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Gut Feelings: How Hypnotherapy Can Help those with IBS Symptoms

Are IBS symptoms getting in the way of your daily life? Have you tried what feels like everything to treat your symptoms to no avail? Are you looking for alternative methods of support?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a chronic gastrointestinal disorder that affects up to 15% of people worldwide. The exact cause of IBS is still relatively unknown, however it is believed that IBS originates from a combination of psychological, genetic and environmental factors.

People who suffer from IBS symptoms can experience anxiety, bloating, painful abdominal cramps, changes in bowel movements, and excessive wind. IBS can massively affect your quality of life, and while there is currently no known cure for IBS, there are several treatment options that may offer relief of symptoms, including hypnotherapy.

Understanding IBS and Its Impact on Your Life

IBS affects all sufferers to different degrees, and it is the uncertainty of when and how bad a person’s symptoms might be on any given day that adds to this stress and anxiety, ultimately fuelling the ongoing cycle of IBS symptoms.

It has now been proven that there is is a strong link between gut health and mental health, Dr Mayer writes in his book ‘Mind-Gut connection’ that “Your gut has capabilities that surpass all our other organs and even rival your brain. It has its own nervous system, known in scientific literature as the enteric nervous system, or ENS, and is often referred to in the media as the “second brain.”

Every gut function that exists in the body is sensitive to stress, and the gut brain axcis refers to the direct and indirect pathways of communication between the brain and the gut. Communication happens in these channels through thought and feeling, which in turn influence digestion and other processes in the body. One theory is that IBS could be an over sensitive response to the messages that pass through these channels.

Often flare ups of IBS can start from stressful or triggering events, or consuming food or drink that is high in sugar, alcohol, caffeine or highly processed.

How could Hypnotherapy Help Relieve IBS Symptoms?

Hypnotherapy is a complementary therapy that may offer relief for people experiencing IBS symptoms by inducing a relaxed state that can address the psychological and emotional factors related to the condition. The aim of hypnotherapy is to help the individual gain control over their brain-gut connection.

According to the National Library of Medicine, “IBS is a stress-sensitive disorder, therefore, the treatment of IBS should focus on managing stress and stress-induced responses”, serotonin receptors in your gut can then help treat IBS symptoms.”

The nervous systems of your brain and gut are connected by neural pathways, and the neurotransmitter serotonin (also known as the ‘happy’ hormone) plays an important role in both regulating basic functioning, and stabilizing your mood. Serotonin can affect your IBS symptoms significantly, and quite often people with IBS have lower levels of serotonin.

Recent clinical trials have shown that hypnotherapy for IBS is effective in reducing the intensity and frequency of symptoms by around 70%. A hypnotherapist can guide you through a session that can address stressful triggers. By teaching you deep relaxation techniques, using guided imagery, and positive suggestions, hypnotherapy could reprogram your subconscious mind to help your whole system to function better.

According to Mindset Health “Dr. Simone Peters and her team at Monash University, (Melbourne, Australia) compared hypnotherapy to the low-FODMAP diet for irritable bowel syndrome. She hypothesized that quality of life and symptoms of IBS would improve in both groups. However, hypnotherapy was expected to have a smaller effect in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome than the diet since it is a form of psychological therapy.”

In both treatment groups, 70% of patients improved in quality of life and a range of individual symptoms of IBS.

Benefits of Hypnotherapy for IBS

  • Reduced symptoms of anxiety and stress.

  • Improved bowel movement control.

  • Reduced hypersensitivity and pain.

  • Better regulation of the digestive system.

  • Increased participation in social activities

  • Improved confidence.

Additionally, hypnotherapy can complement traditional IBS treatments, such as medication and dietary changes.

If you are looking to explore hypnotherapy as a way of managing IBS symptoms, they should be able to work with you to ensure that the therapy aligns with your goals and needs. It is essential to understand that hypnotherapy is not a magic solution for IBS, but rather a complementary approach that can support you in managing the symptoms.

If you are interested in diving into hypnotherapy to support you, contact me today to set up a Free Initial Consultation:

Blog post written by Lucy Collins

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