Study Suggests Spending More Time in Nature May Help IBS Patients Feel Better

The Benefits of Time Spent in Nature
on Symptoms and Quality of Life
Among Patients With IBS

Author Insight from Katherine Duffey, MD, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital

What’s new here and important for clinicians?

There is rising interest among patients and providers in complimentary and alternative medicine for management of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). This survey study found a relationship between time spent in nature and patient reported symptoms of IBS, with patients reporting less severe symptoms and lower IBS-SSS with more time spent in nature. More research needs to be done to explore the nature of this relationship including what potential mediators (i.e. physical activity, Vitamin D exposure) play a role in the relationship. This finding offers clinicians another behavioral approach for IBS symptom management, one that is both accessible and affordable to patients.

What do patients need to know?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a gastrointestinal disorder characterized by abdominal pain or discomfort and changes in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or both. IBS can have a significant negative impact on patients’ physical and emotional wellbeing, and day to day life. This study surveyed patients with IBS and found that patients who spent more time in nature reported less severe symptoms and reduced interference with their daily life. This is one of several studies that supports the idea that some complimentary alternative therapies to prescription medications for IBS can provide benefit for patients, and more research is being done to further explore these relationships.

Author Contact: Katherine Duffey, MD, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital

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