Effect of Yoga in the Therapy of Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Systematic Review

Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2016 Dec;14(12):1720-1731. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2016.04.026. Epub 2016 Apr 22.


Background & aims: This review aims to systematically survey the effects of yoga on symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), pain, quality of life, mood, stress, and safety in patients with IBS.

Methods: MEDLINE/Pubmed, Scopus, the Cochrane Library, CAM-QUEST, CAMbase, and IndMED were screened through November 2015. Randomized controlled trials comparing yoga with usual care, nonpharmacologic, or pharmacologic interventions were analyzed for patients with IBS. Primary outcomes included gastrointestinal symptoms, quality of life, and pain. Anxiety, mood, and safety were defined as secondary outcomes. Risk of bias was assessed according to the Cochrane Collaboration recommendations.

Results: Six randomized controlled trials with a total of 273 patients were included in the qualitative analysis. There was evidence for a beneficial effect of a yogic intervention over conventional treatment in IBS, with significantly decreased bowel symptoms, IBS severity, and anxiety. Furthermore, there were significant improvements in quality of life, global improvement, and physical functioning after yoga compared with no treatment. Two randomized controlled trials reported safety data stating that no adverse events occurred. Overall, risk of bias of the included studies was unclear.

Conclusions: The findings of this systematic review suggest that yoga might be a feasible and safe adjunctive treatment for people with IBS. Nevertheless, no recommendation can be made regarding yoga as a routine intervention for patients with IBS because of major flaws in study methods. More research is needed with respect to a high-quality study design and consensus in clinical outcome measurements in IBS. ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT02721836.

Keywords: IBS; Irritable Bowel Syndrome; Review; Yoga.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / pathology*
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / psychology
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / therapy*
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Yoga*

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02721836