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Hypnotherapy for bloating

Posted 11 months ago by Clare

Many people try countless different approaches hoping to alleviate their uncomfortable abdominal bloating, often to little, or no, avail. So, if elimination diets, OTC remedies and even nutritional supplements do not have the desired effect, are there any other options left for sufferers? 

It has been found that hypnotherapy may alleviate bloating


One often over-looked therapy is hypnotherapy, in which a trained therapist uses hypnosis to access a patient’s subconscious mind, and discover any negative thought patterns that may be creating physical or emotional symptoms. It is based around the concept that most physical symptoms have an emotional cause or component to them, and that if you can re-programme the subconscious mind with healthy patterns of thought, many symptoms will be improved.

Caroline Moodie (D.Hyp, PDCHyp, MBSCH) of ‘Andover Hypno’ spoke to me about her clinical experience of using hypnotherapy for bloating problems:

‘I have been successfully treating clients with digestive/IBS/bloating problems for 16 years. The digestive system is effected greatly by stress which can be triggered not only physically but psychologically - the quality of our thoughts impacts greatly on how our bodies perform. Teaching simple but effective techniques to calm the mind and body, reassessing a person's life balance, and, if relevant, creating healthier responses to situations will all positively influence the performance of the digestive system and the body in general. Hypnosis (a state we access naturally every day) when used therapeutically is a powerful way to fast track change. ‘

Evidence-based therapy, or mumbo jumbo?

It is hard not to equate the practice of hypnosis to certain stage shows where volunteers may be asked to either dance like a chicken, or perhaps eat whole onions whilst hypnotised, in order to entertain and delight the rest of the audience.
However, clinical hypnotherapy is a far cry from the use of hypnosis for the purpose of entertainment, and it actually does have a large, and growing, amount of clinical backing. With specific reference to bloating a 1984 study[1] by ‘Whorwell et al’ divided 30 patients with severe IBS, with abdominal bloating, as one of their main symptoms, in to two groups. The study participants were all known not to have responded to other treatment types.  One group of 15 sufferers were randomly selected to receive 7 sessions of hypnotherapy, the other group of 15 were given 7 sessions of psychotherapy plus a placebo tablet each day.

Whilst psychotherapy achieved some mild improvements in symptoms, it was the hypnotherapy group that benefitted from the most dramatic improvements. Improvements were seen in all their central IBS symptoms, including the symptom of abdominal distention/bloating. Even more impressively, the hypnotherapy group showed no relapse in symptoms in the 3 month follow up period, demonstrating the potential long-lasting effects of this therapy.

 

 

Given that the therapy is completely painless and non-invasive sufferers of uncomfortable abdominal bloating have nothing much to lose in trying hypnotherapy, and potentially a lot to gain! As a bonus to hopefully getting on top of ‘the bloat’ you may well experience a whole host of other benefits, including a more healthy emotional reaction to challenging situations. Result!

As always, it is important that you choose a qualified and reputable practitioner. A register of qualified professionals can be found here at the hypnotherapy directory.

Whorwell PJ; Prior A; Faragher EB. Controlled trial of hypnotherapy in the treatment of severe refractory irritable-bowel syndrome.The Lancet 1984, 2: 1232-4

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