Hypnotherapy May Help Calm Irritable Bowels

July 5th, 2006

When a disease is poorly understood, when it’s of a distinctly personal nature and when medication doesn’t help, there’s often little left to do but to suffer in silence.

That’s the case for the 15 percent of Americans – about 25 million people – who have irritable bowel syndrome. Although television commercials and magazine advertisements promise easy relief for a chronically misbehaving gut, many people with the condition know better. The constipation, bloating, diarrhea and gas make their lives miserable, limiting some to short excursions when they leave home at all.Although the pharmaceutical industry is eagerly pursuing new drug treatments for irritable bowel syndrome, these potentially more effective medications are several years away. Now researchers say the best hope may be the most basic of treatments: lifestyle changes.

Experts meeting recently in Los Angeles for Digestive Disease Week, the world’s largest gathering of gastrointestinal health professionals, reported that behavior modification and dietary alterations can significantly ease symptoms of the still little-understood condition.

For example, even a brief, self-help course of cognitive behavior therapy – in which people identify their symptoms’ triggers and learn techniques, such as relaxation and thought processes, that can alter the response – significantly helped most patients in one study presented at the meeting. Another study found that 12 sessions of hypnotherapy reduced symptoms in many patients for at least one year.

The findings support recent theories that irritable bowel syndrome involves a communication glitch between the brain and gut. But experts disagree on whether drugs that act on the gastrointestinal tract or psychological therapies that alter thoughts and emotions will ultimately prove most beneficial.

“There is a camp totally focused on the GI tract. But there is also a lot of talk about how we’re beginning to understand the mind-body connection,” said Dr. Emeran Mayer, director of the Center for Neurovisceral Sciences and Women’s Health at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Dissatisfaction with the two medications currently approved for IBS – Lotronex and Zelnorm – has led to a resurgence of interest in how patients can help themselves, said Jeffrey M. Lackner, an assistant professor of medicine at University at Buffalo, State University of New York.

“At this point, there are no drugs that seem to be satisfactory for the full range of symptoms,” he said. “The real burden of IBS rests on the shoulders of patients on a day-to-day basis.”

By Shari Roan – Los Angeles Times

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    2 Responses to “Hypnotherapy May Help Calm Irritable Bowels”

    1. Access Hypnotherapyon 06 Dec 2009 at 11:16 am

      I am not a medical practitioner – I am a practicing hypnotherapist, and I offer the following observations from treating clients who have irritable bowel problems. Nobody quite knows what causes IBS and exactly how it is related to stress. In a way, it’s the classic chicken and egg scenario – does the IBS condition cause the stress or does the stress cause the IBS? One thing I have observed is that whichever the answer is, the clients who have come to see me have all displayed heightened levels of stress.
      I’ve found that helping those clients to reduce their stress levels helps to alleviate their IBS symptoms. How when I say stress, I mean subconscious stress. This is the type of stress you may not even be consciouly aware of. It can be because of overstrict parents, bullying, traumatic experiences, or any one of a thousand other reasons, each reason as unique as the individual themselves.
      Because hypnotherapy is non-invasive, non pharmaceutical and has no negative side effects, I firmly believe that it is something you, as an IBS sufferee, should seriously consider. I have seen, in my own practice, people experiencing reductions in their IBS symptomology, ranging from noticeable to dramatic.

    2. mayaon 28 Feb 2012 at 6:46 am

      I’ve just discovered that white willow bark is a pain reliever, the same ingredient, salycin, that makes aspirin. i’m taking the tea for a parasite cleanse now. i’ve seen it available in tablets, and wondered if anybody has had any relief from cramping and pain with this herb?