Irritable Bowel Syndrome

You didn’t come this far to stop.

@ Oneness Hypnotherapy

can support you to get rid of IBS. Clients may suffer so badly they can’t leave the house, work, drive, or do any of the everyday things they wanted to. IBS can simply stop you from living life to the full?

What is IBS?

IBS means your bowel isn’t functioning that well at the moment. It’s not classed as a disease, and there’s no test for it. It means that your bowel just doesn’t work properly. The main causes are stress and anxiety. Perhaps certain foods trigger your IBS. But whatever is causing it, reducing your anxiety will improve your IBS.

How common is IBS?

Between 5% and 10% of people are affected. You’re more likely to suffer IBS if you’re a women. Children often also suffer. In total, between 5 and 7 million people suffer the pain, discomfort and inconvenience of this disease.

The symptoms vary from person to person, from severe and life-changing, to mild. There are many different symptoms. You might get all, or just some, at a time. Or you may not always get the same symptoms. This also means your symptoms can be completely different from someone else with IBS.

Common Symptoms

Stomach pain, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation are the most frequent symptoms. Which symptoms you have depend on which part of your digestive system is affected. IBS can affect any part of your digestive system, from the mouth downwards. This explains why you can experience it in so many different ways. Some people with IBS also experience lethargy, insomnia, lower back pain, headaches and migraine, nausea and bladder symptoms.

You may also struggle with anxiety about your symptoms. For many sufferers, the condition flares up during panic attacks. 

What is it NOT

IBS can be very distressing. But it doesn’t cause bowel cancer, or damage to the bowel. IBS can’t turn into Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis. It’s not an autoimmune disorder (such as arthritis or lupus). It isn’t caused by parasites, bacteria or toxins.

If you’re at all concerned about any of your symptoms, then you should see your GP. If you’ve got unexplained weight loss, difficulty swallowing, bloating that doesn’t go away, or persistent, painless diarrhoea, then you need to rule out other problems. But IBS isn’t dangerous or life threatening. It’s just inconvenient and annoying. But it IS treatable.

Is there a test for IBS?

There is no one test that can show you have IBS. Because some of its symptoms overlap with other digestive disorders, you may have tests to rule these out. IBS means that your bowel function is impaired. However, you won’t have any obvious abnormalities or other symptoms which would lead to a diagnosis of disease. Your bowel simply doesn’t work as well as it should.

This means that if you can control the symptoms and pain of IBS, then you can live an IBS free existence. Hypnotherapy is proven to help the symptoms of IBS, and can help you with pain management. Hypnosis involves a very deep state of relaxation. It’s true that you can’t be hot and cold, or hungry and full, at the same time. And it’s also true that you can’t be relaxed and anxious.

Relaxation and anxiety are mutually exclusive. It’s well documented that your body feels less pain when relaxed. Hypnotherapy increases relaxation, and reduces anxiety and the perception of pain.

Hypnotherapy for IBS works by teaching you to influence and gain control of gut function. It also reduces anxiety and helps you manage pain. Hypnotherapy sessions reduce anxiety which is such a significant factor in IBS. Sessions “re-train” your stomach to get rid of the problem.

Hypnosis is tailored for each individual. So for example someone with diarrhoea is asked to visualise building a dam, or blocking the river with rocks. But if your IBS means you struggle with constipation, you’d think about rocks blocking the flow, and imagining sweeping these obstacles away.

What causes IBS?

It is not really known what causes IBS. However, maybe you first noticed your symptoms around the same time as experiencing a very stressful event. This might be a new job, moving house, or illness or death of someone close to you, threat of redundancy or problems with your relationship. Or maybe you first noticed your IBS after having gastric flu or another stomach upset. Whilst the causes of IBS are unclear, everyone agrees that it’s made worse by stress and anxiety.

“Gut feeling”

Your stomach is also known as your secondary nervous system. Maybe you’ve noticed that at times of anxiety and stress, your stomach turns over, churns or you get “butterflies”. Perhaps you feel nauseous, suffer pain, or even with vomiting or diarrhoea. When you experience stress and anxiety, your body automatically responds. It makes chemical and physical changes which, historically, gave you the best chance of surviving that threat.

This is known as “fight or flight”. This works well when the threat you’re facing is, for example, a fierce animal or an angry person. But it doesn’t work at all to deal with most of modern life’s difficulties. Stress at work, emotional problems, fear of flying, money worries, worrying you’re ill, or just your thoughts going round and round aren’t helped by the fight or flight response.

Most modern day threat isn’t physical

However, your body still responds in the same way to these modern day “threats” as it did to real, physical threats in the past. It produces adrenalin (which enables you to run faster or fight more aggressively). It also produces other chemical changes which encourage you to empty your stomach. This is because you run faster and fight better on an empty stomach! So you feel sick or need the loo. If your body responds to stress by allowing you to run and fight better, then this gives you a better chance of survival (supposedly!)

You might have heard people say “gut reaction” or that they feel “sick with worry”. Because the stomach responds to stress in this way, it is often the first symptom you notice when you’re anxious. If you have IBS then your bowel is probably particularly sensitive to stress. Also, when you notice a problem with your body, such as the discomfort and inconvenience of IBS, you tend to pay it more attention than you should.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a vicious circle

You worry about it, increasing the level of stress and anxiety you feel. The anxiety this produces more IBS symptoms. This means you then worry more about the pain and the symptoms, increasing your stress levels and upsetting your stomach again. It gets worse and worse.

Food Triggers for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

You may find that certain foods trigger your symptoms. Keep a diary out of everything you eat and drink for two weeks, with a note of when your symptoms flare up. This will help you to identify which foods you’re sensitive to.

After the two weeks, if for example you noticed your symptoms after drinking coffee, and this happened a few times, then try cutting out coffee for a week. Carry on writing the diary.

If cutting out the food or drink makes no difference, then it may simply have been coincidence that your symptoms flared up afterwards. However, if your diary shows that cutting it out lessens your symptoms, then it’s probably a trigger and you should continue to avoid it. You can continue this trial-and-error approach, gradually identifying and cutting out one type of food or drink at a time.

The worst IBS triggers

IBS is thought to be particularly affected by the following, but everyone is different, and you should try and discover what triggers your own symptoms. Remember though that for some people food doesn’t seem to be a trigger.

Dairy products – milk, cream, ice cream and sour cream (and products containing these ingredients) contain lactose which might be hard for you to digest. This can trigger IBS.

You should find though that yoghurt and cheese are ok – they contain bacteria which helps digest the lactose, and so they don’t seem to be a trigger.

Citrus fruits – lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruits seem to worsen IBS in some sufferers as do Spicy foods. Cabbage, broccoli, onion and beans produce excessive gas and can cause painful cramps.

On the other hand, you could find that these foods help to reduce your symptoms!

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a vicious circle

You worry about it, increasing the level of stress and anxiety you feel. The anxiety this produces more IBS symptoms. This means you then worry more about the pain and the symptoms, increasing your stress levels and upsetting your stomach again. It gets worse and worse.

How does hypnosis for IBS work?

There are two theories why hypnotherapy works to help IBS. One is that increasing relaxation and reducing anxiety means that the bowel reacts less, and symptoms improve.

The other theory is that hypnotherapy affects the anterior cingulate cortex, which experiences pain. Hypnosis affects the mind, and we know without any doubt that the mind has an effect on bodily function. This is exactly what psychosomatic illness means!

Psychosomatic illness is not, as many people think, an imaginary illness. It’s one in which your thoughts and state of mind have in fact caused the symptoms. There are many other illnesses which are made much worse by stress. For example tinnitus and restless leg syndrome get much worse when you’re stressed.

By treating your mind – changing your thoughts, beliefs and ideas – you can improve your symptoms.

Apart from hypnotherapy, what else can I do to help

You should eat regular, small meals. These are easier to digest than large ones. You may notice a flare up after eating too much at one time.
Drink six to eight small glasses of fluid every day. Avoid caffeine and fizzy drinks, although unless you are very sensitive to caffeine, the odd cup of coffee now and then won’t be a disaster.
Tea, diluted soft drinks, still water and herbal teas are fine. You can also try peppermint tea to help an upset stomach. These fluids have high water content. This helps prevents you from becoming dehydrated and helps your digestion. This will help you especially if diarrhoea is one of your symptoms.
Avoid artificial sweeteners such as sorbitol. Sugar free mints and gum often contain these
Avoid excessive alcohol.

Food Elimination for IBS

You should keep a food diary to identify which foods and drinks make your IBS worse. Then you should try cutting out these foods or drinks to see if your symptoms improve. Remember though that you should only eliminate things one-at-a-time from your diet. Do this for 10-14 days and note down whether you have fewer flare ups during this period.

Physical exercise improves digestion and helps reduce your anxiety and stress. You don’t have to go to the gym or for a run. Gardening, cleaning or any physical activity will do!

Relaxation techniques and self-hypnosis have both been shown to be hugely helpful in relieving the symptoms of IBS.

Hypnotherapy IBS Oldham Saddleworth
Hypnotherapy IBS Oldham Saddleworth