IBS therapyMatt Krouwel is a Birmingham based hypnotherapist who specialises in the treatment of IBS. 0778 909 7741.

He is currently engaged in research into the hypnotherapeutic treatment of IBS with the University of Birmingham (UoB).

IBS treatment with Hypnotherapy?

Britain leads the world in the treatment of IBS through hypnotherapy and yet this seems more like a well-kept secret rather than cause for celebration.

The history of IBS research in the UK stretches back to the early 1980’s when a young gastroenterologist in Manchester started using hypnosis in the treatment of IBS and other gastrological conditions, culminating in the 1984 landmark paper ‘Controlled trial of hypnotherapy in the treatment of severe refractory irritable-bowel syndrome, in one of the most prestigious medical journals The Lancet.

Time moved on, and more evidence was accumulated for the success of hypnotherapy in the treatment of IBS, until something truly amazing happened in 2008 … the medical establishment agreed! Hypnotherapy became approved by National institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines (NICE CG61), the arbiter of evidence based medicine in the UK.

The evidence for the use of hypnosis in the treatment of IBS is substantial. Using an approach known as gut directed hypnotherapy numerous studies have confirmed its efficacy (Miller & Whorwell,2009, lindfors et al 2012, Lowén et al 2013, Moser et al 2013 to give just a few examples), that it improves both physical and psychological symptoms (Gonsalkorale 2003) and that it works with children (Rutten et al 2013).

…and yet few hypnotherapists report treating IBS as their main specialism, or from the chats I have with colleagues, get many calls asking about it?

To check that this wasn’t just my feeling I did a bit of research. I looked at the volume of enquiries on one of Britain’s most popular hypnotherapy promoting websites www.hypnotherapy-directory.org,uk from September 2015-Feburary 2016 (6 months) to see what percentage of enquiries were about IBS, and found that only a smidgen under 1% (*1&*2) were for IBS. IBS is a very common condition (Huggins et al 2003, Wilson et al 2004) and by rights should be one of the top searches.

So what’s going on?

My latest research project (Krouwel 2019) is currently attempting to identify why people aren’t using this evidence proven treatment approach which is readily available in almost every town in the UK.




*1 – specifically 0.91% (2.d.p.)

*2 – the specifics of the data are considered commercially sensitive by Hypnotherapy-directory and only available to Hypnotherapy-directory members and as such hypnotherapy-directory have asked me not to publish them, however they kindly gave me permission to publish the % data, for which I am most grateful.



Gonsalkorale, W. M., Miller, V., Afzal, A., & Whorwell, P. J. (2003). Long term benefits of hypnotherapy for irritable bowel syndrome. Gut , 52 (11), 1623-1629.

Hungin, A. P. S., Whorwell, P. J., Tack, J., & Mearin, F. (2003). The prevalence, patterns and impact of irritable bowel syndrome: an international survey of 40 000 subjects. Alimentary pharmacology & therapeutics , 17 (5), 643-650.

Krouwel, M., Jolly, K., & Greenfield, S. (2019). How do people with refractory irritable bowel syndrome perceive Hypnotherapy: qualitative study protocol. European Journal of Integrative Medicine.

Lindfors, P., Unge, P., Arvidsson, P., Nyhlin, H., Björnsson, E., Abrahamsson, H., & Simrén, M. (2012). Effects of gut-directed hypnotherapy on IBS in different clinical settings—results from two randomized, controlled trials. The American journal of gastroenterology, 107(2), 276-285.

Lowén, M. B., Mayer, E. A., Sjöberg, M., Tillisch, K., Naliboff, B., Labus, J., … & Walter, S. A. (2013). Effect of hypnotherapy and educational intervention on brain response to visceral stimulus in the irritable bowel syndrome. Alimentary pharmacology & therapeutics, 37(12), 1184-1197.

Miller, V., & Whorwell, P. J. (2009). Hypnotherapy for functional gastrointestinal disorders: a review. Intl. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 57(3), 279-292.

Moser, G., Trägner, S., Gajowniczek, E. E., Mikulits, A., Michalski, M., Kazemi-Shirazi, L., … & Miehsler, W. (2013). Long-term success of GUT-directed group hypnosis for patients with refractory irritable bowel syndrome: a randomized controlled trial. The American journal of gastroenterology, 108(4), 602-609.

Rutten, J. M., Reitsma, J. B., Vlieger, A. M., & Benninga, M. A. (2013). Gut-directed hypnotherapy for functional abdominal pain or irritable bowel syndrome in children: a systematic review. Archives of disease in childhood, 98(4), 252-257.

Wilson, S., Roberts, L., Roalfe, A., Bridge, P., & Singh, S. (2004). Prevalence of irritable bowel syndrome: a community survey. British Journal of General Practice , 54 (504), 495-502.