There is now good evidence that hypnotherapy benefits a substantial proportion of patients with irritable bowel syndrome and that improvement is maintained for many years. Most patients seen in secondary care with this condition also suffer from a wide range of noncolonic symptoms such as backache and lethargy, as well as a number of musculoskeletal, urological, and gynaecological problems. These features do not typically respond well to conventional medical treatment approaches, but fortunately, their intensity is often reduced by hypnosis. The mechanisms by which hypnosis mediates its benefit are not entirely clear, but there is evidence that, in addition to its psychological effects, it can modulate gastrointestinal physiology, alter the central processing of noxious stimuli, and even influence immune function. © 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.