The Mind + Gut™ Clinic focuses on psychological and dietary treatments for conditions of the gastrointestinal tract. The two psychological treatments with the greatest evidence of effectiveness include gut-directed hypnotherapy and cognitive behavioural therapy. It is understood that these treatments are effective due to the bidirectional flow of information between the brain and the gut. Dietary therapies are also commonly applied.
The brain-gut axis refers to the bidirectional flow of information between the brain (central nervous system) and the gastrointestinal tract. Gastrointestinal symptoms occur as a result of information originating in the brain and/or the gut. Psychological factors such as stress, anxiety and depression have been shown to affect the gut. Similarly abnormalities in gut function (including motility and sensitivity) can contribute to gastrointestinal symptoms. Gut-directed hypnotherapy and cognitive behavioural therapy treatments aim to enhance brain-gut communication.
Gut-directed hypnotherapy is a type of hypnotherapy specifically targeted to disorders of the gastrointestinal tract. It is entirely safe and has been shown to be incredibly efficacious. Sessions are conducted while patients are in a light and relaxed subconscious state. Once in this state suggestions for the control and normalisation of gastrointestinal function are made. Metaphors for bringing about change are also used. This type of therapy differs from other forms of psychological treatment where therapy is done with the patient in a conscious state. Gut-directed hypnotherapy can be used in both adults and children.
Cognitive behavioural therapy is short-term, structured and goal orientated. It is used to help patients identify unhelpful thoughts and behaviours and to reduce physical symptoms. Cognitive behavioural therapy is also used to teach practical self-help strategies so that patients are able to evaluate and view their symptoms in ways that are more positive. Patients can expect to be taught about the nature of their condition, the effect of psychological states such as stress, anxiety and depression on their gastrointestinal symptoms and various relaxation and stress management techniques. Cognitive behavioural therapy can be used in both adults and children.
Dietary therapies are commonly applied in patients with conditions of the gastrointestinal tract. Diet may be used for disease prevention, as a primary therapy to treat disease or targeted to treat the symptoms of gastrointestinal conditions. Dietary needs and treatments will differ according to individual patients, but may include the manipulation of wheat and gluten, fructose, lactose, FODMAPs, fibre or food chemicals. Nutritional adequacy is assessed in every patient. Patients will be taught the mechanistic action of food in the gastrointestinal tract so that they are better able to identify which foods trigger their symptoms. This will generally be done through a withdrawal and reintroduction process. Our dietitian will also make longer-term dietary recommendations.
Patients will typically need 4-6 sessions. Sessions are done on a weekly basis.
Comparison of the rate of response to gut-directed hypnotherapy in patients with irritable bowel syndrome suggests that it is at least as good as some of the new and expensive pharmacological treatment options. It has also been shown to be superior to that of the low FODMAP diet. This taken together with the fact that there are no known side effects of hypnotherapy make gut-directed hypnotherapy a competitive treatment option.