Irritable Bowel Syndrome: (IBS)

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is often characterised by a variety of symptoms including abdominal (stomach) pain or cramp; stomach bloating; a change in your bowel habits, such as diarrhoea, constipation, or sometimes both; excessive wind (flatulence), and sometimes having a sudden need to go to toilet.

Other additional symptoms may also be present – such as feeling sick, having back ache, lack of energy – and more – which can vary from person to person. See the National Health Service’s website for further information.  And of course, see your GP if you are experiencing any symptoms.

Although hypnotherapy is not a treatment of IBS, hypnosis can help you manage the stress and psychological challenges of IBS.

Hypnotherapy and its help with Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Studies have found that a course of hypnotherapy may help to cure Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

For example, s study from Manchester University suggests that hypnosis may help as a treatment for IBS. reports that symptoms were improved in over 75 per cent of both men and women who had a course of the therapy. The effects also lasted for five or more years.

Pioneer of the treatment at Manchester, Professor Peter Whorwell said: “Hypnotherapy offers patients a 60 to 75 per cent chance of substantial reduction in their symptoms that can last many years.”  Other positive effects for patients using hypnotherapy for IBS was also an improvement in quality of life and levels of anxiety and depression, although this decreased over time.   Patients also reported taking fewer drugs and not needing to see their doctor as often after having hypnotherapy.

Hypnotherapy has also shown to be successful for children suffering from IBS as well. A study undertaken by German researchers found children were more likely to have clinical remission at three months, compared to those who didn’t have the hypnotherapy. reported that the children studied were aged between six and 12, and 55 per cent of them entered remission after hypnotherapy, compared to just six per cent of them who were put onto a waiting list.

The authors, from the University of Tubingen, published their findings in the European Journal of Pediatric and also discovered that the treated children had lower, less frequent pain, intensity and duration, compared with controls.

The NHS Choices webstie also suggests hypnotherapy may help to reduce symptoms of IBS.

Dr Monty Lyman *writes of his own personal experience of hypnotherapy and IBS:

‘I seem to have been cured of longstanding and occasionally severe irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) through hypnotherapy.  Hypnosis was something I never heard mentioned at medical school and something I previously sneered at, but my own pain relief has been near miraculous. ”        (p xvii ‘The Painful Truth’ The new science of why we hurt and how we can heal’,  2021   Bantam Press)

*Dr Monty Lyman is a doctor and research fellow at the University of Oxford.  In 2019 his first book was shortlisted for the Royal Society Science Book Prize and has won several essay prizes including 2020 Royal Society of Medicine pain essay.



Diagnosing Irritable Bowel Syndrome

It is aways advised to check with your GP if you suspect you may have IBS, or have similar symptoms. It is always important to rule out any other medical conditions that may be similar to IBS.
Note: a good Hypnotherapyist will not even attempt to begin hypnosis  for helping an IBS unless your doctor has made this diagnosis.


(Sources:  National Hypnotherapy Society Newsletter Oct 2013; National Hypnotherapy Society Newsletter May 2013; Daiy Mail;

Dr Monty Lyman:  ‘The Painful Truth’ The new science of why we hurt and how we can heal’,  2021   Bantam Press)