IBS and Gut-Directed Hypnotherapy: The #1 Ultimate Guide for Dietitians

Written by: Tiluka Bhanderi, BSc RD
Reviewed by: Sophie Claessens, BSc RD

Living with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) can be exhausting and even debilitating. Read on to learn about a different approach to manage troubling IBS symptoms with gut-directed hypnotherapy.

What is IBS?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a complex gastrointestinal disorder that affects millions
worldwide. It is a disorder of the gut-brain interaction (DGBI) meaning the messages between
the brain and gut are disrupted. This creates hypersensitivity and hyper-reactivity leading to
symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, and diarrhoea 1. The symptoms can be
debilitating and IBS can significantly impair one’s quality of life. There may be days where
symptoms are better or worse and often flare ups can be triggered by stress, food or drink 2. Despite its high prevalence, finding effective treatments can often feel challenging. To find out the 5 best foods for IBS follow this link to our article.

The Gut-Brain Axis:

The gut-brain axis can best be described as a two-way communication network that links the
gastrointestinal tract (GI) to the central nervous system (CNS). It involves intricate pathways
of neural, hormonal and immunological signalling that allows a constant dialogue to occur between the gut and the brain. This in return has been found to influence various physiological
processes and behaviours. In IBS, the disruptions in the gut-brain axis influence the types of
symptoms and severity that a person experiences 3.

Stress, anxiety and other psychological factors can trigger maladaptive signalling along the gut-brain axis leading to an altered gut motility (the stretching and contraction movements of the GI tract) and increased inflammation within the GI tract 4. New research is also showing that a disturbance in gut
microbiota can also exacerbate emotional distress 5.

This bi-directional relationship reminds us of the importance in addressing both the physical and psychological factors in IBS management. By understanding the delicate interplay between the gut and the brain, interventions such as gut-directed hypnotherapy and dietary modifications can help restore balance to the gut-brain axis which in return should help alleviate symptoms and improve living with IBS 3.

What is gut-directed hypnotherapy?

Gut-directed hypnotherapy is a new and promising approach in managing IBS symptoms
recommended in the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines for
people who do not respond to pharmacological treatment after 12 months 6. This therapy
harnesses the power of hypnosis to positively influence gut function and alleviate distress. By
guiding individuals into a state of deep relaxation, hypnotherapists work with the subconscious mind where they are able to tap into parts of the brain that are more receptive to
therapeutic suggestions 7.

By addressing underlying stressors, reframing negative thought patterns, and enhancing gut-brain communication, hypnotherapy holds promise as a noninvasive, drug-free intervention for IBS management and has been shown to reduce symptoms in sufferers 3.

How can a dietitian help me with my gut-brain axis?

Dietitians work in a holistic way providing personalised dietary and lifestyle advice. Alongside
managing and addressing trigger foods, dietitians are able to help you improve your overall diet
and gut health by following evidence-based interventions and learning strategies such as
stress reduction techniques and mindful eating practices to manage symptoms.

At Fresh Approach Nutrition, our team of experienced dietitians are dedicated to empowering
people with IBS to reclaim control over their digestive health. We understand that no two
journeys are alike, which is why we tailor our approach to suit your unique needs and
preferences.

Book a 15 minute discovery call with us to find out how we can help you.

Disclaimer: This content is purely informational and should not replace professional medical
advice. Please seek advice from a qualified health professional, like us or your GP, if you are
concerned about your symptoms.

References

  1. BDA. Irritable Bowel Syndrome and diet [Online]. Available:
    https://www.bda.uk.com/resource/irritable-bowel-syndrome-diet.html [Accessed:
    April 2nd, 2024].
  2. NHS. Irritable Bowel Syndrome [Online]. Available:
    https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/irritable-bowel-syndrome-ibs/diet-lifestyle-andmedicines/ [Accessed: April 2nd, 2024].
  3. Hypnotherapy for IBS: the gut-brain axis [Online]. Available: https://patient.info/newsand-features/hypnotherapy-for-ibs-the-gut-brain-axis [Accessed: April 2
    nd, 2024].
  4. Gut-brain axis and Probiotics [Online]. Available:
    https://www.optibacprobiotics.com/uk/learning-lab/in-depth/mental-health/gutbrain-axis [Accessed: April 3rd, 2024].
  5. Limbana, T., Khan, F., & Eskander, N. (2020). Gut Microbiome and Depression: How
    Microbes Affect the Way We Think. Cureus, 12(8), e9966.
    https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.9966
  6. NICE. Irritable bowel syndrome in adults: diagnosis and management. Clinical
    guideline CG61 [Online]. Available:
    https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg61/chapter/Recommendations#dietary-andlifestyle-advice [Accessed: April 3rd, 2024].
  7. NHS. Gut Directed Hypnotherapy For Brain Gut Axis disorders leaflet [Online].
    Available: https://www.yorkhospitals.nhs.uk/seecmsfile/?id=6881 [Accessed: April 6th, 2024].

Fresh Approach Nutrition

Our team of registered dietitians help people in Bristol and across the UK to overcome their struggles with food and to achieve their dietary goals.

We aim to cut through the confusion of dietary advice on the internet and in the media, and to give our clients the fresh approach they need to see real results.