Miller 2015

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2015 May;41(9):844-55. doi: 10.1111/apt.13145. Epub  2015 Mar 4.

Hypnotherapy for irritable bowel syndrome: an audit of one thousand adult patients.

Miller VCarruthers HRMorris JHasan SSArchbold SWhorwell PJ.



This article summarized outcome of hypnotherapy for one thousand IBS patients treated in a gastroenterology hypnotherapy unit in Manchester, England. All the patients were treated with 12 sessions of hypnotherapy following the structured treatment approach of the Manchester group. Overall, 76% of the patients improved from the treatment. Success rates were higher for females than males (80% vs. 62%) and slightly higher in patients with anxiety (79% vs 71%). In addition to bowel symptom improvement, non-gastrointestinal symptoms also improved significantly on average after treatment, and hypnotherapy also improved quality of life scores.




Gut-focused hypnotherapy improves the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) with benefits being sustained for many years. Despite this, the technique has not been widely adopted by healthcare systems, possibly due to relatively small numbers in published studies and uncertainty about how it should be provided.


To review the effect of hypnotherapy in a large cohort of refractory IBS patients.


One thousand IBS patients fulfilling Rome II criteria, mean age 51.6 years (range 17-91 years), 80% female, receiving 12 sessions of hypnotherapy over 3 months, were studied. The primary outcome was a 50 point reduction in the IBS Symptom Severity Score. The fall in scores for Noncolonic Symptoms, Quality of Life and Anxiety or Depression, were secondary outcomes. The Federal Drug Administration's recommended outcome of a 30% or more reduction in abdominal pain was also recorded.


Overall, 76% met the primary outcome which was higher in females (females: 80%, males: 62%, P < 0.001) and those with anxiety (anxious: 79%, non-anxious: 71%, P = 0.010). The mean reduction in other scores was: IBS Symptom Severity Score, 129 points (P < 0.001), Noncolonic Symptom Score, 65 (P < 0.001) and Quality of Life Score, 66 (P < 0.001). Sixty-seven per cent reported a 30% or more reduction in abdominal pain scores. Pain days fell from 18 to 9 per month. Patients with anxiety and depression fell from 63% to 34% and 25% to 12% respectively (P < 0.001). Outcome was unaffected by bowel habit subtype.


These results provide further evidence that gut-focused hypnotherapy is an effective intervention for refractory IBS.


Link to full paper with PMID: 25736234

Shawn Thurlow