Hypnotherapy, relaxation training, medication and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy have all been shown to help alleviate symptoms of IBS.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a functional disorder of the gut. A functional disorder means there’s a problem with the function of a particular part of the body, even though the structure appears normal. With IBS, an individual’s bowel is extra sensitive and the nerves and muscles do not work as they should. The condition causes re-occurring pain or discomfort in the abdomen and an altered bowel habit.
Living with IBS
Most people suffering from IBS find their symptoms an occasional nuisance, however for other people the condition can seriously affect their quality of life. IBS can develop at any time, however most people have their first symptoms between the ages of 15 and 40. According to some research, IBS can affect up to 1 in 5 people in the UK at some stage in their life, making it one of the most common disorders of the digestive system. Women are more likely than men to suffer with IBS, and their symptoms are often more severe. Some individuals with IBS have constipation, others have diarrhoea, whilst others may suffer from both. Pain may be mild to severe and may occur at a particular time of the day.
Symptoms of IBS
pain and discomfort in the abdomen
Causes of IBS
The exact cause of IBS is not clear. Some research suggests it may be due to over-activity of parts of the gut, for example if the contractions of the muscles in the wall of the gut become abnormal or overactive. Increased sensitivity to the amount of gas in the bowel and an individual’s genetic make-up are also thought to play a role in the development of IBS. Symptoms may be worse after eating or if an individual is suffering from stress and specific foods may also trigger the symptoms.
Treatment of IBS As IBS is regarded as a medical condition, it’s important to consult your doctor first for information, advice and a diagnosis. Although there is no cure for IBS, there are things that can help. Hypnotherapy, relaxation training, medication and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy have all been shown to help alleviate symptoms of IBS.
Hypnotherapy can help an individual to learn relaxation techniques and new ways to manage stress. As our state of mind can have an impact on our physical well-being, the tension, stress and anxiety that living with IBS can cause, may undermine our immune system and actually further compromise our health. Therefore learning how to relax and manage stress become useful tools. Hypnosis can also promote positive thinking and coping strategies by accessing our unconscious mind in a deep state of relaxation.
BBC Article: 18 March 2010 Hypnotherapy ‘can help’ irritable bowel syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome causes abdominal pain and bloating
Greater use of hypnotherapy to ease the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome would help sufferers and might save money, says a gastroenterologist.
Dr Roland Valori, editor of Frontline Gastroenterology, said of the first 100 of his patients treated, symptoms improved significantly for nine in 10. He said that although previous research has shown hypnotherapy is effective for IBS sufferers, it is not widely used. This may be because doctors simply do not believe it works. Widely ignored Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common gut problem which can cause abdominal pain, bloating, and sometimes diarrhoea or constipation. Dr Valori, of Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, said the research evidence which shows that hypnotherapy could help sufferers of IBS was first published in the 1980s. He thinks it has been widely ignored because many doctors find it hard to believe that it does work, or to comprehend how it could work.
"It is pretty clear to me that it has an amazing effect"
Dr Roland Valori, editor of Frontline Gastroenterology
He began referring IBS patients for hypnotherapy in the early 1990s and has found it to be highly effective. “To be frank, I have never looked back,” he said. He audited the first 100 cases he referred for hypnotherapy and found that the symptoms stopped completely in four in ten cases with typical IBS. He says in a further five in 10 cases patients reported feeling more in control of their symptoms and were therefore much less troubled by them. “It is pretty clear to me that it has an amazing effect,” he said. “It seems to work particularly well on younger female patients with typical symptoms, and those who have only had IBS for a relatively short time.” Powerful effect
He believes that it could work partly by helping to relax patients. “Of the relaxation therapies available, hypnotherapy is the most powerful,” he said. He also says that IBS patients often face difficult situations in their lives, and hypnotherapy can help them respond to these stresses in a less harmful way. NHS guidelines allow doctors to refer IBS patients for hypnotherapy or other psychological therapies if medication is unsuccessful and the problem persists. Dr Valori thinks that if hypnotherapy were used more widely it could possibly save the NHS money while improving patient care. Dr Charlie Murray, Secretary of the British Gastroenterology Society, said: “There is no doubt that hypnotherapy is helpful for some patients, but it depends on the skill and experience of those practising it. “But the degree to which it is effective is not well defined. “I would support using it as one therapy, but it is no panacea.”