Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Children's Health

Font Size

Kids' Tummy Aches Eased by Imagination

Study: Guided Imagery Helps Children Get Over Their Chronic Stomachaches
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Oct. 12, 2009 -- Children who often get stomachaches may get more relief when they learn to use their imagination to feel better, a new study shows.

The study, published in the November edition of Pediatrics, shows that more children with chronic stomachaches improved when their treatment included guided imagery as well as standard medical care.

"What is especially exciting about our study is that children can clearly reduce their abdominal pain a lot on their own with guidance from audio recordings, and they get much better results that way than from medical care alone," researcher Miranda van Tilburg, PhD, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, says in a news release.

Stomachache Study

The study included 34 children aged 6 to 15 who were treated at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University Medical Center.

All of the kids had abdominal pain with no clear medical explanation. They all got standard medical care for those chronic stomachaches.

Some of the children also got an instructional DVD and CDs that contained guided imagery exercises. For comparison, the rest of the kids didn't get those CDs until two months later.

One of the guided imagery programs asked the kids to imagine "floating comfortably on a big, puffy cloud" and relaxing progressively. Another program described imagining a special object melting into the kids' hands "like butter and making the hand shiny and warm," and then instructing the kids to put that hand on their belly, "imagining the light and warmth spreading throughout their belly and making a protective barrier inside that does not let anything irritate the belly."

The kids used the CDs for eight weeks. The children liked the CDs, and most of them listened to the CDs more often than required.

At the end of the eight-week period, 63% of the kids who had received the guided imagery CDs had had their stomach pain ease by at least half, compared to about 27% of children who had only gotten standard medical care.

Then, the kids who hadn't gotten the CDs right away had their turn using guided imagery. Eight weeks later, 61% of them had had at least a 50% improvement in their stomach pain.

After eight weeks of treatment, the kids gradually used the CDs less often, though they were supposed to keep using the guided imagery techniques that they had learned.

Six months later, about 62% of the kids who had responded to the guided imagery treatment were still doing well.

Today on WebMD

child with red rash on cheeks
What’s that rash?
plate of fruit and veggies
How healthy is your child’s diet?
smiling baby
Treating diarrhea, fever and more.
Middle school band practice
Understanding your child’s changing body.

worried kid
jennifer aniston
Measles virus
sick child

Child with adhd
rl with friends
Syringes and graph illustration