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Hypnosis may improve irritable bowel disorder (press release)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006 by: NewsTarget
Tags: health news, Natural News, nutrition

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The severity of symptoms and the quality of life for people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) improve substantially with hypnotherapy, according to a new study.

Seventy-five patients with IBS -- 55 women and 20 men -- participated in a study led by Dr. Graeme D. Smith of the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. The subjects received 5 to 7-1/2 hours of hypnotherapy over a three-month period.

As described in the Journal of Clinical Nursing, hypnotherapy "was induced by eye fixation and this was followed by conventional deepening and relaxation techniques." Patients were encouraged to visualize "the gut as a river," which they perceived as motionless, for example, if they suffered from constipation, and then as a free-flowing river. The opposite imagery was evoked for patients with diarrhea.

The participants were instructed in self-hypnosis and given audiocassettes to use at home "to reinforce the effects of hypnotherapy."

Patients recorded IBS symptoms for seven days prior to undergoing the treatment. Abdominal pain was reported by 61 percent, altered bowel habits by 37.5 percent and abdominal distention or bloating by 6.5 percent.

An IBS-specific quality-of-life questionnaire was administered to assess emotional and mental health, sleep, physical function, energy and social function. Psychological well-being was also assessed, centering on symptoms of anxiety and depression.

There was a statistically significant improvement in severity of symptoms after hypnotherapy, which was administered by a nurse. Significant improvements were reported for six of the eight items on the quality-of-life questionnaire.

Graeme calls the response "impressive," but he notes that "it could also be argued that nursing support itself might contribute to a reduction in anxiety in this patient group."

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