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Completing an eight-week program of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) helps lessen clinical symptoms of fibromyalgia, including disease severity, depression, perceived stress, and cognitive difficulties, a pilot trial suggests.
The practice also seems to ease patients’ pro-inflammatory condition, helping to normalize blood levels of an anti-inflammatory cytokine called IL-10.
The study, “Immune-inflammatory pathways and clinical changes in fibromyalgia patients treated with Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR): A randomized, controlled clinical trial,” was published in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity.
There is some promising evidence that training in mindfulness, including engaging in a mindfulness-based stress reduction program, can relieve chronic pain in many conditions including fibromyalgia (FM).
Besides its potential benefit to overall well-being, there have been reports that mindfulness training helps balance the pro- versus anti-inflammatory state of individuals affected by different conditions such as cancer, depression, or stress.
Little research has been done to investigate if MBSR can help normalize the inflammatory status of FM patients or if their condition makes a difference in the way they respond to MBSR.
Thus, a team led by researchers at Sant Joan de Déu Research Institute in Spain conducted a randomized and controlled trial to address two main issues: the effect of MBSR on the clinical symptoms and inflammatory status of FM patients; and if some immune pathways influence patients’ response to MBSR, and can be used to predict the benefit of this intervention beforehand.
The trial included 70 female FM patients, randomly divided in two groups of 35: a treatment group that received MBSR plus their standard care, and a control group that had standard care alone. The study was part of a larger Phase 3 trial called EUDAIMON (NCT02561416), which included another type of intervention, outside the scope of this report.