Beyond traditional medicine or surgery: Finding relief for 2 painful gut diseases

Hypnosis technique brings comfort to IBD sufferers

HOUSTON - Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease can wreak havoc on a person’s insides.

These immune diseases cause the intestines to become inflamed and lead to a lot of pain. They’re commonly known as inflammatory bowel disease and treated with medicine and surgery.

But now, IBD specialists are exploring the connection between the mind and the gut, which has led to alternative therapies to bring people relief.

Marylou Wellbrock-Reeves has seen many doctors and specialists throughout her lifelong diagnosis of Crohn’s disease.

“Some of my days are racked with such pain, it's analogous to labor pain,” Wellbrock-Reeves said.
Her family is what keeps her going as she searches for the best way to live with a condition that has no cure.

One option is gastric-directed hypnotherapy.

“The brain and the gut are connected through the vagus nerve, which is responsible for communicating a whole bunch of functions,” said Laurie Keefer, a gastrointestinal heath psychologist. “(For example), how fast things move through the body, how you process waste (and) how much inflammation (there is)."
Crohn’s disease isn’t caused by stress, but stress can amplify symptoms.

For Wellbrock-Reeves, hypnosis is one part of a whole-body approach to managing her disease.

“I think people still think it's a magic act,” she said. “It's not a magic act. It's really a heavy emphasis on focus and self-focus.”

Said Keefer, “When a patient is in a focused state of attention, their brain is much more open to suggestion than it would be in a normal setting.”

Hypnosis helps Wellbrock-Reeves with things including behavioral and dietary changes, along with her traditional treatment methods to keep the Crohn’s disease under control.

For patients with digestive issues, hypnosis is often covered by insurance. Check with your provider for questions.

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