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Hypnotherapy for IBS Relief

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By Jennie Kitching, Hypnowoman, Senior Adv. Hypnotherapist & Trainer

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Can hypnotherapy help with IBS?

Hypnotherapy is wonderful at treating IBS. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is what is known as a functional disorder: there is no disease process which is causing the symptoms. The medical cause of IBS is not known, although many people do begin to get symptoms after a bout of sickness, such as diarrhoea and vomiting (often gastroenteritis) or an extreme emotional upset. The cause is often not addressed, with focus on dealing with the symptoms to bring relief. 

 

With hypnotherapy, therapeutic techniques are delivered when you are in a hypnotic state to help you to take direct control of your IBS. Advanced diagnostic NHS trials have confirmed measurable changes in the body resulting from hypnosis suggestions. It is a powerful tool, using imagination to create positive change. 

What are the symptoms of IBS?

IBS is a long-term chronic condition which can appear to go away for a while before relapsing, and is often life-long disorder.  It is arguably a nervous condition that affects the digestive system and causes symptoms like cramps, bloating and constipation and can last for days, weeks or months at a time. 

If you suffer with IBS, you may often experience abdominal stomach pain or discomfort which is associated with opening your bowels, or you experience a change in bowel habit (constipation, diarrhoea, or both). Having to go to the bathroom frequently, and in a hurry, urgently, are also common problems.  People with IBS also often experience bloating and cramping. It is not uncommon for IBS sufferers to have to own several different sized clothes in order to deal with the varying size of their stomach.

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Quick Tips for You

1. Recognise the relationship between mind and body, stomach and head.

Do not wait for an ‘attack’. Instead, enhance the relationship between your mind and your body. Prepare yourself now whilst you are able, and find a way to 'anchor' down a feeling of calmness and tranquillity. For instance, take just five or ten minutes to sit and breathe, listen to some nice music or ambience, and surround yourself with pleasant senses. Remember this space and return to this feeling whenever it is needed.

2. Recognise the why.

Realise, with your hand on your stomach now, that when the mind is stressed, such as in anxiety, the body is in 'fight or flight'. Your body is preparing to fight, or run away from what is threatening you. In order to keep you alive, blood is diverted to your essential organs: your heart, lungs and brain. In essence, your body is doing all it can right now to protect you and keep you safe - but it may not realise the stress it is putting you under in the process.

3. Become aware of your stresses and anxieties.

It is not useful to be fighting for your life whilst digesting your Sunday roast, and the blood flow is better used to aid the fight or the flight away. This reduction in bowel blood flow may account for constipation or diarrhoea in IBS. We are consciously becoming aware now that the adrenal glands are producing adrenaline which can be causing stomach upsets.

4. Section out time for relaxation.

'Rest and Digest' is the opposite state to 'Fight or Flight'. When you relax, bowel blood flow is restored, and digestion recommenced.  This is because the Thyroid takes over to balance the metabolism and produce calmness in the body’s system.

5. Experiment with methods of relaxation.

Relaxation looks different for everyone, but all that matters is that it works for  you. In addition to hypnotherapy, there are many resources available online which go over breathing techniques and guided meditations for relaxation. If you scroll to the bottom of this page, you'll find our own calming breathing technique that you can watch whenever you like.

Extra Information

The only NHS-funded primary care service for IBS hypnotherapy in England in February 2011 was delivered by a full-time nurse hypnotherapist, commissioned and funded by a Primary Care Trust. That nurse was trained by me.

 

In 18 months, 119 patients were seen. Validated scoring tools showed improvement in quality of life and symptom severity scores, with improvement in all domains following therapy. Hypnosis has even been proven to be more effective than many other common IBS treatments.

I'm Jennie Kitching, otherwise known as Hypnowoman. I'm an Advanced Senior Hypnotherapist with over 20 years of experience. I'm based in the UK, but as long as you've got an internet connection, I can work with you wherever you are.

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