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Natural Awakenings Boston

Mind-Body Intervention Shows Improvement in Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome

A pilot study by Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine researchers and colleagues at Mass General and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center shows that patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) experience symptom improvement and changes in inflammation-related gene expression after participating in BHI’s Stress Management and Resiliency Training (SMART) program.

This pilot study was just published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE, and is the first to examine the use of the relaxation response in these disorders. It is also the first to investigate the genomic effects of the relaxation response in individuals with any disorder.

Co-lead author of the study, Braden Kuo, M.D., of the Gastrointestinal Unit in the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Medicine, says about the study, “What is novel about this study is the demonstration of the impact of a mind-body intervention on the genes controlling inflammatory factors that are known to play a major role in IBD and possibly IBS.”

Both IBS and IBD are chronic conditions that produce abdominal pain and changes in bowel function, such as diarrhea. Stress seems to make both conditions worse, and symptoms themselves can increase stress in patients, so finding ways to break that cycle can have significant clinical benefits.

Both patients with IBS and IBD experienced significant improvement in symptoms, anxiety and overall quality of life, not only by the end of the program, but after just three weeks in the program. Changes in gene expression related to inflammation were changed as well, most significantly in patients with IBD.

Source: Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine, 151 Merrimac St., 4th Flr., Boston. For more information, visit

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