A recent study suggests that gut-directed hypnotherapy may serve as an effective new treatment option for individuals suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).1 The study also suggests that group or individual sessions offer benefits, and this may be a new option in primary and secondary care.
What is IBS?
IBS is a common gastrointestinal complaint that presents significant difficulty in treatment, likely to the complex psycho-emotional and functional factors that come together to manifest as symptoms. In addition, symptoms range from diarrhea to constipation, with a wide variance of pain, gas, bloating, and other digestive discomforts.
Getting to the bottom of IBS, pun intended
Getting to the bottom of an IBS case is often difficult for even holistic practitioners, and stress, trauma, and other emotional factors may pose a particular difficult area to address, and ultimately limiting treatment effectiveness. Hypnotherapy may help address these causal aspects.
This current study showed that hypnotherapy might help relieve IBS symptoms – some had symptoms for as long as 9 months. The study looked at 354 adults with IBS.
After 3 months of hypnotherapy
After 3 months of hypnotherapy, significant relief was reported between 33-40 percent of patients receiving both individual and group hypnotherapy compared to those given education and supportive care. The benefits were reported to persist for 9 months in between 40 and 50 percent of cases.
The findings showed that individuals undergoing hypnotherapy for IBS symptoms had a greater overall improvement in condition and were able to cope better with and were less bothered by symptoms. However, the hypnotherapy did not appear to reduce symptom severity.
Dr Carla Flik from the University Medical Center Utrecht, Netherlands, who led the research comments, “What’s striking about these findings is the extent to which patient’s perception of their illness has an effect on their suffering, and that their perception of symptoms appears to be as important as actual symptom severity.”
- Flik CE, Bakker L, Laan W, Van rood YR, Smout AJ, De wit NJ. Systematic review: The placebo effect of psychological interventions in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. World J Gastroenterol. 2017;23(12):2223-2233.
Razi Berry is the founder and publisher of the journal Naturopathic Doctor News & Review that has been in print since 2005 and the premier consumer-faced website of naturopathic medicine, NaturalPath. She is the host of The Natural Cancer Prevention Summit and The Heart Revolution-Heal, Empower and Follow Your Heart, and the popular 10 week Sugar Free Summer program. From a near death experience as a young girl that healed her failing heart, to later overcoming infertility and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia through naturopathic medicine, Razi has lived the mind/body healing paradigm. Her projects uniquely capture the tradition and philosophy of naturopathy: The healing power of nature, the vital life force in every living thing and the undeniable role that science and mind/body medicine have in creating health and overcoming dis-ease. Follow Razi on Facebook at Razi Berry and join us at Love is Medicine to explore the convergence of love and health.