No, IBS (irritable bowel disorder) isn’t all in the mind, despite what some doctors still maintain—but mindfulness meditation can relieve some of the symptoms.
Any therapy that improves mood, such as mindfulness or ‘talking therapies’ like CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy), seems to reduce inflammation by around 20 percent.
IBS conditions such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are autoimmune conditions that involve inflammation of the digestive tract, which can cause chronic fatigue, pain and severe reactions to food. A viral infection is the most likely cause.
Researchers at King’s College London have discovered that CBT, ‘acceptance and commitment therapy’ and mindfulness were the most effective for reducing inflammation in IBS sufferers after analysing 28 studies, involving 1789 patients. The therapies reduced inflammation by around 18 percent and were more effective than antidepressants or exercise.
“Improvements in mood can influence physical diseases through modulation of the immune system,” said Valeria Mondelli, one of the researchers. “We know stress-related feelings can increase inflammation and the findings suggest that by improving mood we can reduce this type of inflammation.”