Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common gut problem that
interferes with many people’s enjoyment of life.
This article discusses the use of complementary medicines in
the treatment of IBS.
The underlying pathophysiology of IBS is not yet fully
understood. People’s experience of IBS can fluctuate over
time and various bowel symptoms may predominate. Many
complementary medicines are used to treat IBS symptoms.
Currently there is good evidence to recommend the use of
probiotics, peppermint oil capsules and psyllium. Other therapies
such as Chinese and Ayuvedic herbs and psychological
techniques look promising, but further high quality trials are
required before these approaches can be recommended.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common gut problem that interferes with many people’s enjoyment of life. It is a chronic fluctuating condition with features that include recurrent abdominal pain with altered bowel habit and no detectable structural abnormality. Conditions such as coeliac disease and frustose intolerance, for example, must be excluded. There is marked variation in how people experience what is termed ‘IBS’: IBS with constipation dominating is known as ‘IBS-C’; if diarrhoea is most prominent it is termed ‘IBS-D’; and alternating bowel habit is known as ‘IBS-A’.1
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