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Gastrointestinal disorders

What happens to the stomach and the gut when the mind is worried, stressed or anxious? You already know the answer... IBS, ulcers, intestinal cramping, poor motility, loose stools or constipation. Hypnotherapy can have exceptional results in treating gastrointestinal conditions, especially where there is stress, negativity or emotional involvement. 

From the research below...


“This study has shown that in addition to relieving the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, hypnotherapy profoundly improves the patient’s quality of life and reduces absenteeism from work.”. (Houghton)  

"Recent controlled studies in the field of gastroenterology have shown that 
hypnotherapy is unequivocally beneficial in conditions such as irritable bowel 
syndrome and peptic ulceration. There is also some evidence for influence on 
certain physiological functions". (Whorwell)


Francis, C. Y., Houghton, L. A. (1996). Use of Hypnotherapy in 
Gastrointestinal Disorders. European Journal of Gastroenterology & 
Hepatology, Vol. 8, 525-9. 

Controlled trials have shown that patients with severe refractory irritable bowel 
syndrome or relapsing duodenal ulcer disease respond well to hypnotherapy. This 
article aims to give an overview of the areas in gastroenterology where 
hypnotherapy has been applied, discussing in particular what progress has been 
made in the area of irritable bowel syndrome. 

Houghton, L. A., Heyman, D. J., Whorwell, P. J. (1996). 
Symptomatology, Quality of Life and Economic Features of 
Irritable Bowel Syndrome -- The Effect of Hypnotherapy. 
Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Vol. 10, 91-5. 

The purposes of this study were to quantify the effects of severe irritable bowel 
syndrome on quality of life and economic functioning, and to assess the impact of 
hypnotherapy on these features. Subjects included 25 patients treated with 
hypnotherapy (aged 25-55 years; four male) and 25 control irritable bowel 
syndrome patients of comparable severity (aged 21-58 years; two male). 
RESULTS: Patients treated with hypnotherapy reported less severe abdominal pain 
(P < 0.0001), bloating (P < 0.02), bowel habit (P < 0.0001), nausea (P < 0.05), 
flatulence (P < 0.05), urinary symptoms (P < 0.01), lethargy (P < 0.01), backache (P 
= 0.05) and dyspareunia (P = 0.05) compared with control patients. Quality of life, 
such as psychic well being (P < 0.0001), mood (P < 0.001), locus of control (P < 
0.05), physical well being (P < 0.001) and work attitude (P < 0.001) were also 
favourably influenced by hypnotherapy. For those patients in employment, more of 
the controls were likely to take time off work (79% vs. 32%; p = 0.02) and visit 
their general practitioner ( 58% vs. 21%; P = 0.056) than those treated with 
hypnotherapy. Three of four hypnotherapy patients out of work prior to treatment 
resumed employment compared with none of the six in the control group. 
CONCLUSION: This study has shown that in addition to relieving the symptoms of 
irritable bowel syndrome, hypnotherapy profoundly improves the patients’ quality 
of life and reduces absenteeism from work. It therefore appears that, despite being 
relatively expensive to provide, it could well be a good long-term investment. 

Heap, M. (1996). The Nature of Hypnosis. European Journal of 
Gastroenterology & Hepatology, Vol. 8, 515-9. 

This paper presents an overview of the essential nature of hypnosis as it is studied 
and practised today. Some theoretical controversies are mentioned and historical 
antecedents are briefly summarized. An overview is then presented of the ways in 
which hypnosis is applied therapeutically. It is concluded that although clinical 
hypnosis has yet to be informed by a strong academic base, progress is being made 
to that end and its potential scope and value in clinical practice have probably yet to 
be realized. 

Cadranel, J. F., Benhamou, Y., Zylberberg, P., Novello, P., Luciani, F., 
Valla, D., Opolon, P. (1994). Hypnotic Relaxation: A New Sedative 
Tool for Colonoscopy? Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, Vol. 18, 

Sedation is often justified in patients requiring colonoscopy. We investigated the 
potential usefulness of hypnotic relaxation in 13 women and 11 men (median age, 
43 years; range, 22-67) for whom other forms of anaesthesia were not available. 
Hypnotic relaxation resulted in moderate or deep sedation in 12 patients (nine 
women; p < 0.05). In the patients in whom hypnosis was successful, pain was less 
intense than in patients in whom hypnosis was unsuccessful (p < 0.001). In 
addition, all colonoscopies were completed in the successful group, versus 50% in 
the unsuccessful group (p < 0.05). The patients in the successful group all agreed to 
another examination under the same conditions, whereas only 2% in the 
unsuccessful group agreed (p < 0.001). Our study suggests that, in a subgroup of 
hypnotizable patients, hypnotic relaxation may be a safe alternative to drug sedation 
and merits further study. 

Whorwell, P. J., Houghton, L. A., Taylor, E. E., Maxton, D. G. (1992). 
Physiological Effects of Emotion: Assessment via Hypnosis [See 
Comments]. Lancet, Vol. 340, 69-72. 

We studied the effect on distal colonic motility of three hypnotically induced 
emotions (excitement, anger, and happiness) in 18 patients aged 20-48 years with 
irritable bowel syndrome. Colonic motility index was reduced by hypnosis on its 
own (mean change 19.1; 95% CI 0.8, 37.3; p less than 0.05) and this change was 
accompanied by decreases in both pulse (12; 8, 15) and respiration (6; 4, 8) rates (p 
less than 0.001 for both). Anger and excitement increased the colonic motility index 
(50.8; 29.4, 72.2; and 30.4; 8.9, 51.9, respectively; p less than 0.01 for both), pulse 
rate (26; 22, 30; and 28; 24, 32; p less than 0.001 for both), and respiration rate (14; 
12, 16; and 12; 10, 14; p less than 0.001 for both). Happiness further reduced 
colonic motility although not significantly from that observed during hypnosis 
alone. Changes in motility were mainly due to alterations in rate than in amplitude 
of contractions. Our results indicate that hypnosis may help in the investigation of 
the effects of emotion on physiological functions; this approach could be useful 
outside the gastrointestinal system. Our observation that hypnosis strikingly reduces 
fasting colonic motility may partly explain the beneficial effects of this form of 
therapy in functional bowel disorders.

Whorwell, P. J. (1991). Use of Hypnotherapy in Gastrointestinal 
Disease. British Journal of Hospital Medicine, Vol. 45, 27-9. 

Recent controlled studies in the field of gastroenterology have shown that 
hypnotherapy is unequivocally beneficial in conditions such as irritable bowel 
syndrome and peptic ulceration. There is also some evidence for influence on 
certain physiological functions. 


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