Mindfulness program found to significantly reduce IBS symptoms

A secular type of mindfulness program designed to decrease stress has been linked to significant improvements in irritable bowel syndrome patients, according to a newly published study. Volunteers were tasked with participating in the mindfulness program over the course of eight weeks, after which point the majority reported big improvements in some of their gastrointestinal symptoms.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common condition that impacts the large intestine, leading to issues like gas, stomach pain, cramping, and more. The precise cause of IBS is unclear, but multiple treatment options exist that may help alleviate some of the symptoms, including diet changes that remove irritating foods.

A new study recently published in Neurogastroenterology & Motility has found that participating in a stress-lowering activity called mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) may have a significant effect on IBS symptoms, in some cases leading to big improvements after only weeks of participation.

A total of 68 people participated in the study, the majority of whom were women, with follow-up after three months in the program. The researchers found that the majority of the participants experienced 'significant improvements' in their quality of life, anxiety levels, and — most importantly for IBS sufferers — their gastrointestinal symptoms.

The study's senior author Kirsten Tillisch, MD, of UCLA, explained:

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.