Silhouetted profile of a person sitting with knees bent with a lightbulb in their head and wavy lines of energy from the lightbulb traveling through the body into the gut in front of a red and yellow sky with clouds

Hypnotherapy and IBS

Last updated: January 2022

Hypnotherapy is when a person is put in a state of hypnosis to become highly suggestible to fix issues plaguing them. This could be anything from losing weight to quitting smoking to getting rid of phobias and fears. Usually, hypnotherapy takes many sessions before the person may feel like their issue has become better managed or resolved altogether. To my knowledge, hypnotherapy has a lot to do with changing perspective, altering ideas centering around large emotions. Hypnotherapy is also not the same thing as stage hypnosis, which provides entertainment and pushes the participants to lose control (e.g., when they start quacking like a duck, etc.).1

My experience working at a hypnotherapy clinic

A couple of years ago, I worked as an administrative assistant at a hypnotherapy clinic for a few months. It was a job I had gotten on the road to getting a job within my industry. I was not a huge fan of that job—my boss was not the kindest person. It made for a very uncomfortable work environment; however, it was interesting to be in an environment I had no prior knowledge about before entering. Also, since I was the only other employee, bathroom issues were kept quite private, which was nice. I did actually try out a free session, and it definitely put me into a calm state. The affirmations my boss told me while putting me under were that "[I] love my body" and that "[my] body does so much for me." These are obviously meaningful and important statements to acknowledge with or without hypnotherapy.

Why hypnotherapy is believed to work for IBS

However, I did learn that people seek out hypnotherapy to help solve all kinds of problems for them, including lowering symptoms of IBS.

In fact, IBS was the second biggest reason people came to the clinic; the first was to quit smoking (side note, does anyone smoke? Does that affect IBS at all? My science education stopped very early on, so I'd curious to know if cigarettes are a trigger).

Hypnotherapy for IBS can sometimes be known as gut-directed hypnotherapy. The mind-gut connection is a topic frequently discussed within the IBS circle. So, hypnotherapy is a way of working on the mind to address the concerns with the gut. The hypnotherapy treatments target the stress and anxiety symptoms of IBS to reduce all symptoms as a whole (because we know when our stress and anxiety are jacked up, so are our bloating and pain). The hypnotherapy treatments may also reduce feelings of nausea and fatigue. This happens because of the state of deep relaxation and highly focused attention the patient is put in. There has been a great deal of clinical research done on the assistance of hypnotherapy with IBS. Based on the study, it is believed that gut-directed hypnotherapy has a long-lasting effect on reducing symptoms of IBS.1

What other sorts of therapy have people done to manage symptoms? Has anyone tried hypnotherapy? Tell me about it in the comments!

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