Sunday 2 November 2014

Hypnosis can help with digestive health!

Hypnosis can help with digestive health!

Close to fifty published studies have reported on the therapeutic effects of hypnosis on nausea and vomiting problems related to chemotherapy, after surgery, and during pregnancy. Overall, this substantial body of literature indicates that hypnosis can be a powerful aid in controlling nausea and vomiting”. – Dr. Olafar Palsson, Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology in the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina.
An increasing number of scientific articles have been published to support the fact that hypnosis can help with digestive health.  Johns Hoskins Medicine website contains a beautiful summary of how hypnosis has helped Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s Disease, and Functional Dyspepsia.  I would encourage you to review this summary for more information.

In the realm of digestive health, most of the hypnosis-related research that has been published deals with IBS, which is the most common and most studied of the over 20 identified functional gastrointestinal disorder (FGID).   An FGID is a reoccurring disorder causing an abnormal functioning of the gastrointestinal tract in the absence of physical or biochemical abnormalities.  On his website, Dr. Palsson has collated a summary of over 20 articles demonstrating the practicality of hypnosis for IBS.
To quote Dr. Palsson, “Clear-cut and specific changes in GI functioning can be induced in individuals by directing thinking or inducing specific emotional states under hypnosis”.
Dr. Palsson also notes that hypnosis decreases the speed of digestion and the acidic secretions in the stomach.
In the same article, Dr. Pallson states Close to fifty published studies have reported on the therapeutic effects of hypnosis on nausea and vomiting problems related to chemotherapy, after surgery, and during pregnancy. Overall, this substantial body of literature indicates that hypnosis can be a powerful aid in controlling nausea and vomiting”. 

His website states that hypnosis is effective in 80% of the IBS cases. Certain other articles found a higher response rate for their intervention protocol (for example

We know that the brain and digestive system have a built-in feedback mechanism; the stomach affects the brain, and the brain affects the stomach.  Imagining or seeing something can make you “feel sick to your stomach”. Feeling a little queasy or experiencing digestive stress can directly impact your mood. If the brain and stomach are intertwined, changing how one functions may allow us to change the other. 

Christine Dalton at the University of North Carolina notes that “psychological stress can exacerbate GI symptoms. There is a bi-directional pathway between the brain and the GI tract, often referred to as the ‘brain-gut axis’. ... In other words, the brain affects the gut. But, just as significantly, activity in the gut can affect pain perception, mood and behavior in the brain. Second, psychosocial disturbances can amplify illness experience and adversely affect health status.... Finally, having a functional GI disorder impairs the quality of one’s life.”

Knowing all this, how can a hypnotist help to improve or maintain digestive health? 

One role the hypnotist can play is to look at the person from a holistic perspective and to help the client better manage stress levels.  The hypnotist may explore how the person handles stress related to various aspects of their life, including at home, at work, and related to their symptoms. Decreasing stress levels has been shown to improve digestive functioning. 

Secondly, a hypnotist can teach clients new coping mechanisms to deal with any gastrointestinal discomfort, so that the clients feel more in control of their lives. These two roles alone can help improve the patients' quality of life. 

Finally, the hypnotist may help a person incorporate healthy habits into their lifestyle (for example assistance with weight loss, avoiding certain types of food, etc.).  Seeing a hypnotist might be the first step on a new path to digestive wellness.

As digestive issues can indicate serious health concerns, clients should first make their health care provider aware of their desire to use hypnosis.
About the author

Derrick Barnes, RSW Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist, uses the latest techniques and evidence-based research to help you focus on reaching your goals. His approach combines coaching techniques, solution-focused brief hypnotherapy, and mindfulness. Even though Derrick focuses on future successes and not past challenges, he will, upon request, offer various other services such as past life regression or energy work.

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