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The effects of relaxation response meditation on the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

15 Aug

The effects of relaxation response meditation on the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome: results of a contolled treatment study.

SUNY at Albany''s Keefer and Blanchard matched 16 adults with Irritable Bowel Syndrome into pairs and randomly assigned them to either a 6 week meditation condition, or a 6 week wait list with a monitoring condition.

Patients in the meditation condition were taught Herbert Benson''s Relaxation Response and instructed to practice it twice a day for 15 minutes. All patients were tested for symptom reduction (The Composite Primary IBS Symptom Reduction Test) at the beginning of the study and 2 weeks after the end of the study.

Meditation was found to be superior to the control situation (p=0.04). By the end of the study, the intervention group showed significant improvement in specific symptoms (flatulence: p=0.02 and belching: p=0.02).

By 3 month follow-up time, significant improvements were found in these patients'' diary submissions, in flatulence (p=0.01), belching (p=0.02), bloating (p=0.05) and diarrhea (p=0.03).

The study tentatively concludes that Benson''s Relaxation Response meditation is a viable treatment for IBS.

Citation: Keefer L, Blanchard EB. The effects of relaxation response meditation on the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome: results of a contolled treatment study. Behav Res Ther. 2001 Jul; 39(7):801-11
Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award