Got a dodgy stomach? Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common gut problem which can cause abdominal pain, bloating, and changes in your toilet routine. IBS is an ongoing chronic disorder which can last for your full lifetime.
IBS is estimated to affect between 10 and 20% of the population in the UK with an average onset age in their mid 20s. Characterised by abdominal pain or discomfort, many people are reluctant to admit that they are suffering because of cultural taboos around talking about toilet habits.
Although the condition is often regarded as minor, the symptoms can seriously affect quality of life. The National Council for Hypnotherapy (NCH) says IBS can be debilitating, preventing people from achieving simple tasks such as going shopping or enjoying long walks. It may also cause serious discomfort on a regular basis.
Gastrointestinal disorders are complex, and the causes are different for every patient. Emerging research has shown that sensitive nerve endings in the gut can become inflamed, leading to visceral hypersensitivity which causes people with gut related conditions to experience more pain and motility problems.
NHS guidelines allow doctors to refer IBS patients for hypnotherapy or other psychological therapies if medication is unsuccessful and the problem persists. Greater use of hypnotherapy to ease the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome would help sufferers says gastroenterologist Dr Roland Valori.
Studies dating from the 1980s show that hypnotherapy is an effective treatment for IBS and other gastrointestinal disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and Chrons. However, the medical community has been slow to implement these research findings due to a lack of general understanding of how the mind body connection works.
Gut-directed hypnosis works by addressing a ‘miscommunication’ between the brain and gut. Using suggestion, relaxation and imagery techniques the client is guided into a focused state of awareness where they can learn skills which help calm and soothe their symptoms.
As IBS is a medical condition it is important to consult your doctor for a diagnosis. Unlike many medical conditions that have specific tests in order to confirm a diagnosis, IBS is a diagnosis of exclusion which can be considered 6 months after symptoms first begin.
A growing number of NHS clinics now offer hypnotherapy for IBS and your GP can provide you with a referral or you can you can find a NCH-registered hypnotherapist near you by clicking here.