Do you put your troubles and worries into
your gut? Some of us experience chronic upsets in our gastro-intestinal
tract that range from inconvenient and annoying to totally debilitating.
When there is no obvious physical or microbial cause, these symptoms
are lumped under the general heading of Irritable Bowel Syndrome abbreviated
to IBS. This is a common disorder worldwide, and IBS affects
14-24% of women and 5-19% of men. IBS is more a descriptive heading
than a diagnosis, because it can be caused by so many factors and
can express itself in so many different ways. Many doctors in general
practice make the mistake of trying to treat the overt symptoms rather
than seeking out the underlying causes.
| Geoffrey Knight
Symptoms often begin during periods of major stress such as a divorce,
death of a loved one or school exams. Symptoms may also follow a
gastrointestinal infection or abdominal surgery. Food allergies
may play a role, as can reactions to drugs taken for other conditions.
The most common symptoms that IBS patients complain of are: frequent
diarrhea, abdominal pain (usually in the lower abdomen area), gas,
bloating, diarrhea alternating with constipation, mucus in the stool
and bowel urgency or incontinence. Upper GI symptoms include heartburn
or acid indigestion and nausea .
IBS rules the lives of a number of patients and can be very debilitating.
It affects their family, home and work life, and can deprive family
members and partners, as well as the sufferer, of a normal life.
I know of one lady suffer of IBS who has made a point of knowing
every public, hotel and store restroom in Portland for use in case
of an emergency.
There is a strong connection between your central nervous system
and your gut. You know when you have an urge to go to the bathroom,
but, equally, you can suppress the urge to go when you have to remain
in an important meeting. Acute anxiety or stress often results in
diarrhea, but it is only when it becomes chronic that you suspect
IBS. The emotional influences behind IBS are often linked to issues
around self-esteem, self-confidence and self-respect. They may express
themselves as anxiety, panic attacks, depression or eating disorders,
or can result in the diarrhea/constipation seesaw of IBS.
Hypnotherapy is one of a number of therapies that may alleviate
or even eliminate IBS. Mike Mahoney is a hypnotherapist who has
a practice in England dealing solely with IBS and is very well know
for his skill in this one area. Over a two-year period between 1995-1997,
he was involved in a controlled research project with a medical
practice, treating IBS with hypnosis. All the patients involved
in the study had been diagnosed with IBS for over two years. The
youngest was 9 and the oldest 74. The results showed an improvement
of about 80% in severity and frequency of symptoms. Six months after
the project ended, the patients stabilization continued and
many reported an increased improvement.
When I use hypnotherapy in treating IBS, the first thing I do is
to try to find and understand the underlying cause of the clients
IBS. In most cases the unconscious mind in deep hypnosis will reveal
this cause. I then address this cause and reframe it or change it.
I can then proceed to teach them how to control their IBS, giving
them methodologies on how to either speed up or slow down their
digestive system. It is all about giving them insight into their
unconscious feelings and confidence to manage their own digestive
system. The power of the mind can take control of the nervous system,
which in turn controls their gastro-intestinal system. I teach the
client how their mind can influence peristalsis (the contractions
of the digestive system) and make the necessary changes so that
the whole system flows in a normal manner. The direct
suggestions given in session are then reinforced on a regular basis
by the client putting him or herself into self-hypnosis.
We are fortunate in having in Portland a group of gastroenterological
physicians and surgeons who do embrace the fact that hypnosis is
one of the ways of treating IBS. They can be found at the St. Vincents
Hospital medical center, and, under the auspices of their managing
nurse Mrs. Gerri Pawson, they have set up a Support Group specifically
for IBS sufferers. The group meets on the second Wednesday of every
month at 7 pm at the St. Vincents medical center. Gerri Pawson
can be contacted on 503 292 6452.
Geoffrey Knight is a clinical hypnotherapist and Director of
the Knightsbridge Institute for Hypnotherapy and NLP. He is a Member
of the Oregon Hypnotherapy Association. He can be reached at (503)
246-7300. Address: 3446 SW Alice St, Portland, OR 97219; E-mail
Geoffrey@Knight.net, Web: Geoffrey.Knight.net