What is gut-directed hypnotherapy for IBS?


Gut-directed hypnotherapy is an evidence-based hypnotherapy protocol for IBS. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is not a disease but a collection of symptoms that are regularly experienced for a certain duration of time when disease has been ruled out. These symptoms may vary from person to person but may include abdominal pain, cramps, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, loose stools, and acid reflux. It is important to see the GP to rule out a more serious issue or disease such as inflammatory bowel disease or coeliac. Here is some information on irritable bowel syndrome from NICE. In this research, approximately 70% of participants responded well to the gut-directed hypnotherapy. Hypnotherapy and CBT are recommended by NICE as a complementary treatment for IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) after 12 months of an IBS diagnosis.


In my nutritional therapy clinic, I have seen a lot of clients with IBS and most people can be supported with changes to their lifestyle and diet. However, hypnotherapy can also be an effective therapy for IBS, particularly in those who cannot link their symptoms to food and those who link their symptoms to stress and anxiety. Hypnotherapy supports the gut-brain axis which is made up of the nervous system of the gut, the vagus nerve, the brain, hormones, and the species that live in the gut (gut bacteria). Hypnotherapy can support better communication between the gut and the brain. When using hypnotherapy to support IBS, it is up to you what you would like help with. Is it the feelings of anxiety associated with your symptoms? Is it pain or discomfort? Is it the symptoms themselves?


Gut-directed hypnotherapy is a protocol, however, a good practitioner always tailors therapy to the client. In general, we use visualisation and metaphor techniques in hypnosis. Hypnosis is a bit like being in a gentle daydream. We work collaboratively on your treatment plan and make it work best for you. The protocol in the research was 6 weeks but you may need fewer or more and that is fine. For more information on gut-directed hypnotherapy, feel free to get in touch for a free 20-minute chat.