The Gut-Brain Connection and Treatment for IBS

The connection between our gut and our brain has become more and more apparent in recent years and there is now more evidence than ever of the strong links between gut health and mental wellbeing. The latest scientific studies have found that hidden in the walls of the digestive system we have a second brain. This brain in the gut is literally transforming our understanding of the links between digestion and mood, the way we think and how we feel.

Scientists call this second brain the enteric nervous system (ENS) and it consists of two thin layers of more than 100 million nerve cells lining our gastrointestinal tract from the esophagus to the rectum. It’s main role is controlling digestion, from swallowing to the release of enzymes that break down food to the control of blood flow that helps with nutrient absorption to elimination. Unlike the brain in our skull “the enteric nervous system doesn’t seem capable of thought as we know it, but it communicates back and forth with our big brain, with profound results”. (1)

It is now believed that the brain in our gut may trigger big emotional shifts experienced by people managing symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). For decades researchers and doctors have thought that anxiety and depression contribute to this condition. More recent studies show that it may also be the other way around. So whilst there is much evidence that symptoms of IBS are made worse by emotional states such as stress, anger, depression or anxiety, researchers are now finding evidence that irritation in the gut may send signals to the central nervous system (CNS) that trigger mood changes. These latest findings may explain why a higher than usual percentage of people with IBS develop depression or anxiety.

Hypnotherapy for IBS

This understanding of the gut-brain connection helps explain the effectiveness of mind-body therapies for IBS. Clinical hypnotherapy has been proven to be very effective in the treatment of IBS and is recommended to GPs by NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) as an option for people whose symptoms have not responded to traditional treatments with medication.

Because our two brains ‘talk’ to each other a therapy that helps one can help the other. Hypnotherapy can help to improve communications between the big brain and the brain in your gut. It is a very relaxing process which works to calm and soothe the nerves cells in the digestive system whilst also addressing underlying stress and anxiety and enhancing mood.

A happier gut equals a happier you!

To find out more about hypnotherapy and how it can help with IBS call 07514 931 096 or email me.



(1) Jay Pasricha, Director of the Johns Hopkins Centre for Neurogastroenterology