top of page

Irritable Bowel Syndrome & Hypnotherapy

It is estimated that irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects about 10-15% of the population. The direct causes of IBS are not clear, but it can be triggered by a stressful life event. Current medical research strongly supports the management of IBS with hypnotherapy. Why is this important? Why should this matter to you?


Hypnotherapy and Hypnosis have been around for quite some time. Despite current popular belief, it is actually a very useful treatment modality for many issues people face in their day to day lives. It is also a great way to help you manage the various symptoms you can experience with IBS. People living with IBS also frequently suffer from anxiety, depression and chronic fatigue. This article aims to inform you about IBS and how you can alternatively manage symptoms with hypnotherapy. Recently published scientific evidence strongly supports gut-focused hypnotherapy as an effective intervention for refractory IBS.

Causes and Symptoms of IBS Many people with IBS suffer in silence. It is thought to be caused by a number of things, but it is still not clear what the initial triggers may be. IBS negatively impacts people's lives as the severity of the symptoms may increase over time. People can miss work or school, and it is known to have caused significant depression and anxiety in some people afflicted. Individuals who suffer from IBS initially complain of having abdominal pain or discomfort and it is associated with frequent diarrhea, constipation or sudden change in bowel habits. Attacks are usually acute (come on all of a sudden) and can subside in a day or so. Recurrent attacks are common with a higher urgency to visit the commode and people usually experience “incomplete evacuation” (feeling of still needing to “go”) along with bloating and gas symptoms.

Current theories about how IBS is triggered include genetic factors, gut-motility problems, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, infection, stressful life event, food sensitivity or gut-brain axis problems. There is currently no cure for IBS but there are a number of ways you can manage it through proper diet, fiber, and medication. Present theories surrounding the gut-brain axis and how it may trigger IBS have paved the way for some promising new treatment modalities for managing it’s symptoms.

Hypnotherapy can be a very effective way to help manage gut symptoms as well as significantly enhance a person's mood by improving their anxiety and depression associated with their IBS symptoms.

How Hypnotherapy is Effective at Managing IBS Symptoms A study published in 2015 by Miller et al. out of Wythenshawe Hospital, Manchester, UK looked at 1000 patients suffering from IBS. They sought to investigate how effective gut-focused hypnotherapy would be at managing symptoms associated with this affliction. The age range of the participants enrolled ranged from 17-91 years and they all received 12 hypnotherapy sessions over a 3 month period.

Of all 1000 patients enrolled, 76% met the primary outcome criteria and saw a statistically significant improvement in their overall symptoms after their treatment with gut-focused hypnotherapy. There was an overall 37.5% average reduction in gut symptom severity (diarrhea and constipation) in both men and women. Women saw a slightly higher reduction in gut symptom severity with a 42% decrease in their group.

Both men and women experienced a 42% reduction in diarrhea, 40% reduction in constipation. In addition to these very promising results the hypnotherapy treatments helped with a 46% reduction in patients previously experiencing anxiety from their IBS and a 55% reduction in patients previously experiencing depression.

The results from this study are highly promising and offer another alternative for an effective intervention for refractory IBS. Hypnotherapy has been somewhat forgotten in the last 40-50 years and can offer a potent drug-free way to manage many common afflictions people face in their day to day lives. Strong scientific evidence is beginning to bring hypnotherapy back into the light and offer people a powerful, long lasting way to manage their IBS symptoms as well as other anxieties and depression that surround this condition. Hypnotherapy is a safe, natural and relaxing way to help you effect positive, long-lasting changes in your life.

If you would like to learn more or have any questions feel free to reach out to the author. Click on the name below and send an email.

Written By: Sebastian Di Cesare PhD, CHt - a research scientist & practicing Clinical Hypnotherapist based in Vancouver, Canada.

Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square