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How to control IBS without medication.

Updated on January 25, 2013

What is IBS?

IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome can be difficult to diagnose as its symptoms are often identical to other, more serious, medical conditions affecting the gut. The over-riding and consistent factor in IBS is recurring pain in the lower abdomen and this can vary in intensity from episode to episode and from person to person.

Many authorities believe the condition to be caused by stress and certainly my experiences with my hypnotherapy clients would support that theory. This may be why IBS does not show up as a presenting disease on investigative scans of the abdomen.

However, when the pain is accompanied by bloating and noticeable changes in bowel habits it is advisable to seek a professional diagnosis to rule out anything more serious, such as bowel cancer. Blood in the stools or changes in toilet routine such as recurrent diarrhoea or constipation should always be investigated by a qualified physician who will check thoroughly and rule everything else out before diagnosing IBS.

Once you have got your official diagnosis of IBS, and probably a fist full of pills to help control it, it may be time to see if you can control it yourself without the aid of drugs and their known, and unknown, side effects.


Empowering through visualisation.

Visualisation is akin to self-hypnosis and is an invaluable technique for controlling IBS. Although I could give you an example of the script I have used successfully with some of my clients you may find it far more effective for your own mind to work out its own scenario. If you find yourself doing this, just allow it to happen. It is your subconscious finding a visualisation that is more meaningful, and therefore more powerful, to you.

Such visualisation techniques have empowered my clients to control their IBS for themselves allowing them to use it whenever an attack was imminent and so avert an episode of intense pain. In fact we soon found that not only did it control the pain but in many cases it went on to clear the IBS altogether. As visualisation is only really possible whilst one is relaxing this would support the theory that IBS is a psychosomatic condition brought on by tension and stress.


Talking to your subconscious in pictures.

To visualise you need to be in contact with your subconscious mind. The subconscious does not verbalise, it thinks in pictures and contacts you through presentiment, intuition and dreams. So, the most effective way to communicate with it is in the same way, by using pictorial metaphors. You will see what I mean when I outline the visualisation below.

First, make yourself comfortable, close your eyes and try to relax your body as much as you are able. This could be hard if you have an intense pain in your abdomen but don't worry, it will get easier the more you practice the technique. Now, actually concentrate on the pain and give it a rating on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the most intense.

Then, move your attention upwards and into your mind. Take it one step further and visualise a spot above your head and imagine a bright white light hovering just above you. Tell yourself internally that this is healing light and envisage it entering your head.

Imagine your head slowly filling up with this healing light and then allow it to move slowly down your body to your torso. Take it slowly and try to picture the light diffusing to every corner of your neck, chest and arms before it moves on down to the area of the pain. Once it reaches the site of pain allow it to bathe the area in light.

I found it helped to picture the area as being red and inflamed-looking, possibly even knotted up with pain. Concentrate on 'seeing' the affected area bathed in this white light until you judge it to be healed.

Take your time, there is no hurry. Keep visualising until your mind shows the afflicted area as resolved. You may picture it as returning to a healthy pink colour, it may look relaxed and what you imagine a normal gut to look like.

Check your pain level scale and see if it has dropped. The pain should have cleared altogether but if not, continue with the visualisation. It has been my experience that this is usually unnecessary.

Different scenarios are needed for different people.
Different scenarios are needed for different people. | Source
Make sure the sign says 'Hypnotherapy'.
Make sure the sign says 'Hypnotherapy'. | Source

Different people, different pictures.

You will probably find that the light scenario is difficult for you to imagine and just does not 'resonate' with you. In this case you could try asking your subconscious to supply a scene.

One of the most effective visualisations I ever worked on was to ask a young man to picture himself shrinking until he was small enough to enter his own ear. The inside of his head presented itself to him as a cave where we kitted him out in hard hat, toolbelt and torch. He then stepped into a 'shuttle' which shot him down to the area of his pain.

Once there he inspected the site with all the expertise of some sort of oil well troubleshooter. Once he felt he had assessed it enough he worked on it. He reported that it looked like the inside of corroded chimney so I asked him what he was going to do about it and he decided he would hose it down with a soothing white liquid until it looked better.

This was years before the Gaviscon advert on UK television showing firemen hosing down the inside of a stomach with a jet of Gaviscon. You can imagine what a shock of recognition I got when I saw that!

And that was the end of his treatment. I brought him back the way he had gone in and returned him to the real world. The pain he had come in with had cleared and he later reported back to me that any time he felt even a slight twinge he relaxed and took himself through the scenario we had worked on together.

The visualisation remained effective and I believe this was because he had visualised his own more practical, hands-on scenario which had more relevance for him. His own imagination had supplied its own relevant and meaningful remedy and he remained empowered to deal with his IBS problem which recurred with less and less frequency.

Honouring yourself.

My insistence on always taking your time with this work is because a useful state of relaxation and the strength of imagination needed to hold a visualisation can sometimes take time to build for some people. With mind work everything is valuable, everything is useful but the more sustained the visualisation the more effective the treatment.

It is after all, only a case of honouring yourself. If someone came to you for help you probably would, like most people, move mountains to help them. It is not selfish to spare yourself a little time to rid yourself of debilitating pain forever and your body deserves to be the best it can be to support you through a useful life.

For further information on self-hypnosis see the link below:


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    • profile image

      Vera 2 years ago

      Hi have read through a few seotirs about ibs but has anyone tried the new FODMAPS diet from australia?Apparently they are having brilliant success with it, it can be found on google .No harm trying it I would grey anything if I suffered like so many people

    • Angie Jardine profile image

      Angie Jardine 5 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ...

      Hi TT2, many thanks for your input on this hub. Your words are much appreciated.

      Most of us realise that many of today’s ill arise from the stresses of modern living but only the wise realise that, for these illnesses, the doctor’s can only treat the symptoms not the root cause.

      Using relaxation techniques such as hypnotherapy and visualisation help one deal with stress better and as such the body does not ‘eat away at itself’.

      I also found reflexology to be very effective in IBS and had regular clients that too.

    • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

      Sondra Rochelle 5 years ago from USA

      Interesting and well written. We really need to get these doctors to start using such techniques or referring patients to people who do to help heal without drugs. Great hub and voted up.