Mindfulness Training Eases IBS

A Swedish study published in Behaviour Research and Therapy in 2010 revealed that Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) can help people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

The controlled study put 86 participants through a ten-week program of either internet-delivered mindfulness training, or an online IBS discussion forum. Participants in the mindfulness training group were presented with self-help manual broken up into five steps. The first step explained the rationale for the treatment and instructions on mindfulness. The second, third, and fourth steps encompassed a presentation of a psychological model of IBS and continued mindfulness exercises. The study report states: “the psychological model of IBS explained how behaviors that serve to control or avoid symptoms or negative affects related to symptoms often increase the intensity of and attention to symptoms.”

The fifth and final step asked participants to take part in exposure exercises. The exercises required participants to provoke IBS symptoms, to eliminate behaviours that served to control symptoms, and to expose them to situations where symptoms were particularly unwanted. The results of the study showed that compared to the control group, participants in the mindfulness training group improved on IBS-related quality of life and gastrointestinal-specific anxiety, depression, and general functioning.


Study Abstract on ScienceDirect