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Last Updated: Sunday, 4 January, 2004, 23:58 GMT
'Hypnotherapy changed my life'
Charles Sidi
'It's given me a more positive attitude'

Charles Sidi, 34, suffered stomach problems for years before he was cured by a course of hypnotherapy at the only UK centre of its kind at Manchester's Withington Hospital.

Charles told BBC News Online: "The first time I experienced problems was when I was 18.

"I had Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and was either going to the toilet all the time or never going at all.

"It could be extremely uncomfortable. I was experiencing quite a lot of bloating, especially in the mornings which could be quite painful.

"I used to feel nauseous and dizzy.

"It wasn't debilitating. But it was very unpleasant."

It feels like just before you go to sleep

His symptoms developed after he'd suffered from the ME-like cytomegalovirus.

"I was very poorly for four or five years. I saw loads of different doctors and had loads of tests."

He first came to the centre 10 years ago after his wife-to-be heard about its work, and suggested he should be referred.

'Not like on TV'

"Checks revealed that my stomach was inflamed - I'd thought it might be ulcers, but they found it was IBS.

"I wasn't cynical about the possibility hypnotherapy could help me. I'd used a homeopath before - and I would have done anything because I was quite poorly.

"It wasn't like the hypnosis you see on TV. I'd liken it to meditation, and it was very much linked to relaxation.

"Now I can hypnotise myself because of what the therapists here have taught me. I can put myself into an hypnotic state.

"It feels like just before you go to sleep. You feel very relaxed and your mind absorbs a lot.

The difference between before and after the treatment was remarkable
"I spend between 10 minutes and half an hour a day on relaxation techniques because if I'm not stressed, my stomach is fine.

"But the hypnotherapy isn't just about helping the IBS. It gives you a more positive mental attitude.

"The difference between before and after the treatment was remarkable."

Charles says his friends and family were all impressed at the effectiveness of the treatment.

His father, who has also suffered from stomach problems, even went to the clinic for treatment himself.

"People accept it more when they realise it works.

"I'd recommend it highly. But I think it should be used more widely."

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