When the Cure Doesn’t Come in Pill Form

February 16, 2018

Millions suffer from chronic conditions, such as IBS, fibromyalgia and Crohn’s disease, for which there are no easy solutions.

One of them is Andrea Neufeld, a 50-year-old mother and grandmother who has suffered from Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS since she was a teenager. “It takes over your life,” she explains. “Symptoms like severe constipation and gas aren’t something you can talk about with friends and family. Pain and isolation are just two of the consequences of living with something that has no cure.”

Fortunately, more and more research is documenting the significant benefits of a holistic approach for many chronic conditions, including nutritional strategies, yoga therapy, and mindfulness-based stress reduction. A new program is utilizing these evidence-based therapies to improve the lives of those with issues as diverse as insomnia, chronic pain, and functional bowel disorders.

“The mind-body and gut-brain connection is particularly important for those living with chronic conditions,” explains Martin Carr, MD, a board-certified gastroenterologist at St. Jude who helped create the program. “Stress, anxiety, and depression all worsen symptoms, while nutrition, 
gentle exercise, relaxation and emotional resilience can significantly improve them.”

The unique program doesn’t replace the medical care of a physician, but instead provides the coaching, instruction, therapies, and support that isn’t possible to provide in a regular doctor’s visit. “To be given a toolkit of techniques and strategies that can help you regain your quality of life is very empowering for someone living with an issue like IBS or chronic pain,” explains Kimson Johnston, LMFT, a psychotherapist and certified wellness coach who teaches participants mindfulnessbased stress reduction. “We help people learn how to better control their symptoms, feel more confident, avoid constant doctor and hospital visits, and live their lives more fully.”

For participants, one of the unexpected benefits is discovering how healing the camaraderie and support of others facing the same battle can be. “The program was phenomenal,” Andrea explains, who finished the classes last fall. “After years of feeling alone, having the support and encouragement of others who know exactly what you are going through was an amazing bonus.” To learn more, please call (714) 578-8724.

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