Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common digestive tract illnesses in our society, yet it’s difficult to treat. Symptoms include chronic or intermittent abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, and/or diarrhea, and can be so severe that they limit a person’s ability to work. IBS is often accompanied by anxiety about when and how symptoms will strike and affect the person’s life. Medications and therapies such as counseling and biofeedback provide limited benefits to patients. Hypnosis may be more helpful.
Hypnosis reduces abdominal pain, bloating, bowel dysfunction, and anxiety in IBS patients. In a variety of studies, people who were treated with hypnosis showed more overall improvement in symptoms and general well-being than those who were treated with medications or talk therapy alone. Those who had to stop working or reduce their hours due to IBS were likelier to return to work. These benefits lasted for years after the hypnosis sessions were completed.