There is a growing body of evidence on the effectiveness of gut directed hypnotherapy for IBS.
In 2021 the American College of Gastroenterologists recommended the practice of Gut-directed psychotherapies (GDPs), which as a class include cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) and gut-directed hypnotherapy (GDH), in its 2021 clinical guidelines.
Randomised clinical trial: the efficacy of gut-directed hypnotherapy is similar to that of the low FODMAP diet for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome
PETERS SL, ET AL. ALIMENTARY PHARMACOLOGY & THERAPEUTICS 2016, 44: 447-59.
The aim of the trial was to compare the effects of gut-directed hypnotherapy to the low FODMAP diet on gastrointestinal symptoms and psychological indices, and assess additive effects.
The trial compared two groups of participants, one group undertaking 6 weeks of hypnotherapy while the other followed the low FODMAP diet for the same duration. The results showed that 70% of patients in both groups reported improvement in their quality of life in symptoms associated with IBS, including abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation.
The study concluded that hypnotherapy is an effective treatment for IBS, with clinically significant results that are comparable to those of the low FODMAP diet.
Standard gastroenterologist versus multidisciplinary treatment for functional gastrointestinal disorders (MANTRA): an open-label, single-centre, randomised controlled trial
CHAMARA BASNAYAKE, MD, PROF MICHAEL A KAMM, MD, ANNALISE STANLEY, RN, AMY WILSON-O'BRIEN, PHD, KATHRYN BURRELL, RN, ISABELLA LEES-TRINCA, B PHYSIO, ET AL
Published in the Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology: Volume 5, Issue 10, P890-899, OCTOBER 2020
In July 2020, the Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology published a study that evaluated the effectiveness of a multidisciplinary approach, which included gut-directed hypnotherapy, compared to standard care for patients with IBS. The study found that 83% of patients who received the multidisciplinary approach reported symptom relief, while only 63% of those who received standard care experienced the same. Furthermore, patients who received the multidisciplinary approach showed significant improvement in symptoms and quality of life compared to those who only received standard care from a gastroenterologist only.
Controlled trial of hypnotherapy in the treatment of severe refractory irritable-bowel syndrome
PJ WHORWELL, A PRIOR, E B FARAGHER
Published in the Lancet 1984, Dec 1;2(8414):1232-4
The clinical trial involved 30 patients with severe refractory irritable-bowel syndrome. Participants were randomly allocated to treatment with either hypnotherapy or psychotherapy and placebo.
The psychotherapy patients showed a small but significant improvement in abdominal pain, abdominal distension, and general well-being but not in bowel habit.
The hypnotherapy patients showed a dramatic improvement in all features, the difference between the two groups being highly significant. In the hypnotherapy group no relapses were recorded during the 3-month follow-up period, and no substitution symptoms were observed.
Long term benefits of hypnotherapy for irritable bowel syndrome
GONSALKORALE WM, MILLER V, AFZAL A, WHORWELL PJ. Gut. 2003 Nov; 52(11): 1623–1629.
The study aimed to determine whether the benefits of hypnotherapy are sustained over the long term.
204 IBS patients completed questionnaires scoring symptoms, quality of life, anxiety, and depression before, immediately after, and up to six years following hypnotherapy.
The results showed that 71% of patients initially responded to therapy. Of these, 81% maintained their improvement over time while the majority of the remaining 19% claimed that deterioration of symptoms had only been slight
The study provided evidence that the positive effects of hypnotherapy can be sustained for at least five years, making it a viable and effective therapeutic option for treating irritable bowel syndrome.
Intestinal Microbiome in Irritable Bowel Syndrome before and after Gut-Directed Hypnotherapy
PETER J, FOURNIER C, KEIP B, RITTERSHAUS N, STEPHANOU-RIESER N, DURDEVIC M, DEJACO C, MICHALSKI M, MOSER G. Int J Mol Sci. 2018 Nov 16;19(11):3619. doi: 10.3390/ijms19113619
This paper represents the first attempt to investigate the potential impact of hypnotherapy on the gut microbiome.
The study's small sample size (38 IBS patients), lack of control subjects, and challenges in collecting dietary data limited its scope. Faecal samples were collected from a group of IBS patients, including males and females with varying symptoms and severity levels ranging from constipation to diarrhea. Assays were performed both before and after 10 weekly group sessions of gut-directed hypnotherapy.
The results indicated that the intervention did not significantly alter the bacterial diversity, and none of the observed changes in abundance were significant when controlling for multiple testing.
Despite this, the majority of patients experienced significant reductions in the severity of their IBS symptoms, and psychological distress and well-being also improved significantly.
The findings suggested that hypnotherapy may act by central nervous impact and other factors largely independent from microbiota composition modulating the brain-gut axis, possibly alterations in vagus nerve functioning and microbiota metabolism.