Gut-directed hypnotherapy has recently emerged as a promising approach to reduce gastrointestinal symptoms in people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Symptoms including things like abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation can occur in Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). During a session of gut-directed hypnotherapy the therapist provides suggestions for the control of gastrointestinal function to the subconscious part of the mind. Multiple well-controlled studies, have shown that gut-directed hypnotherapy improves gastrointestinal symptoms in people with IBS by 70-80% and these improvements are maintained. We don’t completely understand exactly how gut-directed hypnotherapy works other than to say that it has multiple potential mechanisms of action on the brain-gut axis. For example, gut-directed hypnotherapy has been shown to reduce gastrointestinal pain, and symptoms by improving the stress response and reducing sensitivity, as well as reducing levels of anxiety and depression and enhancing overall quality of life. Gut-directed hypnotherapy has been shown to be equally as effective in terms of improving gastrointestinal symptoms as the low FODMAP diet. This means that people can get the same level of symptom control without having to change what they eat.
Brain-Gut relationship The brain-gut axis refers to the flow of information between the brain (central nervous system) and the gastrointestinal tract. Gastrointestinal symptoms arise from information originating in the brain and/or the gut. Psychological factors such as stress, anxiety and depression have been shown to affect the gut. Similarly abnormalities in gut function have been shown to effect mental health, with ill health and pain increasing feelings of anxiety and depression. Gut-directed hypnotherapy and cognitive behavioural therapy treatments aim to enhance brain-gut communication and improve the ability to switch off and relax. Gut-directed hypnotherapy Gut-directed hypnotherapy is a type of hypnotherapy specifically targeted to disorders of the gastrointestinal tract. It is entirely safe and has been shown to be efficacious. Sessions are conducted while patients are in a light and relaxed subconscious state. Once in this state suggestions for the control and normalisation of gastrointestinal function are made. Metaphors for bringing about change are also used. This type of therapy differs from other forms of psychological treatment where therapy is done with the patient in a conscious state. Gut-directed hypnotherapy can be used in both adults and children.