Our stomachs and intestinal systems are like a second brain – it isn’t the seat of consciousness, but it does respond to hypnosis.

This “second brain” contains some 100 million neurons, more than in either the spinal cord or the peripheral nervous system.   This multitude of neurons in the enteric nervous system enables us to “feel” what is going on in the inner world of our gut.


Think of the phrases we commonly use: gut instinct; butterflies in the stomach; that makes me sick to the stomach; and gut wrenching. Hypnosis can influence this “second brain” as effectively as any other neurological process.

Hypnosis and Heartburn

At least 60,000,000 Americans suffer from heartburn, sometimes the medicines work, sometimes not so well. Recently medical doctors have been turning to complementary approaches like hypnotism. This short NBC news broadcast shows why instead of reaching for TUMS you might consider hypnosis instead or in addition.

Hypnosis and Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a medical condition and a complex set of gastrointestinal symptoms – it may affect as many as 20% of the population in the United States.  Symptoms include cramping, diarrhea (or constipation), pain, and bloating. Over 60% of sufferers are women. IBS is actually the second likely reason reported for missed days at work.

Physicians will tell you they don’t know the causes of IBS: but they do know that IBS can be aggravated by stress and that there are some anatomical changes in the lining of the colon and to the nervous system of the colon associated with the condition. Diet can also influence IBS. Those who suffer from IBS know it is far more than a nuisance and can negatively impact quality of life.

The good news is that IBS symptoms respond to hypnosis and they often respond dramatically. Research is plentiful and convincing. It is so convincing that a leading health leader (Dr Adriane Fugh-Berman, MD, chair of the National Women’s Health Network) has stated that “hypnosis should be the treatment of choice for all severe cases of IBS.”

I have had the privilege of working with cancer patients in the complementary care program at Women and Infants often getting great results helping them reduce anticipatory nausea with self-hypnosis.

NBC News 2017