04/27/04 08:32 PM
Hypnosis May Help Non-Responsive Irritable Bowel Syndrome Patients

Hypnosis May Help Irritable Bowel Syndrome Patients

Tue 27 April, 2004 21:10

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - In patients with irritable bowel syndrome that does not respond to other treatments, hypnotherapy appears to be able to reduce colon symptoms after eating, according to Swedish researchers.

Irritable bowel syndrome symptoms are common after meals and related to an exaggerated gastrocolonic response, Dr. Magnus Simren and colleagues from Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Goteborg, report in Psychosomatic Medicine.

Twenty-eight patients with irritable bowel syndrome that had not responded to other treatments were randomly assigned to receive gut-directed hypnotherapy 1 hr/week for 12 weeks or supportive therapy (control subjects).

Hypnotherapy patients were given suggestions in the hypnotic state directed at normalizing gastrointestinal function, and included imagery of "a river flowing smoothly, or a blocked river flow that was cleared by the patient," the researchers elaborate. Patients were encouraged to practice their "hypnotic skills" at home between sessions.

Patients in the supportive group attended sessions on diet emphasizing "good and bad food items," and on relaxation training.

At study entry and at 3 months, the patients underwent a series of tests to determine colon function. All patients had similar function at the start of the trial.

After the treatment period, the hypnotherapy patients but not the control patients had lower responses on tests of colon sensitivity.

Based on their findings, the investigators conclude that hypnotherapy reduces the sensory and motor components of the gastrocolonic response in irritable bowel syndrome. "This could be one of perhaps several factors responsible for the good clinical efficacy of this treatment modality in these patients."

Psychosomatic Medicine, March/April 2004.


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