IBS is estimated to affect 10-20% of the population, and is estimated to account for 20% of the visits to General Practitioners. These estimates, however, could be lower than reality as it is anticipated that many people do not present themselves to their GP for support with their IBS and instead choose to manage it themselves.
IBS is a chronic functional disorder of the gastrointestinal system, and is often a diagnosis of exclusion. This process in itself can be arduous for someone suffering with the symptoms, which include: abdominal pain; bloating; and, changes in bowel movement patterns.
IBS can have a significant impact on the quality of life of the sufferer, often due to the fear of an unexpected bowel movement.
Hypnotherapy for IBS
It may seem odd that hypnotherapy can help IBS as it is a physical condition. There are debates as to how it can help, but there is good evidence, including systematic-reviews, to demonstrate that it can benefit people with IBS. My theory is that through hypnotherapy we can gain better control over the micro-muscle movements within the body, therefore regaining some control over the bowels. It is possible to demonstrate how micro-muscles react to suggestions, and this would make sense to me.
The National Institute of Health & Care Excellence (NICE) have suggested the use of psychological interventions (CBT, hypnotherapy, and psychological therapies) for people who have tried pharmacological treatments for 12 months to no avail.
How to Better Manage Your IBS
The following are the NICE guidelines for management of IBS:
NICE recommend engaging a specialist for support with changing eating and exercise behaviours, if required.
What doesn't work?
NICE have recommended that people who suffer from IBS avoid aloe vera products as they are not effective in treating IBS. Furthermore, there is no evidence to demonstrate that acupuncture or reflexology benefit IBS, although you may derive some other benefits from reflexology or massage if you are stressed or tense.
What is the Treatment for IBS then?
As mentioned above, hypnotherapy can be effective for reducing the symptoms of someone with IBS.
The method I use has been shown to be effective in 80% of people who have engaged in the process. It utilises a 7 session hypnotherapy programme, based upon the Manchester Protocol. The Manchester Protocol was devised by Professor Whorwell at the University of Manchester and is a 12 session treatment plan. The current treatment plan that I use is equally as effective, and is only 7 sessions, spread over a period of approximately 12 weeks. Each week consists of hypnotherapy to control the bowel and ease the symptoms, plus at the second session you will be given a CD to take home and listen to each night for the duration of the programme.
This programme is only available from registered practitioners, such as qualified psychologists and other medical professionals who are also skilled in hypnotherapy.
If you would like to make an appointment, or know someone who suffers with IBS and whom you feel may benefit, please share this post with them.
I look forward to hearing from you, and helping you to improve your quality of life.
Dr Tim Mahy
I'm a doctor of psychology, born in Guernsey, educated at a tertiary level in Bristol, Bath, and London. Having worked and trained with some of the leading Health Psychologists in the UK, and having a passion about how Health Psychology can truly benefit many people, I now want to spread the word, as well as offer consultations to people wanting to make changes in their lives.