Mindfulness may significantly improve GI symptoms in IBS patients
Researchers have found that Adults with irritable bowel syndrome experienced fewer gastrointestinal symptoms after they participated in a mindfulness program meant to reduce stress. Mindfulness‐based stress reduction training was associated with robust improvements in GI symptoms and associated problems in participants with IBS.
The results of the study have been published in Neurogastroenterology & Motility.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common and often debilitating chronic gastrointestinal disorder characterized by abdominal pain and altered bowel habits. Pharmacological treatments are often ineffective, leading to the development of a variety of behavioral interventions. Mindfulness‐based stress reduction (MBSR) is one such program that has shown efficacy in reducing gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms and improving quality of life (QOL). This single‐arm intervention study examines the association of clinical outcomes with changes in specific aspects of mindfulness.
In the study, 53 women and 15 men with irritable bowel syndrome participated in an 8-week mindfulness-based stress reduction class.
Most participants experienced significant improvements from pre-treatment to 3 months follow up regarding gastrointestinal symptoms, quality of life, and anxiety related to gastrointestinal symptoms. Although increases in 3 of the 5 measured facets of mindfulness were found, increases in the ability to stay in the present moment and act with awareness seemed especially important.
"This study shows that people with irritable bowel syndrome can have significant improvements in their symptoms and quality of life without medication or diet change, just by participating in a mindfulness-based stress reduction class," said senior author Kirsten Tillisch, MD, of the University of California, Los Angeles. "Further, it implicates a specific aspect of mindfulness as particularly important: acting with awareness. It appears that by improving this moment to moment awareness in their daily actions, people with irritable bowel syndrome feel better, possibly because this mindful activity in the present moment keeps the brain from going back to old fears or worries."
Although significant increases in 3 of the 5 measured facets of mindfulness were found, regression analyses suggest that increases in the ability to retain present moment focus and act with awareness may be particularly important for improving outcomes in individuals with IBS. These results may inform the refinement of mindfulness‐based protocols specifically for the treatment of IBS.
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