As a Registered Nurse, my focus has always leaned more to the medical side of hypnosis. I prefer helping individuals with chronic anxiety, stress, and pain conditions which is why I decided to become an irritable bowel syndrome specialist. IBS is a chronic gastro-intestinal condition (GI) with no known cause or cure.
Symptoms include any one or a combination of the following: diarrhea, constipation, cramping, gas, pain, or bloating. Symptoms usually run in cycles lasting for days, months, or years. IBS making its victims feel like prisoners in their own home.
IBS affects 35 million Americans, 4 of 5 are women, and it is more prevalent than asthma, diabetes, acid reflux and depression combined. There are likely millions who never pursue treatment due to embarrassment. 10% of all primary care physician visits are IBS related. It is the 2nd leading cause for employee absenteeism and costs the US 8 billion dollars/year.
Diagnosing IBS is a process of exclusion which means a physician needs to rule out conditions such as lactose intolerance, Chron’s disease, bacterial infections, parasites, dumping syndrome, ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, celiac and gallbladder disease before a diagnosis of IBS can be determined.
The onset of symptoms ranges between the ages of 20-29 in adults and 9-11 in children. Onset of symptoms can sometimes be traced back to a traumatic event, illness, injury, or accident. Some clients just begin having symptoms early in life for no apparent reason at all. IBS is also known to be familial. Many IBS sufferers go through life with no idea of what normal gastro-intestinal function is like.
Symptoms can also be aggravated by stress, chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, foods high in animal or vegetable fat, beverages containing dyes, artificial sweeteners, food or medication sensitivities or hormone fluctuation but none are the cause.
Traditional medical intervention includes high fiber diets, antispasmodics to relieve cramping and spasms; antidepressants to relieve the emotional burden and antidiarrhea medication. Research indicates that this approach offers symptom relief to only 25%. Because IBS is not life threatening, is not a precursor to acute illness and is undetectable with diagnostic equipment, sufferers are usually told they have to live with it.
Hypnosis stands alone as the most significant long-term symptom solution for IBS which is why I chose to specialize in it. IBS hypnosis has been researched for over 20 years and the results are consistently positive. The success rate of hypnosis relieving IBS symptoms ranges from 70-95% and relief is at least two years in duration.
The largest study to date followed 250 IBS clients who were treated with 12 hypnosis sessions over a three month period and they also listened to recorded sessions at home. The conclusions showed dramatic improvement in all IBS symptoms. The average reduction in symptoms was more than 50% as well as increased quality of life and relief from anxiety and depression. (Gonsalkorale, WM., 2002)
Another study compared 25 severe IBS clients treated with hypnosis to 25 patients with similar symptom severity treated with other methods. The hypnosis group showed that in addition to significant IBS symptom improvement participants had fewer MD visits, lost less work time, and rated an improved quality of life. Hypnosis clients unable to work before treatment went back to work afterwards. The study shows the economic benefits and improved health-related quality of life. (Houghton, LA., 1996)
My IBS program involves four gut-specific hypnosis sessions spread out over the course of a three month time period. My clients daily rate all of their symptoms on a scale of one to ten, so we can objectively track their progress. To give you an idea of how effective IBS hypnosis is the average combined symptom rating at the beginning of treatment is 8/10, after 6 sessions it is 3/10
Most IBS clients have suffered with their symptoms for decades, but after a few short months they learn to create peaceful comfort from within. With the help of hypnosis they are able to replace anticipatory anxiety with the expectation of relief. When an individual knows they can control how they feel with their thoughts all bets are off in terms of how long lasting the relief can last.
By: Paul Gustafson RN CH