Anybody using mind-body connection techniques as a means of controlling their IBS?

Hi, I've suffered on and off with IBS for 25 years. During that time I've tried pretty much anything to find a solution. Up until 3 years ago I reached a position where for about 8 years I was happy to say I had the symptoms under control; then an emotional breakdown/ period of panic attacks, brought that to an end. Since then I've continued to use a mix of self-hypnosis and CBT techniques which help to relieve the symptoms a lot (the only things which had worked previously), but finding a resilient approach is proving more difficult. Obviously, it is easier to 'relax' when at home and not so easy when you need to concentrate on other things - in meetings etc. I would welcome any experiences from others who have found this approach helpful.

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  • I am interested in same thing. I know stressors make it worse. I'm trying to analyze when I have good months and when it goes bad again.

  • Do you find that certain foods have a reaction ?

  • Hi

    I am currently undertaking mindfulness meditation via headspace. Not easy but I am finding it really helpful. It teaches you how to go with feelings of discomfort in the body rather than resist them. You can sample the techniques for free - 3, 10 minute sessions before signing up for full course. I was sceptical at first as I did not find CBT very helpful. The headspace website is very informative and explains in very easy terms how it works and the science behind it. Hope this helps

  • Thanks for the replies. There's obviously a lot of overlap in the meditative techniques, and the mindfulness aim of thinking about the pain dispassionately is really useful, but I then try to take it further and move onto thinking deeply of a scenario where I'm free of the sensations. I have had success with this and can relieve the symptoms (bloating, feelings of urgency), but this is much easier to achieve at home relaxing, than when out and about. In the absence of a wonder drug, the holy grail I'm seeking is obviously a trigger that will allow me to get the correct thought process established when the symptoms start in any situation. I'll have a look at the website.

    In terms of stressors, I find that uncertainty plays a part; where I'm faced with for example going somewhere different, coming on this forum, catching a flight (catastrophising in CBT terms). Strangely these tend to be things which are not real threats, but I can feel the anxiety building up deep down and the gut seems to be my weak point. Of course the symptoms can come on at any time which is why it is so difficult to pin down why it happens.

    I've tried excluding various foods over the years and personally I've never found any link. When I've looked back on what I've consumed, there isn't any pattern. I tend to become painfully bloated during and after meals (again it can be any type of meal), but I have found that concentrating on the gut and imagining it relaxing can often help reduce the pain.

    Just a final point of experience, occasionally I notice the symptoms have gone, and within a couple of minutes of consciously thinking this - they come back. Obviously everyone is different, but perhaps this more than anything convinces me that if there is a solution for me, its in the way I control my thoughts and how they impact on my body.

    Das Rätsel - the Puzzle

  • Hi further to my previous post. I can empathise with your anxiety feelings. I can catastrophise for England. Eg, if husband is particularly late home from work with no word I am already planning his funeral. The conscious feelings you describe are addressed in full in mindfulness and it does teach you how to work with any sensations you might have. I am much calmer now and the severe anxiety feelings are under control. The system does work and there are many testimonials to this effect.

  • Hi Das Ratsel What you have described and said is how my son feels down to a tee. Only the other day whilst out walking the dog he said to me 'I feel OK gut wise at the moment but I bet if I started thinking my left side will hurt then it will'. He has had 2x12 sessions of CBT and whilst this has helped in part, as you say, it's one thing doing it at home and another on a train or in a lecture for instance. He also has tried various elimination diets without success and there is no rhyme or reason as to why something upsets him one day and then not the next 2,3,4 times?

    He is looking into gut directed hypnotherapy, tested in Sweden with encouraging results a few years ago. Trying to find a reputable therapist who practice's this is not proving easy.

    Good luck with everything.

  • Hi. For people like myself, it really is a case of trying to override a faulty thought process. My brain has become wired to always need to think about the bowel, and because that is linked to bad experiences in the past, I think I end up noticing (and exaggerating the feeling of) movement/pressure in the gut, which people without the condition don't consciously become aware of.

    When that happens I focus my thoughts on the times, particular when in a similar situation, when I didn't have the feeling or managed to make it go away. I use a mix of techniques from self-hypnosis, CBT, and meditation - its a matter of trial and error to see what works best. Its not easy, but the more often its done, the more powerful it becomes.

    Many years ago I used a private hypnotherapist who is no longer around, and although I didn't fully realise it at the time, the help he gave me was invaluable - I still use his tapes when necessary. The hypnotherapy unit at South Manchester Hospital was also useful. If you're not in that part of the country, they may be able to give your son some guidance on services more locally - or if you haven't already done so, post a specific request on here.

    Good luck.

  • When you say "it can be any time of meal", that's te thing FODMAPS are in most meals, most foods. So if you're eating those than yes you will have reactions. I would try it again.

    I used mind/body techs to get my symptoms down and it helped loads, ESP to relax. But I was still getting reactions and it wasnt until I went on a strict FODMAP diet that things improved drastically.

  • Thanks. During the early years of my IBS I focussed on food elimination diets (including most of the foods on the FODMAPS list) without any success. However, I'm certainly not ruling anything out and it will be worth seeing if it will help now.

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