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15 Aug

Ten of the thirteen original participants from the Relaxation Response pilot study with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) patients participated in a one year follow-up study, to determine whether the effects of Herbert Benson’s Relaxation Response Meditation (RRM) on IBS symptom reduction were maintained over the year.

From pre-treatment to one-year follow-up, significant reductions were noted for the symptoms of abdominal pain (p = 0.017), diarrhea (p = 0.045), flatulence (p = 0.030), and bloating (p = 0.018). When changes were examined from the original three month follow-up point, where the initial study ended, to the one year follow-up, significant additional reductions were noted in pain (p = 0.03) and bloating (p = 0.04), which tended to be the most distressing symptoms of IBS. The study tentatively concludes that: (1) continued use of meditation is particularly effective in reducing the symptoms of pain and bloating; and (2) RRM is a beneficial treatment for IBS in the both short- and the long-term.

Citation: Keefer L, Blanchard EB. A one year follow-up of relaxation response meditation as a treatment for irritable bowel syndrome. Behavioral Research & Therapy. 2002 May;40(5):541-6.

15 Aug

Hypnosis treatment for severe irritable bowel syndrome: investigation of mechanism and effects on symptoms.

A team of researchers from UNC Chapel Hill, interested in learning how hypnosis manages to improve irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), designed two studies that measured and separated out possible physiological mechanisms from psychological ones. Patients with severe IBS received seven biweekly hypnosis sessions and used hypnosis audiotapes at home. Rectal pain thresholds and smooth muscle tone were measured with a barostat before and after treatment in 18 patients in one study, and treatment changes in autonomic functions such as heart rate, blood pressure, skin conductance, finger temperature, and forehead electromyographic activity were assessed in 24 patients in the second study. Somatization, anxiety, and depression were also measured. All central IBS symptoms improved substantially from treatment in both studies. Rectal pain thresholds, rectal smooth muscle tone, and autonomic functioning (except sweat gland reactivity) were unaffected by hypnosis treatment. However, somatization and psychological distress showed large decreases. The study concludes that hypnosis improves IBS symptoms through reductions in psychological distress and somatization, and that percieved improvements were unrelated to changes in the physiological parameters measured.

Citation: Palsson OS, Turner MJ, Johnson DA, Burnelt CK, Whitehead WE. Hypnosis treatment for severe irritable bowel syndrome: investigation of mechanism and effects on symptoms. Dig Dis Sci 2002 Nov;47(11):2605-14

15 Aug

This study assessed the efficacy of hypnotherapy in treating functional dyspepsia (FD). A total of 126 patients were randomized to either a hypnotherapy condition, a supportive therapy plus placebo medication condition, or a medical treatment condition, for a total of 16 weeks of treatment.

The percentage of change in symptoms from baseline was assessed after the 16-week treatment phase (short-term) and again after 56 weeks (long-term), with the 26 hypnotherapy, 24 supportive therapy, and 29 medical treatment patients who completed all phases of the study. In addition, quality of life was also measured as a secondary outcome.

15 Aug

Angela McGrady at The Medical College of Ohio studied the effects of biofeedback-assisted relaxation on a small sample of people with Type I, insulin-dependent diabetes, and found the intervention extremely promising. Significantly more members of the imagery group reduced their blood glucose by 10% after one month, and some decreased insulin intake. Anxiety and especially depression appeared to interfere with a positive outcome. (As reported in Alternative Health practitioner: The Journal of Complementary and Natural Care, Vol 3, no 3, Fall/Winter 1997.)

Citation: As reported in Alternative Health practitioner: The Journal of Complementary and Natural Care, Vol 3, no 3, Fall/Winter 1997.
15 Aug

People have suspected for years that guided imagery is an ideal intervention for people with diabetes. Because it lowers stress and people with Type II Diabetes (also known as Adult Onset Diabetes) are famously responsive to stress, it seems pretty obvious. But not a whole lot of hard-core study has been done on the subject.

Harriet Conley Wichowski & Sylvia M. Kubsch have made a good start at studying imagery and diabetes. At the Professional Program in Nursing at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, they did a a small case study on the impact of guided imagery in helping diabetic patients to adhere to a rigorous behavioral regimen.

Their article in Complementary Therapy Nurse Midwifery [1999 Dec: 5(6):159-63] reports that, with several cases, a guided imagery script used by health care practitioners was effective in improving adherence to blood testing, exercise, weight management and restrictive diet.

Citation: Wichowski HC, Kubsch SM. Increasing diabetic self-care through guided imagery. Complement Ther Nurs Midwifery. 1999 Dec;5(6):159-63.
15 Aug

Stress reduction techniques such as relaxation and breathing exercises can help lower A1c (HbA1c) levels by as much as 1% or more, according to principle investigator, Richard Surwit of Duke University Medical Center.

The study worked with 108 patients with type 2 (adult onset) diabetes. All patients took part in 5 30-minute educational sessions about diabetes. Half also got stress management training as well. There were no differences in weight, diet or exercise between the 2 groups.

15 Aug

In controlled clinical trials, imagery has been shown to reduce heart rate reactivity, blood pressure and resting heart rate.

Citation: Sharpley CF. Maintenance amd generalizability of laboratory-based heart rate reactivity control training . Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 1994 Jun;17(3): 309-29.

15 Aug

At Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, Ashton, Whitworth, et al found that patients who were taught self-hypnosis/relaxation techniques before undergoing first-time elective coronary artery bypass surgery were significantly more relaxed following the operation, as compared to a control group. They also used significantly less pain medication. Surgical outcomes were the same for both groups.

Citation: Ashton C Jr, Whitworth GC, et al. Self-hypnosis reduces anxiety following coronary artery bypass surgery. A prospective, randomized trial. J. Cardiovascular Surgery(Torino). 1997 Feb; 38(1): pp. 69-75.

15 Aug

Marital stress worsens prognosis in women with coronary heart disease: The Stockholm female coronary risk study.
15 Aug

Reversal of Coronary Artery Disease from Lifestyle Changes

When 48 patients with moderate to severe coronary artery disease were randomized into either an intensive lifestyle change group (the changes included a 100% whole foods vegetarian diet, aerobic exercise, stress management training - imagery, meditation and yoga - and group psychosocial support.) or a usual-care control group, and both groups were studied at the 5-year follow up with coronary arteriography, the experimental group far exceeded the most optimistic expectations for improvement.

15 Aug

Preliminary findings are in from Traci Stein, MPH, Director of The Columbia Integrative Medicine Program and whiz statistician, Peri Nemerow, both from Mehmet Oz’s group at Columbia Presbyterian.

They tested out our new guided imagery for cardiac ICU & cardiac rehab on 20 patients (average age = 63) who’d undergone by-pass, valve replacement and transplant surgeries, and surveyed them for feedback on the imagery.

It turned out that 90% liked listening to the tape; 79% would recommend the tape to a friend; 71% thought it made their hospital stay more pleasant; 83.3 % felt it increased their appreciation for being alive; 80% thought it helped them to better savor the things that they loved; 80% thought it gave them confidence they would regain their strength; 66.7% said it made them feel more positively about their scars; 75% felt it made them less depressed; and 80% felt it made them more relaxed.

15 Aug

Well, the first round of Mitch Krucoff’s and Suzanne Crater’s MANTRA prayer study has been collated and published. The results, even in pilot form, are intriguing. The Duke University randomized clinical trials examined the effects of applying 4 CAM therapies - stress relaxation, imagery, touch therapy, and prayer - to cardiac patients in acute coronary intervention settings, such as the angiography lab – to measure their effects on short- and long-term procedural outcomes, including mortality.

150 Patients were randomized across 5 treatment groups: the 4 noetic conditions and standard care. Records were checked for post-procedure ischemia, death, myocardial infarction, heart failure, and urgent revascularization. Mortality was followed up for 6 months after hospitalization. Although results were not statistically significant because of the low numbers in each condition, there was a 25% to 30% absolute reduction in adverse effects in patients treated with any of the noetic therapies, as compared to standard therapy. And the lowest complication rates of all were observed in patients assigned to off-site prayer.