Irritable bowel syndrome is a fairly common disorder of the digestive system and can involve diarrhoea, cramps, constipation and bloating, though symptoms may vary from person to person. It can be unpredictable and painful, causing a negative impact on sufferers’ lives.
Although the cause is unknown, many researchers believe that IBS is a result of the brain and gut axis. What does this mean? Essentially, that the mind and body are connected and that a person’s state of mind can have an effect on their digestive function. There being a relationship between our mental/emotional condition and that of our bodies is something that scientists as well as practitioners of Eastern medicine have known for a very long time.
The state of our mind can have positive or negative affects on the way the body functions. For example, it is fairly well known that prolonged stress raises the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, which has a detrimental effect on our immune system and functioning. Have you ever come across someone who has developed stomach ulcers as a result of stress? I certainly have. If you want to know more about the influence of psychological processes on the nervous and immune systems in our bodies and the relationship between our behaviour and our health, then look up ‘psychoneuroimmunology’ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychoneuroimmunology)
Western medicine, unfortunately, often treats symptoms of diseases rather than their root causes or treating the person holistically. We are not a walking bunch of various, unrelated symptoms.
As there is no known medical cure for IBS, sufferers are often advised to change their lifestyle and dietary habits and may also receive medication to relieve the symptoms.
Stress is considered a factor that can contribute both towards developing IBS and then towards exacerbating the condition. Worrying over the situations (or potential situations) caused by the condition, like being able to find the nearest toilet, may make things worse.
How can hypnotherapy help?
For many IBS sufferers hypnotherapy, which is a proven treatment for stress, can offer much needed relief. Many IBS sufferers experience negative feelings such as anxiety, tension and even depression, which can all be linked to stress. University of Manchester have conducted a lot of research on treatment of IBS with hypnostherapy. In their own clinic they have been successfully treating IBS for decades and the treatment usually takes 6 sessions. In fact NICE guidelines recommend hypnotherapy as the second choice of treatment for IBS if medication does not work after one year post diagnosis. However many GPs do not seem to be aware of this as it is currently not available on the NHS.
Different analytical hypnotherapy techniques can be employed, such as finding out the root cause of any emotions (trauma, fear etc.) which may be contributing to the IBS and using visualisation techniques that can aid the emotional healing process. Hypnotherapy can therefore help sufferers to deal better with their condition as it offers the opportunity to explore new techniques of coping, including stress management and relaxation.
If you suffer from IBS and would like to try hypnotherapy, why not get in touch? I am trained in analytical hypnotherapy and live in Dunfermline, Fife, only 30 minutes away from Edinburgh. I have parking outside my home if you’re travelling by car or, alternatively, I’m based only around a 10 minute walk from Dunfermline Town railway station.