Mind Body Therapies
The misconception that mind-body medicine is outside of the mainstream is rapidly disappearing. The reality is that both meditation and yoga are widely accepted practices that have enjoyed considerable growth in popularity in recent years. And the largest popularity growth driver has by far been greater knowledge of the health benefits associated with these therapies.
A 2008 study indicated that almost 16 million people (7% of adults) in the US currently practice yoga, with another 18 million reporting they are extremely interested in starting to practice it. Of the 16 million yoga practitioners in the US, 14 million reported that a doctor or therapist recommended the technique to them, a clear indication that the medical field has come to embrace the positives effects of yoga on health. “Yoga as medicine represents the next great yoga wave,” writes Kaitlin Quistgaard, Editor in Chief at Yoga Journal Magazine. “In the next few years, we will be seeing a lot more yoga in health care settings and more yoga recommended by the medical community as new research shows that yoga is a valuable therapeutic tool for many health conditions.”
Similarly, the adoption of meditation as a stress reduction tool has skyrocketed in recent years. A 2007 government survey suggested that more than 20 million people in the US meditated over the past year, up from 15 million in 2002. Respondents reported that they meditated to help ease the affects of pain, stress, depression, and the physical symptoms of chronic disease.
Individuals interested in trying mind-body therapies like yoga and meditation should discuss these approaches with their doctor. It may help to go see a practitioner trained in integrative medicine, as these providers will likely be aware of the benefits of complementary medicine.
It should be noted that there are many types of mind-body therapies for patients to try as part of their IBD treatment regimen. Follow our Useful Links to learn more about the various approaches and to conduct additional research. If you are interested in learning more about Mindfulness Meditation, we have a section of this website dedicated to discussing that approach in detail.
For patients wishing to learn yoga postures, we recommend trying the beginner routines on the Yoga Journal website. They have a number of different beginner sequences you can try in your home. Alternatively, if you feel you would benefit from more instruction, almost every city offers yoga classes in private studios or in large-group settings in health clubs.
To date, we are aware of only a few scientific studies examining the effects of mind-body therapies on individuals living with IBD. While the initial findings have been encouraging, there is still more research needed in this area.
Anecdotal reports suggest that these therapies may be beneficial for individuals in the IBD patient population. Additionally, various patient surveys conducted by patient advocacy groups overwhelmingly report that IBD patients have a strong desire to try complementary therapies that may help improve their symptoms. As an organization, Food Rx will continue to look for ways to support and sponsor research into how mind-body medicine may benefit individuals living with IBD.
Please remember to consult with your doctor before beginning any IBD treatment program, even one based on mind-body therapies. Although mind-body therapies are generally considered safe, your doctor will know about any potential risks. For example, when meditating, never stand up too quickly because dizziness may occur. Additionally, certain mind-body therapies, such as yoga, may include strenuous physical activity. Always check with your healthcare practitioner before beginning any exercise regimen.
Next Section: Speak with a Volunteer