Hypnotherapy for IBS

Our toilet habits aren’t necessarily the subject of dinner party conversation. But for 5% to 10% of the world’s population, irritable bowel syndrome is an all-consuming topic. 

Science tells us it affects twice as many women as men, and covers a range of issues, from constipation to anxiety. Because of that nature and scope, there is no miracle, one-size-fits-all cure. 

But that doesn’t mean you’re alone. 

As well as examining the range of IBS symptoms, I’m also going to explain how hypnotherapy can be an effective tool in managing IBS. 

What is irritable bowel syndrome?

The National Health Service defines irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) as a common condition that affects the digestive system.

The exact cause behind it is unknown. IBS has been linked to stress, food passing through the gut too fast or slowly, oversensitive nerves in the gut, and a family history of irritable bowel syndrome.

Often a lifelong problem, it can sometimes be controlled and managed by diet changes and medicines. Nonetheless, IBS can be frustrating and have a major impact on everyday life.

Common IBS symptoms

Irritable bowel syndrome has several common symptoms. These tend to come and go over time, while IBS flare-ups can last for days, weeks or months at a time, negatively impacting a patient’s quality of life.  

  • stomach pain or cramps – normally worse after eating and better after going to the toilet 
  • bloating – stomach may feel uncomfortably full and swollen
  • diarrhoea – watery stools or a sudden need to go to the toilet
  • constipation – you may strain when going to the toilet and feel unable to fully empty your bowels

Other symptoms also associated with IBS include: 

  • flatulence
  • passing mucus from your bottom
  • tiredness and a lack of energy
  • feeling sick (nausea)
  • backache
  • problems urinating, including a sudden need to wee or feeling unable to fully empty your bladder
  • not always being able to control when you have a bowel movement

Triggers for IBS 

IBS symptoms can flare up for no specific reason but sometimes they are triggered by elements of our lifestyle. They can include: 

  • alcohol
  • caffeine
  • certain foods, such as spicy or fatty food
  • stress and anxiety

There is no test for IBS, but your doctor could request some to rule out other possible causes behind your symptoms.

They could include a blood test to check for issues like coeliac disease, a stool sample to check for infections and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Lifestyle changes 

If you are diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, there are lots of ways you can minimise and manage your symptoms. 

The NHS recommends cooking homemade meals using fresh ingredients wherever possible as one form of IBS treatment.

You can also keep a diary listing what you eat and whether it triggers your symptoms, so you can learn what to avoid. 

Get plenty of exercise, while another potential IBS treatment is to try adding probiotics to your diet for a few weeks to see if they reduce IBS symptoms. 

Another recommendation to treat IBS is to find ways to relax, but anyone with IBS knows that can be easier said than done. 

That’s where my clinical hypnotherapy sessions come in. 

IBS hypnotherapy

Several clinical trials have shown that hypnotherapy is an effective treatment for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), offering a significant improvement in physical symptoms.  

Among the enhancements that have been reported are improvements in abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea and bloating. The reduction in symptom severity leads to an improved quality of life  in IBS patients and feeling of overall well-being. 

It has also helped ease other symptoms, such as nausea, fatigue, backache, and urinary problems. 

There are lots of symptomatic, psychological and physiological benefits to using hypnotherapy to ease IBS and gain control of your life.

Even better, research suggests that a specific, relatively new branch of hypnotherapy could benefit more than 70% of people with IBS.

Gut directed hypnotherapy

Let’s start with the fundamentals. Clinical hypnotherapy is a form of deep relaxation that allows the human mind to become open to suggestions or prompts. 

Gut-directed hypnotherapy works on the connection – or misconnection – between the brain and gut that can affect people with IBS. 

The gut-brain axis 

This is the connection between our central nervous system and enteric nervous system, better known as the brain and the bowel. This gut-brain superhighway is called the vagus nerve. 

These two crucial parts of our body also communicate via the HPA-axis, which is responsible for our stress responses. 

When we feel nervous or excited, it’s caused by the chemicals rushing along these internal, physical communication lines. 

The gut-brain connection and IBS

People with irritable bowel syndrome are thought to experience some sort of mix-up in communication between the chemical signals, running along the gut-brain axis. 

It could be the gut function is sending the right messages via the vagus nerve but they are being misinterpreted by the brain. This disconnect in gut brain interaction leads to IBS symptoms. 

How gut-brain hypnotherapy can help 

Much like a traditional hypnotherapy session, gut-directed hypnotherapy offers suggestions for the control of gastrointestinal function to the subconscious part of the patient’s mind. 

It can include visualisations of swallowing a medicine that heals and protects the stomach. 

Although scientists aren’t precisely sure how it works, several robust studies have shown gut-directed hypnotherapy improves symptoms in the long term for IBS patients by up to 80%.

Imagine the change in their quality of life!

What does a gut-brain hypnotherapy session involve?

There are three stages to this form of hypnotherapy for IBS patients. The first is hypnotic induction, during which I will use relaxation techniques to guide you into a state of focused and absorbed attention. 

The second stage is about visualisation. We will undergo various exercises to help you focus on what is going on in your gut.  

Each patients’ symptoms vary, but it could include picturing food sliding easily down your digestive tract, or even imagining places where you feel calm and relaxed. 

For the final stage, as your gut-directed hypnotherapist, I will focus on introducing positive and helpful suggestions into the unconscious mind, where they will be absorbed and worked upon.

How long will it take to work?

Everyone is different, but clinical studies have shown that, after six weeks of gut-directed hypnotherapy, around 70% of people experienced a reduction in symptoms. Four out of five people could see benefits from this treatment. 

It is important to emphasise that although hypnotherapy and gut-directed hypnotherapy are effective treatments, they are not a complete cure for IBS. 

However, both can provide symptom relief and alleviate the stress and anxiety that so often hampers IBS sufferers from taking control of their lives.

The first step to freedom from IBS  

Before beginning either hypnotherapy or gut-directed hypnotherapy, I will conduct a free, initial consultation via Zoom, which you can book at a date and time to suit you here

It allows me to get to know you and learn what you’re hoping to achieve. After that, we will progress to treatment. 

My hypnotherapy sessions take place on Thursdays at Salus Wellness Clinics in Cambridge and on Fridays at Coach House Health Care, Trumpington, Cambridge. 

Contact me

For a chat about your IBS symptoms and how hypnotherapy and gut-directed hypnotherapy can help you reclaim your life, email me at sevarin@lifeflowhypnotherapy.co.uk, call 07359 188625, or fill in this contact form. For all medical issues, I recommend seeking professional advice from your local GP ahead of seeking treatment.

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