- Scientists in London analysed data from 28 trials involving 1,789 patients
- Researchers said it may be a low cost treatment for inflammatory bowel disease
Mindfulness exercises should be prescribed to help reduce the symptoms of irritable bowel disorders, according to a major review.
Talking therapies were found to cut inflammation in people with bowel disorders including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis by almost a fifth.
King’s College London researchers found treatments that improve the mood reduced inflammation in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) by 18 per cent.
They said their findings could present an effecting and low-cost alternative treatment for inflammatory bowel disease.
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are chronic autoimmune conditions affecting over 500,000 people in the UK, resulting in inflammation of the digestive tract.
King’s College London researchers found treatments that improve the mood reduced inflammation in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) by 18 per cent. They said their findings could present an effecting and low-cost alternative treatment for inflammatory bowel disease
This can cause a range of debilitating symptoms including abdominal pain, diarrhoea, fatigue and incontinence.
The research — supported by the National Institute for Health and Care (NIHR) and Medical Research Council (MRC) — analysed data from 28 trials, involving 1,789 patients.
It found the likes of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), acceptance and commitment therapy, and mindfulness-based stress reduction had the best outcomes on inflammation.
When the team looked at IBD-specific inflammation, they found a small reduction in c-reactive protein and faecal calprotectin following mood interventions.
Professor Valeria Mondelli, an expert in psychoneuroimmunology at King’s said the findings suggest ‘improvements in mood can influence physical diseases through modulation of the immune system’.
She said: ‘We know stress-related feelings can increase inflammation and the findings suggest that by improving mood we can reduce this type of inflammation.
‘This adds to the growing body of research demonstrating the role of inflammation in mental health and suggests that interventions working to improve mood could also have direct physical effects on levels of inflammation.’
Researchers found that psychological therapies, including cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), acceptance and commitment therapy, and mindfulness-based stress reduction, had the best outcomes on inflammation in IBD, compared with antidepressants and exercise interventions.
Those which had a larger positive effect on mood had a greater effect on reducing inflammatory biomarkers, suggesting the mechanism underlying the effect of psychological and social interventions on inflammation in IBD could be improved mood.
Ruth Wakeman, of Crohn’s & Colitis UK, said: ‘People tell us every day that Crohn’s and colitis can have a huge impact on their mental wellbeing as well as their physical health.
‘There are very few “quick fixes” when it comes to mental wellbeing and, unfortunately, we know that many patients can face difficulty in accessing psychological support when they need it.
‘We welcome any research into improving life for people with inflammatory bowel disease.’