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Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic disorder, often involving recurrent abdominal pain and intermittent diarrhoea alternating with constipation. After a meal there is often an urgent need to empty the bowels. It has significant impact on quality of life, creating much anxiety and stress. Hypnotherapy can be helpful in alleviating the symptoms of IBS long term.

BBC news item on the treatment of IBS with hypnotherapyIBS is very common - 10 to 20 percent of the general population are estimated to have it, though it may be higher than this, as it is thought many people with IBS symptoms do not seek medical advice. People between 20 and 30 years of age are most commonly affected, and it is twice as common in women as in men.

The diagnosis of IBS must be arrived at by a qualified medical practitioner. The diagnosis is made by excluding all the other possible conditions of the bowel.

Bowel contents are moved along by a sequence of contracting and relaxing the segments of the intestine. This is called peristalsis. In IBS, peristalsis is exaggerated and more frequent than normal. The coordination of contractions in different parts of the intestine can be lost. At other times there can be very little bowel activity at all.

Certain foods, (for example, alcohol, spicy foods, coffee, milk) can exacerbate the condition. Once it is established which foods are involved, these are best avoided. Some research (June 2008) has shown that people with IBS have a higher than usual number of chilli pepper pain receptors, and this may in the future lead to new therapies. (See Science Daily report)

The most dominant factor associated with IBS symptoms is the interaction between the brain and the gut. People with IBS seem to have an overly sensitive bowel, so that the colon over-responds to the stresses of everyday life. IBS symptoms are themselves stressful, so that a vicious circle is set up where IBS maintains itself.The key is in lowering this stress response, which is why hypnotherapy can be successful. Hypnotherapy also lowers pain perception, which helps break the vicious circle above.

Appointments available at Brighton and Egham.

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