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  • Writer's pictureTracy Kim, MSN, BSN, Cht

Hypnosis is highly effective when conventional therapy fails with gastrointestinal disorders

According to Vansant and Whorwell (2019), those experiencing gastrointestinal disorders, such as IBS, heartburn, reflux, and dyspepsia, find hypnosis to be highly effective when conventional treatments have failed. Hypnotherapy appears to modulate brain-gut pain therefore improving symptoms of gastrointestinal disorders. Each session was customized to the patient’s symptoms. Studies performed, reveal symptoms were significantly improved in up to 76% of patients.

Treatment of functional gastrointestinal disorders remains challenging. In addition, patient satisfaction with medical treatment is very low. Many patients, despite being prescribed a wide variety of conventional therapies, fail to improve. Many patients also suffer decreased quality of life, detrimental effects on daily functioning, difficulty with personal and social relationships, decreased workplace productivity, and effects on psychological well-being and in some cases suicidal ideation. These patients can also experience unnecessary surgical interventions.

The outcomes of the study were: hypnotherapy improved pain sensitivity and intestinal motility in lower gastrointestinal disorders such as IBS. Those who suffered with upper gastrointestinal disorders such as: heartburn, non-cardiac chest pain and functional esophageal disorders saw a decrease in hypervigilance and hypersensitivity. Patients also experienced improved coping skills, resilience, self-regulation skills and reduction in healthcare costs. Additional benefits are: hypnosis is safe, effective when nothing else has worked, reduces need for medication, and improves quality of life, psychological and cognitive function.

Reference: Vasant, D. H. & Whorwell, P. J. (2019). Gut-focused hypnotherapy for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders: Evidence-base, practical aspects, and the Manchester Protocol. Neurogastroenterology & Motility.

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