How does hypnotherapy treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
Gut Oriented hypnotherapy - the Manchester Model
Hypnotherapy using Gut Oriented Metaphor is a well-established protocol for reducing the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, also known as IBS.
It's recognised by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) as one of the treatments to help with IBS symptoms (see HERE, para 18.104.22.168). This probably arose from the work of Dr Peter Whorwell, Director of the NHS South Manchester Functional Bowel Service, at the University Hospital of South Manchester, UK. His approach is called the 'Manchester Model' or 'Gut Oriented Metaphor'.
A cure for IBS?
Sadly nothing provides a cure for IBS but considering what we know about the links between stress levels and IBS flare-ups it seems reasonable to assume that relaxation and other stress reduction techniques could bring about a sense of wellbeing and have an impact on the severity of IBS symptoms in some people.
In fact, according to the Manchester study, hypnotherapy led to a reduction in IBS symptoms, improved bowel habit, and reduced pain levels in 70-80% of sufferers. Unfortunately, it's not possible to predict who will be in this group, which is why Dr Whorwell suggested that other approaches such as medication were tried first. His study worked with people whose IBS had been diagnosed for at least 12 months, and where medication didn't seem to help (called 'refractory IBS').
He also found that hypnotherapy had advantages over taking drugs because the effects tended to last, whereas any benefits from taking drugs ceased soon after the drugs themselves were stopped.
The Manchester study involved using guided imagery and metaphor in a way that relaxes you and reduces your symptoms, putting you back in control. This type of hypnotherapy concentrates on the here and now, rather than dissecting your past, and on the physical symptoms you experience, rather than your psychology.
If you are interested in the original research, all Dr Whorwell's papers are published as pdfs on www.ibscare.org.
Hypnotherapy for IBS symptom relief
Hypnotherapy does not allow someone else to 'take control of you', nor are you asked to do anything you might find silly or embarrassing. After talking to your therapist to establish the right techniques for you, you will be asked to recline and relax with your eyes closed, whilst the therapist talks you through some visualisations and other techniques.
If you want to know more about hypnotherapy and how it works I suggest you visit my hypnotherapy site where you will find lots of information and faqs.
Is hypnotherapy right for me? If you have questions not answered by this website, feel free to contact me.
Or you are welcome to make an appointment for an 'information session'. These last about half an hour and there is no charge. No therapy takes place, and you can bring someone with you if you wish; they are simply a chance for us to meet and chat about your situation.
Before using hypnotherapy with me you will need a formal diagnosis of IBS by your doctor.
Hypnosis may not be suitable for you if you have any serious physical or psychological conditions such as epilepsy or psychosis. Please ask for advice if you think this might apply.