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Irritable Bowel Syndrome

  1. Comparing Hypnotherapy and Biofeedback for Reducing IBS Symptoms

    Investigators from the School of Clinical Sciences and Community Health at the University of Edinburgh in the UK compared brief interventions with biofeedback and hypnotherapy in women with refractory Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

    Patients were randomized to one of two treatment groups, biofeedback or hypnotherapy, delivered as three one-hour sessions over 12 weeks.

    Symptom assessments were undertaken using validated, self-administered questionnaires.
    Two of the 128 consecutive IBS patients suitable for the study declined to consider nonpharmacological therapy and 29 patients did not attend beyond the first session.

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  2. Can 10 Group Sessions of Gut-Directed Imagery Make a Dent on IBS?

    Researchers from the Medical University of Vienna in Vienna, Austria investigated whether gut-directed hypnotherapy (GHT) administered in group sessions is effective for refractory Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), as we know it is when administered in individual sessions.
    A total of 164 patients with IBS (Rome-III-criteria) were screened, and of those, 100 patients refractory to usual treatment were randomized either to 10 sessions within 12 weeks of either supportive talks with medical treatment as usual (SMT) or to the latter along with gut directed hypnotherapy.

    Patients were assessed for clinical improvement on several dimensions of daily life, as assessed by the IBS impact scale, immediately after treatment and again at 12-month follow-up.  In addition, they were also assessed for improvement in general quality of life (using the QOL Medical Outcome Study Short-Form-36); for psychological status (Hospital Anxiety Depression Scale); and for reduction of individual IBS symptoms.  Analysis was by intention to treat.

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  3. Gut-Directed Hypnotherapy Is Good for Kids, Too

    Dutch researchers from Emma Children’s Hospital in Amsterdam reviewed the literature to see if gut-directed hypnotherapy was as effective for children as it is for adults suffering from functional abdominal pain (FAP) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

    Investigators searched Medline, Embase, PsychINFO, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature databases and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials for randomized controlled trials (RCT) with child subjects with FAP or IBS. They looked at the efficacy of hypnotherapy on abdominal pain, quality of life, treatment costs and school absenteeism.

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  4. Internet Based Hypnosis Works Well over the Longterm for Irritable Bowel

    Researchers from the University of Gothenburg in Gothenburg, Sweden conducted a retrospective study to evaluate long-term effects 2-7 years after receiving gut-directed hypnotherapy for Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

    Subjects who had received gut-directed hypnotherapy (n=208) filled out the Subjective Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) which measures changes in IBS symptoms. The 208 patients were classified as responders and non-responders were also asked to report changes in health-care seeking, use of drugs for IBS symptoms, use of alternative non-pharmacological treatments, and if they still actively used hypnotherapy.
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  5. Relaxation Training Improves Quality of Life for Irritable Bowel Sufferers

    Investigators from the Department of Gastroenterology at Shaare Zedek Medical Center and the Hebrew University School of Medicine in Jerusalem conducted a randomized, controlled trial with 56 outpatients suffering from Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) to see if relaxation training could improve their quality of life.
    Subjects were randomly assigned to a treatment group or a waiting-list control group.  Treatment group patients attended three relaxation-training sessions and received an audio disc for home practice.

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  6. Successful, New CBT Protocol for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

    Researchers from UCLA investigated whether a cognitive-behavioral treatment known as Interoceptive Exposure (originally developed for treating panic disorder) targeting visceral anxiety could alleviate the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, a potentially debilitating condition with few efficacious pharmacological or psychosocial treatment options available.

    [Ed. Note:  for a fuller explanation of Interoceptive Exposure, click here]

    The protocol randomly assigned 110 subjects to receive 10 sessions of either: (a) interoceptive exposure (IE) targeting visceral sensations (b) stress management (SM); or (c) an attention control condition (AC).  They were assessed at baseline, mid-treatment, post-treatment, and follow-up sessions.

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  7. Longterm Benefits for Irritable Bowel via Web-Based Program

    Researchers from the Department of Clinical Neuroscience of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden conducted a follow-up of a previously reported study of internet-delivered cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), based on exposure and mindfulness exercises (Ljótsson et al. (2010) Internet-delivered exposure and mindfulness based therapy for irritable bowel syndrome - a randomized controlled trial. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 48, 531-539).

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  8. Autogenic Training Reduces Irritable Bowel Symptoms

    In this small pilot study, researchers from the Department of Behavioral Medicine at Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan looked at the impact of Autogenic Training (AT) on the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

    Twenty-one patients with IBS were randomly assigned to AT (n = 11, 5 male, 6 female) or a control condition (n = 10, 5 male, 5 female). AT patients were trained intensively, while the control therapy participated in discussions about eating habits and general lifestyle.

    All patients answered a question measuring adequate relief (AR) of IBS symptoms and four questionnaires: Self-induced IBS Questionnaire (SIBSQ), Self-reported Depression Scale (SDS), State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), and Medical Outcome Short Form 36 Health Survey (SF-36).

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  9. Woman with Inflammatory Bowel Disease Says Imagery Helps

    We just found this feedback to the IBS/IBD imagery on our website and it’s very encouraging.  We decided to post it to inspire others to try imagery for their irascible guts. 

    Lisa writes:

    After having had great results with your Successful Surgery CD, I ordered this one as well. I've been listening every morning for several weeks and am already experiencing a calmer, happier, much less reactive gut. I highly recommend it for those with Crohn's or Ulcerative Colitis. Thank you for introducing me to the soothing, supportive experience of guided imagery.
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  10. Does Imagery Work For Crohn’s Disease & IBD?

    Any research on efficacy of guided imagery for managing Crohns Diseease?  My 20 year old daughter is recently diagnosed and I want to find resources for her.
    Thank you.


    Dear Paul,

    There’s nothing definitive - I can only find small pilot studies - but I can certainly point to some promising results from them.  One study out of the University of Manchester yielded excellent results with 15 patients suffering from severe inflammatory bowel disease, who were on corticosteroids but were not responding to their medication.  These patients were given “gut-focused hypnotherapy” (guided imagery) and were followed for an average of 5.4 years.

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