Our gut and mind are interconnected. One burning question that IBS sufferers often have is ‘does hypnotherapy help IBS symptoms?’
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Judith Ward, Clinical hypnotherapist, explains the connection between our brain and gut, allowing hypnosis to be used as a therapy for IBS.
If you have IBS, you are not alone. Around 2 in every 10 people in the UK have IBS and this can have a huge impact on people’s daily lives. Women are especially affected with twice as many women having IBS than men.
Symptoms range from bloating, cramping, diarrhoea, constipation and needing to rush quickly to go to the toilet. People with IBS can also experience anxiety or depression.
So how does it affect us?
It’s been in the news that gut health is so important. We know our gut is responsible for digesting and absorbing our foodstuffs and getting rid of our waste. You may have heard the term “gut brain” and this is because the gut has nerves which form part of the Enteric Nervous system or (ENS).
Ok, so how does this work in reality?
Let’s say in work this week you have an important presentation coming up. You need to do a lot of research before you can do this presentation and then on top of this you must present your findings to an audience! This is something you dread, and you feel under pressure to meet the deadline.
In cases like these our brain needs as much brain juice as it can get to get the work done and it achieves this by redirecting blood (that would have otherwise gone to the gut) to the brain.
Messages travel through the sympathetic nervous system (responsible for the fight, flight, and freeze response) taking away vital oxygen and nutrients from the gut. If the stress continues, this can make IBS a lot worse and cause damage to the health of the gut wall.
So, let’s find out a bit more about the mind body connection and ways that hypnotherapy can help
you. I’m going to explain four ways that hypnotherapy can help you with IBS.
1.The good news: Hypnotherapy works!
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends hypnotherapy as treatment for IBS with a 75% – 90% long-term success rate (1).
One of the first people to exploit and study the effectiveness of hypnotherapy as a treatment for IBS was Dr Peter Whorwell who did a comprehensive study which was carried out at Manchester University. In this study, patients were given weekly hypnotherapy sessions and 3 in 4 of the IBS patients had improved symptoms that lasted 5 or more years (2).
Hypnotherapy can help change bad habits and negative thought patterns
Solution focused hypnotherapy can help clients find solutions to help with sleep, exercise, smoking, alcohol or eating foods that make symptoms worse. It can also help with negative thought patterns that create stress in the mind and gut.
Hypnotherapy helps blood flow back into the gut
In hypnotherapy we get the client feeling calm and relaxed and to do we use something called trance. This has a positive effect on our body as well as our mind. This is something we normally do when we feel we have gone into a daydream.
The science behind this is when we practice hypnosis, we activate the parasympathetic nervous system which we will call the rest and restore part of our nervous system. This enables the blood supply to return to our digestive system which is essential to ease IBS systems.
Hypnotherapy helps you relax and reduces the stress response in our bodies.
When we are stressed we produce stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. These keep us on alert and over a period can really impact our bodies. This affects how our digestive system works and make IBS worse.
If you are experiencing IBS then having a team approach with professionals can really help. If you are unsure that you have IBS – please see your doctor first. To tackle IBS, a qualified dietician can help get your diet on track. If you feel your IBS is worse when you are stressed, then seek help from a qualified Solution focused hypnotherapist. If you would like some help with stress, anxiety, depression, or IBS please see my contact details below.
Judith Ward is an award-winning Solution Focused Clinical Hypnotherapist and works from her practice in Bangor, Northern Ireland and via Skype worldwide. She is a member of the Association for Solution Focused Hypnotherapists (AfSFH) and a member of the Complimentary National Healthcare Council (CNHC).
She can be contacted at www.judithwardhypnotherapy.co.uk . Sign up for her mailing list here and receive a free sleep guide along with tips on how to be a happier version of you.
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Kirsten Jackson is a UK registered Consultant Gastroenterology Dietitian and founder of The Food Treatment Clinic. She has undergone many qualifications to get where she is today, including a UK BSc Honours Degree in Dietetics and Post-Graduate Certificate in Advanced Dietetics. In addition to this, she has FODMAP Training from Kings College London University. Kirsten set up The Food Treatment Clinic in 2015 after first experiencing digestive problems herself. She felt that the NHS was unable to provide the support individuals needed and went on to specialise in this area before opening a bespoke IBS service. Kirsten also participates in charity work as an Expert Advisor for the IBS Network. In addition, she can be seen in publications such as Cosmopolitan and The Telegraph discussing IBS as an Official Media Spokesperson to the IBS Network.