Hypnotherapy ‘can help’ Irritable Bowel Syndrome, research finds

Irritable bowel syndrome is a chronic disorder which affects many people. Recent research, though, tells that hypnotherapy can improve life for those with the disorder.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) occurs due to faster or slower contraction of large intestine muscles than normal. Symptoms of IBS may include;

• Cramping pain in your lower abdomen
• Bloating and gas
• Diarrhea or constipation, or bouts of both
• Instant need to move bowels when you wake up or during or after meals
• Relief of pain after bowel movements
• Feeling of incomplete emptying after bowel movements

Mucus in stool Up to 60% of individuals with IBS have mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety that can be helped by hypnotherapy. Some tactics to managing IBS are by adjusting one’s diet, improving lifestyle choices, and, if required, seeking mental health treatment.

In the past, research has proposed that people with IBS may also benefit from hypnotherapy sessions. Now, experts at the University Medical Centre Utrecht and other institutions in the Netherlands have decided to investigate deeper into the question of whether hypnotherapy can improve symptoms of IBS — and if so, in what manner.

The researchers conducted a randomized controlled trial, the findings of which now appear in The Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology.

Improved symptom relief

The research evaluated the efficiency of individual and group hypnotherapy in IBS. In the research, the scientists worked with 354 participants with IBS aged 18–65. The scientists indiscriminately selected participants to take part in one of three interferences;

• individual 45-minute hypnotherapy sessions twice a week for 6 weeks (150 participants)
• group sessions of hypnotherapy with the same timeframe (150 participants)
• dedicated educational helpful care sessions (54 participants)

For the provision of the sessions, the team employed psychologists who had the expert in hypnotherapy. During the sessions, the hypnotherapists applied procedures of positive conception, providing proposals about discomfort and pain management. They also provided the CDs having materials which would allow participants to practice hypnosis techniques for 15–20 minutes daily.

The scientists then asked the participants to fill in surveys assessing several factors related to the study — comprising the severity of their IBS signs, their quality of life. Also how much they expended on healthcare, and how often they had to miss work due to the disorder.

The valuations took place at standard, at the 3 and 9-month mark. The team also assessed to what level participants practiced release instantly after the3-month mark interference and then 9 months later.

The scientists found that the individuals with IBS who were in hypnotherapy — whether individual or group-based — practiced the most adequate rate of symptom relief, then the participants who were in the educational supportive care group.

Participants who experienced hypnotherapy were still enjoying the welfares 9 months after the treatment. However, the scientists claim that in spite of reporting the satisfactory degree of symptom relief, the participants did not really see a significant upgrading in symptom severity as such.

“We do not know accurately how gut-directed hypnotherapy works, but it may alter inner managing mechanisms and mentality of the patient, says lead scientist Dr. Carla Flik. Thus enabling them to increase their control over autonomic processes, like how they modulate gut activity and process pain.”

Group sessions just as promising

Other than symptom relief, the tested-for factors — including psychological problems, healthcare costs, quality of life, and work absence — remained almost the same among all the participants following the involvements.

The researchers also disclose that their study tackled a few limitations. For instance, some participants — 15 percent of those in the individual hypnotherapy group, another 15 percent of those in the group hypnotherapy sessions, and 20 percent of those in the educational supportive care group — dropped out of the research.

Some participants did not manage to fill in all the surveys, which, the researchers say, may have impacted the discoveries. Also, the participants only received six sessions, which is half the number of sessions that an individual would usually expect to receive.

“Our research shows that hypnotherapy could be considered as a treatment for patients with IBS, regardless of IBS subtype and symptom severity. Moreover, group hypnotherapy is as operative as individual sessions, it means more individuals could be treated at a lower cost, should it be confirmed in further researches.”
Dr. Carla Flik

“What’s remarkable about these results is the degree to which patients’ insight of their disease has an influence on their suffering, and their perception of symptoms seems to be as significant as real symptom severity,” adds Dr. Flik.



Areeba Hussain

Areeba is an independent medical and healthcare writer. For the last three years, she is writing for Tophealthjournal. Her prime areas of interest are diseases, medicine, treatments, and alternative therapies. Twitter @Areeba94789300

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