Hypnosis and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may benefit patients suffering from a functional bowel disorder such as irritable bowel syndrome, according to new research from the University of Florida.
Functional bowel disorders are usually characterized by stomach pain, bloating and other intestinal symptoms. Treatments typically target these symptoms.
The study, led by researchers Oliver Grundmann of the UF College of Pharmacy and Saunjoo “Sunny” Yoon, Ph.D., of the UF College of Nursing, was published in the European Journal of Integrative Medicine.
“Our work being highlighted in this way indicates that we are able to raise awareness for the issue of a more integrative and holistic approach to medical care in the area of functional bowel disorders in the scientific community — a goal that both Dr. Yoon and I have been striving for in our professional endeavors for many years,” said Grundmann, a clinical assistant professor in the College of Pharmacy.
Yoon and Grundmann have been researching and publishing material on complementary and alternative medicine for about five years, which includes treatments with dietary supplements, acupuncture and yoga.
For the current study, they reviewed 19 recent clinical trials to look at the potential benefits of using four common mind-body therapies — yoga, hypnotherapy, CBT and biofeedback — in the treatment of functional bowel disorders. In particular, the researchers found benefits to hypnotherapy and CBT.
“It is still very hard to replicate some of the studies or generalize the findings,” said Yoon, an associate professor in the College of Nursing, who added that more studies are needed.
“Some of the research methodologies are not consistent from one study to another and some of the studies have a small sample size or the designs do not provide the rigor or obvious protocol.”
Since functional bowel disorders are chronic conditions that often come and go, patients may develop negative attitudes that can affect treatments. CBT is used in an attempt to help patients feel more positive. In one study, CBT worked as well as antidepressant medications.
Hypnosis, on the other hand, is used in an attempt to reduce pain. In some of the studies, hypnotherapy was shown to work as well as medication to reduce pain in patients.
But although the results were promising, they were not conclusive, Yoon said.
“A lot of times we get contradictory results from the clinical trials, so it can be confusing for the readers or the clinicians when they read it,” Yoon said. “Our article can give them a better picture or better view about currently available clinical trials and the results of the trials.”
Yoon added that physicians should not rule out complementary therapies when treating functional bowel disorders.
“We just need to have an open mind to the therapies that are not familiar in Western countries,” he said.
Source: University of Florida