Hypnosis can be highly effective in treating the irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), characterised by abdominal pain, abdominal distension and bloating.
Studies based on 346 patients conducted by The Sahlgrenska Academy, Sweden, showed that hypnotherapy alleviated symptoms in 40% of those affected — and that the improvement was long-term.
Researcher Magnus Simrén and colleagues at The Sahlgrenska Academy have conducted two studies to evaluate a form of treatment that could be used in ordinary healthcare, according to a Sahlgrenska statement.
In one of the studies, 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% registered a satisfactory lowering of symptoms, compared with 12% 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 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.
In the other study, presented in the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology, 208 patients who had previously received hypnotherapy were examined.
The results showed that 85% of those who had been helped by hypnosis still felt the benefits of the treatment up to seven years later – and that the majority still actively use the technique in their everyday lives.
“In this group, use of the healthcare system as a result of stomach and bowel symptoms had also reduced by 70%,” says Simrén.