Research in the last 15-20 years has shown hypnosis to be effective in treating IBS symptoms.
Through the process of hypnosis, the clinical hypnotherapist helps the client to relax and narrow his focus, tuning out distracting thoughts. With guided imagery and hypnotherapy techniques in the relaxed state, the client is able to receive these suggestions in the subconscious mind.
The gut seems to slow down with hypnosis, even without suggestions. Hypnosis without suggestion slows the muscle movements in the intestinal system. In one study, the transit time from the mouth to the first part of the colon was slowed down from 93 minutes to 133 minutes. Research has also shown that gastric acid can be increased or decreased with hypnosis.
In one study of duodenal ulcers, 53% of patients who had preventive hypnosis–before treatment with medications- had a relapse within one year, whereas 100% of patients who did not have hypnosis had a relapse.
Several studies have shown that hypnosis has shown improvement in 80% of patients with classic IBS symptoms. Although there don’t seem to be any scientifically measurable physiological changes in pain sensitivity in the gut or gut motility after treatment, the patients had symptom relief and were psychologically improved.
This is an example of how we ‘think’ about something can not only change our beliefs, but our bodies’ reactions. This seems magical, but the ‘how’ this happens is currently being studied by Bruce Lipton, a cellular biologist and others. Dr. Lipton takes you through the process of a cell’s response to the environment and how changing your thoughts can change your beliefs and your physical body in his book: The Biology of Belief.
The benefits of hypnotherapy for IBS are still becoming known. The University of North Carolina Medical School is making an effort to spread the word to physicians and other licensed professionals. There are now professionals in all states who are offering this help to IBS sufferers.