This article is titled “Brain imaging to identify physical reasons why IBS symptoms improve with drug-free treatments.”
No doubt that they’ll find that people who feel better have measurable changes in their brain activity. That would be true for any issue.
But to imply that it is identifying the cause of the problem is misleading. People can treat pain without drugs, but that doesn’t mean that they’ve addressed the cause of the pain. The pain is still a symptom.
In my opinion the $8.9 million that is being spent could be put to much better use examining the causes of the IBS, not the symptoms. The gut-brain connection that they and others often mention is convenient but it is primarily the gut driving the brain, not the other way around. Stress and anxiety will exacerbate the problem, but they make everything worse, not just IBS. Something else has to be making the digestive tract weak and therefore susceptible to stress. Focusing on those issues is the key to curing IBS.
-Dr. Stephen Wangen
Excerpt from WNYPapers.com:
“We’re going to look at biological mechanisms that underlie these non-drug treatments, to discover what is going on in the brain that explains treatment benefits achieved by teaching patients specific skills to control and reduce their symptoms,” said Jeffrey M. Lackner, Ph.D., associate professor of medicine at the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and a project principal investigator. “By using a brain scan to compare brain activity before and after treatment, we expect to get a picture of changes in the brain that correspond to improvements in gastrointestinal symptoms.”
“We’re excited about the possibility of providing the first evidence for biological markers that correlate with treatment-induced symptom changes, and developing a better understanding of the mechanism behind IBS,” Lackner said. “Such cutting-edge translational research is going to help foster individualized, specific treatments for patients.”
One treatment developed at UB aims to control symptoms by changing specific thinking patterns and behaviors found to aggravate IBS. Using state-of-the-art brain-imaging methods, UCLA researchers, under the leadership of Emeran Mayer, MD, hope to identify the biological mechanisms underlying their effectiveness. Mayer is a professor of medicine and psychiatry at UCLA, director of the Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and principal investigator of the imaging study.
Scientists believe that IBS symptoms are the result of dysregulation of brain-gut interactions, resulting in abnormal muscle contractions in the gut and heightened sensitivity to painful stimuli.
Image thanks to worcesterparents.org