Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, is a digestive and intestinal disorder effecting the bowels and/or large intestines. Symptoms vary widely in patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome; however some of the most common symptoms include abdominal pain and discomfort, bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea and nausea. Approximately 20 percent of the North American population suffers with symptoms of IBS and researchers have been unable to pinpoint the exact cause of this painful disorder. Unfortunately, no definitive cure has been developed for IBS, and conventional medicine simply focuses on achieving better digestion and reducing painful IBS symptoms through the use of over-the-counter and prescription medications.
If you suffer with Irritable Bowel Syndrome being reliant on drugs for the rest of your life is probably not the most appealing option. Luckily, two recent studies conducted at The Sahlgrenska Academy of the University of Gothenburg, have unveiled an effective, drug-free alternative for the treatment of IBS.
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The first study, which was published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology (2011), involved 138 IBS patients. All of the patients received a once a week hypnotherapy session, for 12 consecutive weeks. During the sessions, the hypnotherapist helped the IBS patients to control their symptoms and achieve better digestion, through the utilization of deep relaxation techniques and customized hypnotic suggestions. The patients were also taught to use these techniques on their own, so that they could control their IBS symptoms in their everyday lives.
Approximately 40 percent of the Irritable Bowel Syndrome patients experienced a reduction in IBS symptoms, while only 12 percent of the IBS patients in the untreated group, reported some degree of relief. More importantly however, the hypnosis was able to reduce these symptoms without any harmful side-effects or ongoing medical fees, and when researchers checked back in a year later, the patients were still experiencing an improvement in both IBS symptoms and overall quality of life.
The second study was published in The Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology, 2012 and it involved 208 patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. For this study, the researchers investigated patients who had previously received hypnosis for their IBS. The researchers found that 85 percent of the patients, who had experienced an improvement in their intestinal disorders through hypnosis, were still feeling the benefits of the treatment 7 years later. In addition, the majority of the IBS patients, found the hypnosis to be so helpful that they were still using the techniques that they had learned, in their everyday lives. In addition, the patient’s dependence on the healthcare system for the relief of their intestinal disorders had dropped by 70 percent.
“Overall, our studies show that hypnotherapy is an effective method of treating IBS, even when provided outside of specialist ‘hypnotherapy centres’. 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,” states Magnus Simré, one of the researchers involved in the studies at The Sahlgrenska Academy of Gothenburg University.