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Copyright 2013 Natural Standard (
April 2012

Hypnotherapy May Improve IBS Symptoms

A recent study supports previous findings that suggest hypnotherapy may improve irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms.

IBS may be referred to as spastic colon, mucous colitis, spastic colitis, nervous stomach or irritable colon. IBS is a functional bowel disorder, conditions in which the bowel appears normal but does not function normally. IBS is fairly common and makes up 20-50 percent of visits to gastroenterologists (doctors who diagnose and treat digestive problems).

Early research suggests hypnotherapy may lower the sensory and motor component of the gastrocolonic response in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Better studies are necessary to make a conclusion.

In a new study, researchers evaluated data on 208 IBS patients who had received gut-directed hypnotherapy. Questionnaires on IBS symptoms and drug use for the treatment of symptoms were assessed.

The researchers found that 49 percent of patients reported immediate improvement in symptoms following hypnotherapy. Furthermore, 73 percent of those that saw immediate improvements also reported additional improvements after an average four year follow-up period. The majority of the patients (87 percent) reported that hypnotherapy was a beneficial treatment for IBS.

The authors concluded that gut-directed hypnotherapy may be beneficial for the long-term treatment of IBS symptoms. Further research is necessary.

Various forms of hypnosis, trance and altered states of consciousness have been documented in a number of cultures throughout history. Hypnosis-like practices can be traced to ancient Egypt, Babylon, Greece, Persia, Britain, Scandinavia, America, Africa, India and China. Wong Tai, a father of Chinese medicine, made an early written reference to hypnosis in 2600 BC. Hypnotic practices have played roles in religion and religious ceremonies. Mention is made in the Bible, Talmud and Hindu Vedas and trance-states are included in some Native American and African ceremonies.

For more information about integrative therapies for IBS, please visit Natural Standard's Comparative Effectiveness Database.

For more information about hypnotherapy, please visit Natural Standard's Heath & Wellness Database.


  1. Lindfors P, Unge P, Nyhlin H, et al. Long-term effects of hypnotherapy in patients with refractory irritable bowel syndrome. Scandinavian J of Gastroenterology. Apr 2012. 47 (4): 414-21
  2. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine.
The information in this brief report is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions. Copyright 2013 Natural Standard Inc. Commercial distribution or reproduction prohibited.