Extracts from an interesting article in the New Scientist
Peter Whorwell MD has spent much of his professional life building a body of evidence for the use of hypnosis to treat just one condition: irritable bowel syndrome. IBS is considered a “functional” disorder – a rather derogatory term used when a patient suffers symptoms but doctors can’t see anything wrong. Whorwell felt that his patients, some of whom had such severe symptoms they were suicidal, were being let down by the medical profession. “I got into hypnosis because the conventional treatment of these conditions is abysmal.”
Whorwell gives patients a brief tutorial on how the gut functions, then gets them to use visual or tactile sensations – the feeling of warmth, for example – to imagine their bowel working normally. IBS is the only condition for which hypnosis is recommended by the UK’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. Despite this, Whorwell still has trouble convincing doctors to prescribe it. “We’ve produced a lot of incontrovertible research,” he says. “Yet people are still loath to agree to it.”
What is clear is that when hypnotised, people can influence parts of their body in novel ways. Whorwell has shown that under hypnosis, some IBS patients can reduce the contractions of their bowel, something not normally under conscious control. Their bowel lining also becomes less sensitive to pain.
Most clinical trials involving hypnosis are small, largely because of a lack of funding, but they suggest that hypnosis may help pain management, anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, obesity, asthma and skin conditions such as psoriasis and warts. Hypnotising yourself seems to work just as well. “Self-hypnosis is the most important part,” says Whorwell.
My approach using hypnotherapy
Dr Whorwells techniques are simple and effective. Hypnosis is used to access the unconscious mind to then suggest and have accepted that the gut is healthy and restored to natural rhythm.
“What the mind believes, the body makes happen”