Gut-directed hypnotherapy for functional abdominal pain or irritable bowel syndrome in children: a systematic review

Here are details of an interesting  study comparing Hypnotherapy with standard medical treatment, conducted in the Netherlands*

Objectives Gut directed hypnotherapy (HT) is shown to be effective in adult functional abdominal pain (FAP) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) patients. We performed a systematic review to assess efficacy of HT in paediatric FAP/IBS patients.

Methods We searched Medline, Embase, PsychINFO, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature databases and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials for randomised controlled trials (RCT) in children with FAP or IBS, investigating efficacy of HT on the following outcomes: abdominal pain scores, quality of life, costs and school absenteeism.

Results Three RCT comparing HT to a control treatment were included with sample sizes ranging from 22 to 52 children. We refrained from statistical pooling because of low number of studies and many differences in design and outcomes. Two studies examined HT performed by a therapist, one examined HT through self-exercises on audio CD. All trials showed statistically significantly greater improvement in abdominal pain scores among children receiving HT. One trial reported beneficial effects sustained after 1 year of follow-up. One trial reported statistically significant improvement in quality of life in the HT group. Two trials reported significant reductions in school absenteeism after HT.

Conclusions Therapeutic effects of HT seem superior to standard medical care in children with FAP or IBS. It remains difficult to quantify exact benefits. The need for more high quality research is evident.

*Gut-directed hypnotherapy for functional abdominal pain or irritable bowel syndrome in children: a systematic review 
  1. Juliette M T M Rutten1,
  2. Johannes B Reitsma2,
  3. Arine M Vlieger3,
  4. Marc A Benninga1


Posted by admin in IBS, Medical, 0 comments

SKYPE HYPNOTHERAPY FOR IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME: Effectiveness and Comparison with Face-to-Face Treatment.

Gut-focused hypnotherapy is an effective treatment for irritable bowel syndrome but is not widely available. This STUDY assessed whether providing hypnotherapy by Skype might partially overcome this problem. Using a 50-point or more reduction in the IBS Symptom Severity Score as the primary outcome measure, 65% of subjects responded to Skype hypnotherapy with all other outcomes significantly improving. The primary outcome figure for face-to-face hypnotherapy was 76%. When other outcome scores for Skype and face-to-face treatment were compared, the mean changes were these: symptom severity (-94.1 vs. -129.2), noncolonic score (-52.3 vs. -64.8), quality of life (+56.4 vs. +66.2), anxiety (-3.3 vs. -3.0), depression (-1.7 vs. -2.5), and a 30% or more pain reduction (44% vs. 62%). Skype hypnotherapy is effective but slightly less so than face-to-face treatment. However, many patients would have been unable to access treatment without the Skype option.



Posted by admin in IBS, Medical, 0 comments

Study shows association between gut microbes and brain structure in people with IBS

Scienmag is reporting that a new study by researchers at UCLA has revealed two key findings for people with irritable bowel syndrome about the relationship between the microorganisms that live in the gut and the brain.

For people with IBS research shows for the first time that there is an association between the gut microbiota and the brain regions involved in the processing of sensory information from their bodies. The results suggest that signals generated by the brain can influence the composition of microbes residing in the intestine and that the chemicals in the gut can shape the human brain’s structure.

You can read the complete article HERE

Posted by admin in IBS, 0 comments

The Effects of Hypnosis on Gastrointestinal Functioning

Here is an extract from an article published by Olafur S. Palsson, Psy.D. Associate Professor of Medicine, School of Medicine, UNC-Chapel Hill, explaining why hypnosis is so effective in the treatment of even long standing gut pain problems.

[1]. . . In recent years, the effects of gastrointestinal functioning and GI symptoms have been studied extensively.

The hypnotic state itself, without any particular suggestions, seems to slow down the gut. Clear-cut and specific changes in GI functioning can be induced in individuals by directing thinking or inducing specific emotional states under hypnosis. For example, one study found that when healthy volunteers were hypnotized and simply instructed to relax, the orocaecal transit time (the time it takes material to pass through the GI tract from the mouth to the first part of the colon) was lengthened from 93 to 133 minutes.

Another study found that being in a hypnotic state decreases muscle movements in the stomach. The same study demonstrated that the emotional state of happiness, created under hypnosis, suppresses gastric muscle activity while anger and excitement increase muscle movement in the stomach. A pair of other studies have shown that when volunteers were guided to use imagery of eating a delicious meal while they were under hypnosis, gastric acid secretion was increased by 89%, and that acid production of the stomach could also be deliberately decreased during hypnosis using hypnotic instructions. Close to fifty published studies have reported on the therapeutic effects of hypnosis on nausea and vomiting problems related to chemotherapy, after surgery, and during pregnancy. Overall, this substantial body of literature indicates that hypnosis can be a powerful aid in controlling nausea and vomiting.

Hypnosis may also be helpful in preventing gastrointestinal problems from recurring after they have been treated with medication. One study of thirty patients with relapsing duodenal ulcers who had been successfully treated with a course of medication, found that only 53% of the patients who received preventive hypnosis treatment had a relapse within one year. By contrast, everyone (100%) in a comparison group receiving no hypnosis relapsed in the same period of time. In 1984, researchers in Manchester in England published a study report in the journal Lancet, showing that hypnosis treatment dramatically improved the symptoms of IBS patients who had failed to benefit from other treatment.

The researchers had randomly divided patients with severe IBS problems into two groups. Fifteen patients were treated with seven hypnosis sessions. Fifteen comparison patients were treated with seven sessions of psychotherapy, and those patients also received placebo pills (pills with no medically active ingredients) which they were told were a new research medication for IBS symptoms. Every patient in the hypnosis group improved, and that group showed substantial improvement in all central symptoms of IBS. The control group showed only very modest improvement in symptoms. Partly due to these dramatic results with treatment-refractory patients, a dozen other studies have followed, including three U.S. studies.

The general conclusions from most of these studies are that hypnosis seems to improve the symptoms of 80% or more of all treated patients who have welldefined “classic” IBS problems, especially if they do not have complicating factors such as psychiatric disorders. The improvement is, in many cases, maintained for at least a year after the end of treatment. What is particularly remarkable is that this high rate of positive treatment response is seen even in studies where all the participating patients had failed to improve from regular medical care.

You can read the entire article here.


[1] Effects of Hypnosis on GI Problems, Olafur S. Palsson, Psy.D. Associate Professor of Medicine, School of Medicine, UNC-Chapel Hill

Posted by admin in Health, IBS, 0 comments

Hypnosis and IBS

Hypnosis can be a highly effective treatment for the bowel disorder IBS. Studies involving a total of 346 patients conducted by researchers at The Sahlgrenska Academy of the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, showed that hypnotherapy alleviated symptoms in 40 per cent of those affected — and that the improvement is long-term.

Around 15 per cent of the Swedish population is thought to suffer from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), symptoms of which include abdominal pain and alteration of bowel habits, as well as abdominal distension and bloating. Those with milder symptoms can be helped through lifestyle advice and some medical treatments, but those with severe symptoms currently lack an effective treatment option.

Researchers at The Sahlgrenska Academy have now been able to demonstrate that hypnotherapy provides lasting relief, even for severe symptoms.

Can be used in ordinary healthcare

The treatment of IBS using hypnotherapy has been studied before, but only at highly specialised “hypnotherapy centres.” Researcher Magnus Simrén and his colleagues at The Sahlgrenska Academy of Gothenburg University have conducted two studies to evaluate a form of treatment that could be used in ordinary healthcare.

40 percent showed reduction in symptoms

In one of the studies, which was published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, 138 patients with IBS received hypnotherapy treatment for one hour a week over 12 weeks. The study showed that 40 per cent demonstrated a satisfactory reduction in symptoms, compared with 12 per cent in the untreated control group.

“The treatment involves the patient learning to control their symptoms through deep relaxation and individually adapted hypnotic suggestions. The idea is for the patient to then use this technique in their everyday life,” says Magnus Simrén.

The positive effect was sustained for the entire year for which the study ran and led to an improvement in the quality of life experienced by the treatment group.

You can read the entire article here on Science Daily.

Posted by admin in IBS, 0 comments

Treating Stomach Pains with Hypnosis

stomach painIn January 2013 Science Nordic published this article describing research into the effectiveness of Hypnotherapy in treating IBS:

It’s the world’s most common gastrointestinal disease, with symptoms ranging from abdominal pain and discomfort to disturbed bowel movements and abdominal bloating.

Yet relatively little is known about irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or how to treat it effectively.

In Sweden, where around one in ten suffer from IBS, research has found that hypnosis might be an effective method to alleviate symptoms.

High patient satisfaction

“We have four different studies showing that hypnotherapy helps treat IBS, even when the treatment is not provided by highly specialized hypnotherapy centers,” says Perjohan Lindfors, PhD student at the University of Gothenburg.

“The treatment improves gastrointestinal symptoms and quality of life, and patient satisfaction is very high.”

The studies form part of Lindfors’ doctoral thesis Implementation of gut-directed hypnotherapy for irritable bowel syndrome in clinical practice, which recommends introducing hypnotherapy into the treatment of severe IBS sufferers.

“The method makes efficient use of health care resources,” says Lindfors, who is also a senior gastroenterologist at Sabbatsberg Hospital.

Using the unconscious mind

The hypnotherapy treatment teaches patients how to control their symptoms, either by diverting their attention away from them or by focusing on them, through a state of deep relaxation where they receive individually customized hypnotic suggestions.

Over a series of sessions patients are taught to direct the unconscious mind’s ability to regulate bodily functions.

The therapy includes practices such as resting a hand on the abdomen and imagining a ‘surge of control’ from the mind, and creating and ‘projecting’ an image of a normally functioning gut.

Proven to be effective

In previous studies hypnotherapy has been shown to improve not only IBS symptoms, but also symptoms outside the intestinal system, as well as quality of life and ‘psychological co-morbidity’ – the knock-on effect from IBS on other psychological conditions.

“Psychological treatment in different contexts, psychodynamic short-term therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy and gut-directed hypnotherapy, have proven to be effective in treating IBS, both in the short- and long-term perspective,” states Lindfors’ thesis.

Treatment limited to specialist centres

But so far, this treatment has been largely limited to specialist hypnotherapy research centres.

“In spite of these impressive results, the treatment modality has not been widely spread as a part of IBS care in clinical practice,” writes Lindfors.

In his research he carried out randomized controlled trials on a group of 90 IBS patients in Gothenburg, as well as another trial on 48 IBS patients in Gävle, and further analysis on both of these trials plus a clinical sample from Ersta Hospital in Stockholm.

The findings show that hypnotherapy is an effective treatment – even when delivered outside research centres specialising in hypnotherapy.

“At least as effective as drugs”

“The effect size is generally lower than those reported from specialized hypnotherapy centres, but at least as effective as some of the drugs currently under development for the treatment of IBS,” Lindfors points out.

On the basis of the findings he recommends the introduction of gut-directed hypnotherapy as a part of clinical care when treating IBS patients, specifically when there are difficulties in using symptom-modifying drugs or changing lifestyle behaviour.

Posted by admin in IBS, 0 comments

Hypnosis for IBS

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, (IBS) is, according to Peter Whorwell, Professor of Medicine and Gastroenterology in the University’s Medical School and Director of the South Manchester Functional Bowel Service, “ideal for treatment with hypnosis, as there is no structural damage to the body.  During the hypnotherapy, sufferers learn how to influence and gain control of their gut function, and then seem to be able to change the way the brain modulates their gut activity.”

Exciting news for those suffering from this painful and sometimes debilitating illness.diag_ibs

Professor Whorwell has developed a program specifically using hypnosis to treat IBS and you can read more about his research here in Medical News Today.

His work has been further developed by the University of South Australia, where a specialized training program has been developed to train hypnotherapists in Professor Whorwell’s techniques.

I completed that program in 2010 and since then have had many successes with a range of clients, many of whom are referred to me by Gastroenterologists at Royal Brisbane Hospital.

Hypnosis for pain management generally and IBS in particular is extremely effective with children, most of whom are good hypnotic subjects.

Here you can find details of research carried out into the use of hypnosis for IBS treatment dating back to the early 1980’s.



Posted by admin, 0 comments

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, IBS, and Hypnosis

Back in 1987, a follow up study conducted by the Department of Medicine University Hospital South Manchester to ensure that the highly successful result of an earlier study was not the result of the Placebo Effect. Results wee published in the

After eighteen months, participants had all maintained the improvement level, with participants below 50 doing extremely well.

Since then, many studies have confirmed the effectiveness of hypnotherapy in treating IBS and its symptoms.

To read the full study click here


Posted by admin in Hypnotherapy, IBS, 0 comments

Hypnotherapy and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a “syndrome,”  meaning a group of symptoms.

The most common symptoms of IBS are abdominal pain or discomfort often reported as cramping, bloating, gas, diarrhoea, and/or constipation. IBS affects the colon, or large
bowel, which is the part of the digestive tract that  stores stool. IBS is not a disease. It’s a functional disorder, meaning that the bowel doesn’t work, or function, correctly.

IBS effects around 5 – 11% of the population and is more common among females.

It’s also becoming increasingly common in children.

Several university studies have shown hypnotherapy to be highly effective, both in the treatment of IBS and in the management of its often painful and distressing symptoms.

Click here to read an article about extensive work done by the university of Manchester (UK) on the use of hypnotherapy.

It’s important to note, however, that Peter Whorwell, Professor of Medicine and Gastroenterology in the University’s Medical School and Director of the South Manchester Functional Bowel Service, has developed a training programme for hypnotherapists to treat IBS.

If you are considering hypnotherapy to address this quite common but extremely unpleasant disorder, you should make sure that your therapist has completed the training programe and has been certified to work with IBS patients.

You can find a useful booklet produced by the US National Institute of Health here

Click here to go to the Conditions Page for IBS

Posted by admin in IBS, 0 comments