IBS

Mindfulness training helps patients with inflammatory bowel diseases

wildmind meditation newsWK Health: Training in meditation and other mindfulness-based techniques brings lasting improvements in mental health and quality of life for patients with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), according to a study in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, official journal of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA). The journal is published by Wolters Kluwer.

“Our study provides support for the feasibility, acceptability, and effectiveness of a tailored mindfulness-based group intervention for patients with IBD,” concludes the research report by Dr. David Castle, a psychiatrist at St. Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues. More research is needed to demonstrate the clinical benefits of mindfulness techniques–including whether they can help to reduce IBD symptoms and relapses.

Mindfulness Reduces Anxiety and Depression in IBD Patients

The researchers evaluated a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program tailored for patients with IBD. The study included 60 adults with IBD: Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. The patients’ average age was 36 years, and average duration of IBD 11 years. Twenty-four patients had active disease at the time of the study.

The MBSR intervention consisted of eight weekly group sessions plus a daylong intensive session, led by an experienced instructor. The program included guided meditations, exercises designed to enhance mindfulness in daily life, and group discussions of challenges and experiences. Participants were also encouraged to perform daily “mindfulness meditation” at home.

Thirty-three patients agreed to participate in the MBSR intervention, 27 of whom completed the program. Ratings of mental health, quality of life, and mindfulness were compared to those of the 27 patients who chose not to participate (mainly because of travel time).

The MBSR participants had greater reductions in anxiety and depression scores, as well as improvement in physical and psychological quality of life. They also had higher scores on a questionnaire measuring various aspects of mindfulness–for example, awareness of inner and outer experiences.

Six months later, MBSR participants still had significant reduction in depression and improvement in quality of life, with a trend toward reduced anxiety. The patients were highly satisfied with the mindfulness intervention.

Anxiety, depression, and decreased quality of life are common in patients with IBD. Psychological distress may lead to increased IBD symptoms and play a role in triggering disease flare-ups. Previous studies have shown benefits of MBSR for patients with a wide range of physical illnesses, but there is limited evidence on mindfulness-based interventions for patients with IBD.

The new results show that the MBSR approach is feasible and well-accepted by patients with IBD. The study also suggests that training patients in mindfulness practices to follow in daily life can lead to significant and lasting benefits, including reduced psychological distress and improved quality of life. Dr. Castle comments, “This work reinforces the interaction between physical and mental aspects of functioning, and underscores the importance of addressing both aspects in all our patients.”

The researchers point out some important limitations of their study–including the fact that patients weren’t randomly assigned to MBSR and control groups. They also note that the study didn’t assess the impact on measures of disease activity, including IBD flares. Dr. Castle and colleagues conclude, “A larger adequately powered, randomised study with an active control arm is warranted to evaluate the effectiveness of a mindfulness group program for patients with IBD in a definitive manner.”

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Meditation may relieve IBS and IBD

wildmind meditation newsSue McGreevey, Harvard Gazette: A pilot study has found that participating in a nine-week training program including elicitation of the relaxation response had a significant impact on clinical symptoms of the gastrointestinal disorders irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and on the expression of genes related to inflammation and the body’s response to stress.

The report from investigators at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), both Harvard affiliates, is the first to study the use …

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Meditating with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)

Irritable Bowel Syndrome IBS and meditation

Someone recently wrote to tell me that she suffers extreme embarrassment when meditating with other people, because her IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) causes a lot of intestinal gurgling. She becomes self-conscious about these noises, finds that the anxiety about them dominates her meditations, and has been so upset at times that she’s left the meditation room in tears. Also, her anxiety around making noise actually causes her condition to get worse.

I can appreciate her anxiety. I think we’ve all had times when we’ve been self-conscious about bodily noises (gas, swallowing, coughing, etc.), but to have it be more than an occasional thing must be very hard indeed.

If you’re affected by similar problems, I’d suggest letting people know that you have IBS and that it’s going to cause some noise if that’s at all possible. Just telling people that there’s a medical problem will probably help relieve some of the anxiety. Possibly you could ask the person leading the meditation to make an announcement. Any compassionate meditation instructor will be able to frame what they say in terms of practicing acceptance, etc.

To give other people the opportunity to practice patience or lovingkindness as they sit with any noise they may hear is an act of generosity. Don’t assume it’s a problem for them. I’ve had people flee the meditation room because they’ve had a cough and didn’t want to disturb people, when actually no one was disturbed — except perhaps being disturbed by the fact that another person hasn’t trusted them to be able to handle a bit of noise. So please do trust people. Give them the chance to learn to handle sitting with noise. You’ll be doing them a favor.

It may at first seem embarrassing to tell people you have a medical condition, but there’s no more shame to it than in having a cough, and you probably wouldn’t feel ashamed about letting people know you have a cold and that you’ll probably be coughing during a sit. You’ll get used to telling people this, so although it may be hard at first, it’ll get easier.

Meditation actually helps IBS sufferers. Three months after a group of IBS sufferers took an eight-week meditation course, 38.2% of them reported a reduction in severity of their IBS symptoms, according to a study carried out by Susan Gaylord, PhD, of the University of North Carolina’s program on integrative medicine. At the core of mindfulness is learning simply to observe our experience, without reacting to it with aversion or clinging. So if there is noise, or even pain, we simply notice those as sensations. If we notice ourselves tensing up or becoming anxious, we simply note that too, but we let go of the tension and let the anxious thoughts pass without getting caught up in them.

I remember some times I had problems with loud swallowing, and that has the same dynamic as my correspondent described — the more anxious you are about it the worse it gets. I got around this by trying to swallow as loudly as I could. For some reason it’s hard to swallow loudly on purpose. You might try something like that with your bowel sounds, if IBS is a problem for you. Now I know the intestines are not under conscious control, but if you pretend they are and give them permission to be as loud as they want (You go, intestines!) then that reassurance will help them to be more relaxed, and then they’ll be quieter. Also, if you’re almost defiantly trying to make noise, then the whole issue of being embarrassed about it becomes less important.

The practice of lovingkindness and self-compassion would also be helpful. First, start with your shame. Locate where in the body you feel the shame most strongly, and say “May you be well; may you be at ease.” Part of you is hurting, and it needs comfort and reassurance.

Do the same with your intestines. Show them love and reassurance like you would for a baby that had gas pains. Place a hand on your belly and say, “I know you’re struggling, but I’m here for you. I love you and I want you to be well.”

Have you been in the situation this person described? What’s worked for you?

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Meditation relieves Irritable Bowel Syndrome severity, randomized study finds

David Wild: Mindfulness meditation is as much as four times more effective than group support in relieving the severity of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms, according to research presented at the 2011 Digestive Disease Week meeting. Patients with IBS who participated in eight weekly meditation sessions and meditated daily at home experienced residual symptom relief three months after ending treatment.

Lucinda A. Harris, MD, who was not involved in the study, said the research confirms that modalities like mindfulness need to be integrated into a holistic approach to treating IBS, which also …

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