A new study suggests that hypnosis can help people with their irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Since the 1980s, some people resort to hypnosis as a means of relief where standard treatment for IBS has failed.
Dr. Magnus Simren of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden and his team randomly assigned 138 IBS patients to a “control” group while the others were subjected to several hypnosis sessions.
In gut-directed hypnosis, the goal is to give the patient a feeling that he has control over his digestive problems. For instance, a patient may be given suggestive images such as a river flowing smoothly to help normalize bowel function.
In the first study, the researchers revealed that around 38 percent of the hypnosis patients experienced a drop in their symptom scores. As for the control group patients, only 11 percent saw a drop in their symptom scores.
For the second study, the researchers said that a quarter of the hypnosis patients responded well to the sessions while only 13 percent from the control group did well with the advice and relaxation techniques.
But the hypnosis group saw a significant variance in terms of pain and bloating compared to those from the control group.
People with IBS will usually experience abdominal cramps, constipation, diarrhea and bloating. Standard treatment would include anti-diarrheal medication or laxatives and fiber supplements in case of constipation.
Dr. Simren admits that IBS-directed hypnotherapy is somehow inaccessible to many because this technique is usually reserved only for IBS patients who do not respond well to standard medication.