'm 25 years old and I have suffered from IBS since I was 17. I was always at the doctors and they had no solution for my symptoms. They found out that I had gallstones, and although I had them removed in 2000 the pains were still there. After some time the doc diagnosed me with IBS.

It didn't really affect my life much at first, but in 2004 I took over a pub and then my mother got ill with cancer and was given a very short time to live. With all the stress I suffered a nervous breakdown, which was terrifying as I didn't know what was wrong with me until the doc told me!

Anyway the IBS came back with full force, and I thought it would pass but it didn't! When my appetite returned I would eat small amounts and then be rushing off to the loo and I wondered how I was getting any goodness out of my food at all. The grumbling would start, then the wind would start, and the cramps and then bang!

Well, I have been using hypnotherapy once every two weeks now for 18 months now, and I find that it helps a lot and takes the edge off my stress levels.

Review by Lil

Here is the letter I just wrote to the therapist I worked with:

Dear Michelle,

I would like to thank you for giving me back my life. I came to you just over three months ago feeling miserable. I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) over two years ago. I have had SLE which is a lupus disease for about six years. In February 2004, I had 12 inches of bowel removed (nothing to do with my IBS), and I was in hospital for two weeks. I also had a slight stroke in July 2004.

We have had to cancel two holidays to Australia to see family. When I came to see you I was getting cut short at least once a week. I was frightened to go out unless there was a toilet handy, and I was taking up to eight pills before I went out to make sure I would be fine. I have been to you about six times, I listen to my hypnosis/NLP tape every day, and I was also doing the stress exercises (EFT) as well, but I don't need them now. They are there in case I get stressed.

I am now on two pills a day. I watch what I eat. I am feeling great and enjoying life again. We went to Christchurch, New Zealand for four days, a couple of weeks ago, and walked around the market for a couple of hours, something I had not been able to do because as soon as I started walking I would get cut short. I have not been cut short for about 10 weeks, which is marvelous! Twice I have been downtown on my own in the bus, done some shopping and got the bus home. I have not been able to do that for over two years. Thank you again for giving me my life back, I am really enjoying it!

Do you suffer from IBS? Have you tried gut-directed hypnotherapy? Please contact Sophie to send in your review.