More than 1 in 3 Americans will suffer from the digestive disorder known as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) at some point in their lives. For 1 out of 10 Americans, IBS symptoms will be severe enough to require medical intervention. And for anyone afflicted by this condition, the abdominal pain and discomfort can interfere with the ability to enjoy everyday activities.
Fortunately, scientists at the Sahlgrenska Academy of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden have found a highly effective, long-lasting treatment for IBS: hypnotherapy.
The study (conducted by a team from The Sahlgrenska Academy) found hypnotherapy to be successful in significantly reducing the discomfort of IBS for 40% of participants and the changes proved to be long-term. In addition, an earlier report published in the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology showed that hypnotherapy alleviated the symptoms of 208 IBS patients for up to 7 years.
Two unique facets of the Sahlgrenska study are:
1) Participation was limited to individuals with severe IBS: While milder forms can be addressed with lifestyle and dietary changes as well as some over-the-counter medicines, “those with severe symptoms currently lack treatment options,” said lead researcher Magnus Simrén and his colleagues at Sahlgrenska.
2) The approach was designed to be integrated into mainstream medical care: Although previous versions of hypnotherapy treatment for IBS could only be carried out at highly specialized hypnotherapy centers, Simrén and his team have developed “a form of treatment that could be used in ordinary healthcare.”
The hypnotherapy was conducted as a series of 1-hour treatments over a 12-week period. “The treatment involves the patient learning to control their symptoms through deep relaxation and individually adapted hypnotic suggestions,” explained Simrén.
The patient can then use these learned techniques in their everyday life. In a follow-up survey a year later, the patients reported that thanks to hypnotherapy, their IBS was still under control.
“Overall, our studies show that hypnotherapy is an effective method for treatment of IBS,” Simrén said. But that may not be all there is to learn from his study. The symptoms of IBS, according to the treatment for IBS Network, are not limited to digestive upsets. “Symptoms frequently occur in other parts of the body,” for instance:
• Muscle aches
These same symptoms appear in the diagnostic criteria for other medically unexplained illnesses such as chronic fatigue syndrome…fibromyalgia…functional dyspepsia…leaky gut syndrome…and more. Some experts believe there may be a common sensitivity or irritability responsible for all of these diseases. If that’s the case, hypnotherapy should be able to help individuals with these other conditions, as well.