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Coping with IBS in Cambridge

IBS - Hypnotherapy in Cambridge

IBS is often the symptom of some anxieties or worries,  all sessions for IBS as well as directly attempting to resolve the IBS will leave the patient relaxed and calm Plus will have coping strategies for stress. 

For a confidential discussion concerning IBS Phone 0779 210 82 72 or e-mail

For Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy to treat IBS in the Cambridge and East Anglia region Dr James Rutherford operates his practice out of the Frank Lee Centre at Addenbrookes and from a private clinic in Cambridge. 

Below are two articles on IBS and hypnotherapy. I will let the reader  come to their own conclusion.  The first article refers to 12 sessions of therapy,   I have found that relief can come much more quickly than having to use 12 sessions but it depends upon the patient using self hypnosis.  The second article concludes that giving the sufferer the tools to relax and remove anxiety can be very beneficial and dramatically improve the quality of life.

How can hypnotherapy help; In a relatively few number of sessions the reduction of anxiety and the ability to cope with discomfort can be achieved.  The number of sessions and the duration of the therapy is dependant in many cases on the willingness of the patient to practice self hypnosis and other tools given under the first sessions of hypnotherapy.

Interesting information on treatment of IBS with Hypnotherapy

Hypnotherapy for IBS published from a Health article in the Daily Telegraph

An investigation into unconventional treatment for reducing gut sensitivity

Between five and eight million people in the UK suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and many can find no treatment that brings relief. Although the condition is often regarded as minor, the symptoms - including diarrhoea, pain and bloating - can seriously affect quality of life. This month, the journal Drugs and Therapeutics Bulletin suggested that hypnotherapy may be worth a try for people with severe symptoms that do not respond to conventional treatment.

What exactly happens?
Forget those stage hypnotists who return their powerless subjects to childhood. During gut-directed hypnosis the therapist is interested in the colon and nothing else. A course usually consists of 12 one-hour sessions during which a hypnotic state is induced. Patients are given an explanation of how the gut works and what causes their symptoms, and then learn to influence and gain control of their gut function. They are sometimes given a CD so they can practice self-hypnosis at home.
Does this mean IBS is all in the mind?
"We do not think IBS is a psychological disorder, nor do we think this is a psychological treatment," says Peter Whorwell, professor of medicine and gastroenterology at Manchester University, who runs one of the few NHS clinics offering gut-directed hypnotherapy. "IBS is made worse by stress but it is not caused by stress. We don't know exactly how gut-directed hypnotherapy works, but it may change the way the brain modulates gut activity." Laboratory tests have shown that under hypnosis, gut sensitivity is reduced.
So, does it work?
Prof Whorwell has treated patients using hypnotherapy for 20 years with a success rate of about 70 per cent. "It helps all the symptoms, whereas some of the drugs available reduce only a few of the symptoms. However, men don't do quite as well as women." Several randomised controlled trials have shown good results. In one, group hypnotherapy proved as effective as individual sessions.
Where can I get it?
Gut-directed hypnotherapy is not widely available on the NHS. Your GP will know if there is a clinic you can be referred to. Because anybody can call themselves a hypnotherapist, it is risky to pick a name out of the phone book: IBS sufferers need somebody specifically trained in gut-directed hypnotherapy.

Advances in Functional Bowel Disorders


Brooks Cash, MD   

Baltimore, Wednesday, October 15, 2003 -- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common conditions encountered in general medical practice. [1,2] IBS has the potential for protean manifestations but is generally characterized by abdominal pain, bloating, and disturbed defecation. Because it is a very common condition, it represents a leading cause of gastroenterology and primary-care consultations. Additionally, patients with IBS are more likely to exhibit healthcare-seeking behaviors than patients without IBS. The prevalence of IBS is estimated to range between 14% and 24% in women and 5% and 19% in men in the United States and the United Kingdom. [3] The impact of IBS is not restricted to individual patient discomfort. It has been estimated that the total direct cost associated with this functional bowel disorder includes $10 billion in direct medical costs and $20 billion in indirect costs, such as absenteeism and lost work productivity. [4-6]

This report highlights various aspects regarding the care of patients with IBS, as discussed on Wednesday during sessions presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology.

Patterns of Care

It has been estimated that IBS is responsible for 2.4-3.5 million physician visits per year and represents 12% of primary-care and 28% of gastroenterological referrals. [7]

To assess the differences in management between primary-care practitioners and specialists, Whitehead and colleagues [8] compared the 2 practice settings within a large health maintenance organization specifically examining IBS treatment, explanation of symptoms, and patient satisfaction. Overall care was strikingly similar among gastroenterologists and primary-care practitioners. Prescribing habits were equal between the 2 groups with the exception of laxatives, which were more likely to be prescribed by primary-care practitioners. Advice regarding diet, exercise, and coping behaviours demonstrated similar patterns among the 2 groups, as did referral patterns to dietary specialists and mental health professionals (< 10% in both settings). Primary-care practitioners were more likely to explain IBS to patients, but this did not appear to affect patient satisfaction scores, which were similar among the 2 settings.

The results of this study suggest that additional education for both specialists and primary-care practitioners regarding effective IBS therapy and communication techniques may be needed. It also raises some questions with respect to what features of IBS care (effective therapy, reassurance, education) are most important for patient satisfaction.

Therapeutic Options in IBS

Measuring Treatment Effects in IBS Trials

There is no single therapeutic approach to IBS. Most patients (ie, those with mild symptoms and minimal impairment) with IBS can be managed at a primary-care level. Fewer than 25% of patients with IBS have more severe symptoms with significant lifestyle impairment requiring management by a gastroenterologist, and 5% of patients with IBS have such severe and incapacitating symptoms that they require referral to a center with multispecialty capability. [9] Goals of therapy should focus on symptom management rather than cure.

It would seem intuitive that investigators performing therapeutic trials for IBS would measure changes in individual IBS symptoms, such as abdominal pain, bloating, and bowel habit satisfaction in order to determine therapeutic efficacy. Reliance on changes in individual symptoms, however, may not be as sensitive an endpoint as global IBS symptom relief, likely due to the nonspecific, variable, and subjective complaints that are common with IBS.

Dunger-Baldauf and colleagues [10] presented data from a large Nordic trial assessing tegaserod for treatment of IBS symptoms in 647 patients (83% women) with nondiarrhea-predominant disease. These investigators examined the primary outcome variable -- global IBS symptom relief -- relative to changes in the individual symptoms of IBS. They demonstrated that global relief is responsive to changes in the individual symptoms of IBS and is therefore appropriate as a primary outcome of IBS therapy trials. This is an important concept because trials that show improvement in individual IBS symptoms may not translate into overall improvement of the patient with IBS. Clinicians examining IBS therapy trials should look for this outcome.

Psychologic Aspects of IBS

Among therapies for IBS, only alosetron and tegaserod have been shown to be effective agents for global symptom relief in rigorous clinical trials. Several groups have found that psychosocial stress alters both gastrointestinal motor activity and sensation and can exacerbate gastrointestinal symptoms in patients with functional disorders. [11,12]

A symposium on functional bowel disorders conducted during these meeting proceedings addressed the integration of psychologic care in patients with IBS. Dr. William Orr [13] presented a review of the various rating scales that are commonly used to measure psychologic symptoms and level of impairment in clinical trials. Dr. Orr stressed that any scales used in clinical or research practice should be both valid (ie, measure what they are designed to measure) and reliable (ie, produce similar results with repeated testing). He recommended 3 important scales to assess psychologic traits or impairment in patients with IBS: (1) the Beck Depression Inventory, which evaluates the cognitive/affective and somatic aspects of depression; (2) the SF-36, which is a generic quality-of-life measurement instrument that has been used for many medical conditions; and (3) the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), which reflects sleeping habits over the previous month and can distinguish between patients with and without primary insomnia.

Dr. Lawrence Brandt [14] then described key features of interview techniques designed to identify a history of abuse. He cited historically greater rates of gastrointestinal disorders (1.5-3 times) in patients with a history of abuse and the sobering statistic that physicians are only aware of their patients' abuse history 5% to 17% of the time. A high level of suspicion, based on typical comorbid conditions and behavioral traits, should alert the physician to the possibility of unresolved emotional effects of previous or concurrent abuse. Dr. Brandt presented the following integral aspects for obtaining an abuse history: (1) establish a good rapport, be sensitive and compassionate; (2) establish a safe interview setting, free of interruptions; (3) use open-ended questions; (4) validate patient answers; (5) observe nonverbal cues of the patient and be aware of your own nonverbal communication; (6) assess the comfort/discomfort level of the patient; (7) remain nonjudgmental; (8) exhibit empathy; (9) allow the patient to retain some control of the interview and examination; (10) allow enough time for the interview; and (11) be prepared to refer the patient for appropriate psychologic care.

Dr. Michael Crowell [15] presented a multidimensional approach to functional bowel disease and medications. Dr. Crowell reinforced the concept of IBS as a biopsychosocial condition. The origins of IBS can best be described as a complex interplay of disturbances involving gastrointestinal motility, visceral sensation, and central pain processing. Psychologic and emotional disturbances can affect all of these aspects. He emphasized the role of serotonin and its effects on gastrointestinal motility and sensation, as well as its role in the multiple comorbid conditions that can accompany IBS. Multiple other neurotransmitters may also be important in the origin of IBS and psychologic symptoms. Additional therapeutic investigations using a multidimensional approach (medical therapy plus psychologic therapy) need to be performed to validate this concept.

And finally, Dr. Kevin Olden [16] concluded the symposium by reviewing current issues surrounding psychologic care for patients with functional gastrointestinal disorders. According to Dr. Olden, 90% of psychologic disturbances in patients with IBS will fall into 3 broad categories: (1) major depression; (2) anxiety disorders (panic disorder, generalized anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder); and (3) somatoform disorders (somatization, pain disorder, conversion disorder, and hypochondriasis). He stressed the importance of recognizing these conditions and referral to mental health specialists focusing on the burden of the illness, rather than on the illness itself. It is especially important to find skilled and interested mental health colleagues and to try to coordinate subsequent care with these specialists.

Hypnosis for IBS

Palsson and colleagues [17] previously reported positive results associated with the use of hypnosis in patients with IBS. It was found that hypnosis (45 minutes every other week for 12 weeks as well as self-hypnosis techniques) improved both IBS symptoms (pain, bloating, and disturbed defecation) and psychologic parameters (somatization and anxiety scores). However, the real-world effectiveness of hypnotherapy presupposes motivated patients and ready access to an appropriately trained therapist.

During this year's meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology, Palsson and colleagues [18] expanded on their previous work by reporting the results of a 3-month home hypnosis program for patients with IBS. The study authors compared the improvement (in multiple symptom parameters) of 19 patients with IBS treated with self-hypnosis (conducted via audio compact disc instruction) with 57 age-, sex-, and symptom severity-matched controls treated with standard medical therapy. Fifty-three percent of the hypnosis patients had improvement in overall IBS symptoms compared with 26% of the controls (10 of 19 vs 15 of 57; P < .05). Quality of life was also significantly improved among patients who underwent hypnosis, and these treatment differences were shown to persist at 6 months. These investigators also found that patients exhibiting greater degrees of anxiety were less likely to respond to hypnotherapy, suggesting that other methods of therapy may be more useful in this subset of patients with IBS.


IBS is a common and important gastroenterologic disorder. Although most patients with IBS will never seek medical care for their symptoms, physician familiarity with IBS symptoms and the comorbid conditions associated with IBS represent an integral aspect of optimizing care for these patients. A history of abuse, especially in women, is common in patients with IBS and may play an important role in symptom origin and patient coping behaviors. Identification of abuse or psychologic disturbance in patients with IBS can be accomplished in routine practice, and appropriate referral to mental health specialists should be a standard aspect of care for IBS patients with identified psychologic comorbidity. Last, alternative psychologic therapies such as hypnosis may be both effective and practical for certain subsets of patients with IBS, although additional investigation is warranted.

The opinions and assertions contained herein are the sole views of the author and should not be construed as official or as representing the views of the US Navy or Department of Defense.


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  15. Crowell M. A multidimensional approach to functional bowel disease and medication. In: ACG Simultaneous Symposia A -- The functional bowel disease: Helping the patient without ruining your day. Program and abstracts of the Annual Meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology; October 10-15, 2003; Baltimore, Maryland.
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