Swedish researchers claim they’ve found an alternative treatment to ease the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) that doesn’t involve popping pills or making diet changes - hypnosis.
Scientists from the The Sahlgrenska Academy of the University of Gothenburg, Sweden found that hypnotherapy alleviates the discomfort of IBS by 40% and discovered the changes proved to be long-term.
This isn’t the first time the effects that hypnotherapy has on easing IBS symptoms. A previous study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology found that hypnotherapy helped 208 patients alleviate IBS discomforts for up to seven years.
So how does it work?
The study demonstrated that hypnotherapy provides lasting relief by testing 138 participants at highly specialised ‘hypnotherapy centres’ to see if the therapy made any difference to their severe IBS symptoms.
“The treatment involves the patient learning to control their symptoms through deep relaxation and individually adapted hypnotic suggestions,” study author Magnus Simrén explained in a statement: “The idea is for the patient to then use this technique in their everyday life.”
After a series of one-hour treatments over a 12-week period, 40% of patients noted a significant reduction in symptoms. They also revealed that their IBS symptoms had remained under control for a whole year following the hypnotherapy.
"Overall, our studies show that hypnotherapy is an effective method of treating IBS, even when provided outside of specialist 'hypnotherapy centres',” explained Simrén.
“The conclusion is that hypnotherapy could reduce both the consumption of healthcare and the cost to society, and that hypnosis therefore belongs in the arsenal of treatments for IBS.”
Irritable bowel syndrome is the name doctors have given to a collection of otherwise unexplained symptoms relating to a disturbance of the colon or large intestine.
IBS affects around a third of the population at some point in their lives and about one in 10 people suffer symptoms severe enough to seek help from their GP.
According to the IBS Network, the following are common symptoms of IBS:
- Abdominal pain and spasms, often relieved by going to the toilet
- Diarrhoea, Constipation or an erratic bowel habit
- Bloating or swelling of the abdomen
- Rumbling noises and excessive passage of wind
- Urgency (An urgent need to visit the toilet) or incontinence (if a toilet is not nearby)
- Sharp pain felt low down inside the rectum
- Sensation of incomplete bowel movement
Symptoms frequently occur in other parts of the body. These may include headaches, dizziness, backache, passing urine frequently, tiredness, muscle and joint pains, ringing in the ears, indigestion, belching, nausea, shortness of breath, anxiety and depression.
A similar range of symptoms are reported by patients with other medically unexplained illnesses, such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia and Functional Dyspepsia, suggesting they all might all be expressions of an alteration in sensitivity or irritability affecting the mind and the body.