Yoga as a Therapy for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Dig Dis Sci. 2020 Sep;65(9):2503-2514. doi: 10.1007/s10620-019-05989-6. Epub 2019 Dec 12.


The aim of this state-of-the-art narrative review is to evaluate the current evidence about the effectiveness of yoga as therapy for IBS and explore its potential mechanisms of action. The current literature suggests yoga is effective and safe and may target multiple mechanisms involved in treatment of IBS. Evidence from randomized controlled trials identified yoga as more effective compared to pharmacological treatment and equally effective as dietary interventions or moderate-intensity walking. Improvements were seen in both physical health (IBS symptom severity, gastric motility, autonomic and somatic symptom scores, and physical functioning) and mental health outcomes (depression, anxiety, gastrointestinal-specific anxiety, and quality of life). Given favorable changes in IBS-related physical and mental health outcomes, preliminary data supports yoga as beneficial in this population. However, the relatively low-quality evidence resulting from heterogeneity of study designs, interventions, and outcome measures limit our ability to make specific recommendations about the use of yoga as therapy for patients with IBS.

Keywords: Irritable bowel syndrome; Physical and mental health; Quality of life; Yoga.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Functional Status
  • Humans
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / psychology
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / therapy*
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Yoga*
  • Young Adult