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Hypnosis for digestive Health









"Close to fifty published studies have reported on the therapeutic effects of hypnosis on nausea and vomiting problems related to chemotherapy, after surgery, and during pregnancy. Overall, this substantial body of literature indicates that hypnosis can be a powerful aid in controlling nausea and vomiting". – Dr. Olafar Palsson, Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology in the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina.


An increasing number of scientific articles have been published to support the fact that hypnosis can help with digestive health. Johns Hoskins Medicine website contains a wonderful summary on how hypnosis has been used for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn's Disease, and Functional Dyspepsia. I would encourage you to review this summary for more information.


In the realm of digestive health, most of the hypnosis related research that has been published deals with IBS, which is the most common and most researched of the over 20 identified functional gastrointestinal disorder (FGID). A FGID is basically a reoccurring disorder causing an abnormal functioning of the gastrointestinal tract in the absence of physical or biochemical abnormalities. On his website, Dr. Palsson has collated a summary of over 20 articles demonstrating the effective of hypnosis for IBS. The findings of several of these articles can be generalized to other digestive concerns (including constipation and diarrhea which is also covered IBS research).


To quote Dr. Palsson on the University of North Carolina website, "Clear-cut and specific changes in GI functioning can be induced in individuals by directing thinking or inducing specific emotional states under hypnosis".


He also notes that the speed of digestion and the acidic secretions in the stomach can be decreased through the use of hypnosis.


In the same article, Dr. Pallson states "Close to fifty published studies have reported on the therapeutic effects of hypnosis on nausea and vomiting problems related to chemotherapy, after surgery, and during pregnancy. Overall, this substantial body of literature indicates that hypnosis can be a powerful aid in controlling nausea and vomiting".


Dr. Palsson's website states that hypnosis is effective in 80% of the IBS cases. Certain other articles found a higher response rate for their intervention protocol (for example: http://gut.bmj.com/content/28/4/423.full.pdf+html).


It is widely known that the brain and digestive system have a built-in feedback mechanism the stomach affects the brain and the brain affects the stomach. Imagining or seeing something can literally make you "feel sick to your stomach". Feeling a little queasy or experiencing digestive stress can directly impact your mood. If the brain and stomach are intertwined, changing how one functions may allow us to change the other.


Christine Dalton at the University of North Carolina notes that "psychological stress can exacerbate GI symptoms. There is a bi-directional pathway between the brain and the GI tract, often referred to as the 'brain gut axis'. ... In other words, the brain affects the gut. But, just as significantly, activity in the gut can affect pain perception, mood and behavior in the brain. Second, psychosocial disturbances can amplify illness experience and adversely affect health status.... Finally, having a functional GI disorder impairs the quality of one's life."


Knowing all this, how can a hypnotist help to improve or maintain digestive health?


One role the hypnotist can play is to look at the person from a holistic perspective and to help the client better manage stress levels. The hypnotist may explore how the person manages stress related to various aspects of their life, including at home, at work, and related to their symptoms. Decreasing stress levels has been shown to improve digestive functioning.


Secondly, a hypnotist can teach clients new coping mechanisms to deal with any digestive discomfort, so that the clients feel more in control of their lives. These two roles alone can help improve the client's quality of life.


Finally, the hypnotist may help a person incorporate healthy habits into their lifestyle (for example assistance with weight loss, avoiding certain types of food, etc). Seeing a hypnotist might be the first step on a new path to digestive wellness.


As digestive issues can indicate serious health concerns, clients should first make their health care provider aware of their desire to use hypnosis.


Derrick Barnes, MSW, RSW

Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist


Related Links:

http://www.johnshopkinshealthalerts.com/alerts/digestive_health/JohnsHopkinsDigestiveDisordersHealthAlert_3634-1.html

http://www.johnshopkinshealthalerts.com/alerts/digestive_health/JohnsHopkinsDigestiveDisordersHealthAlert_3049-1.html


http://www.everydayhealth.com/health-report/better-digestion/how-stress-affects-digestion.aspx