Meditation is a powerful healing art that can reduce PTSD and IBS in veterans

Mindfulness meditation is a healing practice that involves focusing your mind on your experiences in the present moment. It has been shown to help people cope with stress and manage emotions. A new study suggests that this powerful healing art can reduce post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which are highly comorbid conditions common among military veterans.

PTSD and IBS are often associated with reduced health-related quality of life, so researchers continue to search for integrative treatments for comorbid PTSD and IBS. For the current study, researchers at VA Puget Sound Health Care System in the U.S. sought to determine the effect of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) on PTSD and IBS among veterans.

To do this, they recruited 55 veterans with PTSD and IBS. The participants underwent an MBSR treatment for eight weeks. The researchers measured the effect of the mindfulness treatment on PTSD, IBS, gastrointestinal symptom-specific anxiety, and depression symptoms. In addition, they measured the mindfulness skills of the participants.

Published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, the results revealed that the veterans reported reduced trauma-related disorders, irritable bowel, gastrointestinal symptom-specific anxiety, and depression symptoms immediately after the mindfulness treatment. In addition, mindfulness meditation also improved their mindfulness skills. Furthermore, the improvements in PTSD and depression symptoms were retained even four months after the treatment.

The researchers concluded that mindfulness meditation may be an effective treatment for people with comorbid PTSD, depression, gastrointestinal symptom-specific anxiety, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Studies support that meditation reduces PTSD severity

Supporting the use of mindfulness meditation as an alternative treatment for military veterans with PTSD, a study published in the journal Psychiatric Research and Clinical Practice found that military veterans experienced improvements in symptoms of PTSD after undergoing MBSR treatment.

Participants in the study received eight weeks of either MBSR or present-centered group therapy (PCGT) as a control treatment. MBSR treatment included weekly 90-minute sessions focusing on body scan meditation, sitting meditation, and mindful stretching. Participants who received MBSR training also received guided meditation CDs to practice even while at home. On the other hand, participants in the PCGT treatment group received 90-minute psychoeducational sessions every week.

The researchers, then, assessed the improvement of PTSD symptoms before the treatment and at three, six, and nine weeks of follow-up. They also conducted an additional assessment at 16 weeks after treatment. The results of this study showed that both treatments caused substantial reductions in PTSD symptoms. However, participants in the MSBR reported better improvements compared with the PCGT group.

Another study on 203 U.S. veterans with PTSD revealed that meditation reduces the condition’s symptoms and its drop out rate is low too. For this study, some participants received transcendental meditation, which involves effortless thinking of a mantra, without concentration or contemplation, to produce a settled, psychophysiological state of restful alertness, for three months. Others received health education classes or prolonged exposure therapy, which is one of the most commonly used treatments for PTSD. Moreover, most participants had very severe PTSD symptoms, mostly from combat-related trauma, with high rates of comorbid conditions.

After three months of treatment, the researchers found that transcendental meditation reduced the symptoms of PTSD. This study highlights the importance of treating PTSD in noninvasive ways as currently available treatments are not as effective. For example, about 30 to 50 percent of veterans participating in prolonged exposure psychotherapy do not exhibit clinically significant improvements, and drop-out rates are high. (Related: Meditation: How an ancient practice has come to be known as a panacea for modern ills.)

Read more news stories and studies on the health benefits of mindfulness meditation by going to

Sources include:

comments powered by Disqus