Research Shows Hypnotherapy Benefits Patients With Irritiable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a functional disorder that affects a lot of people; it is the most common condition seen by gastroenterologists. Common symptoms of IBS include constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and bloating. The cause of the disorder is not known and there is no cure. However, hypnotherapy has been shown to treat the symptoms of IBS in both the short-term and long-term.

IBS is normally treated with medication, changes in diet, and stress reduction. Many sufferers report that stressful situations cause the symptoms of IBS to worsen. Researchers have eliminated stress as a specific cause of IBS. Irritable bowel syndrome does not cause damage to the bowel and does not lead to other health problems. However, it can affect overall quality of life. Hypnosis has been shown to reduce stress and improve the symptoms of IBS.

A study involving 30 participants was conducted to research the effect of hypnotherapy on anorectal physiology. Fifteen participants were patients who had been diagnosed with IBS and the other 15 participants served as the control group and did not have IBS. The 15 participants with IBS who received hypnotherapy showed significant change in rectal sensitivity both during the hypnotherapy session and after the session. This means that hypnosis helped IBS sufferers normalize their rectal sensitivity.

A study was performed involving 204 participants with IBS. Researchers conducted the study to learn the long-term benefits of hypnosis on IBS. All 204 participants had IBS and used hypnotherapy to treat their symptoms. They answered a detailed questionnaire including questions on quality of life and anxiety before and after receiving hypnotherapy to treat IBS. The time span, since the treatment of IBS with hypnotherapy, included up to 6 years.

Research found that 71% of the participants had reported a positive improvement in IBS symptoms. Of the 71% who reported improvement, 81% had maintained their improvement and the other 19% reported only slight deterioration of improvement. The results of the questionnaire showed there was no significant difference between patients who had completed the treatment 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 or more years ago. The results also showed that overall quality of life and anxiety were still significantly improved. This study shows that hypnotherapy provides long-term and lasting benefits for IBS sufferers. The researchers concluded that hypnosis provides benefits for at least 5 years following treatment.

These studies show both the short-term and long-term benefits of hypnotherapy in relation to treating IBS. Since stress is a major contributor to IBS symptoms, hypnosis helps reduce stress and has lasting effects for IBS sufferers.


Gonsalkorale, W.M., Miller, V., Afzal, A., & Whorwell, P.J. (2003). Long term benefits of hypnotherapy for irritable bowel syndrome. Gut, 52(11), 1623-1629.

NDDIC. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Retrieved on November 6, 2009 from…

Prior, A., Colgan, S.M., & Whorwell, P.J. (1990). Changes in rectal sensitivity after hypnotherapy in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Gut, 31(8), 896-898.

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