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Hypnosis for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Research indicates that hypnotherapy can help relieve the discomfort of IBS

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a painful and frustrating condition that can wreak havoc on your quality of life. It can interfere with time spent with friends and family, impact ability to engage in recreational activities and sports, and sabotage career success due to missed workdays. What's more, options for treatment are limited and the diagnosis can leave doctors perplexed when working with patients who don't respond to traditional medical treatment. Given the nature of the symptoms and tendency for patients to feel frustrated and overwhelmed, reaching out for help can understandably be difficult. Thankfully, there are options available. While IBS is understood to be a medical condition, alternative therapies have been found to improve symptoms. According to a number of research studies, Clinical Hypnosis is frequently an effective option for people who do not respond to medical treatment. In these cases, many people experience improvements in overall well-being and quality of life with relief from abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, and bloating. 


How Does Hypnosis for IBS Work?

Contrary to some myths and misconceptions about hypnosis, a clinical hypnotherapist has no power over the hypnotized person. The person is typically aware of what is happening both during and after hypnosis. Sessions tend to be comfortable, relaxing, and free of side effects. The contents of the scripted sessions focus on relaxation of the body and digestive tract and supports visualization of proper gastrointestinal functioning. 


Multiple studies have shown that research based hypnotherapy such as The North Carolina Protocol, often helps improve the primary symptoms of IBS. It may also help relieve the related symptoms of nausea, fatigue, backache, and urinary problems. Hypnotherapy can improve quality of life and offer hope by providing symptomatic, psychological, and physiological benefits.  


While the treatment is backed by overwhelming evidence, hypnosis should not be regarded as a cure-all as a portion of patients do not respond. It is best used in conjunction with medical advice or treatment and with approval from your doctor. Maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle is essential. In addition, some people find that medication recommended by a physician may still be required.


Patients selected for hypnotherapy should meet the following requirements:

  • ​Previous diagnoses of IBS by a qualified medical doctor along with treatment which failed to satisfactorily relieve symptoms.

  • No evidence of organic bowel disease.

  • No history of psychosis.

  • Ability and willingness to engage in hypnosis.

  • Motivation and commitment to a full course of hypnotherapy. 


The program can be completed over 8 sessions and consists of:

  • An initial intake session to establish rapport, determine patient appropriateness for the program, and assess for symptoms to establish a baseline from which to view progress. 

  • A series of 7 Hypnosis sessions specifically designed and validated through research to improve IBS symptoms. 

  • A recorded take-home session that patients listen to 5-7 times per week between in-office sessions. 

  • Written assessments for periodic evaluation of symptom reduction and to assess success in the program.

Long-term follow-up of patients who have benefited shows that most remain well after a period of 1 to 5 years and many hypnosis patients require no further medication.²  The approach is comfortable and well-received by most people who are committed to the process and willing to be proactive in their healing. Finding a qualified professional is key to successful treatment which can have lasting results. Call my office at (520) 612-3588 to inquire into scheduling and rates of services.



¹ Adapted from June 14, 2016 article appearing on International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders website.




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