Before I get into this post, I just wanted to make clear that it is NOT sponsored in any way, shape, or form. I simply purchased the Nerva program with my own money because I was interested in trying hypnotherapy for IBS.
Everything I say in this post is based on my own experience. My aim is to provide you with an honest review of the Nerva app to help you decide whether you want to purchase their program or not. That’s why I’m not going to go into much detail about the science behind it – that’s not my domain at all. However, I’m going to tell you exactly how it’s constructed and describe my own journey with it. Sounds good? Then keep on reading.
What exactly is Nerva and what does it offer?
Nerva is an app that provides a gut-directed hypnotherapy program as well as resources and techniques to deal with flares.
The program offered by the app consists of 6 pre-recorded hypnotherapy sessions that you listen to once a day, every day. The sessions repeat every weak, only the first ‘hypnosis’ part is different.
In addition to that, the app provides informative articles about different aspects of our Irritable Bowel Syndrome and explains how hypnotherapy and the mind-gut axis work. You get one of these articles a day.
Lastly, Nerva coaches you on different breathing techniques, but this doesn’t start right at the beginning of the program.
After the six-week program, you automatically switch to a maintenance mode that provides the exact same resources, only that you don’t have to do them every day anymore.
What does the Nerva app claim to do?
As basically any IBS treatment out there, the Nerva apps claims to reduce IBS symptoms over time. However, unlike other treatments and programs, the goal is to work on the mind-gut connection that is thought to be at the bottom of an IBS sufferer’s gut hypersensitivity.
IBS sufferers seem to have a connection between the mind and the gut that is stronger than that of healthy people. This leads our gut to overreact to every little stimulus from our brain, like stress, and enter the famous ‘fight or flight mode’. Which is basically why it stops digesting normally and we end up with a flare.
In addition to that, our gut sends far too many signals to our brain, meaning that we tend to experience pain and discomfort even when our digestion is actually normal. Or something like that.
The Nerva app works on correcting this communication to reduce our gut’s hypersensitivity. It’s supposed to calm this overactive communication between mind and digestive system, thus resulting in fewer flares.
What I liked & what I didn’t like about the Nerva app
First of all, I must say that I had quite a good experience with the 6-week program overall. The layout is very simple. Each day’s tasks are easy to follow and you also have the option to set a reminder so you don’t forget your daily sessions.
The hypnotherapy sessions are nice and relaxing, and I really liked the repetition of them. With each time, I found it easier and easier to imagine the scenarios. They really did calm me down, too, no matter how stressed I was that day.
The readings were more hit and miss. Some were extremely interesting, especially the parts about the mind-gut connection and techniques to help correct it. These I found to be too short though – I would have loved to get much more detailed information as well as more examples. Other readings were a bit too general and just repeating what I already knew, like the ones talking about the Low FODMAP diet, for example. I wish that the creators had focused on providing more information about the main topic and offered more insight into techniques like cognitive diffusion that they only mention briefly. The proof: I can’t even explain what it actually is!
The breathing techniques were extremely helpful to me. Basically, the app forces you to focus on a certain type of breathing for 5 minutes straight. And even though this doesn’t sound like it would do much, it’s actually a wonderful tool to calm your mind and gut! Plus, I noticed that the first times were SO difficult for me, but after a while, I got so much better at deep breathing. This is also a great tool to have during flares.
The maintenance program, however, isn’t as great as I’d like it to be. Sure, you still get access to all the resources you had during the first 6 weeks, as well as two additional breathing modules. However, the fact that you now basically just pick and choose what you want to do and when makes me feel like I might as well just download 6 hypnotherapy sessions from somewhere and listen to them for free when I need to. Having to continue paying for this, especially since the price does not drop for the maintenance, makes me question how useful this part of the app actually is in the long run.
My results: Did Nerva help my IBS?
Let’s move on to the part we’ve all been waiting for: did Nerva actually help my IBS? The very unexciting answer is: yes and no.
Yes, because it gave me a much better understanding of what happens when stress triggers a flare. I know now what I can do to prevent this from happening as much. I wish that the app spent more time teaching these techniques. But they do explain the principle of catastrophic thinking and what to do to avoid it. This has helped me so much already.
Yes, because the hypnotherapy sessions and breathing modules do a great job at calming me down. Thus, they help me deal with stress much better. I do often feel better after a session, even when my IBS is flaring.
Yes, because I have noticed that I freak out much less whenever I get symptoms. I’ve started feeling calmer when I feel my gut doing anything. Since
Yes, because I have the impression that stress impacts my gut a bit less now. I also don’t notice as much discomfort on a daily basis anymore.
No, because I do still have IBS. Just to be clear: the app doesn’t claim to make you IBS-free! But it’s important to remember that even though it can really help, it will not make your IBS magically disappear. I still get flares, but I do feel better on a daily basis.
Overall review of the Nerva app for IBS
Would I recommend the Nerva app to other IBS sufferers? Yes, I would. But maybe not to everyone, and also not all of it.
If you’re like me and your IBS is strongly linked to anxiety, this app (and hypnotherapy in general, I imagine) is absolutely great. It helps you identify where the communication between your mind and your gut might be going wrong. It gives you techniques to work on your gut’s hypersensitivity in the long run. And it gives you tools to stay calm during symptoms and flares, which in turn decreases those symptoms significantly.
It doesn’t matter if you’re susceptible to hypnosis or not, in case you worry about that. I’m not – and it still worked. As long as you do the sessions every day, it doesn’t really matter if you’re unable to concentrate on them every single time.
I’m just not sure how well this app would work for someone who doesn’t suffer from anxiety at all. I’m also unsure if the format is right for everyone.
Personally, I had no trouble doing my session every day. I have a toddler who’s in day-care during the week and also still naps, as well as a very supportive partner who always gave me 30 minutes to myself when needed. However, you do need some time without interruption for the program. And you also need to be able to follow it through for 6 weeks. If this doesn’t sound possible for you, I’m not sure how well you would do with the app.
Lastly, while the actual program is great, I don’t yet see much value in the maintenance part. Since it’s just as expensive as the program but adds much less value, I might stop paying for it after a while. Hopefully, I’ll find another, cheaper way to access hypnotherapy sessions and breathing modules.
Have you tried the Nerva app for IBS? If yes, please let me know your thoughts!