Hypnotherapy and IBS

Hypnotherapy & Psychotherapy & IBS

All physical diseases including cancer, heart disease and even skin complaints have been helped with Hypnotherapy and Psychotherapy. The power of suggestion and mental imagery is a tool all too often overlooked but which can be of immense help to diarrhoea sufferers. Remember also that diarrhoea is a stress related condition and Hypnotherapy and Psychotherapy are both excellent aids to help control emotional stress.

A controlled study in Europe involving 266 patients found that psychotherapy can improve the therapeutic possibilities of drugs, diet and surgery. Psychotherapy combined with relaxation and removal of stress were considered along with the personality of the patient before the outbreak of chronic diseases related to diarrhoea such as crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome. It was suggested that unknown emotional conflicts such as depression, mental lability and anorexia may influence the course of these diseases (1).

(1) Psychotherapy of Crohn disease Zur Psychotherapie des M. Crohn. Feiereis H Langenbecks Arch Chir 1984, 364 p407-11

Patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome and other gastrointestinal disorders are all too often treated with steroids or anti-inflammatories to alleviate the symptoms. It is well known that diet and nutrition play an important part in the treatment of gastro-intestinal disorders but it is not commonly appreciated that hypnotherapy and psychotherapies offer extremely effective therapeutic options that should not be overlooked when considering the appropriate remedial treatment.

In a recent review of available controlled studies in the field of gastroenterology conducted at the University Hospital of South Manchester, West Didsbury UK, scientists discovered that t hypnotherapy is unequivocally beneficial for patients suffering from gastrointestinal disorders including irritable bowel syndrome and peptic ulceration (1).

German researchers also recently demonstrated that emotional stress plays a significant role in irritable bowel syndrome(2). The researchers compared drug therapy with psychotherapy and acupuncture on patients who were diagnosed with and shown to be suffering from irritable bowel syndrome.

Their results of the study revealed that psychotherapies helped to successfully alleviate the symptoms in 74 per cent of the patients – a far higher number than was noted in any of the other therapies. However, acupuncture was also found to be effective, albeit to a lesser degree, achieving long term success in 31% per cent of the patients treated which was markedly better than placebo acupuncture treatment which only produced success in 17.2 per cent of the patients. Drug therapy (papaverine) resulted in a long-lasting status free of symptoms in 17.2% of the patients but this was significantly better than the results of the papaverine-placebo-therapy which produced no improvement at all. The researchers concluded that the psychotherapies played by far the most significant role in treating the disorder than had previously been suspected.

Scientists at the Gastroenterology Unit, Frenchay Hospital, Bristol came up with similar results(3). 33 patients with refractory irritable bowel syndrome were treated with four 40-minute sessions of hypnotherapy over a period of 7 weeks. Twenty of the group (60%) improved, of whom eleven were shown to be completely free of all symptoms. Short-term improvement was maintained for 3 months without the need of further formal treatments and the researchers concluded that hypnotherapy in groups of up to 8 patients was as effective as individual therapy in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome..

Finally a research study reported in the Lancet also confirmed the importance of hypnotherapy and psychotherapies in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. In this study, thirty patients with severe refractory irritable-bowel syndrome were randomly allocated to treatment with either hypnotherapy or psychotherapy and placebo.

The psychotherapy patients showed a small but significant improvement in abdominal pain, abdominal distension, and general well-being but not in bowel habit. However, the patients who received hypnotherapy treatment showed a dramatic improvement in all features, and the difference between the two treatments was found to be highly significant. Patients in the hypnotherapy group showed no relapses during the 3-month follow-up period, and no substitution symptoms were observed either.

These reports provide strong evidence to support a more integrated approach in the treatment of gastro-intestinal disorders in which hypnotherapy and psychotherapy should be considered in the initial stages of the disorder as valuable aids and alternatives to conventional treatment.

(1) Whorwell PJ.Use of hypnotherapy in gastrointestinal disease. Br J Hosp Med (ENGLAND) Jan 1991, 45 (1) p27-9
(2) Kunze M; Seidel HJ; Stube G [Comparative studies of the effectiveness of brief psychotherapy, acupuncture and papaverin therapy in patients with irritable bowel syndrome] Vergleichende Untersuchungen zur Effektivitat der kleinen Psychotherapie, der Akupunktur und der Papaverintherapie bei Patienten mit Colon irritabile. Klinik fur Innere Medizin, Bereich Neuropsychiatrie, Bezirkskrankenhauses Suhl.Z Gesamte Inn Med (GERMANY) Oct 15 1990, 45 (20) p625-7
(3) Harvey RF; Hinton RA; Gunary RM; Barry RE Individual and group hypnotherapy in treatment of refractory irritable bowel syndrome. Lancet (ENGLAND) Feb 25 1989, 1 (8635) p424-5
(4) Controlled trial of hypnotherapy in the treatment of severe refractory irritable-bowel syndrome.Whorwell PJ; Prior A; Faragher EB. Lancet (ENGLAND) Dec 1 1984, 2 (8414) p1232-4

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