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Hypnotherapy: first line treatment for children with irritable bowel syndrome?
  1. Peter J Whorwell
  1. Correspondence to Professor Peter J Whorwell, Education and Research Centre, Wythenshawe Hospital, Manchester M23 9LT, UK; peter.whorwell{at}

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Trance-like states have been recognised for millennia with the term hypnosis being coined by James Braid (1795–1860) a surgeon working in Manchester, England.1 Since that time the technique has moved in and out of fashion and even today is still regarded with some scepticism. However, over the last 25 years there has been a steady stream of studies indicating that in adults gut focused hypnotherapy helps to relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other functional gastrointestinal disorders with the benefits being sustained for many years.2 Furthermore, in contrast to many pharmacological approaches to these conditions, which often target just one mechanism and consequently one symptom, hypnotherapy frequently improves a wide range of symptoms as well as psychological status and quality of life. It has also been shown that following treatment patients consume less medication and consult less frequently with their general practitioner as well as hospital outpatient departments.2 In addition, the central (brain) processing of noxious peripheral stimuli is amenable to modulation by hypnosis3 and some gastrointestinal physiological events can be similarly influenced.2 Despite all this evidence, it is noteworthy that there has been an apparent reluctance by the medical profession to embrace this form of treatment and its availability within …

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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