Recent studies from Digestive Disease Week 2011 link the bowel, brain & meditation.

Lots of interesting studies being reported fresh off the heals of Digestive Disease Week 2011. The study we’re discussing today looks at the usefulness of meditation & support groups for the treatment of symptoms in those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.The 75 participants in the study were females ranging in age from 19 – 71. They were randomly placed into an 8 week course of mindful meditation or into a support group that discussed the issues of living with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. After the 8 weeks were up 25.4% of those in the meditation group reported improvement vs 6.2% in the support group. At a three month follow-up, 38.2% in the meditation group reported improvements vs 11.8% in the support group. It appears there were 9 drop-outs during the courses, with 34 people completing the meditation course & 32 completing the support group.

While the study does support the usefulness of meditation in the treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, it is definitely not a silver bullet, nor is the study entirely comprehensive. There were no males patients involved in the study, nor does it appear there control group. Also one would wonder if it’s meditation that is reducing symptoms or stress reduction? Perhaps they one in the same? I’d imagine going to a support group and listening to other people struggling with illness could actually be somewhat stressful, while at the same time somewhat supportive. Meditation would seem to have an overall more positive disposition to it, where you are going for “healing” and not as someone who is there to discuss their frustration with the inability to resolve their symptoms. In the long run, I think both support groups & meditation have a place in the treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Especially when you considered the mind-gut link.

You do not actually need to run out and sign-up for a pricey meditation class or buy a bunch of books. You can start right away with some simple meditation exercises.

Meditation is definitely low risk with moderate possibility of reward. There is no harm in trying it ;).