Science

Lea 2003

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2003 Mar 1;17(5):635-42.

Gut-focused hypnotherapy normalizes disordered rectal sensitivity in patients with irritable bowel syndrome.

Lea R1, Houghton LACalvert ELLarder SGonsalkorale WMWhelan VRandles JCooper PCruickshanks PMiller VWhorwell PJ.

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ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: 

We have previously shown that hypnotherapy alters rectal sensitivity in some patients with irritable bowel syndrome. However, this previous study used incremental volume distension of a latex balloon, which might be susceptible to subject response bias and might compromise the assessment of compliance. In addition, the study group was symptomatically rather than physiologically defined.

AIM: 

To assess the effect of hypnotherapy on rectal sensitivity in hypersensitive, hyposensitive and normally sensitive irritable bowel syndrome patients using a distension technique (barostat) that addresses these technical issues.

METHODS: 

Twenty-three irritable bowel syndrome (Rome I) patients (aged 24-72 years) were assessed before and after 12 weeks of hypnotherapy in terms of rectal sensitivity, symptomatology, anxiety and depression. Normal values for sensitivity were established in 17 healthy volunteers (aged 20-55 years).

RESULTS: 

Compared with controls, 10 patients were hypersensitive, seven hyposensitive and six normally sensitive before treatment. Following hypnotherapy, the mean pain sensory threshold increased in the hypersensitive group (P = 0.04) and decreased in the hyposensitive group, although the latter failed to reach statistical significance (P = 0.19). Normal sensory perception was unchanged. Sensory improvement in the hypersensitive patients tended to correlate with a reduction in abdominal pain (r = 0.714, P = 0.07).

CONCLUSION: 

Hypnotherapy improves abnormal sensory perception in irritable bowel syndrome, leaving normal sensation unchanged.

Link to full paper with PMID: 12641511