The Future of IBS Treatment: What’s in Store for Your Bowels?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is one of a number of chronic conditions affecting millions of people about which very little is actually known. With no known cause, no specific mechanism, and no single set of symptoms, effective treatments for IBS have been slow in materializing. A cure for IBS is not currently available.
But what are researchers doing to make progress?
A variety of pharmaceuticals have been released in the past decades to address IBS symptoms, but side effects have often matched the condition’s own discomforts. These drugs have tried to target inflammation, brain-gut interaction, and gut motility, but millions of individuals with IBS remain unaided.
Certain lifestyle changes can drastically improve symptoms, however. In addition, a recent randomized clinical trial has demonstrated the potential of another non-pharmaceutical treatment.
Mind Over Matter
Stress is a known aggravator of IBS. Preventing common IBS symptoms may be as much about diet as about stress management and a balanced lifestyle. Because of these links between emotional health and IBS symptoms, psychotherapy seems like a therapeutic option ripe for investigating.
Scientists at UCLA recently randomized 69 IBS patients into two groups, one of which would receive a psycho-educational class as an intervention. The class taught participants to view IBS as a condition that was strongly malleable due to the tight connection between mind and body. Individuals in the class were taught ways to be confident about their ability to manage IBS and its symptoms. In addition, they learned practical, simple ways to relax and control their daily stressors.
Patients who attended the class reported a better quality of life, less anxiety, and fewer or less severe IBS gastrointestinal symptoms after completing the course. Even three months after the intervention, those who had previously reported lower quality of life and bad gastrointestinal symptoms had maintained much of their progress. Apparently, thinking about “mind over matter” in managing IBS may have a significant impact on the day-to-day experience of the condition.
Psychoemotional profiles of individuals with IBS are also demonstrating important links between tension, personality traits, stressful life situations, and symptoms of the condition. The growing evidence of a connection between the psyche and the gut offer an informative look at managing the disease without the negative side effects of drugs.
If you have IBS or know someone who does, keep natural and mind-based therapies in mind the next time symptoms become unmanageable.