Two new studies presented at an international meeting of doctors, researchers, and academics in Los Angeles, as part of Digestive Disease Week 2006, showed hypnosis could help IBS patients who hadn’t been helped by other treatments.
The hypnosis researchers included Magnus Simren, MD, of Sahlgrenska University Hospital’s internal medicine department in Gothenburg, Sweden. Simren’s hypnosis studies had a combined total of 135 IBS patients. The patients’ average age was 41; most were women.
In both studies, participants were split into two groups. One group got 12 weekly one-hour hypnotherapy sessions focused on gut-related problems. For comparison, the second group didn’t get hypnosis. In one study, the comparison group got 12 weeks of attention from doctors and nutritionists. In the other study, the comparison group got no special care.
The patients rated their gastrointestinal symptoms, quality of life, and depression at the study’s start, immediately after 12 weeks of treatment, and again six and 12 months later.
“The hypnotherapy groups improved significantly in both studies regarding gastrointestinal symptoms and the control groups did not,” Simren says.
Significant improvement (meaning improvement not likely due to chance) in gastrointestinal symptoms was seen in 52% of the hypnotherapy groups, compared with 32% of the comparison groups.
The improvements were mainly seen with symptoms of abdominal pain, distension, and bloating, rather than for bowel habits, the study shows.