The NHS Website reports that Hypnosis is twice as effective at helping people deal with IBS than other methods.
Taking information reported after a study where researchers recruited patients who had been referred to 11 hospitals in the Netherlands for psychological treatment of IBS that had been diagnosed according to standard guidelines, the UKs NHS website reported on the efficacy of the treatment plan. The researchers were from University Medical Centre Utrecht, Leiden University Medical Centre, Academic Medical Centre Amsterdam and St Antonius Hospital, all in the Netherlands, and Wythenshawe Hospital in the UK. You can read all about IBS Hypnotherapy studies undertaken by Professor Peter Whorwell here: IBS Studies in the UK
"Hypnosis twice as effective at relieving agonising symptoms of IBS than other methods," read the headline in many newspapers who reported the findings.
What does IBS stand for and what is IBS?
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common condition in which people get repeated episodes of stomach pain and discomfort, along with bowel problems such as diarrhoea and constipation. Some people get relief from lifestyle and diet changes or medicines, including peppermint oil and antispasmodic medication, but these treatments don't help everyone.
UK NHS guidelines say people should be offered IBS focused hypnotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or psychological therapy if changes in diet and medications don't work after 12 months. However, it's unclear whether group treatment works as well as individual hypnotherapy.
In my practice I have found that individual therapy gives more effective and faster results as it can be tailored to the individual and their personal situation. If you are able to find an NHS group near you then you may be able to join this and you can do this via your GP. In this study most of the work was undertaken in group sessions.
The study was published in the peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet – Gastroenterology and Hepatology.
Medicines, CBT and psychotherapy, were not tested in this study.
How does the NHS treat IBS?
“IBS can cause a lot of distress and can be difficult to treat, probably because the causes are not clear. In the UK, standard treatment begins with dietary and lifestyle advice, with medications for those who don't get adequate relief from making diet and lifestyle changes.
If people do not respond to medicines after a year of trying them and still have IBS symptoms, they can be offered psychological therapies, including hypnotherapy.
The trial finding that hypnotherapy works better than educational support adds evidence to previous studies showing that hypnotherapy may have a helpful effect. The finding that group hypnotherapy works about as well as individual hypnotherapy is interesting, as this means many people could be treated by the same therapist at the same time, which could reduce waiting times and the cost of treatment.
However, there are unanswered questions in the study, including why a large number of people dropped out of treatment. This could have affected the results, especially if people dropped out of group hypnotherapy because they didn't like group treatment. As said, it can't be assumed that hypnotherapy is better than other psychological therapies that may be considered at the same stage of treatment, such as CBT.
It also demonstrates that unfortunately, even with the best care, IBS can still be a difficult condition to treat. Half or more people receiving hypnotherapy still gained no symptom relief.
Therefore there are still avenues to explore in looking at the causes and best management approaches for IBS.”
You can find out more about IBS help here: https://www.markpowlett.co.uk/ibshypnosis.html