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Irritable Bowel or Irritable mind?

Man with upset get
How are you doing IBS?

If you've experienced gut problems, you've likely had testing done. Your GP doesn't find anything physically wrong, but the symptoms persist. Frustratingly, you might hear "It's in your mind" and as infuriating as that is to hear, it might be right. 


IBS can be caused by:

  • Childhood trauma

  • Stressful life events

  • Viral Gastroenteritis

  • Stomach bug caused by bacteria

  • Bacterial overgrowth in the gut

  • Post-pregnancy / change in hormones

  • Post-infection/post-surgery

It's regarded as incurable and as tests don't show anything physically/structurally wrong with your gut, it's treated as a nervous system condition. The symptoms can be controlled - usually by diet or medication

Scientists believe the gut and mind should be considered 2 parts of the same system - so when you're told, it's in your head, it's true. But if you can manage how your mind processes and deals with stress, your gut will fall into line.

Everyone gets butterflies in their stomach before something like a date or a test, and people who don't suffer IBS can park the feeling. It's different for those of us with IBS. If you've been having symptoms for a period, you're likely missing the skills to manage your anxiety. 

If a modified diet or medication works for you, great. Hypnotherapy on the other hand focuses on what causes the symptoms to occur. It's been used to treat IBS for 40 years and has been shown to work for 80% of those who try it.


If you choose to explore hypnotherapy as a treatment option, it's important you've eliminated any other potential causes before proceeding (ask your GP to use the Rome 4 criteria)

Source: Jayne Corner: Transforming IBS with Mind-Gut Therapies

FodMAPS vs Hypnosis

If you suffer from IBS, you've likely heard of or tried the FODMAP diet. Monash University was instrumental in developing FODMAPs - and has also studied the impact of hypnosis as a treatment for IBS

The study showed hypnotherapy can reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) by 70% in patients.

Interestingly, one of the study groups used both FODMAPs and hypnotherapy - and this group responded the worst. FODMAPs although successful can cause food anxiety. The clinical hypnosis approach to treating IBS focuses on the relationship between the gut and mind and works on helping you find tools to manage your stress and in turn your symptoms. Therefore it's not surprising the two approaches can clash.

The diagram below shows a typical cycle of what's happening between the mind and your gut when you're suffering symptoms

IBS Cycle Fremantle

If you can relate to this cycle, hypnotherapy can help by empowering you to trust your body again - and start living with freedom. Clients also report a reduction in non-gut symptoms such as fewer headaches and back pain.

Our IBS treatment package includes 6 sessions, in which you'll learn simple breathing and mindful tools that will help minimise food anxiety and overall stressful triggers. Most clients see a reduction in symptoms after 3 sessions.

If you're ready to take control, contact me or book an appointment

NICE IBS Guidelines

The NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) recommends the following guidelines when it comes to food and IBS

  • Drink at least 8 cups of fluid per day, especially water or other non-caffeinated drinks such as herbal teas.

  • Restrict tea and coffee to 3 cups per day.

  • Reduce intake of alcohol and fizzy drinks – both of which can irritate your digestive system.

  • Consider limiting intake of insoluble high-fibre food.

  • Reduce intake of 'resistant starch’.

  • Limit the amount of fresh fruit you are eating to 3 portions per day.

  • If they experience diarrhoea they should avoid sorbitol.

  • If they suffer with excess gas and bloating, consider increasing intake of oats which is a source of soluble fibre.

  • Diarrhoea may also be caused by a high intake of fatty foods. Therefore, avoid foods high in fat

Lifestyle & IBS Management

Other factors that can help in managing IBS are:

  • Sleep can be a vicious cycle. Poor sleep can aggravate symptoms and vice versa. We'll talk about tools to improve your sleep hygiene 

  • Exercise such as yoga, walking and swimming has been found to help reduce symptoms (as exercise helps you process stress)

  • Self Care. Yes, it's a buzzword, but people who put themselves last are more prone to suffering from IBS. We'll talk about strategies that improve your self worth

Gut directed hypnotherapy
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