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  • Writer's picturePhilipa Jackson

Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Hypnotherapy

A fantastic overview of research into using hypnotherapy as a treatment for IBS

Irritable bowel Syndrome affects 10-20% of people, both men and women, in the uk.

IBS is the name given to a longstanding illness consisting of frequent abdominal discomfort and bowel symptoms that cannot be explained by any other disease.

It is an illness of the whole person, not just the body, but the mind and how you feel about yourself. Therefore hypnotherapy can be of great benefit as the research suggests.

The first Whorwell study in 1984 showed a significant decrease in distension, pain and bowel habit plus a marked increase in general wellbeing.
Another Whorwell study in 1996 compared 25 severe IBS patients treated with hypnosis to 25 patients with similar symptom severity treated with other methods, and demonstrated that in addition to significant improvement in all central IBS symptoms, hypnotherapy recipients had fewer visits to doctors, lost less time from work than the control group, and rated their quality of life more improved. Those patients who had been unable to work prior to treatment resumed employment in the hypnotherapy group but not in the control group. The study is notable in that it quantified the substantial economic benefits and improvement in health-related quality of life which results from hypnotherapy for IBS on top of clinical symptom improvement.

In this study in 2003, 204 IBS patients treated with a course of hypnotherapy completed questionnaires about symptoms, quality of life, anxiety, and depression before, immediately after, and up to six years following the treatment. Of all the treated patients, 71% showed improvement in response to treatment initially, and of those, 81% were still fully improved when re-contacted up to five years later. Quality of life and anxiety or depression scores were also still significantly improved at follow-up but showed some deterioration. Patients also reported fewer doctor visits rates and less medication use long-term after hypnosis treatment. These results indicate that for most patients the benefits from hypnotherapy last at least five years.

Two studies taken in 2004 also showed that as well as improvements in IBS symptoms, patients also noticed improvements in general wellbeing, anxiety and depression.

To read the whole overview of research into iBS and hypnotherapy follow the link below...


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