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IBS sufferers benefit from hypnotherapy

15 May, 2012

Natural Health News — Hypnosis can be a highly effective treatment for the bowel disorder IBS, according to Swedish researchers.

Two studies involving a total of 346 patients showed that hypnotherapy alleviated symptoms in 40% of those affected − and that the improvement is long-term.

Around 15% of people in the developed world are thought to suffer from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). Symptoms include abdominal pain and alteration of bowel habits, as well as abdominal distension and bloating.

Those with milder symptoms can be helped through lifestyle advice and some medical treatments, but those with severe symptoms currently lack an effective treatment option.

But say researchers at The Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden,  their findings demonstrate that hypnotherapy provides lasting relief, even for severe symptoms.

Can be used in ordinary healthcare

The treatment of IBS using hypnotherapy has been studied before, but only at highly specialised “hypnotherapy centres.” Researcher Magnus Simrén and his colleagues at The Sahlgrenska Academy have conducted two studies to evaluate a form of treatment that could be used in ordinary healthcare.

In the first study,  published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, 138 patients with IBS received hypnotherapy treatment for one hour a week over 12 weeks. The study showed that 40% demonstrated a satisfactory reduction in symptoms, compared with 1% in the untreated control group.

“The treatment involves the patient learning to control their symptoms through deep relaxation and individually adapted hypnotic suggestions. The idea is for the patient to then use this technique in their everyday life,” says Simrén.

Long-lasting effect 

The positive effect was sustained for the entire year for which the study ran and led to an improvement in the quality of life experienced by the treatment group.

In the other study, which was published Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology, 208 patients who had previously received hypnotherapy were examined. The results showed that 85% of those who had been helped by hypnosis still felt the benefits of the treatment up to seven years later – and that the majority still actively use the technique in their everyday lives.

“In this group, use of the healthcare system as a result of stomach and bowel symptoms had also reduced by 70%,” says Simrén.  “Overall, our studies show that hypnotherapy is an effective method of treating IBS, even when provided outside of specialist ‘hypnotherapy centres’.

Using hypnosis, say the researchers, could reduce both the consumption of healthcare and the cost to society, and that hypnosis therefore belongs in the arsenal of treatments for IBS.