What is IBS? A blog on Irritable bowel syndrome: Symptoms, causes and how hypnotherapy can treat it.

Have you been diagnosed with IBS but medication has been unable to help reduce your symptoms?

Are you fed up of worrying about what you eat and are fed up with constantly having to change your diet?

Had enough supplements that don’t relieve your symptoms?

Instead could you imagine?

Being able to leave the house without worrying where the nearest toilet was.

Feeling in control of your body

Enjoying a meal or new food

Having a body without constant bloating or suffering from constipation, diarrhoea or painful cramps.

Hypnotherapy can help you to understand the link between your mind and gut, and ease the stress and anxiety caused by IBS, to provide relief from your symptoms.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder of the digestive system and gut that causes the bowel to be very sensitive. The condition causes recurring pain and discomfort in the abdomen and often, the nerves and muscles don’t work as they should.

IBS is one of the most common disorders of the digestive system; affecting one in five people during their lifetime. Studies have found that women are more likely than men to suffer from IBS and their symptoms may be more severe.

For many people living with irritable bowel syndrome find it to be a minor inconvenience, but for other people, it can seriously affect their quality of life. While IBS can develop at any time, it often begins when you are in your twenties.

Some people with irritable bowel syndrome experience constipation, while others have diarrhoea, and some may suffer from both. The pain can range from mild to severe and may happen at a certain time of the day.

Symptoms of IBS

Symptoms can vary and can be experienced at differing severities. The symptoms can be triggered by food or drink, stressful, or food poisoning.

IBS relief hypnosis for IBS Wakefield
  • Some of the more common symptoms include:
  • stomach pain or cramps – usually worse after eating and better after doing a poo
  • bloating – your tummy may feel uncomfortably full and swollen
  • diarrhoea – you may have watery poo and sometimes need to poo suddenly
  • constipation – you may strain when pooing and feel like you cannot empty your bowels fully
  • farting (flatulence)
  • passing mucus from your bottom
  • tiredness and a lack of energy
  • feeling sick (nausea)
  • backache
  • problems peeing, like needing to pee often, sudden urges to pee, and feeling like you cannot fully empty your bladder
  • not always being able to control when you poo (bowel incontinence

Causes of IBS

While the exact cause of IBS is unclear, some research suggests it may be due to over-activity of the gut. For example, if the contractions of the muscles in the gut wall become abnormal or overactive. Problems such as increased sensitivity to the amount of gas in the bowel and increased serotonin levels (which occur after eating at certain times of the day or certain foods) are also thought to play a role in the development of IBS.

Additionally, your emotional and mental state can trigger problems in the gut. Strong feelings of anxiety and stress may cause the person to suffer irregular bowel habits and symptoms can worsen. These emotional feelings interfere with the regularity of the digestive system, even in those who have not previously experienced IBS.

IBS treatment

As IBS is a medical condition, it is important to consult your doctor first for advice and diagnosis. The most important thing you can do is to share with your doctor a clear description of the symptoms you have experienced.

Although there is no cure for IBS, there are things that can help manage the symptoms. Hypnotherapy, relaxation training, a controlled diet, medication and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) have all been found to help ease symptoms of IBS.

NICE guidelines

One IBS treatment recognised by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is hypnotherapy.

NICE recommend that people living with IBS who do not respond to pharmacological treatments after 12 months consider a referral for psychological interventions, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), and /or hypnotherapy

View the full NICE guidelines on IBS.

Hypnotherapy for IBS

Hypnotherapy for IBS can help you to learn relaxation techniques, as well as learning new ways to manage stress. This is because the state of our mind has an impact on our physical well-being. Therefore the tension, stress and anxiety often caused by IBS may undermine the immune system and further affect health.

By learning how to relax and manage stressful feelings which can then become useful life tools. Hypnosis can help to promote positive thinking and develop coping strategies. It can also help you recognise the problem and access your unconscious mind.

There have been a number of clinical studies which have found hypnotherapy for IBS to be an effective treatment. The NHS recommends hypnotherapy as an effective treatment of IBS.

While each hypnotherapist will differ in approach, typically, IBS treatment includes:

Recognising and learning to cope with any worries or fears contributing to IBS, increasing your confidence and well-being.

Learning self-hypnosis techniques so you can continue the sessions at home.

Setting goals. You may be encouraged to visualise the future and how you would feel without IBS, these may be long-term goals or a number of things you want to achieve.

Visualisations and suggestions with the aim of decreasing the sensitivity of the gut and increasing confidence.

Some people have seen results after just one or two sessions of hypnotherapy for IBS. Every person is different. Your progress will depend on you and the plan you have devised with the hypnotherapist, and other factors affecting your life.

Gut-directed hypnotherapy

Gut-directed hypnotherapy (GDH) can help to address any ‘miscommunication’ between the brain and the gut. Whereas most traditional forms of IBS therapies focus more on treating symptoms and promoting relaxation, gut-directed hypnosis focuses more on the mind.

What can hypnotherapy do to connect the mind and gut?

Gut directed hypnotherapy changes the function of the gut. It works by changing the communication between the gut and brain, reducing the hypersensitivity of the nerve cells and relieving IBS. Hypnotherapy also teaches the mind to control the gut, not the other way around.

Stress and anxiety make IBS symptoms worse. Hypnotherapy helps by activating the parasympathetic nervous system. It stimulates the body’s “rest and digest” phase while the sympathetic system gets you in “fight or flight”- mode.

The parasympathetic system is a set of long nerve fibres going from your brain to various organs. They connect to them via particular neurons so they can send signals to them. Hypnosis helps to activate this system. It can also help change subconscious responses to situations such as the fear of needing the toilet when away from home or eating certain foods.

In gut-directed hypnotherapy, the suggestions are focused on creating physical changes. They also focus on improving emotional wellbeing. Since the subconscious works with images, metaphor is a powerful way to communicate with the subconscious mind. That’s why hypnotherapists use visualisations. For example, you may imagine drinking a soothing healing liquid that coats your entire digestive system and soothes discomfort. Your subconscious then uses these images to create physical changes, so you experience relief.

This form of treatment guides you into a focused state of awareness and uses suggestion and imagery to calm the digestive tract and prevent unnecessary focus on discomfort in the body. This approach is thought to be most effective when used in conjunction with other medical treatment and ongoing self-care practices.

How can I help with IBS?

Through the sessions we will work on different factors. Initially I will show you how to stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system and put the body into a state of rest and digest. Relaxing your body, releasing tension and soothing the nervous system.

Secondly we will work in the mind to learn how to manage stress, relieve anxiety and create a balance in the body and mind.

Thirdly the use of gut directed hypnotherapy, will help you learn to engage your subconscious mind to control your gut function, reduce sensitivity and correct the communication and neural pathways in the gut brain axis to relieve pain, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea and urgency. This will result in you being calm in control and confident.

I hope you enjoyed this article on Irritable Bowel Syndrome. If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, or you want to talk to a professional about it, please contact me today at hypnosisinyorkshire@gmail.com I look forward to hearing from you and I’m happy to help in any way that I can! Thank you for reading this blog, I always enjoy sharing my knowledge and expertise with the world!

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