Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is said to affect up to 65% of the population in the UK and as many as 10% of us consult our doctors about IBS symptoms every year. Even the experts do not fully understand why it occurs, but it is generally thought to be a bowel behavioural problem, possibly caused by hypersensitivity. The majority of people suffering from IBS seem to have perfectly healthy bowels upon investigation and blood tests usually show up nothing. However, their bowels or digestive systems do not seem to behave correctly, causing symptoms which can include constipation, diarrhoea, or both, urgency for the toilet, wind, bloating, cramps, pains, nausea, and other associated symptoms such as headaches and tiredness.
Doctors use a variety of approaches to treat IBS which can include prescribing medication (such as anti-spasmodics, laxatives or in some cases anti-depressants), bulking agents (such as isphagula husks), probiotic supplements, or dietary and lifestyle advice. However, as everyone’s IBS can be different, not all treatments suit all people – for example when it comes to diets, some people seem to have intolerances to some food types which others find helpful. With IBS it really is a case of finding what works for you and managing the condition.
Thankfully, many doctors are now aware of the important role played by the mind-body connection when it comes to managing IBS. As well as the fact that the muscles of the bowel are controlled by the brain, our thinking processes also play a part, including our unconscious thinking processes. Stress is a major factor, with many sufferers stating that their symptoms are worse when they feel stressed. One IBS sufferer I worked with told me that she believes she can bring on her IBS symptoms “just by thinking about it”. Doctors are increasingly prescribing psychological therapies, including hypnotherapy, to IBS sufferers, and some IBS specialist clinics now employ hypnotherapists to work with patients, with excellent success rates¹.
Gut- directed hypnotherapy helps many people to get their IBS symptoms under control, feel more positive and improve their quality of life. I am trained in the use of this technique, and others, and my clients report excellent results. Get in touch for a no obligation, confidential chat if you’d like to improve the quality of your life too.