Thursday, December 4, 2008
What works for Irritable Bowel syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic disorder characterized by cramping, bloating, constipation, diarrhea and abdominal pain. It plagues women more than men and can come and go for years. Researchers do not know the cause for IBS and there are no specific tests to diagnose it.
Whenever a medical condition is common with no proven cure, there are lots of "treatments", supplements and medications that are purported to help. A new study reported in the British Medical Journal showed that fiber, antispasmotic agents and peppermint oil are all effective when compared against placebo for treating patients with IBS.
Dietary fiber like whole grain breads, cereals, fruits and vegetables help keep water in the stool and prevent constipation. Even more effective were soluble fibers like psyllium (Metamucil). Increasing fiber slowly by 2 to 3 grams a day can help prevent gas and bloating and fiber supplements can be used to ensure enough fiber intake.
Antispasmotic agents like Levsin (hyoscyamine), scopolamine and Otilonium (not available in the U.S.) showed consistent benefit for IBS.
Peppermint oil, available over the counter and sold in capsules, was proven effective in doses from 187mg to 225mg, taken two to four times daily.
These are all old treatments but this study showed their effectiveness for treating the symptoms of IBS.
Posted by Toni Brayer, MD at 8:12 PM