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Gut-directed hypnotherapy for irritable bowel syndrome.

25 Sep

A new study at the University of Birmingham in the UK shows that "gut-directed hypnotherapy" alleviates symptoms and improves quality of life in people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome who have not done well with conventional treatment..

In this randomized, controlled trial, researchers from the Department of Primary Care and General Practice at the University of Birmingham in the UK studied the efficacy of "gut-directed hypnotherapy" in alleviating symptoms of irritable bowel and improving quality of life.

Primary care patients between the ages of 18-65 years with a diagnosis of IBS of greater than 6 weeks'' duration, who had failed conventional management, were randomized to either an intervention group which received five sessions of hypnotherapy in addition to standard care, or to a control group which received standard care alone.

Data regarding symptoms and quality of life were collected at baseline and again 3, 6, and 12 months post-randomisation. The study found that both groups demonstrated a significant improvement in all symptom dimensions and quality of life over 12 months.

At 3 months the intervention group had significantly greater improvements in pain, diarrhoea and overall symptom scores (P<0.05). No significant differences between groups in quality of life were identified. No differences were maintained over time. Intervention patients, however, were significantly less likely to require medication, and the majority described an improvement in their condition.

The study concludes that gut-directed hypnotherapy benefits patients, with both symptom reduction and reduced medication usage, although the lack of significant difference between groups beyond 3 months argues for a larger trial incorporating robust analysis.

Citation: Roberts L, Wilson S, Singh S, Roalfe A. Gut-directed hypnotherapy for irritable bowel syndrome: piloting a primary care-based randomised controlled trial. British Journal of General Practice. 2006 Feb; 56 (523): pages 115-21. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award