Doctors using hypnosis to treat stomach problems

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A growing number of doctors are now using hypnosis to treat patients with stomach problems. (KFSN)

If you've ever had problems with your stomach, there's a chance it might all be in your head. A growing number of doctors are now using hypnosis to treat patients with stomach problems.

John Martin was having stomach problems that wouldn't go away. He says, "Some of the symptoms that I was experiencing were abdominal pain, diarrhea."

After trying medical treatments and talk therapy, as a last resort, John decided to get hypnotherapy. Hypnotherapy is now being used t treat many digestive problems including irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, Crohn's disease and heartburn. At least one study involving I-B-S reported an 80% success rate.

Psychologist Dr. Carolyn Daitch says it appears to work because much of the processes that happen in your gut go up to the brain and vice versa. "There really is a nervous system in the gut so if we're anxious, if we're worried about something, if we're stressed (and who isn't), and you're prone to having stomach problems."

While some people might be hesitant to be hypnotized because of what they've seen in movies or on TV, John says he was willing to try. A little reluctant at first, he says he quickly overcame any doubts. "You are truly just in a state a completely normal state, but you feel different, and you lose track of time. I feel very safe."

Hypnotherapy is still considered alternative medicine. But, it's supported by some scientific studies, and an increasing number of hospitals are using it. In fact, Gastroenterologist Dr. Shoba Kirshnamurthy says in some cases it could be considered a first resort. "We should introduce it, in the beginning, try the usual things but use it earlier before we start people on medications which have side effects or do treatments."

And, while experts say gastro hypnotherapy doesn't work for everyone, John says coupled with his talk therapy, he sees improvements. "I'm feeling a lot better than I felt many months ago."

Patients are often given post-hypnosis tools they can use at home. In some cases, treatment success can last as long as one year before additional hypnotherapy might be needed.
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