Brain-Gut Therapy Research
Behavioral approaches have been used for years to treat GI issues. The leading journal Nature Disease Primers recently published a systematic review of all treatments for IBS. That paper concluded “Overall, the NNT [Number Needed to Treat] for psychological therapies is four patients (95% CI: 3–5) and, therefore, better than the majority of drugs.”
Irritable bowel syndrome. Enck P, Aziz Q, Barbara G, Farmer AD, Fukudo S, Mayer EA, Niesler B, Quigley EM, Rajilić-Stojanović M, Schemann M, Schwille-Kiuntke J, Simren M, Zipfel S, Spiller RC. Nature Reviews Disease Primers. 2016 Mar 24;2:16014. doi: 10.1038/nrdp.2016.14. PMID: 27159638
Continue reading to learn more about the evidence behind the metaMe Health approach.
What is IBS, and why use Brain-Gut Therapy?
IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) is a “functional” disorder, meaning that according to a doctor’s examination or medical tests, the cells and tissue of the gut appear normal. However, the physical manifestations of IBS are very real. IBS is a chronic condition with symptoms that include diarrhea and constipation, or both, along with bloating and abdominal pain. About 6% of people suffer from IBS, including 20 million in the US. Reduction in quality of life is so severe that on average patients would trade 10 to 15 years of remaining life expectancy for an immediate cure. The metaMe Connect treatment program is based on evidence that IBS symptoms are caused by anomalies in how the brain interprets signals from the gut. Brain-Gut Therapy is a medically accepted form of treatment that is widely used to treat physical problems. Over two dozen studies have specifically investigated treatment of IBS by brain-gut therapy. Although study sizes and outcome measures vary, several conclusions can be made.
Success Rates Are 70% or Better, Even for Patients Unresponsive to Standard Care
In studies using standardized treatment protocols, the great majority of patients improve. In two studies that tested the exact seven-session treatment course offered through metaMe Connect, 85% and 93% of patients were classified as treatment responders (Palsson et al., 2002). A British research team conducted an independent study that followed treatment outcomes for 1000 patients and reported that 76% of patients to respond positively (Miller et al., 2015). The success is especially remarkable considering that the studies typically involved only IBS sufferers who failed to get better after previous treatment types.
Brain-Gut Therapy Reduces All of the Central Symptoms of IBS
Abdominal pain, bloating or distention, and bowel activity dysfunction (diarrhea or constipation) are all improved through Brain-Gut Therapy. The greatest improvement is seen in abdominal pain, which is reduced by an average of 50% or more in many studies.
Treatment Benefits Generally Last for Years
Studies have shown excellent maintenance of improvement long after therapy sessions were over (Palsson et al., 2002; Gerson et al. 2013). In a follow-up study of 204 patients, 81% of patients who initially improved from treatment fully maintained the therapeutic effect for up to 5 years post-treatment. Further, many of the remaining 19% reported only a partial return of symptoms (Gonsalkorale et al., 2003).
Lasting Reduction in Disability and Reduced Need for Health Care and Medication
In a comparison of patients treated with brain-gut therapy others who only received standard medical care, those in the therapy group took less time off work and were more likely to return to work (Houghton, Heyman, & Whorwell. 1996).