April is National Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Awareness Month in the UK. IBS is a common gut problem which can cause a number of symptoms including constipation, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, flatulence and bloating. Generally speaking, a combination of these symptoms need to have existed for 3-6 months before a diagnosis of IBS can be made.
It is thought that between 10-20% of people experience IBS at some point in their lives (www.nhs.uk). It tends to affect more women (63%) than men (37%) and the average age of patients is 41 (Michael Franklin, 2005). Although this illness is not fatal it is painful and embarrassing for those who experience it.
Doctors do not know what causes IBS but there appear to be a number of potential factors including diet, parasites in the gut and stress. Treatment by orthodox medicine is limited and sufferers may be prescribed medication to deal with the symptoms. They are also likely to be advised to make changes to their diet and to try relaxation techniques.
Studies have been done that indicate that stress and the general state of mind of IBS sufferers can have a profound effect on the severity of their symptoms. Therefore techniques for relieving stress and anxiety could enable sufferers to be in control of their IBS.
Research by The University of Gothenberg (2012) in Sweden showed that hypnotherapy alleviated the symptoms of IBS in 40% of the people tested and that the results were long term. Cognitive Hypnotherapy can help control the symptoms through deep relaxation and individual hypnotic suggestions. Clients can also be taught how to use these techniques in their everyday lives.
In 2010, Dr Roland Valori, editor of Frontline Gastroenterology, said ‘Of the relaxation therapies available, hypnotherapy is the most powerful’.
The Real Causes of IBS by Michael Franklin, Positive Health Magazine
Effects of gut-directed hypnotherapy on IBS in different clinical settings Lindfors P; Unge P; Nyhlin H, Bjornsson E, Abrahamsson H; Simren M; University of Gothenburg 2012
Dr Roland Valori http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8572818.stm
Hypnotherapy in the treatment of IBS by Wendy M Gonsalkorale and Peter Whorwell 2005 Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins
Controlled trial of hypnotherapy in the treatment of severe refractory IBS by Whorwell PJ; Prior A; Faragher EB., The Lancet 1984