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This month the focus is on how Hypnotherapy can help individuals manage their Irritable Bowel Syndrome, a condition which affects so many people and is often exacerbated by a mixture of the changes in diet and stress and anxiety in their lives.

Local hypnotherapist Liane Ulbricht-Kazan says: “Irritable Bowel Syndrome (or IBS as it’s usually known) is no joke for those who suffer. Unfortunately, doctors still don’t know for sure what causes it. It’s not always taken seriously nor is it easy to manage with traditional medical models of care. There is evidence that IBS can be helped significantly with Hypnotherapy- in fact, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) includes Hypnotherapy on its guidance for IBS. We do know that symptoms are exacerbated by stress and changes in diet. A few days or weeks of stress and different food can take weeks and weeks to sort out”

The problem with IBS is that it’s generally diagnosed by elimination- by what it ISN’T rather than what it IS. Symptoms vary and can be seen in other bowel-related conditions, so tests are carried out to rule out cancer or conditions such as Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease, and the tests can be invasive and take time. When these have been ruled out, and nothing else seems to be the cause of the symptoms, patients are often advised that they have IBS.

Unfortunately there is no real cure, as symptoms vary so much between individuals. Dietary advice is often conflicting and confusing, and it can take a significant period of time to exclude foods which aggravate the symptoms- and sometimes dietary changes don’t help at all. Anti-spasmodic and anti-depressant medication is sometimes used too, but unfortunately there is no one-size-fits-all medical approach to IBS, or is there?

In February 2008, the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE), which gives guidance to the NHS on effective treatments, published guidance for GPs and consultants saying there was good evidence that Hypnotherapy was an effective IBS treatment and that it could be recommended for chronic IBS¹.

In the UK, research conducted by Professor Whorwell in Manchester demonstrated high levels of effectiveness, helping all the symptoms of IBS with those improvements sustained over long periods of time². In the United States, Hypnotherapy for IBS is listed as a treatment for IBS on the highly regarded Empirically Validated Treatments List – which is similar in its level of regard to the NICE guidelines in the UK.

Local Hypnotherapist, Liane Ulbricht-Kazan explains, “Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is a modern, research-based combination of psychotherapy and hypnosis, aimed at encouraging clients to focus on how they want things to be. It’s great for people who have IBS, because one of the keys to dealing with IBS is to lower the sensitivity to stress and also reduce the perception of the bowel pain. Hypnotherapy is really effective in lowering stress and anxiety levels and also helping with pain reduction.

“It’s very effective because IBS is defined by its symptoms, so if Hypnotherapy can remove the symptoms then the IBS will be reduced, which is so helpful for our clients”