Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
In February 2008 the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE), which gives guidance to the NHS on effective treatments, published guidance for GPs and consultants saying:
"Referral for psychological interventions (cognitive behavioural therapy [CBT], hypnotherapy and/or psychological therapy) should be considered for people with IBS who do not respond to pharmacological treatments after 12 months".
That guidance can be accessed here:
NICE Guidance for IBS Treatment - Quick Reference (PDF 169kb)
NICE Guidance for IBS Treatment - Full Guidance Notes (PDF 3.6MB)
Ask your GP to refer you for IBS hypnotherapy
In the UK research conducted by Professor Peter Whorwell of Manchester University has demonstrated high levels of effectiveness, helping all the symptoms of IBS – and those improvements being sustained over long periods of time.
Hypnotherapy for IBS seems to work by lowering the general level of anxiety, lowering the perception of pain and discomfort (which is related to anxiety) and also by directing positive images and suggestions to the client. The whole system has large nerve fibres to the brain, so it is possible that the bowel can be influenced by images and thoughts in the brain to a much greater extent than previously thought.
The cause of IBS is complex, however it is always useful to distinguish between what started a condition and why the condition continues. People with IBS have a bowel that over-responds to stress (so instead of simply emptying the bowel when stressed it spasms) and it is hypersensitive, so the pain threshold is lower.
Many of the symptoms impact on an individuals quality of life and sufferers usually pay a lot of attention to their tummy. It seems that while an infection or tummy upset might start the IBS condition – creating a bowel that over-reacts to stress and which has nerves that are oversensitive to that over-reaction – the symptoms of IBS are so stressful that IBS is a self-maintaining condition, creating a vicious circle of stress.
One of the key’s to dealing with IBS is to lower our stress sensitivity and also reduce the perception of pain from the bowel. Hypnotherapy has a history of remarkable effectiveness in lowering anxiety levels and also in pain reduction, so in many ways hypnotherapy is an ideal treatment for IBS. It is excellent at lowering stress and anxiety levels, both the general level of anxiety and also hypersensitivity to stressful situations. Secondly, hypnotherapy is powerful and effective at pain reduction – very effectively removing the perception of pain.