Hypnosis for IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)

C bullet 10 ochre swirls aa-img022_crHypnotherapy for IBS in Bristol

IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) is an major success story in medical hypnotherapy. NHS research proves hypnosis offers an excellent likelihood of giving you welcome and permanent relief from this most unpleasant condition. (Not sure if you have IBS? – See here for a list of typical symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, and red flag warning symptoms. But, do not self-diagnose.)

In severe cases IBS can have a crippling effect on someone’s life, and leave them at their wit’s end to know how to cope. When diarrhoea is the main symptom, the sufferer’s life can in the worse cases be wrecked by fear of an uncontrollable explosive urge to use the toilet. Sometimes people are unable to leave the house or ever be far from a toilet.

Yet clinically, “nothing is wrong.” And for quite a number of patients, there is not much that doctors have to offer.

Happily, if you suffer from IBS there is good news. The pioneering research of NHS consultant Dr Peter Whorwell in the UK (and also Olaf Palsson in the USA) has now shown that hypnotherapy can have an impressive success rate.  It can work in cases where all other forms of therapy have failed.

There are various websites offering IBS hypnotherapy in Bristol. Research in all therapies shows that the relationship with the therapist is important. So you are welcome to come in for a no-charge initial consultation to meet me and ask any questions you have.

Whorwell’s NHS research shows that the improvement continues long-term. Click here for reports from the BBC website including interviews with Dr Whorwell and his team on how they use hypnosis to treat irritable bowel syndrome.  Whorwell’s research indicates that up to 12 sessions may be needed, but it can be much less.

It is important to note that this is a self-help method: you have to do self-hypnosis exercises at home. They are easy and enjoyable to do, but you do have to do them. As Whorwell emphasises, the people the method works less well for include those who are passive and want things done for them.

Hypnosis is not a cure-all …

Also, hypnosis is not a cure-all. To quote Professor Whorwell once again, “A lot of hypnotists … say they can cure anything. I don’t.” I agree. In IBS as in all other issues, I aim to advertise honestly and to offer “hope without hype.”

… and, there is good research

Yet the research is significant:

  • 71% success with 250 patients   – Gonsalkorale et al, 2002, 2003
  • 89% success with 27 patients   – Vidakovic-Vukic, 1999
  • 95% success with 50 patients  with classic IBS – Whorwell et al, 1987
  • 93% success with 18 patients   – Palsson et al, 2002 (study I)
  • 61% success with 33 patients   – Harvey at al 1989
  • Superior to standard medical care on Bowel Symptoms, Disability, Health care Utilisation, and Quality of Life with 25 patients – Houghton et al, 1996
  • 100% success with 15 patients     – Whorwell et al, 1984
  • 76% success with 25 patients   – Forbes et al, 2000
  • 87% success with 24 patients   Palsson et al, 2002 (study II)

How does hypnosis for IBS work?

The greatest fear of an IBS sufferer is that their body is out of control. GPs are well-intentioned when they tell people that “nothing is wrong.” Unfortunately, this sometimes accentuates the out-of control feeling. It means there isn’t even an explanation for why the symptoms are happening.

The medically-researched hypnosis procedures for irritable bowel syndrome puts your mind in charge of your body. No longer are you helpless. You can take charge of your symptoms.

In India, yogis can control body temperature and heart rate by the power of their mind. In a very real way, the Whorwell approach for IBS is a scientific version of these yogic powers adapted to be easy for you to use.

For some news reports on the success of hypnotherapy for  IBS, see here.

What causes IBS?

There are many possible causes for IBS. Almost certainly it is not a single condition, but several conditions with similar symptoms. What Whorwell’s research indicates is that the guts are hypersensitive. When you eat, it is normal for the bowels to become more active. But in IBS, the guts tend to become hyperactive. For sure some specific foods may trigger IBS, and each sufferer has their own avoidance list. But it is often the very act of eating which triggers the symptoms.  Some sufferers mistakenly place too many foods on the list as a result. It may be better to experiment with smaller, more frequent meals.

At the end of the guts, the colon removes water from the digested food. This leaves it a suitable consistency for excretion. As a result of the hypersensitivity, the colon doesn’t contact smoothly and rhythmically. Instead it contracts almost randomly, and painfully tightly. Some parts of the colon may remain in contraction for long periods.  Then the fecal material is so dried out that it is hard to evacuate, causing constipation. Or gas is trapped, causing bloating. At other times the colon is almost inactive. Then the digested food remains loose and liquid until it is evacuated as diahorrea. The hypnosis targets and heals exactly this hypersensitive and chaotic operation of the colon.

You can talk to your bowels

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to to just talk to the bowels. “Bowels! Bowels, calm down now! – relax, take it easy, everything is OK.” Quite amazingly, you can do exactly this. It is provenly effective is to communicate with the bowels, not through words, but via imagery. If you visualise the bowels being calm, then, rather wonderfully, they will become calm.

Really it’s not so strange. After all, if you go to the cinema and see a scary film, you’ll feel scared. Your muscles will tense, you won’t be able to relax, your heartbeat will speed up. Those are real, physical body changes. And from what? – nothing but visualising images. So it makes sense that the opposite applies: picturing calms things makes you calm, picturing the gut being peaceful makes it so.

Professor Whorwell’s outstanding research shows that this treatment methods has excellent potential. If you are looking for IBS hypnotherapy in Bristol, give me a ring: 0845-3510604 / 0117-955-0490. I’m happy to answer questions or arrange, in Bristol only, a free, no-obligation half-hour initial meeting. My approach is friendly, respectful, and very effective.

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  • Don’t self-diagnose! – the symptoms of IBS - Have you got IBS? This page explains the symptoms which may lead a doctor to a diagnosis of IBS. If you have any upset in your bowel function, it is ESSENTIAL that you visit your GP.

Don’t self-diagnose! – the symptoms of IBS

C bullets 12 washed out red swirls aa-img023_crMight you have IBS?

This page explains the symptoms which may lead a doctor to a diagnosis of IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome).

If you have any upset in your bowel function, it is essential that you visit your GP. A diagnosis of IBS is made by eliminating other conditions, some of which are serious ones. No hypnotherapist will help a patient without a clear and definite diagnosis of IBS from your GP. Do not self diagnose.

That said, here are the so-called “Rome criteria” for a possible diagnosis of IBS.

You may have IBS if for any 12 weeks (not necessarily consecutive) in the previous 12 months, you had abdominal discomfort or pain that had two out of three of these features:

  • Relieved with defecation; and/or
  • Onset associated with a change in frequency of stool; and/or
  • Onset associated with a change in form (appearance) of stool.

Additional symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome:

  • A) Fewer than three bowel movements a week
  • B) More than three bowel movements a day
  • C) Hard or lumpy stools
  • D) Loose (mushy) or watery stools
  • E) Straining during a bowel movement
  • F) Urgency (having to rush to have a bowel movement)
  • G) Feeling of incomplete bowel movement
  • H) Passing mucus (white material) during a bowel movement
  • I) Abdominal fullness, bloating, or swelling

Red flag symptoms which are not typical of IBS:

  • Pain that awakens/interferes with sleep
  • Diarrhea that awakens/interferes with sleep
  • Blood in the stool (visible or occult)
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Abnormal physical examination

Irritable bowel symptom can cripple a person’s life. Professor Whorwell’s outstanding research shows that with IBS, hypnosis has the potential to achieve effective symptom reduction. If you would like to explore taking control of your bowel action, give me a ring: 0845-3510604 / 0117-955-0490. I’m happy to answer questions or arrange, in Bristol, a free, no-obligation half-hour initial meeting. My approach is friendly, respectful, and very effective.