Ten of the thirteen original participants from the Relaxation Response pilot study with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) patients participated in a one year follow-up study, to determine whether the effects of Herbert Benson’s Relaxation Response Meditation (RRM) on IBS symptom reduction were maintained over the year.

From pre-treatment to one-year follow-up, significant reductions were noted for the symptoms of abdominal pain (p = 0.017), diarrhea (p = 0.045), flatulence (p = 0.030), and bloating (p = 0.018). When changes were examined from the original three month follow-up point, where the initial study ended, to the one year follow-up, significant additional reductions were noted in pain (p = 0.03) and bloating (p = 0.04), which tended to be the most distressing symptoms of IBS. The study tentatively concludes that: (1) continued use of meditation is particularly effective in reducing the symptoms of pain and bloating; and (2) RRM is a beneficial treatment for IBS in the both short- and the long-term.

Citation: Keefer L, Blanchard EB. A one year follow-up of relaxation response meditation as a treatment for irritable bowel syndrome. Behavioral Research & Therapy. 2002 May;40(5):541-6.