Irritable bowel syndrome, or “IBS” is a common condition, with an estimated 10-15% of adults experiencing symptoms in their lifetime. Whilst these symptoms will vary from person to person, both in type and severity; IBS is generally characterised by a combination of abdominal pain, diarrhoea, constipation, gas or bloating. Many people also report symptoms such as nausea, lethargy, anxiety and depression.
One of the most frustrating aspects of IBS is how poorly it is understood. Despite the very real and often debilitating symptoms that sufferers experience, there are no biochemical disease markers to test for, and therefore, no tests or procedures which can diagnose IBS. This is both good and bad news. The good news, is that because IBS does not show up on any tests or scans, it is not associated with structural damage to the body. However, the bad news is that because IBS cannot be ‘found’ in the body, it makes it all that much trickier to actually treat.
Although there may be no structural damage associated with IBS, what is arguably more important, is how IBS can have effects on a person’s long-term health, lifestyle and overall quality of life. If you have had IBS for a long time, you might find that it interrupts your capacity to work, travel, socialise, maintain an adequate diet and much more. When you think about it, these are the things that we really care about, and they serve to highlight how addressing chronic issues with IBS may be imperative to living a full, happy and healthy life.
Whilst countless iterations of drug treatments and diet and lifestyle interventions are tried by many; often the results are less than satisfactory, leading to growing frustrations for sufferers. Fortunately, there is another way.
How does it work?
In the last decade or so, there has been a revived interest in the use of complementary therapies to aid in the treatment of IBS, and there has been one therapy which has been increasing brought up in scientific circles and within doctors’ offices. That therapy is hypnotherapy.
Whilst the first study in the use of gut-directed hypnotherapy for IBS was published in 1984, there has been evidence of its uses in scientific literature as far back as the 1920’s when progressive relaxation was described as beneficial for IBS patients
Gut directed hypnotherapy uses hypnotic techniques which are designed to return the gut and whole digestive system back to normal and healthy functioning. By using powerful and repetitive suggestions and metaphors, you are guided in to a relaxed state of focus. Whilst the conscious mind begins to quieten the constant ‘chatter’ that so many of us experience, the unconscious mind can get to work at tapping in to its natural biological intuition, and beginning the process of healing.
In a program of hypnotherapy for IBS, you will usually sign up for weekly sessions to begin with. As the treatment progresses, sessions may be stretched out to fortnightly or even monthly, depending on how you are responding to treatment. Afterwards, you will be given a recording of the session, so as this can be listened to in between sessions, ideally on a daily basis, to get the maximum benefit.
Hypnotherapy is considered a safe, effective and non-invasive way to address the symptoms of IBS and is seen by many as a great complement to existing treatments which patients may be receiving through their medical doctor or other specialist. If you are not local, sessions of gut-directed hypnotherapy can also be offered online via Zoom, so as you can engage in treatment from the comfort of your home and access help, regardless of location or time constraints.
Podcast on gut-directed hypnotherapy
I was recently interviewed by Amy Lee Giannotti for her podcast, 'Healthy Life Redefined' on episode #26: Gut Directed Hypnotherapy for the Treatment of IBS and how it can be helpful for those with Hypothalamic Amenorrhea and or Eating Disorders with Bianca Skilbeck.
You can find this interview on all of the usual places that you listen to podcasts. To find out more, head over to this link.