Medical News Today: Research by Peter Whorwell, Professor of Medicine and Gastroenterology in the University’s Medical School and Director of the South Manchester Functional Bowel Service, has been researching the use of gut-directed hypnosis for over 20 years. Most recently, two hundred and fifty patients who have suffered from IBS for over two years were given twelve one-hour sessions, during which they were given an explanation of how the gut works and what causes their symptoms.
“IBS is ideal for treatment with hypnosis, as there is no structural damage to the body,” explained Professor Whorwell. “During the hypnotherapy, sufferers learn how to influence and gain control of their gut function, and then seem to be able to change the way the brain modulates their gut activity.”
With a success-rate of about 70% Professor Whorwell believes that, although labour-intensive, hypnotherapy could be an extremely effective treatment for the condition; and a less expensive alternative to new, costly drugs coming onto the market.
“We’ve found it to help all the symptoms, whereas some of the drugs available reduce only a few,” he said. “As IBS can be a life-long condition it could clearly be a very valuable option for patients; however it is not suitable for everyone and women tend to respond better than men.”
BBC wrote on their web site :
“Visualising your digestive system as a river may not seem the most obvious way of treating an illness.
But that is exactly how hypnotherapists at a unique centre in Withington Hospital, Manchester, have been helping people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
The condition can leave people in constant discomfort and can cause severe pain.
And it can prevent them from working or socialising normally.
Dr Peter Whorwell, the gastroenterologist who founded the centre, devised the “river” concept.
The aim is to make the river flow smoothly. If there is a blockage or a flood, they are asked to visualise a way the problem can be solved.
Sessions with a therapist, interspersed with home practice using a CD, are aimed at “retraining” a patient’s gut and eradicating their problems.
Since IBS affects everyone differently, the therapy is tailored to each patient.
Similarly to the approach devised by Dr Whorwell, I use a combination of cognitive behaviour therapy (stress /anxiety management techniques) & analysis of any triggers which create the stress or the gut spasms. I combine this with hypnotherapy- visualising relaxing the gut, the bowel and the entire body. This has been extremely successful in managing IBS symptoms and also with other symptoms caused by worry and stress.