As a former IBS sufferer, this is a condition that really interests me.  Having cured myself using hypnotherapy and allied techniques I know for a fact how powerful psychologically based approaches to IBS treatment are.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is thought to effect around 10 percent of the population and is characterised by abdominal discomfort and altered bowel movements. Some sufferers experience loose stools while others tend to be constipated. Often there can be alternation between the two extremes. Tiredness and lethargy are also common symptoms.

If you are experiencing such symptoms it’s important to check with your G.P. to rule out any other pathology before exploring treatment options for IBS.  Usually tests will indicate that there is no disease present in the digestive tract so it is a functional issue rather than a disease  process.

So what’s really going on? When I was an IBS sufferer I noticed that symptoms were worse when I was feeling stressed or worried. Back in those days I was working as a teacher in state education and was working to deadlines on projects, struggling to cope with management duties and spinning many metaphorical plates in different areas of life. I didn’t know what I know now about the mind-body connection and how the autonomic nervous system works. To put it simply, I was stressed out most of the time, however, because it was so familiar to feel like that, I didn’t even realise it.

The autonomic nervous system has a very important role in maintaining and balancing our bodily functions. Our breathing (unless we are actively controlling it), heartbeat, body temperature and digestion are all controlled by it automatically (hence the name autonomic). There are two subsystems to the autonomic system, the sympathetic and parasympathetic. To put it simply, the sympathetic excites and activates while the parasympathetic relaxes and slows bodily functions. Many of us in modern times spend far too long in sympathetic mode, in an excited overactivated  state.

In nature we are only designed to be in sympathetic mode for short periods (think of a caveman hunting for food or running from danger) and in this state the priority is survival (fight or flight) and blood flow is sent away from the digestive tract to the muscles where it may be needed for energy. Food can be digested later but the priority is survival now.  The stresses of modern life mean that many of us are in this overexcited state for long periods, in traffic, studying for an exam, meeting a deadline for example, which impedes our digestive function leading to I.B.S. type symptoms.

Hypnotherapy helps to relax and rebalance tha autonomic nervous system so bodily functions normalise themselves.

I.B.S. responds particularly well to hypnotherapy and the National Institue for Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends psychological interventions such as hypnotherapy for persistent IBS symptoms.

Long term positive results are seen in over 80 percent of cases according to leading UK gastroenterologist Professor Roland Valori:

‘9 out of 10 people with irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) benefitted from hypnotherapy, and 4 in 10 saw their symptoms clear up completely’

Telegraph.co.uk  18th March 2010

Individual results may, of course, vary from person to person.