Latest IBS News – October 2016: Evidence Behind Alternative & Complementary Therapies’ Effectiveness

According to an article at Science Daily1, the British Journal of Pharmacology2 recently accepted a new review taking a closer look at currently available evidence behind alternative & complementary therapies’ effectiveness in the treatment of IBS, ulcerative colitis, functional constipation and other bowel disorders.

The Review

Produced by scientists Diego Currò, Silvia Pecere, Gianluca Ianiro, Giovanni Cammarota and Stefano Bibbò, this review examines the effectiveness of alternative/complementary therapies including prebiotics, probiotics and synbiotics; herbal medicinal products and fibre.

Noting that the majority of currently available studies is somewhat biased by a variety of drawbacks, the authors concluded that:

  • Some herbal medicinal products (in particular peppermint oil), probiotics, synbiotics and psyllium appear to be effective approach to reducing IBS symptoms
  • Fibre and synbiotics appear to be beneficial as part of the treatment of functional constipation
  • The non-pathogenic Escherichia coli strain Nissle 1917 could be effective in helping patients suffering with ulcerative colitis maintain remission

The study’s lead author, Dr Diego Curro, stated that in his opinion, patients suffering with the effects of common functional bowel disorders like IBS or chronic idiopathic constipation, for example, should be informed of the availability of potentially effective alternative treatments/medications if they cannot find suitable traditional drug therapies, have adverse effects to the use thereof or simply do not wish to use them. According to Dr Curro, patients suffering with mild clinical ulcerative colitis forms should also be informed that alternative probiotic treatments used with appropriate caution may help to prevent relapse.

What this Means to You

Living with IBS is not easy, and managing the often distressing, debilitating symptoms of this illness is of utmost importance. Unfortunately, finding effective treatment options can be a time-consuming matter of trial and error. If you find that a traditional treatment approach is not helping you, it may well be worth discussing alternative and/or complementary therapies with your GP.


1: Wiley. “Certain alternative therapies may help patients with bowel disorders.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 October 2016. <>

2: Diego Currò, Gianluca Ianiro, Silvia Pecere, Stefano Bibbò, Giovanni Cammarota. Probiotics, fiber and herbal medicinal products for functional and inflammatory bowel disorders. British Journal of Pharmacology, 2016; DOI: 10.1111/bph.13632

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