Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a very common functional disorder of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Like other functional disorders, the syndrome consists of changes in the way the gut normally functions. IBS is an illness. There are no detectable structural changes. Those with IBS experience abdominal pain and discomfort and other symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation or a combination of both. These symptoms often can last for years after they begin. However, they may be intermittent. An estimated 10-15% of adults in the United States suffer from IBS. IBS is seen most often in women, with females representing over 70% of IBS sufferers.
Treatment of IBS using hypnosis is a psychological approach that has shown a very high success rate in replicated studies. The research reports that 80% or more of patients treated with hypnosis show improvement that commonly lasts for at least a couple of years. The other effective psychological treatment for IBS is cognitive (or cognitive-behavioral) therapy. Brief psychodynamic psychotherapy has also shown some success, but less research has been done on that form of treatment.