New research published in the journal Neurogastroenterology & Motility reveals there are big benefits of mindfulness meditation for IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the most common functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorder, affecting between 10% to 15% of people. It’s a disorder that causes abdominal cramping, pain, bloating diarrhea, constipation and gas.
It is not life-threatening, but can be a serious issue. Many people with IBS stop working, give up travelling, and often withdraw from society. It can also cause depression and anxiety.
Many people search for a natural way to stop IBS. And mindfulness meditation can help, according to the latest research.
Mindfulness meditation is the practice of focusing the mind on the present-moment in a calm, nonjudgmental way. Over recent years, scientific research has revealed considerable health and lifestyle benefits of mindfulness. The latest researches links mindfulness with a reduction in IBS symptoms.
How A Program In Mindfulness Meditation Helps With IBS
Research shows that practicing mindfulness meditation reduces stress, and this in turn leads to fewer gastrointestinal symptoms.
The study looked at 15 men and 53 women with IBS. These participants practiced an 8-week mindfulness-based stress reduction class.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a program created by Jon Kabat Zinn. It is typically done in an eight-week program and aims to reduces stress-levels.
MBSR programs typically focus on a combination of the following exercises:
- Body awareness (usually via body scan meditation),
- Mindfulness meditation
- Different types of yoga
- and exploration of patterns of behaviour, thinking, feeling and action.
The majority of the study’s participants observed a reduction in gastrointestinal symptoms for up to three-months following the study. Quality of life also improved, with markedly less anxiety and stress. The researchers state that the most important benefit of mindfulness for IBS was the participant’s new ability to focus on the present moment and to act with awareness instead of being misguided by stress and anxiety.
Kirsten Tillisch, MD, of the University of California, Los Angeles, notes that this research shows people with IBS can improve their quality of life without medication.
“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,” she said. “Further, it implicates a specific aspect of mindfulness as particularly important: acting with awareness.”
Acting with awareness is one of the core aspects of mindfulness. Many people act automatically and without thought. This can be especially true when stressed or anxious. By practicing mindfulness meditation, we become more aware of the present moment. This helps us to act in an aware way.
“It appears that by improving this moment to moment awareness in their daily actions, people with irritable bowel syndrome feel better,” said Tillisch , “possibly because this mindful activity activity in the present moment keeps the brain from going back to old fears or worries.”
You can view the research here.