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Mind, Body, Bowel
Mind-body approaches may be key to reducing symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), doctors in Germany report.

Patients who supplemented standard care with behavioral therapies, including relaxation and coping strategies, fared much better than those who received standard care alone (American Journal of Gastroenterology, 4/00).

Other studies have confirmed the benefits of other mind-body techniques, such as hypnosis, for men and women with diarrhea, constipation, cramps, and other symptoms of this common and often disabling bowel complaint.

In an earlier Flemish study (Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology, Supplement 230, 1999), 27 people with IBS were asked to visualize their gut and to replace the discomfort with normal bowel function. One patient, for example, pictured her bowel transforming from a rigid pipe into an elastic hose.

After 12 weekly sessions, pain, flatulence, and bloating were reduced or disappeared and bowel habits returned to normal in all but one of the patients. Those who practiced these hypnosis techniques at home with an audiotape got better faster.

In addition to IBS and other digestive complaints, hypnotherapy is often used to treat such conditions as anxiety, phobias, and stress.

Date Published: 07/26/2000
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