Medical history is full of anecdotal reports on the use of hypnosis in the treatment of gastrointestinal and other disorders. Unfortunately, much of the work published to date consists mainly of short case reports or involves small numbers of patients. They have, however, all broadly given the same message: that patients symptoms improve and they cope better with their condition after hypnotherapy. More recently, controlled trials have shown that patients with severe refractory irritable bowel syndrome or relapsing duodenal ulcer disease respond well to hypnotherapy. This article aims to give an overview of the areas in gastroenterology where hypnotherapy has been applied, discussing in particular what progress has been made in the area of irritable bowel syndrome.