Hypnosis for IBS

hypnotherapy session
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At some point in every child’s life, they will say “you’re getting sleeeeepy,” while waving something back and forth in front of someone’s face. This demonstrates that for most of us, our earliest exposure to hypnosis comes from Saturday morning cartoons! In adulthood, we may have seen a hypnotist put on an entertaining show in which the performer is able to get ordinary people to behave in extraordinary ways.

These "parlor tricks" unfortunately serve to interfere with the awareness that hypnosis can be an effective form of treatment for a variety of disorders, including IBS.

What to Expect During a Session

To take the mystery out of it, hypnotherapy is simply a procedure in which a qualified therapist uses a variety of techniques to induce a state of consciousness -- the trance state -- which is generally experienced as relaxing. In a trance state, suggestions are made to specifically address target areas -- emotional, physical, or behavioral. While in a trance state, the client remains aware of outside surroundings, yet experiences a very focused attention to internal sensations. There is a lot of differences in how each person experiences the trance state.

Does It Help IBS?

Research has consistently shown hypnotherapy to be an effective form of treatment for many individuals who suffer from IBS.

In its latest research review, the American College of Gastroenterology recommends hypnotherapy as an effective treatment for IBS. The effects of hypnotherapy are thought to include:

  • Positive effect on motility
  • Improved quality of life
  • Reduced doctor visits
  • Reduced use of medication
  • Decrease in depression and anxiety
  • Results are maintained long after treatment ends

Finding a Hypnotherapist

As with any form of treatment, it is important to see a practitioner who is qualified and well-trained. You have several options.

Here is some information on a hypnosis treatment program specifically designed for IBS:

  • Hypnosis Treatment Protocol for IBS

You can order hypnotherapy CDs to listen to on your own. Here is my review of a popular product:

These associations offer a list of qualified hypnotherapists:


Ford, A., et.al. "American College of Gastroenterology Monograph on the Management of Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Chronic Idiopathic Constipation" American Journal of Gastroenterology 2014 109:S2-S26.

Gonsalkorale, W.M., Houghton L.A, & Whorwell PJ. “Hypnotherapy in irritable bowel syndrome: a large-scale audit of a clinical service with examination of factors influencing responsiveness” American Journal of Gastroenterology (2002) 97: 954-961.

Whorwell, P. “Hypnotherapy for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders”. IFFGD Fact Sheet.

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