Irritable Bowel Syndrome can be Cured by Hypnosis, Psychological Therapy
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is defined by the Mayo Clinic as a common disorder that affects the large intestine, causing cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation. The cause of IBS is still unclear, but treatment often focuses on the relief of such symptoms.
A new study published in the journal "Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology", however, shows that the effects of psychological therapy, which include hypnosis and relaxation methods, for IBS can be beneficial for at least six up to 12 months after therapy, Business Standard reports. Researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 41 clinical trials and found that those who suffered IBS and received psychotherapy had more lasting reductions in symptoms compared to their counterparts who did not have any treatment.
Researchers analyzed studies in which participants were asked to answer questionnaires about their symptoms at the start and end of their treatment, Yahoo! Health reports. Results showed that 75% of the group who had psychotherapy reported feeling better than the average member of the group that received no treatment. Researchers also found that the effects of psychotherapy lasted for 12 months after the psychotherapy.
Lead study author Kelsey T. Laird, a doctoral candidate at Vanderbilt University, told Yahoo! Health, "It’s exciting that this benefit appears to last, as IBS is notoriously difficult to treat."
Laird said that the relationship of the gastrointestinal tract to the nervous system is why psychotherapy is effective. IBS is thought to be a result of a dysfunction of the brain-gut axis, which is why the brain can affect the body, and vice versa.
Psychotherapy is then effective because it helps patients retain and practice new skills to use as long as they know it, compared to just taking medication every time IBS occurs.
"Western medicine often conceptualizes the mind as separate from the body, but IBS is a perfect example of how the two are connected," Laird explained, via Tech Times. She added that gastrointestinal symptoms can increase anxiety and stress, causing the symptoms to become more severe.
Health 24 reports that according to lead author Lynn Walker, a professor of paediatrics at Vanderbilt University Medical Centre in Nashville, "Our study is the first one that has looked at long-term effects."
"We found that the moderate benefit that psychological therapies confer in the short term continue over the long term," Dr. Walker said. "This is significant because IBS is a chronic, intermittent condition for which there is no good medical treatment."
Laird said that in contrast to medications, psychotherapy can help break the vicious cycle of gastrointestinal symptoms increasing stress and anxiety, offering better relief from IBS.